A couple and their dog stroll along a rough seaside trail in this early 20th century photo. Various trails were established to travel from Sooke to Victoria

METCHOSIN’S PAST: Barde Knockie Trail among early routes through Metchosin

Various routes were established from rugged west coast to Victoria

The following historical piece is adapted from the late Ron Weir’s presentation to the District of Metchosin Nov. 4, 1993. Ron was a tireless documenter of Metchosin history and we believe he would be pleased by the resurrection of this documentation.

Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant, Vancouver Island’s first independent settler, arrived in Victoria via Panama, San Francisco, Fort Vancouver [at the mouth of the Columbia River] and by canoe from Fort Nisqually [near Tacoma, Wash.], landing at Beacon Hill on Aug. 11, 1849.

His party of eight workers (every purchaser was required at his own expense to bring five single men or three married couples for every 100 acres purchased) had preceded him, having arrived in Victoria aboard the Harpooner on June 1, 1849.

Shortly after taking up land at Sooke, Capt. Grant headed for Victoria alone and on foot through the woods.  One of his workmen, upon arriving in Victoria and not finding Capt. Grant, inquired as to his whereabouts. A search party was sent out and found him completely lost in the thick woods behind Albert Head. He was in a very debilitated condition, having been without food of any kind for five days.

A rough route was established [from Sooke to Victoria] – travelling by canoe to the head of Roche Cove; then by the Lake Passe Trail to Pedder Bay … and on to Weir’s Beach … This part of the trail became known as the Barde Knockie, much of which still exists today. Then to Witty’s Beach [via Taylor’s Beach] … then to Albert Head Lagoon … and then by canoe to Victoria, conditions permitting.

Though a wagon road from Craigflower to Metchosin (Weir’s farm) was completed in 1862 and a road to Sooke in 1872 (a trail constructed from Bilston Farm to Sooke in 1845 by Indian labour was little used), residents continued to use the Lake Passe and Barde Knockie trails for many years.

That part of the Lake Pass Trail along Matheson Creek is still in use, as is that part of the Barde Knockie Trail within the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific Property.

Wendy Mitchell is president of the Metchosin Museum Society. She can be reached at wendyncmitchell@shaw.ca.

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