The tunnel, 5.5 miles long, was bored from either end from its Sooke Lake source to Japan Gulch at Goldstream. Imagine the jubilation when these fellows, Greater Victoria Water District engineers, broke through the final masses of shale and greeted each other with a handshake.
The fellow on the left is Hans Felderhof, and folks who live in the Church Road and Helgesen Road part of the district will recognize a street there given the name Felderhof Road.
All Victoria folk turn on the tap knowing they will get a good water supply but don’t necessarily know where the water comes from. Many are aware of the concrete above grade flowline, which carried water from Sooke Lake to Goldstream, where it got distributed throughout Victoria; this system was in place by 1914. For half a century, this worked reasonably well.
Still, by the 1960s, it was decided to bore a tunnel through the mountainsides rather than continue running water above grade through concrete sections over the hills and down the gullies. This circuitous route totalled 27 miles.
A custom-designed boring machine was built in Vancouver, and the process of creating a nine-foot diameter tunnel was begun, working from both ends of the direct route, which measured only 5.5 miles. Working their way through shale tended to clog up the boring equipment, and the work was continued manually.
When the proud moment arrived that the tunnel could be used, it was named the Kapoor Tunnel in acknowledgement of the Kapoor family who had operated the Kapoor Lumber Company Sawmill in the area. Like the original flowline, this route depends on gravity flow to send the water on its journey to serve Victoria.
Sooke residents are served by a different route, as a two-foot diameter steel pipe carries water from Sooke Lake into our town. Since 1996 our water management has been taken over by the Capital Regional District Water Services, headed by Ted Robbins.
Hans Felderhof was one of many Sooke folk employed by the water district over the years. Hans and his wife Claudia raised their family in Sooke, so it’s nice to note the street name that reminds us of their place in our history.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.