Search Results for: Nitinat Lake

Lake Cowichan – Surveys of the Region

(This account was adapted from a research report written by Ron Smith)
Because of the abundant fish resources and the importance of local plants, the native Indians, the Cowichans (Coast Salish), Nitinahts (Nootka) and Pacheenats, made extensive use of this area. Major fishing sites were located at nearly all the falls along the Cowichan River.

The large settlement areas for the Cowichan people were in the lower reaches of the river and they made annual trips to the meeting places of the other tribes. Similarly, the Nitinaht people living along the southern coast of Vancouver Island from Jordan River to Pachena Point and inland along Nitinat Lake also used the upper reaches of the Nitinat River and Cowichan Lake as their major fishing area. There was quite likely some trading between the Cowichans and Nitinahts in the Cowichan Lake area.

In September 1857, the first authentic record of white men at Cowichan Lake was made by an exploratory party led by, crown surveyor, J. Despard Pemberton. Sent by Governor Douglas, their purpose was to make a rough survey from Cowichan Bay to Nitnat covering things like natural resources, nature of the terrain, natives and areas suitable for settlement.

They landed at Cowichan Bay and set out up the river to Cowichan Lake and from there to the Nitinat. Mr. Pemberton reported his trip as exceedingly interesting. He comments on the excellence of timber and particularly mentions the abundance of game: elk, deer, grouse and fish. His report was given in November 12, 1857 at Victoria and is in part as follows:

“In the valleys Douglas pines twenty-three feet to twenty-eight feet in circumference are not uncommon. Indians occasionally hunt and fish on the border of the large lake and the stumps of huge cedars cut down at its Western extremity show that they once manufactured their largest canoes there.”

After Mr. Pemberton, the next official record is Robert Brown’s expedition which left Victoria on June 7, 1864 aboard Her Majesty’s Gunboat Grappler. His report was much more detailed and reliable. He went up the Cowichan River, to the lake known as “Kaatza”, Brown recorded the following:

The lake at the head of the river is about half a mile wide gradually enlarging to two, three, five, and ten miles. I should say it is about 50 miles long. We proceeded to the extreme ends, keeping the northern shore, and found three large rivers. All these rivers sink down at some distance from the mouth. I suppose I walked three miles up the bed of one before I came to running water. In the lake are several islands. The land on either side is very high and heavily timbered. The country around teems with elk, deer, bears and racoons. The lake is full of salmon and ducks. There are also land otters-two of which were killed by the Indians during our stay. The lake must be nearly 2,000 feet above the level of the sea and I think a road to Victoria could be made not to exceed 50 miles in length.”

“On the 15th June we found the forest getting thicker, a sign that we were nearing the lake; and later the same day we camped by its placid waters. One cedar near this spot measured thirty-five feet in circumference at the height of five feet from the ground. In this country very valuable timber is necessarily useless at the present time, from the fact that in most cases there are no available means of transport to the coast, the rivers usually being tortuous, and blocked at intervals by accumulations of driftwood.”

After finishing exploring Cowichan Lake on June 23rd 1864, Brown’s party divided, one going southwest toward Port San Juan overland while he and four others struck out for the “Nitinaht River” which they ascended by raft, then on to the coast. At “Whyack” the fortified Nitinaht village, they met up with the local inhabitants who transported them down the coast to Port San Juan.

Gateway to Cowichan Lake - 1910It would be another twenty-one years, 1885, before a road ten feet wide began to wind its way from Sahtlam toward the lake. Completed in the following year, it opened the area to settlement and a number of individuals began to preempt parcels around the shore of the lake. One of the earliest, Charles Green, settled at the “Foot of the Lake” commencing to build the first very small Riverside Hotel in 1885.

While the initial intent of settlers was farming, it became very evident from the beginning that this economic endeavour would be of minor importance. The real wealth would not be in tilling the soil, but cutting the forest: The excellent stands of Douglas fir, hemlock and massive red cedars. Thus the agricultural aspects of the area remained small and today have all but disappeared. Communities as they now exist such as Youbou, Honeymoon Bay and Lake Cowichan were developing around lumbering activities. Initially they were lumbering camps, although Lake Cowichan, being more strategically located, did begin to attract a number of commercial enterprises.

Travel in the area remained almost exclusively by water in the early years. It was not until 1900, for example, that a trail was built from Honeymoon Bay to the “settlement at the foot.”

A second hotel, The Lakeside, was constructed in 1893 and soon became popular for fishermen and hunters as well as other travelers to the area. Over the next quarter century, the area became renowned as a sportsman’s paradise and people from all around the world began arriving to hunt elk, deer, grouse and ducks or to fish for salmon, trout and steelhead.

Logging actually preceded the arrival of the first settlers with William Sutton acquiring the first timber lease in 1879. This consisted of 7,069 acres with the logs going down the Cowichan River to their mill at Genoa Bay. In 1887 the Sutton interest were bought out by Hewitt and McIntyre and in turn were acquired by Mossom Boyd in 1897 to form the Cowichan Lumber Company.

E&N reaches Cowichan LakeA second firm, Victoria Lumber and Manfuacturing Company (VL&M), incorporated in 1889, also began logging in the area and between them “controlled the lumber industry at the lake.”

The arrival of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway (E&N) in 1913 marked the end of the initial phase of development. Now, not only was travel to the outside much easier but also the delivery of the logs to the coast considerably more reliable than the drives down the Cowichan River each fall. The railway extension was initiated after a large tract of the E&N land grant, some 54,000 acres, was sold to American interests that formed the Empire Lumber Company and set up operations in the Cottonwood Creek area (near Youbou), on the north side of the lake. At the same time, VL&M expanded their operations to take advantage of the railway.

After a period of sagging markets between 1913 and 1915, the industry started to pick up with new logging camps being established around the lake. By 1920 C.C. Yount’s Medina Lumber Company was milling at Cottonwood and soon a community began to be established.

Honeymoon Bay Info

General Information

Honeymoon Bay is a quaint little town on Cowichan Lake. Most of the town’s buildings were built by the Western Forest Industries (WFI) to house and entertain the workers at its mill. This mill burned on July 3, 1948 but was quickly rebuilt. The mill permanently closed its doors in 1981 leaving most of the towns residents unemployed. Some people stayed but most left to seek employment elsewhere which forced the community to make a large transition. Today, the rows of company houses, which have been well maintained, create a picturesque ambience.

To get here from Highway 1 turn onto Highway 18 north of Duncan and travel 26 km west to the Town of Lake Cowichan. Honeymoon Bay is located on South Shore Road 20 minutes west of the Town of Lake Cowichan.

Features of the Village

The village is cut in half by a park that runs from the lake shore through to the elementary school. This park has a basketball court, jungle gym, a large grassy area, the community hall, picnic tables and parking right at the lake. The park has a beautiful view of Bald Mountain as well as west and east down the lake. One of Honeymoon Bay’s RV campsites is located across the road at the beach. Much like Mesachie Lake’s heritage trees the town has a collection of labeled trees in this park.

The community hall, which was built in February of 1948 by WFI, deserves a special note as it has six large murals inside. These were painted a well-known Victoria artist George Jenkins in 1952. Each is a window back into the past of the region with scenes of logging and wildlife.

The western side of Honeymoon Bay features a nice restaurant and pub called the Honeypot. Modern housing developments are located on this side as well. Farther along South Shore Road is the Sutton Creek Wild Flower Reserve and March Meadows Golf Course.

With an average summer maximum temperature of over 24C, the highest in Canada, Honeymoon Bay is very hot place to visit.

Places to go from here

If you leave west along South Shore road the road divides with the lakeside fork going to Gordon Bay and the other out to Caycuse and eventually to the western end of the lake. There you can go to Heather Campsite and go hiking up Heather Mountain. At the western end of Cowichan Lake, you can also take North Shore Road back to Youbou or proceed to Nitinat Lake or to Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park.

Check out the map section for more information about the roads and activities west of Honeymoon Bay.

Return to Honeymoon Bay’s History

Best Seat on the Planet

Published on Nov 28, 2012
Join me (John Veale) for another flight over some of the most beautiful country anywhere. We depart Nanaimo Airport (CYCD) for a flight of an hour and twenty minutes (Edited down to nineteen) We fly over some of the southern BC ‘Gulf’ Islands to the Saanich Peninsula, over Victoria International Airport (CYYJ) and follow the shoreline down the peninsula and around Victoria, BC’s Capital city. We continue NW along the coast and above the Strait of Juan de Fuca for approximately 90 miles or so. We then turn inland over Vancouver Island and follow tidal Nitinat Lake to it’s head and then on further to the head of Cowichan Lake. (Some very beautiful video here) From here we fly on to our point of departure, Nanaimo Airport. DVD’s or video file downloads are available and make for superb viewing on a larger TV screen. For information, contact vealestreetproductions@gmail.com Now….enjoy, as we once again take in the view from the ‘Best Seat on the Planet” our Bushby Mustang ll C-GAIF.

This video was filmed and produced by John Veale, and can also be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBp1MT3qIMU, where you can also view other wonderful videos produced by John.

Environment – Natural Features

Climate | Natural Features | Topography/Vegetation

There are two distinct topographical regions in the Cowichan Lake areaóthe mountainous areas and the lowland valleys.

Running through the length of Vancouver Island are the Insular Mountains. At 1345 metres, Heather Mountain is the highest peak north of Cowichan Lake while in the Seymour Range, south of the Lake, Townicut Mountain at 1260 metres is the highest point.

Two prominent valleys are within the area; the Cowichan and Nitinat. The Cowichan Valley was occupied by a valley glacier or ice tongue which moved eastward during the latter stages of glaciation. Kettles and kame topography are found in the middle and lower reaches of the Cowichan River. This river flows southeast for approximately 42 kilometers to Cowichan Bay. Cowichan Lake, at 163 metres above sea level, is one of Vancouver Island’s largest lakes.

Nitinat Lake is primarily fed by the Nitinat and Little Nitinat Rivers. These rivers are considerably shorter and smaller than the Cowichan, but the water volumes are almost as great. This is due to the very high precipitation during the winter. Nitinat Lake is salt water, which is a situation that occurs infrequently in nature. Nitinat Lake’s marine life is similar to other South Western Coastal Regions. At the Southwest end of the Lake there is a short narrow sandy ‘gap’ that separates the Lake from the Pacific Ocean. A dangerous tidal bore occurs in this area.

The Nanaimo Lowlands, (a raised portion of the Georgia Depression), extend inland as far as the Town of Lake Cowichan. The upper reaches of the Cowichan Valley are mantled with till as a result of the wasting of the last major ice age. This includes extensive sand and gravel beds up to 30 metres thick, as well as pockets of silt and clay. The Mountains on the north side of the lowlands rise gently away from the valley floor to about 800 metres (Hill 60 Range), while to the south, steeper slopes are encountered closer to the river rising to between 600 and 800 metres.

 

Environment – Climate

Climate | Natural Features | Topography/Vegetation

The Cowichan Lake area climate varies widely from season to season. Being within a maritime climatic zone, the area usually experiences warm, dry summers and mild wet winters. On average, we experience only 14.2 cm of snow sometime between late October and March. Quite often the area will experience no snowfall from one year to the next. Over 85 per cent of the rainfall occurs between October and April with December being the wettest month. The further one travels toward the West Coast, the higher the amount of rainfall.

July is the sunniest month with 235 hours, but August is usually the warmest, with an average daily temperature of 25 C. Being in the center of Vancouver Island and away from the moderating marine influence, it is not unusual to see temperatures well above 30 C.

Due to the Japanese Current which runs close to the West Coast of Vancouver Island the climate varies greatly from one location to another. How close you are to the coast and your elevation help determine your weather experience. It is not unusual to have temperatures over 30 C. at the Town of Lake Cowichan and a west coast mist blanketing the western end of Nitinat Lake, the Carmanah Pacific Provincial Park and Pacific Rim National Park.

Like temperature and precipitation, the wind velocity also changes with location and season. During the summer, a gentle breeze is normal throughout the central area of the Cowichan Valley. However, adjacent the larger lakes west of Cowichan Lake, especially Nitinat Lake, the wind speed increases by mid-day and may not subside until after dusk. This makes for great wind surfing. Cowichan Lake and the lakes east of it do not experience this to the same extent. On occasion in November or December the area can experience very violent and sudden windstorms that seem to funnel through the Cowichan Valley.

Many visitors and residents alike are pleased and amazed with the temperance of our winters. It is not unheard of to have roses blooming on Christmas day, much to the dismay of relatives in the Eastern provinces. The summers get warm but not too hot, and the winters, although they have the potential to get cold, seldom do, for which we are all thankful.

Detailed climate normals for Cowichan Lake can be found on Environment Canada’s Web Site.

Caycuse (Camp 6)

A Brief History of Caycuse(Camp 6)

General Information
Caycuse, a native name meaning scraping the barnacles off the bottom of the canoe, is located approximately 20 km outside of Lake Cowichan on the South Shore of the lake. At one time there were over 400 people living in Caycuse. Today the population is 65, 13 of which are summer residents. It has a fire department and a two lane bowling alley.

Caycuse’s History
Some records of early logging around Camp 6 date back to 1902 when George Lewis was reported to have been logging in the Nixon Creek area. In 1905 Joe Vipond, a logging contractor who worked for the Cowichan Lumber Co., owned by the Mossom Boyd interests, ran a logging camp at Nixon Creek, using one of the earliest steam donkeys.

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The history of Caycuse is tied in with Youbou when about 1909 the Empire Logging Timber grant included the area and vast forests back of it. A few years later the Empire Co. actually had a camp there which was later leased to the Genoa Bay Lumber Co. Later in the early 1920′­s the Jesse James Co. took over for a short time.

However, a continuous history of the area really started in 1927 when Gibson and McCoy formed the Cowichan Logging Co. They had contracts with the mill at Cottonwood (Youbou) and were logging Empire Logging Co. timber. They prepared for a permanent camp there and built for family accommodation. Many of the men from the Youbou area (Camp 2 and Yap Alley) moved across the lake and worked for Gibson and McCoy. Much of the camp was on float houses for many years, including the cook-house, bunkhouses, office and store. Although there were still float houses in use in the middle forties, more and more buildings appeared on land. In September 1927 there were enough children to start a school, indicating the growth of the camp. The first school was a building on land, the first teacher was Miss Mable Jones from Cumberland, teaching 15 pupils.

During the depression the camp was closed for two years but opened again in 1933. By 1935 the single school room was too small and two room school with basement was built. The school went from grades k-7 until 1987 when it went from grades k-6. The school shut down in 1989 as there were only 8 students attending and the school still stands along with the playground equipment.

On March 17, 1928 a community hall was opened. Several boat loads of people came from Youbou and Lake Cowichan for the celebration. Dances, concerts and parties became quite frequent. In the early days the camp had to provide its own entertainment. Getting away from camp as late as 1929 meant going by taxi boat to the Foot of the lake. After 1929 it was necessary to cross the Lake to Youbou. Movies were shown in camp for a number of years on a regular schedule.

For many years people clamored for a road to be built from Caycuse to Honeymoon Bay. Students going to high school at Lake Cowichan had to go by taxi boat and speeder but this ended when the road was built. It finally was completed in 1955. Now students went to high school in a heated school bus. In 1956 the road was continued to Nitinat (Camp 3). Actually, the road ended the link between Caycuse and Youbou, except for organization and business. The logging office headquarters was moved from Youbou to Caycuse. Camp 3 was later abandoned by B.C.F.P.

A new town site was laid out in the fifties. Larger and better houses were built and living conditions improved. The old unsightly buildings on floats disappeared. At one point in time, there were over 400 people living in Caycuse, in old bunkhouses. There were 3 big shops, the main one was where they repaired and held the trains for overnight. In the front of this main shop, there was a turn table where the trains could turn around.

In 1987 B.C.F.P. sold its holdings to Fletcher Challenge. Almost all of the residents of Caycuse have left, 65 people still reside there today, 13 of them who are only there in the summer.

Heather Mountain

Access:
Heather Mountain is located at the head (west end) of Cowichan Lake. From the Town of Lake Cowichan to the head of the lake is about 38 km (24 miles) along South Shore Road or North Shore Road. For information about gates and accessibility to Heather Mountain trails, please call TimberWest.

Trail Description:
To reach the summit of Heather Mountain (about 1250 metres) you will be hiking up Branch R (sign posted) for most of the way. Branch R begins about 1.5 km north of Heather Campsite on the mountain side of the main road. Branch R will fork to the right off on a switch back (marked by a stump with yellow paint currently) which will take you around on the lake side of the mountain. It should take you around 40 minutes from the gate to walk up around the switchback and passed a recently logged section of forest to the lake side of the mountain. In this section on a good day you can see the top of the mountain’s secondary peak and look down upon Cowichan Lake and Heather Campsite.

About 20+ minutes more brings you to the saddle (about 820 meters) between the secondary peak and the summit where the trail is not always clear. The saddle’s lake side has a steep cliff and overlooks the lake as well. To reach the summit you must hike NW up the saddle to the summit trail. From the saddle to the summit the steep trail is marked. Time up this section is around 1 hours. A good way down is on the south side through the alders avoiding the gully. Summit views are magnificent – to the west the Nitinat valley, Hobiton Lake and Pacific Ocean; to the north Mts. Arrowsmith and Moriarty; to the east Mts. Whymper and Landalt and the Cowichan Valley.

Trail Dangers:
To reach the summit is a moderate to strenuous hike of around 3 hours and around 2.5 hours on the way back. Your elevation gain from Heather Campsite is around 1000 meters. The route itself, however, is a well maintained logging road for the first half and no rock climbing experience is required. If you miss the fork to the right of Branch R you will reach a heavily forested area and you should turn around and walk back to the fork. Carry plenty of water for your hike. Cell phone reception is poor on some sections but excellent in the sections overlooking Cowichan Lake. The area is beautiful in the summer with its alpine flowers, equally beautiful in the fall colors.

In the summer the mosquitoes can be very bad, so be sure to carry a repellant.

Campgrounds

Camping and RV Sites:

Camping in Lake Cowichan is a fun and relaxing way to spend time in this region. For more specific information on the campgrounds, call the associated numbers listed below (all phone numbers use the area code 250 unless otherwise noted). Please contact the perspective campground for their up to date information on prices.

The campgrounds around Cowichan Lake are visited by more than 100,000 visitors per year. The Provincial Park Gordon Bay is the fifth most popular Provincial campground in B.C. The forestry sites as listed below are found on either the dirt road around the lake or on the road headed towards Port Renfrew. **Please note that some of them have up to an hour travel time back into Lake Cowichan and the campgrounds may not have cellular service.

Services Key:

boatlaunch
Boat Launch
rv
RV hookups
shower
Showers
toilets
Toilets

Forestry Campsites:Information: The TimberWest Sites open from May long weekend until Thanksgiving weekend in October, then water is turned off, tables taken away. They are left open except during extreme weather conditions. Gates are left open if no problems with vandalism. For more information or to make reservations go to www.lakecowichancamping.com for more information on resevations please call 250-732-5699.

Circle Route Campsites(on the road to Port Renfrew from Cowichan Lake)
Information:
The Grand Getaways Property Management Sites are open from May long weekend until Thanksgiving weekend in October. sites cannot be reserved , For more information phone Olivia @ 250-701-1976.gb_campsiteNote: Information on this page is current as of November 2016 the last time we were informed of any changes . Please phone to ensure that the campsite is indeed open and not full before you head out. Not all campsites are open all year and access to their facilities may be restricted when they are not open for camping.Boat Launches: There are launches at all campsites (except Lakeview) and at the Weir on North Shore Road in Town of Lake Cowichan, Cowichan Lake Marina on Point Ideal Road, Marina at Youbou and on Fish Road off Bear Lake Road in Mesachie Lake. Also, we have a listing of local parks and a map section to help you find your way.

Provincial Parks:

Services:

Area:

Cost:

Number:

Gordon Bay Prov. Campground

boatlaunchshower toilets

On the lake At Honeymoon Bay

BC Parks Fees

250-749-3415
1-800-689-9025

Cowichan River Prov. Campground toilets

On the Cowichan River

BC Parks Fees

1-800-689-9025

Municipal:

Services:

Area:

Cost:

Number:

Lakeview Municipal Campground

rvtoilets

On the Lake 3 km west of LC

LC Lakeview Park Page

250-749-3350
250-749-6681

Private:

Services:

Area:

Cost:

Number:

Beaver Lake Resort / Campground

showerrvtoilets

20 Sites-Just before Mesachie Lake

250-749-7792

TimberWest Campsites:

Services:

Area:

Number:

Heather Campsite

boatlaunch toilets

West end of Cowichan Lake

250-732-5699

Caycuse Campsite

boatlaunch toilets

South side of Cowichan Lake

250-732-5699

Kissinger Lake Campsite

boatlaunch toilets

on the Road to Nitinat

250-732-5699

Little Shaw Campsite

boatlaunch toilets

Northwest side of the Cowichan Lake

250-732-5699

Grand Getaway Property Management:

Services:

Area:

Number:

Maple Grove Campground

boatlaunchtoilets

North side of Cowichan Lake

250-701-1976

Nixon Creek Campground

boatlaunchtoilets

South side of Cowichan Lake

250-701-1976

Pine Point Campground

boatlaunch toilets

North side of Cowichan Lake

250-701-1976

Grand Getaway Property Management:

Services:

Area:

Number:

Lizard Lake

boatlaunchtoilets

Heading west 39 Kms from Mesachie Lake

250-701-1976

Fairy Lake

boatlaunchtoilets

Heading west 49 kms from Mesachie Lake

250-701-1976

San Juan River

boatlaunchtoilets

Heading west 55kms from Mesachie Lake

250-701-1976