Mount Elphinstone trails and cemetery

If you’re interested in the old Mount Elphinstone trails, remains of camps, flumes and other artefacts, come to the October meeting of the Elphinstone Community Association. Coast Cable programmer Steve Sleep will show clips of the Hiking Back in Time show he produced, that explores the flume, the sawmill, and the camps on Mount Elphinstone in the early 1900s. Director Donna McMahon will also be there to answer questions. All are welcome to Frank West Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. 

Speaking of historical matters, have you ever wondered about the out-of-the-way, hard to find location of the Mount Elphinstone Pioneer Cemetery? Cyclist Marc Beaupre says that it’s near the base of the tram that used to take workers up to the sawmill near Chaster Falls. “There were a lot of activities going on up there in those days,” he said. “The 102 Bike Trail used to pass on top of the dam by Chaster Falls. About four years ago we built a couple of new bridges to bypass the dam, which was no longer deemed safe for biking.” 

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Bill Fletcher (Fletcher Road was named after his family) says the sawmill ran from 1902 to 1906, when it was destroyed in the 1906 forest fire. “It sent sawn lumber down a flume that ended in the bay at Gibsons. The logging operation had the flume to Langdale and the tramway up to the dam – the camp was started in 1920 and only ran for two years. Both operations, located in roughly the same place, were harvesting cedar. The earlier sawmill cut cedar into specially sized planks that were shipped to Vancouver and used for building railway water tanks. The second logging operation was cutting cedar into four- and eight-foot shingle-bolts that were sent down a lengthy flume all the way to Langdale, where they were shipped on barges to Vancouver to make shingles for the growing number of houses being built in the 1920s. My grandfather was the maintenance man on that flume.” 

Bill went on to quote from The West Howe Sound Story (1980) by Frank Wyngaert, saying that no one wanted a cemetery near their property: “At a meeting of Howe Sound Farmers’ Institute, members in attendance agreed to nominate five men to function as a cemetery board and endeavour to locate land for burial purposes… The Department of Lands made an outright donation of ten acres at the end of what later became known as Cemetery Road. At that particular time, W.W. Winn was nominated secretary-treasurer. Rules and regulations respecting operation of [Mount Elphinstone Pioneer Cemetery] were officially recorded at a meeting held April 12, 1917, with the price of grave plots being set at $2.” 

When the steep hillside proved problematic, the Seaview Cemetery was established in 1937, also considered to be in an out-of-the-way location at the time, chosen because it wasn’t near anyone’s property. The 5.6-acre parcel of land at the fork in the road to Sechelt had recently been abandoned. 

Answers to the five questions in the previous column: 1. (c) population of Elphinstone 3,500 to 4,000; 2. (b) original name of Chaster Road was Honeymoon Lane; 3. (d) the plan for Reed Road Forest is to develop it as an educational forest; 4. (e) the name of the cannery at Henry Road was Howe Sound Cooperative Canning Association; 5. (d) Marilyn Place is not a street in Elphinstone. 

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