Once Upon a Creek

Roberts Creek

In the heart of the Creek, the venerable Gumboot Café has many tales to tell. Once a garage, once a rooming house, once Richard the Troll’s Second Hand store, the Café was also, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the infamous Goon Saloon, a favourite Coast watering hole. The Saloon began innocently enough as a members-only club – membership $2 – but, as you might guess, someone failed to collect the membership fees and anyone who wanted in was let in.

On some nights the Saloon became quite rowdy and much fun was had by all. Eventually, however, what with the noisy card games that disturbed the neighbours and the consumption of illegal substances, the RCMP felt it necessary to shut the place down and the Goon Saloon and its many stories passed into legend.

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A few years after the Goon Saloon closed, there was the incident some call the Shootout at the California Suite. At the time the Gumboot building was divided into tiny sleeping rooms, one of which, apparently, was dubbed the California Suite.

There are differing versions of exactly what happened that night but the known facts are these: After an evening of drinking at the Peninsula Hotel on the highway (long since burned down), the lone occupant of the California Suite arrived home and passed out, but not before turning his stereo up quite high so he could hear it with his one good ear. A short time later, his neighbour, also the worse for wear, arrived home but was unable to sleep because of the music blasting from his neighbour’s stereo. As a result, he began pounding on the wall separating his room from the California Suite. However, no amount of pounding on the wall or on his neighbour’s door did the trick. So, he got his shotgun – some say it was a .22 – and blasted open the door of the California Suite. Before he could inflict further damage, and this is the version I like, he stumbled over an unopened case of beer just inside the door and, instantly, all was forgiven.

“There are so many stories yet to be told about the Creek and about the characters who lived here,” said longtime Creek resident Don Van Kleek. Van Kleek has begun the Roberts Creek Family History Book, a binder of community and family stories at the Roberts Creek Library. He’s inviting Creek residents to add their own family and community memories to this growing collection.

Among the histories already collected are the memories of the Bakewell family, who still have a wooden box built by Harry Roberts in their home; Louise (White) Carroll’s happy recollections of childhood summers spent in the Creek with her twin sister, often picking berries for Mrs. Rookes, who used them to dye the wool she wove on her loom; and King Anderson’s many funny tales surrounding the Goon Saloon.

Van Kleek is hoping that, if enough stories are collected, they can eventually be edited and take their place beside Remembering Roberts Creek, 1889-1955, a book of memories also in the Roberts Creek library, and the wonderful family Whitaker Beach and Adjacent Lands in the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives in Gibsons.

An additional note: Graham Starsage, Roberts Creek Community Associa-tion’s sustainability coordinator, is asking for volunteers, non-profits, sustainable vendors and community organizations to participate in Earth Day, Sunday, April 22. To participate, and especially to volunteer, contact Starsage at robertscreekearthday@gmail.com.

Also, if you’ve been thinking about contributing to the Roberts Creek Com-munity Hall Raise the Roof campaign, please go to www.gofundme.com/robertscreekhall-roof or send a cheque to Roberts Creek Community Association, P.O. Box 261, Roberts Creek, B.C. V0N 2W6.

To send news to this column, please contact creek@coastreporter.net before noon Sundays.

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