Maple Bay Yacht Club History
MBYC turns 90 on June 17th, 2015
Watch this space for excerpts from the Maple Bay Yacht Club 75 Year History book! It will help us to understand just how things really began back in June of 1925!
- A New Yacht Club – Cowichan Valley News Leader July 9, 1925
- Hatched In A Hen House – 1982 Year book by Mrs. D.B. Turner (nee Dolby Bevan)
The Maple Bay Yacht Club 75 Year History book is in its second printing. Price:only $25, tax included. The book is available at the bar in the clubhouse. Some great tales of the beginnings of our club include “NEW YACHT CLUB Creates Record In Membership At Maple Bay” Cowichan News Leader July 1925 and “History-Hatched In A Hen House” by Mrs. Dolby Turner (nee Bevan).
Some Significant Dates In Our Club’s History
- 1925 – June 17th, MBYC inaugural meeting and election of officers – July 4th, Opening reception and tea – July 25th, First dance – August 13th, First regatta
- 1928 – February, Clubhouse and property purchased in Maple Bay – May, MBYC registered under the Societies Act
- 1937 – Club officers’ titles changed from President, Vice President to Commodore, Vice and Rear Commodore, Fleet and Staff Captain
- 1938 – Junior branch established
- 1948 – First yearbook published
- 1953 – Expansion of the clubhouse commenced
- 1955 – Labour Day Regatta moved to Maple Bay from Cowichan Bay
- 1970 – Club moved to the present location in Birds Eye Cove
- 1978 – Opening of MBYC moorage
- 1983 – Addition to clubhouse and deck
- 1986 – Park Host Program, MBYC adopts Pirates Cove and becomes the first yacht club to participate
- 1990 – Renovation begins on clubhouse
- 2005 – 80th anniversary of the founding of MBYC and 35th anniversary of the club’s relocation
Some Historical Stories
Maple Bay Landmarks – Some History
The Last Great Battle
From Maple Bay Village to Imadene Cove
From Birds Eye Cove to Paddy’s Milestone
Burgoyne Bay North to Grave Point
Samsun Narrows South to Musgrave and Separation Point
Download an article about the Lorna D’s 1943 South Pacific Cruise
Download and article written by Isobel Vogel called “Cruising in a Day Sailer” July 1947
Maple Bay Landmarks – Some History
Our home port – we know its tides and currents, we know its fluky winds and we know the landmarks but do you ever wonder how these landmarks got their names? It was Captain Richards RN who named Maple Bay. He was the one who surveyed this area for the British Admiralty in 1858 and 1859 and he named just about everything else. But to the Salish people, this bay was known as “Klup-nitz” or “Deep Water”. This is also the site of “The Last Great Battle”
The Last Great Battle
No one now knows if it is true or not, but there is a story that in the late 1800s when T.A. Wood first saw the property which became his home (and is now MBYC), the beach was lined with skulls on poles. What we do know from historical sources is that Maple Bay was the site of a great battle when “the water became red with the blood of the slain”.
For many, many summers the Kwakiutl swept down from the north to raid the villages, kill the men and take the women and children into slavery. About 1860, the bands of the south decided to unite against this enemy. Warriors from the Salish tribes; Cowichan, Malahat, Songhee, Saanich and Sooke all came together to await the summer arrival of the Kwakiutl.
The defenders dug camouflaged pits in the forest to hide the women and children and then all the men gathered at Maple Bay. When scouts arrived with news that the Kwakiutl had been sighted, the warriors hid their big canoes under the trees which “grew thick around the water”. Three canoes of Cowichan warriors disguised as women were sent out into the bay. The Kwakiutl pursued the three canoes which turned and paddled back to shore.
Suddenly, out from the trees came the Salish canoes to surround the Kwakiutl. A fierce battle ensued – some say “without intermission for four days and nights”. In the end not one Kwakiutl survived, they were all slain or drowned. After a brief rest, the Salish took the canoes of their vanquished foe and paddled north. The first settlement they approached was Satlotlq (now Comox). When the Comox women saw the canoes they believed it to be their warriors returning with bounty from their raiding and they began to dance and sing the song of welcome. As the canoes landed the Satlotlq perceived their mistake and tried to run away and hide but their village contained a fifth column.
The many Salish slaves saw their countrymen arriving in the canoes and prevented the escape. The Satlotlq women and children were taken into slavery and the village burned. The canoes then continued north to Cape Mudge and Alert Bay to seek the same revenge. It is said that the prisoners were sold as slaves to the Clallam tribe in Washington and never again did the Kwakiutl raid the settlements of the Salish.
If you’re lucky and have a good eye you may still happen upon an arrow head on our beach after the high tides of winter.
(Sources: N. DeBertrand Lugrin “Indian Saga: Heroic tales from the golden age of the Indian’s supremacy on the West Coast” Maclean’s Magazine December 15, 1932 p.38. “Report on the Ethnology of the South-eastern Tribes of Vancouver Island. British Columbia” The Salish People, The local contribution of Charles Hill-Tout Volume IV: The Sechelt and the South Eastern Tribes of Vancouver Island. Talonbooks 1978 p.160 .)
From Maple Bay Village to Imadene Cove
Maple Bay. Before the railway and the highway, Maple Bay and Cowichan Bay used to be the points of entry to the Cowichan Valley. A steamer from Victoria called in every two weeks and landed at the site of the present government wharf. In the early 1860s, Tom Windsor built a store and an inn at the head of the wharf adjacent to what is now the current parking lot.
The inn and store were later sold to William Beaumont who hoped to develop a town as this area had been surveyed for a townsite in 1864. His hopes were dashed with the arrival of the railway at Duncan’s Crossing. While Maple Bay did not become the commercial centre for the Cowichan Valley it did become a community with some farms, some permanent residences, multitudes of summer cottages, a store – the Maple Bay Trading Company (now the Grapevine) and a hotel – the Maple Inn (now the Brigantine on Beaumont Place).
The original inn built by Tom Windsor became a private residence and was known as the “Hattie House” until it was torn down sometime around 1960.
Maple Bay Beaches. Much has changed now with the proliferation of wharves along the shoreline but there used to be only 5 good stretches of shingle beach around the northwestern perimeter of the Bay and each had an informal name among bayside residents, usually the name of the adjacent property owner. The beach in front of what is now MBYC was called Wood’s beach. T.A. Wood first built a beach cottage and later a permanent home which is now the MBYC clubhouse.
Duffy LeQuesne says she recently heard the next stretch of shingle to the north referred to as Elkington beach as this was where the beach cottage of William Elkington stood. The long stretch of sand below the bluff is known as Mackenzie beach as the Mackenzie’s had a fox farm here (presumably above the bluff). The longest and most used stretch of shingle fronts the village of Maple Bay. The rocky point to the northeast of the Brig and Beaumont Place is known as Corfield Point after the Corfield residence that still stands there.
Further to the east is the smallest beach, Peggy’s Cove (or Peggy’s Bay). This used to be a secluded little hideaway reached only by water or a steep trail through the trees. No one seems to know how Peggy’s Cove got its name.
Imadene Cove. This property south of MBYC was once the site of Camp Imadene, a Plymouth Brethren camp started in 1926 by Miss Lenore Rice in her father’s boathouse. As the camp grew, bunkhouse cabins were built around the periphery of the property while the main building and dining room stood close to the water.
As the building extended out over the rocks, a beach walk from Maple Bay to Birds Eye frequently required a climb through the verandah supports. At high tide it was impassable though wandering kids were known to scurry across the verandah while the campers were occupied elsewhere.
The camp owned a fleet of rowboats, all painted bright red so during recreation time the waters in front of the camp were dotted with a bright flotilla.
From Birds Eye Cove to Paddy’s Milestone
Birds Eye Cove (48° 48′ 00″ N – 123° 36′ 00″ W) This whimsical name came from Captain Richards in his 1858 survey. The island in the cove is named Chisholm Island and it was briefly considered as a site for the yacht club when the club was seeking a new property in the 1960s. Chisholm is an old name in the bay. William Chisholm filed on the property in 1860 and the farm at the head of the cove remained in the family for 100 years and four generations until it was sold in the 1960s.
Birds Eye Cove has been a port of call for cruisers for years with docks, a shipyard, fuel and a general store. The building now housing the Shipyard Restaurant was for many years a working shipyard with the ways where the parking lot now stands. A frequent morning’s diversion for the summertime kids in Maple Bay would be a stroll to Birds Eye to look at all those big Chris Crafts visiting from such exotic ports as Bremerton, Tacoma and Seattle.
A very elegant cruiser named the “Wahoo” resided at the Bird’s Eye marina. All the watch-less kids about the bay could gauge the hour from the stately cruise of her varnished hull out from Birds Eye at the same time every morning and her return, like clockwork, in the afternoon. “ Wahoo” belonged to Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Mitchell of Chicago who spent their summers at the bay. They owned property down the Narrows near Burial Island and always traveled with their butler and their maid. It is rumored that whenever they were camping on their Narrows property, the servants prepared their meals and then delivered them to the camping site.
(Sources: BC Geographic Names database and G. McC. Gould “William Chisholm” in Genoa Bay Reckonings Lambrecht Publications.)
Hidden Cove. Along the eastern shore north of Birds Eye Cove is a little nook which some call Hidden Cove. Joe and Lorna Davidge spent their summers building the “Lorna D”, a 48’ schooner which they launched in 1923, “on the foreshore of a farm in Maple Bay”. Some sources say the farm was in Hidden Cove while others say it was in Birds Eye Cove.
The Davidges lived on their boat until they set sail in 1938 to cruise the South Pacific for a year. Five years later, just as they were preparing to leave Tahiti for New Zealand, war broke out in the Pacific so they decided to return home. Once back in our waters, they lived aboard the Lorna D. just outside Hidden Cove. Joe died in 1959 and Lorna continued to live aboard, eventually moving to Sooke where she died in 1965. Check the history page on our website for Lorna Davidge’s article describing their homeward journey of 1943.
In 1948 Sydney and Phyllis Rodd came to this cove from Victoria with their two little girls. They lived aboard their boat “Choppy” while Sydney built the house which was to become their home. They moved into their new home in the fall of 1949 – quite a change from urban life! Phyllis’ diary records there was no electricity but they had water from the well.
While they lived in the cove they opened “The Ship Shop” (in the living room of the house) which offered fine china for sale to visiting yachties. The business card for the shop gives their address as Wherry Farm, Hidden Cove, Maple Bay, B.C..
Paddy Mile Stone (48° 49′ 00″ N – 123° 35′ 00″ W) as Ottawa calls it or Paddy’s Mile Stone as it is known locally. British Admiralty Charts initially called this Boulder Point until post 1907 when it became Paddy’s Mile Stone. Canadian Hydrographic Charts adopted Paddy Mile Stone in 1945. No one seems to know who Paddy was but it is a mile from the government dock in Maple Bay to the rock at the point. Wolferstan suggests that it is also a mile from Octopus Point and may be named for Aisla Crag, a huge granite mass at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde. The locals there call that rock Paddy’s Milestone because of its placement halfway between Belfast and Glasgow.
In less environmentally aware times our Paddy’s annually sported a summer coat of whitewash, the product of youthful late night hi-jinks. In the 1950s when MBYC held an annual water sports day, one of the events was a swimming race from Paddy’s to the Yacht Club which was then located at the present site of the Rowing Club. Some years later the culmination of yacht club swimming lessons was a swim from Paddy’s back to the Club and the swimmers were awarded certificates for their achievement.
As Cowichan master carver Simon Charlie once said “The white man calls it Octopus Point”. T.A. Wood’s granddaughter Daphne Mutter said that they always called it Octopus Point after her mother speared an octopus there during one of their frequent picnics on the point.
Indian legend has it that a ferocious sea monster called “Shuh-shu-cum” (Open Mouth) once lived at the tip of the point. He would lie with his snout out of the water and when anyone tried to pass close to the point he would open his mouth and suck in the canoe with its passengers. No one knew what to do about “Shuh-shu-cum” but one brave had heard of a man called “Sum-al-quatz” who lived on the mainland and was said to have the strength of a thousand men. The brave decided to seek out “Sum-al-quatz” to ask for his help so he paddled across to Burgoyne Bay and walked across Saltspring Island where he borrowed a canoe and paddled to the mainland.
“Sum-al-quatz” agreed to help. He loaded a boulder into his sling and “let it fly”. But his aim was off and the boulder landed in Ladysmith. His second shot landed near Mayne Island. The third landed in Maple Bay and is now known as Paddy’s Milestone. “Sum-al-quatz” explained that he couldn’t get a good aim as Mount Maxwell (or “Hwmat’etsum” – Bent Over Place) was in the way.
They called to the mountain’s spirit and asked him to hunch down so that “Sum-al-quatz” could get a better aim. Mount Maxwell lay down on his belly and hunched his shoulders.
The next boulder cleared Mount Maxwell and hit “Shuh-shu-cum” on the snout. That put an end to “Shuh-shu-cum’s” snout and his sucking up of the canoes but it did not destroy him. He still lives in the deep waters and whenever you see swirls and eddies near Octopus Point you know that he is nearby.
Captain Richards named this point Burial Point and the point at the north end of Sansum Narrows Grave Point in his 1858 survey but his second chart published in 1861 incorrectly identified both points as Grave Point. This was corrected on subsequent Admiralty Charts. Canadian Hydrographic Charts have shown this as Octopus Point since 1926 and in 1946 this became the point’s official name. A local convention wins in Ottawa!
Until a few years ago Octopus Point belonged to the Newman family. Their abandoned home and boathouse still stand on the property. Lauri and Rosa Mae Newman brought their nine children here in about 1948. The Newmans fished the Narrows in a fleet of boats hand built at the point. A Newman tradition was that all the boats have varnished wheelhouses. Curly Newman still sails these waters in his boat Northern Challenge.
(Sources: Agnes Thorne “The Monster of Octopus Point” in When the Rains Came and Other Legends of the Salish People as told to Dolby Bevan Turner, Orca Book Publishers, Victoria 1992. Peter Rusland “The Legend of Octopus Point” (interview with Simon Charlie) Cowichan News Leader November 15, 2000 p.3., Peter Rusland “The Point of it All” (interview with Curly Newman) Cowichan News Leader November 15, 2000 p.3. and BC Geographic Names database)
Burgoyne Bay North to Grave Point
Burgoyne Bay (48° 48′ 00″ N – 123° 32′ 00″ W) sits below Baynes Peak. It was named in 1859 by Captain Richards after Commander Hugh Talbot Burgoyne VC who was an officer aboard HMS Ganges under the command of Captain Fulford. He was awarded the VC for gallant action during the Crimean War. According to the Canadian Geographical Names Database, he and most of the crew of 500 died when their ship “Captain” turned upside down and foundered off Cape Finisterre. A Post Office was once located at Burgoyne Bay from 1880 to 1900. In the 1990s, attempts by Texada Logging to harvest timber in Burgoyne Bay created quite an uproar on Saltspring. Now, the shores of Burgoyne are protected by the Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve. It is 4 miles across Saltspring from Burgoyne to Fulford and the wind which often blows out of this bay has traveled across the island through the low-lying Fulford-Burgoyne Valley.
Mount Maxwell (48° 48′ 00″ N – 123° 31′ 00″ W) was named Baynes Mountain by Captain Richard in 1859 after Rear Admiral Baynes who was commander of the Pacific Fleet from 1857 to 1860 but local residents called it Mount Maxwell after John Maxwell who farmed in the area in the late 1800s. Mount Maxwell was adopted as the official name in 1911 “as an entrenched local name”. According to the BC Geographic Names database, through correspondence with authorities on Saltspring Island, agreement was reached in 1939 to call the highest point Baynes Peak and the mountain top park Mount Maxwell Park.
Erskine Point (48° 51′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) and Mount Erskine (48° 51′ 00″ N – 123° 33′ 00″ W) across from Grave Point form the Saltspring Island entry into the north narrows. No information was found on the origin of the name Erskine.
Booth Bay (48° 52′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) on Saltspring was originally labelled as Vesuvius Bay on the 1859 British Admiralty Chart but in 1911 the Admiralty Charts adopted the present name. Booth Bay was named after Eric Booth, one of the original settlers on Saltspring Island and Reeve of the township. Booth Bay is only a mile from Ganges and at one time there was talk of building a canal across the island.
Grave Point (48° 51′ 00″ N – 123° 35′ 00″ W) was named by Captain Richards in 1858. See Octopus Point. As this does not seem to be a particularly threatening piece of rock, it may have been named for someone in the Pacific Fleet or there may well have been a grave at this site as Octopus Point was originally named Burial Point.
Arbutus Point (48° 49′ 00″ N – 123° 35′ 00″ W) was, you guessed it, named by Captain Richards in 1859.
Sansum Narrows South to Musgrave and Separation Point
Sansum Narrows (48° 48′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) and Sansum Point (48° 47′ 00″ N – 123° 33′ 00″ W) were named for Arthur Samsun, First Lieutenant aboard HMS Thetis. The Thetis was a 36-gun Royal Navy frigate on the Pacific Station from 1851 to 1853. Though the Gazeteer says not known, it may have been Captain Richards or it may have been Captain Augustus Leopold Kuper of the “Thetis” who named the narrows as the Thetis surveyed the area to the north and gave Thetis and Kuper Islands their names. Seems that Sansum should have stayed in this climate as he apparently died of heat apoplexy in Guaymus Mexico in 1853.
Bold Bluff Point (48° 47′ 00″N. – 123° 33 ’00″W.) was on Captain Richards’ 1858-60 British Admiralty Charts and the name was adopted in 1946 as an established local name. Once, while fishing near Bold Bluff, an oldtimer pointed to the steep wall on the Vancouver Island side of the Narrows and told of how the local braves would test their prowess by seeing who could place their spear the highest up the rock wall. It always seemed that this should be called Bold Bluff. Just south of Bold Bluff is a cove which contains a B&B with a very long walkway out to the dock at the point. This dock was built by the government during World War II to provide quick freighter access to a top-secret hideaway for provincial officials should Victoria be attacked. Originally the dock was 120 feet long but a fire in the 1950s destroyed about 40 feet of the structure.
Mount Bruce (48° 46′ 00″ N – 123° 30′ 00″ W) was named by, you guessed it, Captain Richards in 1858. Rear-Admiral Bruce was the previous Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station from 1854 to 1857. British Admiralty Charts listed it as Bruce Peak but it was known as Bruce Mountain until it officially became Bruce Peak in 1936.
Burial Island (48° 46′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) is officially known as Burial Islet. The British Admiralty Charts from 1859 on called it this so you can bet on who named it. Canada adopted this as the official name in 1946. First Nations tradition has that in the smallpox plague in the 1800’s so many died they could not bury them, so their bodies were taken and left on the island.
Musgrave Point and Musgrave Landing (48° 45′ 00″ N – 123° 33′ 00″ W) were named for Edward Musgrave, an early farmer in this area. A farm at Musgrave Landing was home to Beryl and Miles Smeeton for a while. Beryl purchased the farm sight unseen from India in 1943 but it was 3 years before they saw their purchase. It was their home away from Tzu Hang until they sold in 1955. Daughter Clio attended QMS, becoming a border when her parents were traveling. She used to receive the most exotic postcards!
Separation Point (48° 44′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) appears on the British Admiralty Charts in 1861. This name was officially adopted in 1911.
Stoney Hill (48° 47′ 00″ N – 123° 34′ 00″ W) is the name of the steep bluff on the Vancouver Island side of the south narrows. The origin of the name is not known.
If you have heard any of these stories differently or would like to make a comment please email Jane Price.