Deertrail Destination Resort and Media Village was planned for alongside the Devil’s Potholes of the Sooke River. (Contributed by Elida Peers)

Deertrail Destination Resort and Media Village was planned for alongside the Devil’s Potholes of the Sooke River. (Contributed by Elida Peers)

SOOKE HISTORY: Dream of Deertrail Destination Resort never came to light

Proposed lodge and hotel featured 250 luxury rooms and dining capacity for up to 1,000 guests

While it began its recorded history as a farm George and Sis Weiler called Deer Trails, where they raised Jersey cattle and turkeys during the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, the beautiful wooded site alongside the Devil’s Potholes of the Sooke River has been the subject of many dreams. Today it is preserved as parkland.

This illustration shows a dream held by Victoria developer Albert Yuen and his wife Rosabelle, one of a series of speculative projects they planned after they bought the rocky 160-acre terrain in the early 1980s, from then-owner Jack Barnes, a Victoria accountant.

ALSO READ: SOOKE HISTORY: When the Spanish flu hit Sooke

Promoted as “Deertrail Destination Resort and Media Village,” the Yuen project depicted in their 1990s brochure read “The lodge and hotel will offer food and beverage service capacity for up to 1,000 guests, 250 luxury hotel rooms and suites, conference facilities for 450 persons, pool, spa and fitness centre …” and “In the planning stage … the future home of HD3D Studios, a leading-edge … 3D motion picture, television and audio production facility …” and even “a general store and rainforest cottages.”

Long gone were the days when the CNR line ran by the pioneer farm, and where George Weiler would order shipments of hay dropped off when the freight train made its run northward to pick up logs and lumber from Leechtown. The tricky part was that Weiler would lay in a supply of beer and get the train crew to help unload hay, and then the train would get way behind schedule. Today this freight route is the very popular Galloping Goose Corridor.

Albert Yuen had initially obtained a government grant providing seed money to develop a resort, and many folk were attracted to visit the site and admire his innovative ideas on recycling, utilization of the natural stone and timber, and preserving the natural environment. World-class architects vied to be involved, but funding to accomplish his dreams proved to be elusive.

ALSO READ: SOOKE HISTORY: Phillips at Highway 14 before it was home to Sooke’s third traffic light

During their ownership the Yuens built a lodge incorporating massive timbers hewn from old-growth Douglas fir, perched on the edge of a riverside cliff. One of its dramatic features was a barbecue pit built of stone, large enough to roast an ox.

Disappointingly for the Yuens, the passage of time did not materially advance the project, and foreclosures were instituted. The Yuen dreams were given up, the uncompleted lodge was seen as a hazard, and was dismantled as a safety measure.

Nowadays thousands visit the Sooke Potholes Park for the natural beauty, and the T’Sou-ke nation operates a popular campsite called Spring Salmon Place.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Better Business Bureau is reminding people to do their research before starting any home improvement projects this spring. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don’t get scammed on home improvements, warns Better Business Bureau

Scams typically involve paying cash upfront for jobs that never get done, says BBB

This photo shows crews the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents early Sunday morning. (Central Saanich Fire/Department Twitter)
Central Saanich rallies around couple who lost home of 25 years

A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway for Carla and Brian Wallace

The government map (as of April 22) showing vaccine availability doesn’t have any Saanich Peninsula pharmacies listed, but the situation is fluid, and many readers have already registered. (Province of B.C. screenshot)
Vaccine availability a fluid situation for Saanich Peninsula

Government site may not show pharmacies, but registering still an option

Volunteers with the Esquimalt Farmers Market will be on hand at Bullen Field to direct attendees and clarify public health protocols. The market runs Thursdays now through Sept. 16, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Facebook/Esquimalt Farmers Market)
Esquimalt Farmers Market continues tonight at Bullen Field

Award-winning market features farm-fresh products, food trucks, COVID-19 protocols for safety

A member of the Belmont Secondary School in Langford has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sooke School District announced Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Positive COVID-19 case identified at Belmont Secondary School in Langford

Other school members could’ve been exposed on April 20

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read