Horne Lake – kayaking

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

Horne Lake is located west of Qualicum Beach. Named after Adam Grant Horne, Hudson’s Bay Company storekeeper at Nanaimo, who made the first recorded sighting of this lake in 1856.

And amazingly that was all Wikipedia had to say about Horne Lake, the shortest information that I have ever seen, so I had to dig a little deeper, so here is what I found on the Horne Lake cottage owners community web page. Miss Laurie met one of the founders of the owners group at the boat launch today while I was parking the truck, so I kind of knew where and what to look.

Adam Horne was the first non-native to visit Horne Lake in 1855. The lake was known at that time as Enoksasant Lake. It was renamed Horne Lake four years later by Captain Richards of the hydrographic ship H.M.S. Plumper. In the early 1900’s the E & N Railway gave Robert Dunsmuir the lands around Horne Lake. Dunsmuir originally had plans to make the lake and surrounding country a private game reserve.

By the 1920’s Horne Lake’s great stands of timber were discovered and several logging companies began to work the area. The largest of the logging companies was Thompson and Clarke, based out of Seattle. Access to the lake was poor and not suitable for trucks. Thompson and Clarke applied to the provincial government for financial assistance to improve a wagon trail from Dunsmuir to the lake. The government completed the work and under budget for a cost of $992.15 and charged Thompson and Clarke for a portion of the costs.

Thompson and Clarke also requested permission to build a railway along the north shore of the lake to haul the timber to Deep Bay through the Big Horne Valley along Rosewall Creek. After receiving permission Thompson and Clarke built over 17 miles of rail. Seven logging companies built logging camps surrounding Horne Lake. The largest camp was located at Camp 5 at the west end of the lake.

Portable Sawmill at Horne Lake

Portable Sawmill at Horne Lake

At its peak the camp was comprised of a cookhouse which fed 450 men, 50 bunk houses, 10 family houses, a school, a store, a sawmill, and a machine shop equipped to build a locomotive. The location of Camp 5 is the present Regional District of Nanaimo Horne Lake Park. Camp 7 was a Japanese camp. The Japanese were also the section crew which built all the rail tracks around the lake. It was during this era that people started to discover Horne Lake for its recreation opportunities. The logging opened access to the lake and the families and friends of the loggers started to build cabins along the shores of the lake.

Road access during this period terminated at the Bay. For the price of $2 a ride could be purchased from the Horne Lake garage to Horne Lake in a model T and another $2 purchased a ride on a tugboat named Jiggs to places further along the lake.

Another option was by speeder along the rails from Deep Bay but was not popular due to the fact that it was a ‘very cold ride’. The first resident of Horne Lake was McCormick who received permission from the logging company at the time to locate a residential cabin on its shores. McCormick dragged a small loggers cabin down the shore and floated it across the water.

Alternate Service Worker Horne Lake Camp

Alternate Service Worker Horne Lake Camp

During the 1930s more people followed McCormick’s example and began squatting, setting up their cabins on the quiet lake. Over the years more people became aware the spectacular scenery and crystal waters of Horne Lake and increased numbers built cabins on the Horne Lake banks.

Recent research into the history of Horne Lake has discovered that the first resident of the area may have been a sasquatch. The first reported sasquatch sighting occurred in the year 1904. The Victoria Colonist reported on December 14, 1904 that four hunters saw a ‘hairy wild man with long matted hair and a beard’ racing at ‘tremendous speed’ through ‘unimpentrable undergrowth’. A number of other sightings took place over the next few years but there have not been any reported sightings over the past number of decades.

The lands surrounding Horne Lake have had many owners. For a time, the lands were owned by B.C. Cement, who according to the locals, had planned to mine the limestone cliffs of Mt. Mark. They eventually abandoned the idea and concentrated their efforts on Texada Island. The land was purchased by Montague Drake in 1962 and subsequently purchased by Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis. Taxis, who at the age of 64, was said to be Germany’s second richest man, with world wide assets exceeding 2.5 billion U.S.

Mount Mark

Mt. Mark

After unsuccessfully trying to move the cabin owners in 1962, the Prince Taxis agreed to lease the land to the cabin owners on five year renewable terms. The first leases went for $250 per year. When he died in 1990, his wife, Princess Gloria, inherited the land, and managed her Horne Lake holdings through her B.C. company called Texada Logging. The princess continued his father’s agreement of licensing lakefront lots to cabin owners on Horne Lake, with Texada logging handling the arrangements.

In November of 1999 the German princess sold Horne Lake lands to MacDonald Development Corporation. The princess’ family fortune, crippled by estate taxes and poor investments, had dwindled to about five hundred million US, so she decided to sell off her worldwide assets. MacDonald’s company purchased 4, 816 hectares on Saltspring Island and Horne Lake.

The Horne Lake License Holders Association (HLLHA) negotiated with MacDonald Corporation to purchase the lands surrounding Horne Lake. The HLLHA’s goals were to provide future security to its members and to preserve the natural beauty of the area. HLLHA, in seeking to purchase the lands, have sought appropriate zoning from the Nanaimo Regional District and various government agencies, which included The Ministry of the Environment, The Ministry of Lands and Forests, and the Ministry of Fisheries. The process involved opportunities for community input from a wide range of groups and individuals. Horne Lake Park was transferred by the membership to the Nanaimo Regional District for community and public use.

Like so many things in British Columbia, much of the discovery and exploration has been driven by either the logging or mining industry. And whether you agree or not, so much of this province would still be virgin territories if not for the these industries, most of the access roads are old logging roads that are widened to become acceptable. The regional park where we launched was the park that was donated by the cottage owners, it is 105 hectares that has 52 boondocking campsites, some right on the shoreline, and the lake itself is 815.3 hectares | 2015 acres | 8.2 km², the views of Mount Mark are just plain spectacular, the lake is crystal clear and visibility was excellent.

We kayaked all of the lakes southwestern shoreline, and while clean and beautiful, we were amazed how little wildlife that we seen, the occasional duck or sandpiper, but very little else, but the views seemed to make up for the short comings of any wildlife, there was a bear sighting on our drive in to the lake, but all we seen was just the butt end of a furry black bear heading up the hill through the forest. Here are a few of todays photos from Horne Lake, hope you enjoy.

Miss Laurie has finally got her camera back and we are all thankful for improvement that her photos bring.

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