OF BOLD BLUFF
by your host,
A Special Place
Bold Bluff was a special place to the Coast Salish People hundreds and even thousands of years ago. In a rocky shoreline with steep cliffs plunging straight into the sea, the cove offered a haven of protection and abundance. Used as a summer camp, the entire bank of the cove is an Indian Midden piled with empty clamshells and dirt, with a fresh water stream running year round and plenty of clams on the muddy beach.
Bold Bluff was formed a very, very long time ago by volcanic activity. Geologists say that it began 400 million years ago in the South Pacific Ocean near the Philippine Islands, and gradually the rock mass inched its way north to crash into North America about 110 million years ago. The process dragged down, folded, deformed and metamorphosed these rocks into the condition in which you now find them. As you walk along the winding boardwalk to the Garden Cottage and the Lodge, drinking in deeply the smell of seaweed and salt air, you can see how deformed, twisted and powerful are the mysterious forces of Earth. Some of the rock layers, smothered in sedum and wildflowers, are tilted up to 95 degrees! The North end of Salt Spring Island is relatively new – about 70 million years old – (that’s about the age of dinosaurs and whales) while the South end, which encompasses Bold Bluff, is very old indeed.
Late 1930’s – early 1950’s: Bold Bluff as Top Secret Hide-away in World War
In the late 1930s Jim Collins, an engineer from Vancouver, BC, bought the 100-acre property for summer vacations. He cleared the land above the cove, planted a variety of apple, plum, pear and cherry trees in 1938, and built a Caretaker’s Cottage and the rustic main log Lodge in 1940. All materials arrived by barge as there were no roads into the property. Rumours abound as to how he built the gigantic 120-foot double-decker wharf at the cove’s entrance. An astute businessman, Mr. Collins convinced the Provincial Government to build the dock for a top secret hide-away during World War
II. A freighter could unload here quickly in the event that Victoria was bombed.
Logged in 1956
When Jim Collins died, his wife sold the property to three Victoria families who formed a logging partnership. The property is riddled with old logging roads up the steep mountain, but the actual rock mass of Bold Bluff Point was never logged. They only took Douglas fir, and left all the cedar!
1957 – 1965: Hugh and Vivien Rodd – homesteading and a wharf fire
Hugh and Vivien Rodd, who built Canoe Cove at Shwartz Bay, bought the property in 1954 as a glorious and happy retirement adventure. They hadn’t been here long when a friend of theirs tied up at the wharf because their tug was over-heating as they tooted up Sansum Narrows and they just knew Hugh Rodd could fix it. Everyone evacuated the tug just as it burst into flames and set the wharf on fire. Some teenage fishermen saw the fire and towed the flaming tug out into the Narrows where it exploded and sank. You can still see the charred pilings on this wharf! Hugh was MAD! The wharf lost about 40 feet (it is now a mere 80 feet long). In spite of this misadventure, the Rodds passionately loved the land, and lived here 10 years with their young daughter, Joan, and Vivien’s Mother, who lived in the “Grandmother’s Cottage”. Going to town once a week was an adventure – Grandmother always baked an apple pie for her family when they returned before dark. They really were isolated – not at all like it is today with our high speed boats whisking back and forth sometimes 3 or 4 times a day! Eventually Vivien wanted a more social life and they decided to sell and move to England.
1965 – 1987: Griggs, Hewitt and Saltonstall
My Father, Chauncey Griggs, was fishing in Sansum Narrows in 1954 when he saw the For Sale sign on the property. Intrigued by the romantic beauty and isolation, he walked all over the land, falling in love with it. He inquired about the price, but didn’t purchase it. Ten years later he was once again fishing in Sansum Narrows and there was another For Sale sign on Bold Bluff. This time, he bought the land with two other families for summer vacations. We hired a full-time Danish Caretaker and divided the summer into thirds, rotating who got which month. We also decided that each family could choose 5 acres and build their own cabin. The Saltonstall’s got first choice out of the hat and built what is today called
"Salty’s Cabin" in 1965, designed by a Seattle Architect, Milton Horder. The Hewitts and Griggs never built their cabins! Shortly after, the Saltonstalls sold out and moved to Maine. We shared the property for 23 years with the Hewitts, using it mainly for summer vacations. The Hewitts sold their share to us in 1987.
1987 – present: Bold Bluff Retreat
I inherited Bold Bluff in 1989 and moved here full time in 1993 with my 12 year old daughter, Maya, who went to school by boat for the next 5 years. I began running Bold Bluff Retreat in 1995, and continue to enjoy sharing this land with all those who have come here to soak up the beauty and peace of this magical Eden. I welcome all of you who want to step back from your busy life and re-connect with family, friends and especially Nature – the giver of abundance and life!