Our Island History
Waters Edge is located on an island that is steeped in a very important and rich part of Canadian history. The island is located right next to the Seaplane Base and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on the morning of December 7 1941, the Government of Canada started building it’s defense in preparation from a possible attack from the Japanese government. The Seaplane Base occupied a large part of Ucluelet and it’s mission was to defend Canada’s West Coast against submarines and airplanes.
The island where Water’s Edge is located hosted a watch tower, a dock and storage for ammunition.
Back then, Ucluelet was the residence of around 200 residents who were mostly fisherman and loggers.
The seaplane base closed in 1944 while remaining guarded by the military for a few years afterward.
The Seaplane Base eventually transferred ownership to MacMillan Bloedel. MacMillan Bloedel was the first truly integrated forestry company in British Columbia and held many timber resources. They purchased the Seaplane Base from the government of Canada to expand their operation. On your way to Ucluelet you will have passed through “Cathedral Grove” the Class A Provincial Park donated by MacMillan Bloedel. The park is home to the only highway accessible and oldest Douglas-fir forest in all of BC (and one of Canada’s Seven Wonders).
The Road In
As the forestry and fishing industry grew the first main road was finally built by the late 50’s to connect Port Alberni and Ucluelet. Ucluelet & Tofino started attracting tourist and becoming known world-wide as one of the most beautiful places to visit on the West Coast of Canada. The call for the road can be traced back as far as 1929; Gertrude Jackson’s famous Dec 1st, 1929 article for the The Daily Colonist of Victoria elegantly spotlights all the wonderful things one can do here.
People who stay at the Water’s Edge soon understand why our history and location make it so special. No other place gives both access to the area, the marina and the inlet from a single location. It is at the center of all of the major attractions in the area while still feeling completely secluded.
(1854 – 1944)
George Fraser Brings Rhododendrons!
Every year in May, Ucluelet celebrates George Fraser Day. But who was this amazing man (You probably have one of his Rhodie hybridization in your garden! He was globally acclaimed and he created several new species of the billowing flower.)
Before moving to Canada in 1883 from Scotland, George Fraser was the head of gardening at the large country estates of Auchmore, Killin, Perthshire.
He emigrated to Canada with his sister and worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway for a time. He started a commercial greenhouse in Winnipeg but because of the cold winter, he decided to move to a more temperate region further west and settled in Victoria, British Columbia in 1885 where he established a fruit and vegetable garden.
With his reputation as an excellent plantsman, he was hired to be the foreman of the entire project of Beacon Hill Park.
In 1894, Fraser left Victoria for the remote fishing village of Ucluelet where he had bought 236 acres (0.96 km2) for $236 two years before. At that time the village was only accessible by sea. Singlehandedly he cleared 4 acres of land who were the host of very large ancient forest trees, enough of his land to establish his nursery. Hybridizing was his passion and this he did with honeysuckle, gooseberries, cranberries, roses and many more besides.
His work was recognized internationally and recorded in the Gardener’s Chronicle of London. Plant explorers and botanists corresponded with him, as did The Royal Botanic Garden, Kew and the Arnold Arboretum, Boston.
In 1919 he sent a specimen to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England. Kew named the plant Rhododendron fraseri.