The house that Dan built: 1910

Around 1910 prominent Victoria lawyer, Will Oliver, had a log cabin built at what is now the Gordon Road area

The Oliver house in 1915.

The Oliver house in 1915.

Around 1910 prominent Victoria lawyer, Will Oliver, had a log cabin built at what is now the Gordon Road area of Lake Cowichan.

At the time he had many property interests in the Cowichan Lake area including the Lakeside Hotel, a farm at Marble Bay and most of Sa-Seen-Os Point in Youbou. The cabin — to be used as a pleasant getaway for the family as well as a good place to fish — was built by Dan Savoie, a French Canadian woodsman. He was, at the time, considered a master builder.

Olivers “cottage” (as the family called it) was the first house built in the general area with the old Riverside Inn being it’s closest neighbour.

Oliver’s daughter Catherine later recalled the many idyllic days spent with her parents and friends picnicking, swimming and house boating on Cowichan Lake or exploring the river pools in a small flat bottomed boat near her parents cottage on the Cowichan River. Situated a stones throw from the island that is just beyond the Big Pool (on the river), the beautiful river beckoned young Catherine and her parents as did the lake and nearby Oliver Creek.

Catherine also loved trips on the lake aboard the family houseboat that was also built by Savoie. She described it as “built of cedar, probably cut from trees on Sa-Seen-os Point. [It was] a large structure which rode high in the water…. enhanced with a verandah (porch) that ran along the sides and stern.”

A day on the houseboat was, to the young girl, a pleasant and relaxing way to travel from place to place along the lake, there being no proper roads for travel around the lake back then.

Unlike it was in the early days of settlement, today the house, (no longer described as a cabin) rests on a lovely, but smaller piece of property bordered on one side by a pleasant tree-lined street and the scenic Cowichan River on the other.

During the warmer months, a multitude of people on inner tubes, kayaks and canoes float past the house on their way to Little Beach and points beyond unaware that the house has been there since before all, or most of us, were born.

Although situated in the town core, the house is somewhat hidden from view giving the impression of great privacy. It and the neighbouring houses blend perfectly into the pleasant neighbourhood surroundings, once covered with thick dark forest.

Over the years, the house was remodeled, added to, renovated and updated — always in keeping with the times while preserving the integrity of the original log structure.

From the tall dense forests that once lined the riverbank (and the entire valley) to the groomed lawns of the many riverside homes of today; from the early days of [destructive] river log drives to present day summertime tubers and boaters, the house has seen it all.