North Pender Island is one of the properties that form the Gulf
Islands National Park Reserve, and is home to the Pender Islands
Museum, located in the Roe House, which offers a glimpse into the
past of the Pender Islands.
Islands Museum in the Roe House at Roesland
comprises the restored Roe House and vacation cottages, a small
footbridge that leads out to a short trail and a viewpoint on Roe
Islet, and the freshwater Roe Lake.
Covered in mostly
second-growth Douglas fir forest, the uplands above Shingle Bay
adjacent to Roesland protect a rarity in the Gulf Islands
a natural freshwater lake. A short trail system leads up to Roe
Robert and Margaret
Roe emigrated from Scotland and settled in Victoria 1896. A few
years later they moved to Pender and purchased land from Washington
Grimmer on the Port Washington Road. In 1906 they purchased a 650-acre
parcel of virgin land on the south side of Otter Bay, and began
the arduous task of developing a simple farm that they named Roesland.
Bay at Roesland, Gulf Islands National Park
Ella Bay began as a pioneer farm, literally carved out of an old
growth forest whose dense foliage overhung the beaches.
As there was
no market for timber at the time, the land was cleared for farming
by burning the standing trees until they fell, and then continuing
the burn of the trunks and stumps where they lay. By this means
some 30 acres were cleared for cultivation.
The house was
built by the Roes in 1908 as a typical farm house of that era. The
house was constructed from a kit, with the lumber largely pre-cut
to the amount and dimensions required. All components above the
foundation were delivered by barge to Roesland, and the house was
completed in five days! The invoice from the Chemainus Lumber Company
shows the delivered cost of the material as $589.62.
layout on the first floor consisted of an entrance hall, a parlour,
kitchen and pantry, and three bedrooms. The second storey was a
large loft with limited headroom. Later, in 1935, all interior walls
were removed to create a large open space to serve as a community
hall for the entertainment of the guests of the resort. In 1975,
the open space was divided to create a workshop and additional storage
Cabin at Roesland
In 1912, a cottage
on the property was casually rented, and its popularity for further
rentals indicated the potential for more vacation cabins. By 1917,
Roesland began advertising itself as a "Farm-Resort".
Guests more often than not willingly participated in the chores
of the farm, from the milking to haying. Accommodation in these
early days was spartan by any standards, with guests providing their
own bedding, china, cutlery and kitchen utensils.
son Bert and his wife Irene took over the operation of the farm
and the developing resort. In 1971, the property was sold to David
and Florence Davidson. David had been a regular guest at Roesland
for more than 40 years, and he and Florence continued the warm,
hospitable and family nature of the resort until it closed in 1991.
When Parks Canada
acquired Roesland, the original homestead had sadly deteriorated
and was close to collapse as many of the foundation pasts had rotted
away. Parks Canada offered the use of the building to the Pender
Islands Museum Society, with a long term lease at negligible cost
if the Museum Society would restore the building to a condition
suitable for public access as a Museum. The Museum Society would
also assume full responsibility for all maintenance and annual operating
expenses, and would receive no financial assistance from Parks Canada.
Lake, located in the forest above Shingle Bay
The Museum Society
accepted that offer and began a two-year restoration process, that
included replacing the posts with a proper perimeter foundation,
and the construction of a replica of the missing front porch and
portico. The Museum was officially opened in July, 2005. The
Pender Islands Museum at 2408 Otter Bay Road is open from Easter
through to the Thanksgiving weekend, from 10am to 4pm in July and
August, and 1 to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is by donation.