The hands of time relentlessly tick forward, constantly turning the present into the past and creating history. Sometimes this history is profound, and sometimes it is mundane. Sometimes it lives in a place that was very remote, meaning it now lives in the minds and memories of only a few. Jordan River is one such place.
At one time, the community of Jordan River numbered around 1,000 residents, likely brought here to service the booming logging industry that thrived here. Over the years, economic changes have seen these numbers dwindle to somewhere around 100 people. In the last 20 years or so that we have been visiting this place, it became a destination for surfers and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoyed camping on the shores of the ocean in the local campground. The article “6 Things to Know about Jordan River, Vancouver Island’s Hidden Surfing Gem” highlights the active surf that is the allure for adventure seekers, and if you scroll down near the bottom there is a small video clip that shows exactly why.
During our visits to Jordan River, we’d frequently grab a burger at Shakie’s Burger Shack, a well known local landmark. In early 2011 we visited the area and featured the story “No Burgers Today” which sadly discussed the closing of the restaurant. Shortly after this visit, it was all gone. A harbinger of things to come.
Jordan River is an amazing spot on Vancouver Island. The rugged and dramatic coastline exemplifies the raw beauty that is Vancouver Island, frequently the target of wicked storms that bring in pounding waves. We presume this is what draws the surfers.
This month, BC Hydro finalized the buyout of all but one of the properties below its Jordan River diversion dam on Vancouver Island, and that means many of the homes along the beach-front will be removed.
The area below the dam was declared the most seismic-prone area in B.C. and possibly even in Canada in 2014. That led BC Hydro to buy properties that might be destroyed by a dam collapse in the event of a magnitude 8.0 or 9.0 earthquake.
This quote says it all. The concern for safety and the protection of life is the paramount driver of the decision to shutter the community once and for all. While the reasons are obvious and the outcome preordained, it was no less of a shock for us to visit the community recently and find it all but boarded up and in process of being removed.
Were these buildings homes to the people who once lived here, or were they offices? We are not entirely sure, and it’s even possible their purpose changed as the years went by. Regardless, the outward view experienced from inside these old homes is second to none. A jagged coastline leads you out into the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean, where the only destination from here would be the east coast of the Asian Continent. The scope and scale of this all is simply astounding.
The only recent inhabitants appear to be vandals who seem to have an unending appetite to destroy things. These activities leave behind a strange canvas, one that exhibits the beauty of the landscapes that exist just outside the doors of the buildings, juxtaposed against the artistic tension found in how destruction and decay effects things. We find this only adds to the sense of loneliness and sadness experienced when visiting places like this that once were active and today resemble scenes from another planet entirely.
One has to wonder, what were the stories of those who once lived here? Were Christmases and birthdays celebrated in these rooms, looking out towards the beautiful ocean? We children raised here in a small community that found everyone looking out for each other? Did the bread winners in the family head out each morning to work in the active logging sector, returning home each night in a commute that could easily be done by foot? These stories linger in the walls that remain, yet they will likely also remain secrets that will soon dissipate like a fog in the early morning.
These questions, and more, are doomed to the vaults of time where a collection of other such stories sit. Perhaps one day someone will do an expose on the rise and fall of Jordan River, revealing the answers to these forlorn questions. Or perhaps they will simply fade away. We know our memories will be with us forever.
Thank you for your kind visit to The Hollow here today, we really appreciate it. As always, we love to hear from all our visitors so please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below.