|Reflections in pond, Eves Park|
It is less than a ten minute drive away, and I’ve passed it at least a hundred times on my way to the SPCA. I once followed the sign along the lane a few hundred metres, but wasn’t sure where I was going or where I should park so abandoned the impromptu stop. I’d heard it was hilly, not dog friendly, and I didn’t know anyone who went there often.
And so it has taken me almost three years to get around to exploring one of the Cowichan Valley’s best kept secrets: Eves Park. It is a 45 acre, Class C Provincial Park (meaning it was donated to the province but is managed by a volunteer board and receives no government funding), gifted to BC in 1961 by Janet Goodall. Last Friday, my friend and co-writer Liz and I took our dogs Sasha and Eddie for a walk in the park, seeking fodder for Crofton Corner, our column in the Chemainus Courier.
|Liz and Sasha check out the Park Information Board|
And no, there isn’t supposed to be an apostrophe in ‘Eves’. The park was named in memory of the donor’s father, the Rev. James Eaves. According to T.W. Paterson, author of “A Place Called Cowichan” (Firgrove Publishing, 2005), by the time anyone realized the province had misspelled the name, “all the expensive signage had been done, so Ms. Goodall graciously told them to go ahead with Eves.”
Technically, the park is in the community of Westholme in the District of North Cowichan, not in Crofton. It is on the western slope of Mount Richards – on the flip side from Crofton Lake, the trail to which starts at the end of my road. Unfortunately, one can’t get to Eves Park from Crofton Lake without trespassing on private land.
At one time, however, there was a railway line which connected the two – part of a system bringing copper from Sicker Mountain to the west, across Mount Richards, and down to the smelter in Crofton – a smelter once located right across from my house, but long since gone.
|Red and black line shows where the railway used to go|
|An information board provides history and photos of the early years in this area|
|Liz, Sasha and Eddie check out a small section of track, |
left as a symbolic reminder of the park's history.
Today, the park boasts a nature house, well marked trails, information boards and picnic facilities, and yet it has remained true to its rustic nature, a protected wilderness environment of old growth forest, moss-covered stony bluffs, and natural waterways.
|A gentle reminder of earth's biodiversity|
|Eddie on a mossy bluff|
|Liz checks out the old growth forest|
|View from the west bluff. In the distance is the|
Trans Canada Hwy, against the backdrop of
|This huge old broadleaf maple tree, one of the few deciduous trees|
in the park, may look dead now, but the sign tells us its
branches will have a half acre of leaf surface come summer.
|Toadstools on a mossy bluff|
|More toadstools - I think - or are they mushrooms?|
|Liz and Sasha look skyward at the sound of a raven calling.|
|Signs explain the claw marks on trees|
|Inside of a bear tree|
|Recent bear or cougar activity|
|Eddie meets Zena|
|A lovely old face|
There were more bluffs and a cave we've yet to explore. I loved the park, and will go back often. And it was made all the more pleasurable by watching Eddie conquer one of his biggest fears – stairs. Without hesitation, he bunny-hopped all the way up this long steep winding stairway. I was so surprised, I didn’t even get a picture of him climbing his Mount Everest.
|Eddie's Mount Everest|
|Sasha shows us how it's done.|