1905 - 1989 by Jack A. Vaughan
Written July 1991
1905 - 1916
During the period 1905 until approximately 1907 my father John William Vaughan, a bachelor then age 33 purchased North Thormanby Island in parcels from several different owners. There were no dwellings on the island at this time, although the flats behind Oaks point as the wharf area was then called had been used as an Indian burial ground for an unknown period in the past. Until 1916 my father used the island as a hobby. Camping on it in tents alone or with friends to start then building himself a two room cabin on what is now lot #2 of old Vaucroft. Fresh water was obtained initially by rowing to the spring in water bay. Access and supplies were obtained through the services of the Union Steamship Company which called at the float in Buccaneer Bay.
1916 - 1920
My father was anxious to serve in the great war of 1914-1918 but because he had asthma and was then 44 years old he was not accepted by the Canadian Army. Therefore he travelled to England in 1916 where he obtained a commission in the British Army. Prior to leaving Vancouver for the war he sold the North East corner of the island, now lot AAC consisting of about 75 acres to the B.C. Telephone Company who built a resort there for the telephone operators. This consisted of a wharf and a float at their present locations, a fleet of row boats and a big boat house by the shore at the end of the ramp to the wharf. There was also an attractive lodge with a large elaborate kitchen and pantry, an enormous beach stone fireplace, a hardwood floor on springs for dancing and wide verandas. There was also a separate lounge building with flush toilets, a wooden tennis court, an orchard, a separate laundry building with bathtubs and a water heating plant, a winterized caretakers house, a long string of sleeping cabins along the tree line from just south of the present tennis court to the lodge at West Beach all with cold running water and all connected by an electrically lighted board walk stretching from the wharf to the lodge. A diesel (junkers) generator supplied the electricity to the dock, board walk and all the buildings but was used for lighting only. A well and diesel pump at their present location on lot A and a wooden water tower supplied the required fresh water. Hot water canisters were delivered to each cabin occupant in the mornings. Refrigeration was supplied by daily shipments of ice and ice cream from Vancouver by the Union Steamship Company. A small general store, post office and telephone facility existed in the building on lot 1 of old Vaucroft.
During my father=s absence in 1917 the Northwest part of the island was logged and in the process caught fire and was burnt over. The remains of an old donkey engine can still be seen in this area. In January 1918 my father married my mother in Paris. She was the daughter of an executive in the Chemins de fer du Nord (the northern railway company of France). They returned to Vancouver in 1919 to find that the B.C. Telephone Company resort was a big flop, since the telephone company staff having spent 50 weeks of their year together were not anxious to be in each other=s company during their two weeks of holiday. The company therefore offered to sell back lot A to my father including all of the above mentioned improvements for the same price as they had paid him for the undeveloped lot. The offer was accepted and my parents started running the lodge as a summer resort. Yours truly was born in Vancouver in June 1920 at which point my father enlarged his original cabin and built sundry out buildings and a vegetable garden. The rates at the lodge were $4.50 a day per person or $25 per week including all meals and the union steamship company return fare from Vancouver was $2.50. Since the season was only at the most 10 weeks long and no extra income was obtainable from such services as selling alcoholic drinks, it was very hard to make much of a living for the whole year from this source.
1921 - 1929
In the early 20s, and independently of the lodge operation, my father built nine identical fully equipped cottages along the tree line of old Vaucroft. They had their own kitchens and a seasoned supply of cut wood for the kitchen stoves was provided each summer and a new supply of fresh water was established and piped to each cottage and to our house from a spring on top of the island. The lodge=s electric light system was extended to all of the cottages. Initially these cottages were all rented but over the years regular renters purchased them, and apart from passing from father to son very seldom changed hands thereafter. The flat in front of the cottages was designated as a park by my father and was meant solely for the use of the cottage occupants. These cottages still have their original appearance although much improved by the individual owners. The last cottage #10 (since dad=s was #1) had to be abandoned due to the cliff slippage behind the building which pushed it onto the beach. At this time the south of the island was logged. A log cabin well built by the loggers existed in that area but has entirely disappeared.
In about 1923 an old bachelor friend of my father=s, Lance Ashcroft, retired to B.C. from a business career in the Orient and as a sideline invested a little of his money in the resort enterprise which was henceforth called Vaucroft( from VAUghan & ashCROFT). He subsequently lost all his money except for what he had put into Vaucroft. He ended up living on the island full-time and acting as caretaker in the winter months. He died in 1943 and my father purchased his interest in the property from his estate. Whilst here he built many beautiful trails around the island and the remains of some of the little shelters he made at lookout points can still be found. In 1924 my parents returned to Paris to visit my grandparents and my brother Terrence was born there in May. In the summer of 1926 a young boy who was staying with his parents as guests at the lodge broke into the locked basement of the caretakers house, discovered some old dynamite caps above the rafters which unbeknown to us had been left there by the B.C. Telephone Company and in the course of playing with them blew out one of his eyes. The parents sued my father and although it was patently no fault of his he was advised to settle out of court because a jury would most likely sympathize with the wounded child. This heavy financial setback w 1929 and in November of that year my mother took me age 9 and my brother age 5 to Paris to live with her parents for what was intended to be a brief period while my father stayed on at Vaucroft and tried to get back on his feet. My mother never returned to live in B.C. and in 1935 she moved to England where she remained until her recent death. As a result my brother and I were educated in both France and England.
1930 - 1945
During this period my father and Lance Ashcroft struggled to keep the enterpri was run by various couples on a profit sharing basis. A new clay tennis court was built in 1935 since the wooden one had disintegrated. A few holes of golf were created on the flats. The top of the season rates per person at the lodge in 1930 were $3 per day or $18 per week all-inclusive and by 1942 had risen to $4 and $21 respectively. In 1938 having finished my schooling in England I returned to B.C. and to Vaucroft leaving my brother and mother in England. I spent two summers on the island, one upon arrival and a second while waiting for my call up for the war. My wife Jane and I were married in Toronto in April 1942. We flew to Vancouver and spent part of our honeymoon which was also my embarkation leave, at Vaucroft. We returned in August of 1945 prior to my discharge and enjoyed staying at the lodge during its last year of operation. The absence of a regular steamer service when the Union Steam Ship Co. ceased operating in 1946 spelled the end of the lodge as a viable operation and the whole plant, which was pretty run down anyway, was allowed to fall to pieces. My wife and I settled in Montreal from 1945 to 1966. My brother Terrance who had joined the Canadian Army in England was discharged in Vancouver and spent the summers of 1945 and 1946 helping out at Vaucroft, while attending UBC. He subsequently tra to McGill in Montreal and has never resided in B.C. since.
1946 - 1966
During the period of 1946 to 1958 the only people using the Island were the owners of the cottages at old Vaucroft who overcame the transportation and supply problems in various ingenious ways. One or two of these cottages were still owned by my father at this time and the income from their rental was helpful to my brother whilst at UBC. In 1946 a further logging operation took place during which the present road from the flat to the top of the Island was built. With the proceeds from the logging my father made some astute investments which multiplied in value and enabled him to pay off the large mortgage on the Island and live comfortably in Vancouver. In 1958 he sold lot A to a developer who subdivided the flat part with the result which is now in existence. My father paid his last visit to the Island with my brother in 1959 and then died in Vancouver in December 1960 at age 88. His property on the Island was left to my brother and me. He already deeded the entire southern half of the Island to my mother. The developer of Lot A ran into financial problems and was unable to pay a logging firm he had employed to clear the ground for his lots. So this firm took the undeveloped part of Lot A in payment. This was mainly a parcel of land on the top of the Island. It was completely cleared by the logging firm but has since been overgrown by Alders. In 1961 the Island was logged again during which many roads were built around and across the Island and down to the shore at the gap and at Epsom Point. In 1966 my wife and I moved to Vancouver from Montreal. I had previously bought out my brother=s and my mother=s interest in the Island. I also bough back the undeveloped but cleared part of Lot A from the logging firm such that I then owned the entire Island except for the two sub-divisions on the flat. Prior to moving back to B.C. we had a new cottage built for ourselves on Lot 2 of old Vaucroft on the site of my father=s original cabin in 1962.
1967 - 1989
1967 Built a new tennis court as it now exists
1968 Found a fresh water sand point at Epsom Point
1971 Built a cabin at Epsom Point
1978 Sold the undeveloped part of the Island for sub-division into 10 acre lots, keeping 3 lots at Epsom Point and 1 Lot behind old Vaucroft for my own use.
1979 Sold our cottage at old Vaucroft
1989 In May of that year sold Epsom Point and all remaining properties on the Island when J.A. Vaughan, aged 69, and his Mrs. decided that it was time to find less strenuous ways of spending the summer.