VIPMA dedicated 3.5 years ago to construct a new monument for Leechtown as the old monument on private land is decrepit and not available to the general public. It is not available for people to understand the historical significance Leechtown had on Victoria and on many diverse people, cultures and industries over the years. The original Committee exhausted their abilities to bring this forth.
February 2014 President, Bruce Chaytor became Chair, Bart Van den Berk, Director became Co-chair and Donna Chaytor became Co-ordinator of all events starting the process of re-connecting with potential stake holders to bring this promise to membership to fulfillment. Partnerships were developed with CRD Parks, CRD Water Shed. Much to do in a short time frame, but it all came together, and we presented an incredible Leechtown 150 Celebration.
July 19, 2014 has passed and gone, all who attended state it was a well organized, and appropriately supported event to honor the new monument and the rich history of Leechtown.
There will be a catalogue of the event built in the next few weeks, and for now we offer you the coverage of the Sooke News Mirror, excellent photos were taken by Britt Santowski, and she wrote a very good article.
As the individuals who took over from the committee we tried to recognize all that was Leechtown, yes the finding of the gold by John Foley on July 18, 1864, and the penned words of Robert Brown as he sent samples into Victoria “The Gold Will Speak for Itself”; but beyond this our Honoured Guest was Her Honour, The Honourable Judith Guichon Lieutenant Governer of British Columbia. As it was in 1928 the ceremony was attended by the Lieutenant Governor it was July 19, 2014. Our distinguished guests were Mr. Fred Zarelli, as we all know Fred, and Fred has been the gatekeeper and is the knowledge keeper of all memories that span over sixty years that occurred in Leechtown. We were fortunate at the last moment which I attribute to a greater energy than all, we were contacted by Ms. Beverley Smith, who had been born in Leechtown in the 1940’s. In the future we will put on our website a feature page on Beverley with photos, etc. As a team we strove to bring in all aspects of what Leechtown has offered Southern Vancouver Island besides it’s rich history of a gold rush and still 100 claims in the valley active, we included those who intimately knew Leechtown and area, logging history, forestry, bee keeping, First Nations, and every possible connection we could make with Leechtown that became known to us, we invited representatives, guests to honor this area.
As Event Coordinator very late in the game, any person willing and refusing to hear the word impossible can achieve and put together a well organized event. Tribute goes to the many volunteers who were at the top early in the morning setting all of this plan in place tribute goes to the many volunteers who used their wit and brawn to clear the area, mix the cement build a base, wrestle a huge rock out of a quarry, wrestle it into place to rest on it’s cement base. Without Volunteers a project of this intensity would not come together. VIPMA members involved in dealing with stakeholders, embracing the project and being there, and showing up on the last day to bring it all together speaks of your character and your love of Leechtown. VIPMA hopes this ceremony was something a little special to all involved.
VIPMA also thanks CRD Parks for providing the site in Kapoor Park, and access through the Galloping Goose and also thanks CRD Water Shed for “ALL” of their help, we are more than grateful and now this monument becomes part of the Park which adds to the biking and walking tours that do go on throughout the summer. It was a pleasure to work with all of you and VIPMA has gratitude this was possible, when in dire straits a special thank you to Anne Constable Senior Manager of the CRD.
VIPMA also has special thanks to the Sooke RCMP, Constables Joe Holmes, Lee Ingeberg and Christina Klein for the escort and also Lee you are a perfect Red Serge. Thank you.
There is special mention and a great thank you to Bob Nelson, known in the musical world as Robert K – for donating his time and equipment and eloquent voice to sing God Save the Queen and Oh Canada and bringing the proper ambience to this event. A special thank you to all who took pictures, and to Nick Weymss for his putting together an awesome movie, so many members went above and beyond to make this day special, one cannot say enough thank you’s. Also thank you to one non member April who truly helped us out a lot that day.
Special thanks also go to Titanium Tents, and all who came through the Goldstream Gate on time, and did such an incredible job setting up the area with our volunteers.
May thanks to Her Honour The Honourable Judith Guichon, Her Piper, and her escort. What an honor to have you wish us. Thank you.
No one is forgotten for their help, if your name is not here, you are not forgotten.
Donna Chaytor – Coordinator Leechtown 150 Commemoration.