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Page last updated November 9, 2020
© Michael Kluckner
Written in 2002: Most of the buildings in the staff
compound of General McRae's "Eaglecrest" estate at Qualicum
Beach are named. This one, apparently the gardener's cottage, is
"The Hornby," named for the island a little ways north in
Georgia Strait. The main house of the estate, of which there is
a photo below, burned down in the 1960s; it was designed by
Vancouver architect C.B.K. Van Norman, and it's a fair guess to
say he did the log staff buildings, too.
There can be few places more beautiful than this corner of the "Eaglecrest" estate on a sunny summer day, with the beach below and the distant blue sea meeting the blue-tinted mountains of the mainland.
Note from Danielle, 2005: I was just looking at your
web site and you wondered what was happening to the land that
Larry Jacobson owns. He's building two houses on it as well as I
hear small rumors about a condo development. My company is doing
the cabinetry. The house and guest cottage are to keep with the
theme of the area and are not going to be ostentatious. I
thought it was interesting for you to know. I love Qualicum
history. My parents' house is the original caretakers cottage
from the old Qualicum Inn that was on the golf course. [see
MK, 2005: Diane MacKie lives in the house and very graciously showed me its interior. Apparently the entire property is owned by a man named Larry Jacobson, who is probably holding it for development, as there is little maintenance being done on the group of log buildings, and a lot of absolutely prime, vacant land in what must be the most desirable location on Vancouver Island. There are a few other surviving log estate buildings – on the "Eaglecrest" golf course. You can't miss 'em – they stand out amidst the vinyl siding and cheap fanlights of the new houses surrounding the course.
Written by MK, 2005: Of all the estates erected at fashionable Qualicum Beach, "Eaglecrest" was probably the most lavish, and is probably among the biggest log homes ever erected anywhere. Its builder, General Alexander Duncan McRae, left his city home, "Hycroft" in Vancouver's Shaughnessy Heights (since 1962 the University Women's Club on McRae Avenue), behind, turning it over to the Canadian government during the Second World War to be used as an annex to Shaughnessy Hospital.
I spoke in Qualicum Beach in May, 2005, as part of the Vanishing BC book promotion. The tenants of the gardener's cottage attended, and told me that they and their neighbours had just been given their notice to vacate. So I went down to Eaglecrest the following morning and sketched in these two pictures: above, the view from the site of the old mansion, showing the former servants' area, including the gardener's cottage partly visible on the left; below, the gardener's cottage from a different angle, shaded from the morning sun. Have these buildings been demolished since?
Correspondence with Duncan Olenick, 2020, about the location of the McRaes’ 10,000 square foot log cabin: I visited the Vancouver Archives recently and looked over the three large folios of original plans that they have by the architect C.B.K. Van Norman. The artistry of the architect really stood out in the renderings that were included among the plans. The blueprints were signed BLM with "Owner" marked next to these initials on some plans – I assume BLM is Blaunche Lamiter McRae, wife of AD McRae. There was also a rough site plan which helped give me a sense of where the many buildings stood on the original estate.