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Page last updated October 12, 2005
© Michael Kluckner
Most of the buildings in the staff compound of General McRae's "Eaglecrest" estate at Qualicum Beach are named. This one, the gardener's cottage, is "The Hornby," after 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. Note how, in the watercolour above, the house seems to hug the ground, and compare it with the photo below. I did two watercolours there that afternoon in August, 2002 – the first one I finished I subsequently destroyed (by slashing it with large quantities of sepia paint) because I thought it looked like I'd drawn it "too close" to the ground. The one above looks the same, though – I think it's correct. An architect does log cabins – that's why they appear to hug the ground.
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: 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 update below]
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.
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 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 painted these two pictures: above, the view from the site of the old mansion, showing the former servants' area; below, the gardener's cottage from a different angle, shaded from the morning sun. Have these buildings been demolished since?