Sandi Knighton pays tribute to her mother, Monique, and father, Peter, who ran Chez Monique’s on the West Coast Trail. PINK BUFFALO FILMS PHOTO

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

It started with a $10 can of Coke, recalls Sandi Knighton in the newly released documentary ‘Chez Monique’s: a burger on the edge of the world’ produced by Pink Buffalo Films.

“It was a hot day. There was a hiker that came down the ladder and he saw us with this pop and he comes running up and sits down and he’s sweating and he’s got a big backpack and he says I’ll give you 10 dollars for just one of your pop. And from there it just grew,” Knighton says of her family’s restaurant Chez Monique’s located on Carmanah beach on the West Coast Trail.

Over the last 25 years, the legendary off-the-grid establishment fed and hosted hikers from all over the world.

Vancouver-based director Chris Lorenz first encountered Chez Monique’s while he was hiking the West Coast Trail.

“Like so many others, I was taken aback by the hospitality and persistence exhibited by the Knightons and amazed at how they had made such a harsh environment feel like home — not only for themselves but for their guests,” wrote Lorenz.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades, and all the hearts they touched,” said producer Joaquin Cardoner.

“With the passing of the restaurant’s founder, Monique, in January 2018 followed soon after by the unexpected death of her husband, Peter, the film depicts their daughter’s struggle to keep the business afloat without them, while also sharing the restaurant’s origin story and its impact on visitors,” said Cardoner.

Due to the passing of Knighton’s father, a Carmanah or kwaabaaduw7aa7tx First Nation, this is the first year in which Chez Monique’s has not opened.

“[Chez Monique’s] is all I know. I’ve been out of place,” Knighton told the Westerly from her base in Duncan. “If they said, ‘this is your legacy and you can go back’, I would be there in a heartbeat.”

Her parent’s ashes remain in the cabin they built on the West Coast Trail. Knighton said she is not allowed to go back to the area because she is not a member of Ditidaht First Nation, the tribe that governs the territory within the West Coast Trail, which is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

According to Parks Canada, approximately 7,500 hikers take on the West Coast Trail per year. Knighton said Chez Monique’s was “always for the hikers.” She said her family was there for the people in dire need.

“Come get a warm drink, come get something to eat. Come to the fire. We gave them tea, coffee, put them under shelter. The best gift you can ever give someone is to help them,” said Knighton.

Karen Haugen, superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, addressed the issue.

“Parks Canada does not own the land where Chez Monique’s restaurant is located, however the Agency respects the Ditidaht First Nation’s land management decisions,” wrote Haugen in an email to the Westerly.

The 21-minute film ‘Chez Monique’s’ was released online and on VOD by Telus Originals on July 16.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations move to final stage of treaty negotiations (June 28, 2019)

READ MORE: Port Renfrew overcomes economic stagnation to become B.C. tourism mecca

Just Posted

Port Hardy council creates subscription-based portal for agendas and minutes

It was a “council decision based on presentation by staff during financial planning budget meetings.”

World Class Hiking Trail For The North Island?

The idea is getting some serious attention.

Provincial grants help communities map, meet housing needs

The next intake for funding is open until Nov. 29, 2019.

North Island Rising: Can the future of the North Island be managed?

Can growth be managed and if so, is now the time to start figuring things out?

Less than a month to go until the Mount Waddington Fall Fair!

The committee is hoping for a record number of exhibits this year

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read