PORT McNEILL—Rock mined from a small Island just off Port McNeill’s shore decorates some of British Columbia’s most celebrated buildings, from the B.C. Parliament buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria to the Marine building, City Hall and Hotel Vancouver in Vancouver.
If a local businessman has his way, a bit of Haddington Island rock could also decorate the Port McNeill waterfront.
Barry Foster, a heavy equipment operator who also operates a fishing charter and a bed and breakfast, petitioned council during its regular meeting last week for a small piece of waterfront property on which to erect a monument to Haddington Island and the unique rock that it produces.
“If we get a Haddington Island rock on this piece of property, we could drill a hole through it, have it pointing at Haddington Island, and all the tourists who come to this town will know about its history.”
Foster, who moved here from Kamloops five years ago, used the monolith erected at the Kamloops lakefront as his inspiration.
That stone has several holes drilled through it, which visitors can peer through, like telescopes, to see a geological record of the lake’s water level over thousands of years.
“The focus of the Kamloops rock is about flood levels,” Foster said. “Our focus should be on the rock itself, and where it came from.”
Haddington Island, which is privately owned by the Cowan family, produces andesite stone. It is a buff-coloured material more dense than limestone and granite and holds a carved edge much longer than most other stone materials.
Between 60 and 70 buildings on Vancouver Island and the lower Mainland were build using the stone.
Foster’s presentation included a slide show touching on the history of the Island and the stone deposit, which was discovered in the late 1880s.
“I think it’s wonderful to have something that signifies the history of that island and the rock,” Port McNeill Coun. Shirley Ackland said.
“(The rock) is showcased as part of the government of B.C., and I think it’s a great way to showcase something, and I’m thrilled you’ve done this, Barry.”
Foster contacted the Cowan family, local businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and the Harbour Commission before approaching council about the monument, and said there is broad support for the idea.
Foster suggested minor additional work on the property site, with the possible inclusion of a Haddington stone picnic table or bench, could make the monument a highlight of tourist visits.
“I think we could do a better job than just sticking the rock there,” he said. “The sidewalk needs to be repaired, and with some sidewalk changes and some fence changes, it could be a beautiful little spot and finish off our already beautiful waterfront.”
No action was taken following the presentation, but council could take up a motion at a future meeting.