NOTABLE PEOPLE WOVE PROSPECT LAKE HISTORY
Fish and game abounded when the first settlers came – There were Durrances, Oldfields, Duvals – and On Hing
By Bee Lamprect, Daily Colonist, November 3, 1957
The morning sun glinted in a brilliant pattern of movement on the restless water. A young girl, in her teens, walked out on a rocky promontory and cupped her hands around her mouth, hallooing across the lake.
Martha McDonald had come to visit her uncle, Frank Campbell, at Prospect Lake.
It was 50 odd years ago and Prospect Lake was populated by perhaps a dozen families, in contrast to some 300 now living on and around the lake the year round.
Martha McDonald and her sister often stayed with Uncle Frank and Aunt Ester, taking the eight mile train ride from Victoria on the “Cordwood Limited” as the Victoria and Sidney Railway was called by the local folks. The V&S, inaugurated in 1894, was the only means of public transportation out into the wilds of Saanich, and later, in 1898, the railway operated a Sunday excursion trip from Hillside station to accommodate the dozens of fishermen who wanted their share of the fabulous catches of trout. Martha liked fishing and hunting too, and to a girl like her, used to the outdoor life, the mile and a half hike from the station at Beaver Lake in to Prospect Lake was nothing.
It was the only way to reach the Campbell house, as no road led in to the lake at the time from what would later be called the West Saanich Road. So Martha—or any other visitors – had to stand on the point of rock a few hundred yards across the lake and holler for someone to come over in a rowboat or a canoe.
ON HING’S LAND
This rock was part of On Hing’s property. On Hing, a hard working Chinese, owned 89 acres on the southeast side, which was almost entirely planted in strawberries and fruit orchards. He, his wife, and his family lived quietly and industriously, and it was a familiar sight to see On Hing travelling around the country side with his wagon full of produce and crates of chickens underneath, trading for fresh meat, grain and other supplies.
Thirty three of these 89 acres were sold and subdivided in 1914, when On Hing had been buried beside his wife’s grave and the sons decided to move into Victoria. This subdivision of the property really marked the beginning of Prospect Lake’s popularity as a summer resort.
Roughly four stages can be traced in Prospect Lake’s development. First it was popular with hunters and fishermen and the Colonist as early as early as 1866 described the lake as “thronged with anglers” and the next year reported that “six men caught 180 trout, using herring bait”.
THEN, after 1914, well-to-do people started building summer homes, and because these same wealthy folks were able to start buying some of the first motor cars around this time, it became a much simpler trip out to the lake than by the previous jogging hour and a half drive by horse and buggy, or even the comparative comfort of the BCER Interurban ride, which necessitated a walk in from Goward Station, named after A.T. Goward, manager of the B.C. Electric at that time. It is still possible to drive down part of the old Interurban route, although not to the original terminus at Pandora and Douglas. The Interurban offered an excellent half hour service, operating from 1911 to 1924 running from Victoria to Deep Cove.
Shawnigan Lake became the fashionable summer resort when the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway was put through, and for a time life moved on slowly and peacefully at Prospect Lake. Gradually more and more young families made it their permanent home.
Then the Second World War came, and the empty summer cottages were in great demand by members of the RCAF, who wanted to house their wives and families as close as possible to Patricia Bay. And after the war the acute housing shortage in Victoria again drove families to live at the lake while waiting for a house in the city.
TODAY lakeside property is scarce. The majority of the homes are lived in all year, and the community, although not closely knit, is emphatically becoming conscious of itself as an entity rather than an unrelated group. In 1956 the Prospect Lake and District Community Association was formed.
Now it is just a 20 minute drive to Victoria City Hall, along a road which has recently been reconstructed and then on the smooth Douglas Street highway. However, the early roads, the first of which are shown on maps dated 1895, were a different proposition, and a trip to town took the best part of a day by horse and buggy along the corduroy or dirt roads laid down over the very first foot trails.
It is probable that the lake, which is only about a mile long and half a mile wide, got its name when the Forty-Niners from California came searching for gold. They were following the Leechtown vein and actually did find colour on Webb Creek, near where it runs into Durrance Lake, some miles up in the hills. Prospect Lake may have looked good the Forty-Niners but there is no evidence that they ever did find gold in or near it. However, the name stayed even when the prospectors moved on.
There are several other names familiar to the district, Jack Durrance, Sam McCullough, Fred Duval, Frank Campbell, H.T. Oldfield and Tony Williams are some of the more widely known.
The grandfather of Jack Durrance landed at Sidney in 1852 after a long voyage from England. In an Indian canoe he made his way into Tod Inlet, looking for good farm land, and about half way up Tod Creek, which drains Prospect Lake, he found what he was looking for, and pitched his tent. He soon found it was necessary to drive stakes through his blankets and generally keep a sharp eye open to prevent losing his belongings to prowling Indians. By 1860 he had settled on his 300 acre farm.
He married a widow, the former Mrs. Bailey, the grandmother of Fred Duval. Their one child, John, went first to the small school at Royal Oak which was built on land donated by the mother when she had been married to Mr. Bailey, who ran the hotel and tavern at Royal Oak. Later the boy attended the West Saanich School in Brentwood—in fact, he helped to clear the land for the school, as was usual in those days. Stumping powder and manpower had to do in two weeks what it takes a modern bulldozer to do in a day.
John married a girl from Webb Creek close by (named after her father) and fathered two daughters and two sons, all born on the original farm. John Durrance is dead now, but Mrs. Durrance lives in Victoria, and both sisters and one brother live elsewhere on the island. Jack Durrance owns and operates the store at the corner of the West Saanich Road and Prospect Lake Road.
THIS Store was built in 1913 by Sam McCullough and run for him by Jack Findley, who married McCullough’s daughter. Findley also acted as postmaster, which meant the post office was much more conveniently located for the residents than it has been previously. Until then it had been at Heal’s School, about a mile farther down the roads where 30 or so local children learned their 3Rs. Jack Durrance and Gawn McCullouch, both men in their fifties now, are the only two remaining in the district who attended the original Prospect Lake School, which later became a cow barn and then a Sunday School when the existing Prospect Lake School was built, and is now a residence.
GOLD IN CARIBOO
Louis Duval, another old timer, worked his way west from Three Rivers, Quebec, to Gastown, later called Vancouver, and from there went prospecting for gold in the Cariboo. In 1875 he married Janie Cheeseman, who had been born in Victoria 18 years before, settled down to general farming on his 70- acre place at Royal Oak. The couple had three sons: Louis, William and Fred and a daughter, now Mrs. W.P.Ranking of Craigflower.
Fred, the only brother still living in the district, was born in 1884 and that same year had the distinction of becoming the first child christened in St. Michael’s Church, which his father had helped to shingle. He was also one of the few passengers on the first-day excursion run of the V&S Railway from Victoria to Sidney in 1894.
Fred’s early schooling took place in the original frame school, which is still standing although over 70 years old, built on ground donated by his grandmother, Mrs. Bailey – the same school John Durrance attended.
In 1907, just a year after Saanich was incorporated as a municipality, Fred Duval and his brother Louis started what is believed to be the first steam driven sawmill in the district. They used three or four horses for the logging operations and employed about seven men. The last site for their portable mill was at Prospect Lake, a few miles back in the bush, and in order to get the machinery in (which was hauled by Joe Heaney’s horses from town) and the logs out it was necessary to build a road, which was done in 1910 and known until as Sawmill Road. It was now called Meadowbrook.
Earlier, around 1906, the Duvals had helped petition for the building of Prospect Lake Road, which was constructed by Saanich, with Sam McCullough as foreman on the job. Louis Duval…farther-in-law William Snyder, had completed a contract, for the sum of $3,000 to widen and gravel most of the West Saanich Road when young Fred was still just a child, so road building was nothing new to the Duval family.
By 1911 the brothers were sawing 10,000 feet of lumber daily in their mill, and getting $12 a thousand for number one rough, logging off their own 100 acres which belonged to Frank Campbell, from whom they leased timber rights.
Soon after Fred Duval gave up the sawmill, built himself a frame house with his own lumber and in1920 started raising over a thousand chickens for eggs. He and his wife still live comfortably in the house on the West Saanich Road.
FRANK CAMPBELL was not the first man to settle in the district, but he was surely one of the best known. His niece, Martha McDonald, has many delightful memories of times spent out at the lake at Uncle Frank and Aunt Esther’s place. There were two houses on the lake: One situated on a jutting nose of rock, and the other, larger, set further back on the plateau above and to one side. It was a large whitewashed frame house, two stories high, and although the upstairs was never finished, the girls often slept there when the Campbells had a lot of other company in the three bedrooms downstairs.
LOG ROOT HOUSE
There were sheds, barns, out –buildings and the water tower close by outside, as well as a log root house which was still in good condition when the writer’s house was built on the site of Campbell’s place two years ago. At that time, when clearing the land, the number of bricks and bedsprings that turned up, as well as stove lids and other metal objects, were testimony that a house had stood there before.
Mrs. Campbell died in1924: the big house burned down to the ground in the spring of 1927 (leaving a charred flagpole still to be seen) and by 1929 Frank Campbell himself was dead.
He had failed in his attempt to take over the management of his deceased father’s famous cigar store in Victoria, known as Campbell’s Corner, and in his happy go lucky fashion to keep body and soul together had commenced to sell off parcels of his property.
THIS PROPERTY compromised almost the whole west side of Prospect Lake, some 840 acres. The government had awarded him the land years before as payment for getting rid of the wild cattle that roamed the district and threatened to multiply beyond control.
These were the offspring of the cattle that had been on Pat Haggerty’s farm at the south end of the lake. Haggerty, a bachelor, had not been discovered until a couple of weeks after his lonely death, and in the meantime the cattle had escaped and gone their own way into the bush. Local folks never knew when they would come face to face with one of these fierce cows or bulls: Gawn McCullough, for instance, remembers spending the best part of an afternoon perched on a tree stump out of reach, while his mother, with whom he had been berry picking, found safety on another stump close by.
Another well known name at Prospect Lake is that of Oldfield. H.T.Oldfield came from England as a young man in 1895, married in 1911, and lost no time establishing his farm and orchard, as were other industrious men like Captain McMillan (probably one of the first settlers), William Trickey, Tony Williams and Alfred Spotts.
Once a week Mr. Oldfield hitched up the horse and buggy and drove into town to make his regular delivery of eggs and fruit to the hospitals. He brought home meat and staple groceries on the return trip, dealing with stores like Scott and Peden or Copas and Young, grocers at Fort and Broad Streets then.
In February of 1916 an extraordinarily heavy fall of snow made life most uncomfortable for the settlers. Mrs. Oldfield’s father, who lived in Oak Bay, telephoned to warn them a heavy snowfall was predicted and he thought that she and the children would be better off in Victoria. Agreeing, Oldfield harnessed the horses to a sled, drove his wife and children up to the Interurban, and for the next 10 days looked after the animals and did the farm chores in almost complete isolation. Once he saw a solitary figure moving across the frozen lake on skis– one of the Duvals, he recognized—and it was good to know that there still were other human beings in this white silent world. Spring was very welcome that year.
Mr. Oldfield died just seven years ago, leaving his name prominent in the community with sons Basil and Brian carrying on, respectively, a welding shop and service station on the West Saanich Road.
Another old timer who died only last year at the age of 89, was Tony Williams. Born Antonio Rodriguez, he and his brother Emmanuel left their home in the Azores, which was under Portuguese rule, to avoid military service and try their luck in the New World. Manuel, a boat engineer, found work in Fall River near Boston Mass., and Tony, following him a few years later, came to Canada.
The gold rush of ’98 lured him to Dawson City, but the winter forced him to turn back. He made $1,000 cutting wood beside the river for the boats, and this money he hoped to use to train to become a doctor when he returned to Victoria.
After some time the two brothers contacted each other and together they went to work cutting wood at Shawnigan, with some other young men from the Azores. The winter was a bad one, and the newcomers found Canada was not the land of milk and honey that they had expected.
ALL BUT Tony and Manuel returned to the Azores. Tony left the wood cutting job, too, walked to Victoria to look for a job. In 1893 he found work as a helper at St Joseph’s Hospital, and by 1901 had earned his certificate as a male nurse which entitled him to do private nursing. It was as near as he ever came to his dream of becoming a doctor. After some years at this, however his health began to fail and he started to search for an outside job again. He was one of those on Pemberton’s first survey party and helped clear Elk and Beaver Lakes for Victoria’s water supply, becoming close friends with Louis Duval, Fred’s father, at that time.
In 1905 he began to clear the three lots he had bought for himself at Prospect Lake, living in Frank Campbell’s log house until he and the neighbours, in a building bee, hewed enough logs to raise his house a couple of years later.
THERE he lived alone until he married an English girl in 1916 and brought her out to join him at the lake. The following year he became a Canadian citizen, and legally known as Anthony Williams. Mrs. Williams is still living in the original house with her memories and letters from her son serving in Indo-China at present with the Canadian Army.
There are many more people who can claim Prospect Lake as part of their own personal history – people like Ed Lohbrunner, for instance, who remembers coming to the lake as a child, sometimes walking a couple of miles in from Burnside Road to the families summer home, which adjoined Tony Williams place.
That was about 30 years ago. A decade before that, Andrew Paton and his friend, a Mr. Hackett, used to journey out from Victoria for the superb hunting and fishing at Prospect Lake. In fact, he and Hackett built themselves simple cabins to stay in with lumber from Fred Duval’s sawmill, ferried across the lake in a rowboat loaded to the gunwales. Paton gradually added to those original two rooms of his and the house he lives in today, on what is called Echo Road, is integrated with his hunting cabin of years ago.
ALTHOUGH few people have heard of it, there was a move afoot to call the lake Coolwater, about 20 years ago. This appears to have arisen through the establishment of a summer post office in the tiny store operated at the corner of Sawmill Road. Since the post office at the main store on the highway was called Prospect Lake, this little substation received the name Coolwater, and the lake itself is so designated on a road map of the area issued around the same time.
However, Prospect Lake it remains today, and when the summer people have returned to town, and the speedboats and water skiers have gone into winter hibernation, the peace of this beautiful lake returns—a blessing and a balm to the spirit, as it was in the beginning.
Life in Tod Inlet 1900 -1923
written by Mary Parsell
An account of her life in Tod Inlet during the operation of the BC Cement Plant and the early development of the Butcharts Gardens:
The Cultural History of the Land of the Tod Creek Watershed
A Research Report with the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society
completed through the VIPIRG Research Internship Program:
Dawson Mullin and Kyle Wison
[This essay summarizes interviews with two members of the community: Dave Wallace and John Steeves]
Page Section I: Introduction 1 Section II: Written Summary of Interviews 1 Section III: Suggestions for Solutions to Problems/Strategies for Action 5 Section IV: VIPIRG Research and the Connection to Critical Research Methods 6 Section V: Conclusion 7
Section I: Introduction
The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society is a neighbourhood group with the mission “to protect and enhance the integrity and biodiversity of the Tod Creek Watershed.” The on- going project that we chose to pursue via the VIPIRG Research Internship Program is to record the cultural history of the land in the watershed. The information for our project was obtained through two comprehensive interviews with members of the Tod Creek Watershed/Prospect Lake community. By gathering an archive of stories as told through the experience of residents living in the watershed, The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society hopes that by sharing these stories we will create a positive, lasting sense of the communities collective shared history. The information collected will be used to inform decisions about how people live in the watershed. The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society publishes a journal, Watershed Connections, which devotes a section specifically to this topic.
This essay will summarize our interviews with two members of the community: Dave Wallace and John Steeves. Along with the summaries, we will devote a section of our paper to a report examining the various strategies for action that we have produced as well as a section relating the material to critical research strategies that we examined in this course. The long term use of the information collected (written report and audio tapes of interviews) will be archived and used to tell stories for the benefit of watershed residents and perhaps a larger audience. Through information gathered in our interviews, we hope to provide meaningful information in relation to the land upon which they live, work and play. This project was arranged for us through the VIPIRG Research Internship Program and was a pleasure to pursue.
Section II: Written Summary of Interviews
Summary of Interview with John Steeves
John Steeves arrived in the Prospect Lake area in 1966 and has been a proud member of the community ever since. Mr. Steeve’s first house in the area was a small cabin on the point of the lake. He lived there for about a year or two before transferring to his current residency in 1968, located just a handful of houses away. Mr. and Mrs. Steeves raised two daughters in the area, whom learned to swim and play on the lake. Since Mr. Steeves arrival in the area he has noticed some major changes in the community.
Upon arrival to the area, lake water was the only source of water in the area. It was very drinkable and was used purely for residential purposes. Some chose to the filter the water but Mr. Steeves never felt the need to do so. It was the sole means for drinking water and household purposes and also served as an excellent place for the children to swim and play. In 1969, a year after moving into his current place, the Prospect Lake region was hooked up for city water. Mr. Steeves noted that there were some advantages and disadvantages in doing this. The obvious advantage was that people had really good water and there were no longer health concerns. A disadvantage was that people became a lot less concerned with the quality of the lake water. Building code requirements for septic fields were relaxed because it was no longer a health requirement and people were not using the water directly for consumption purposes. Since there were no longer health concerns in drinking the water, many people turned a blind-eye to the construction of both septic tanks and septic fields that could very well lead to an increase in contamination and lake pollutants.
After various questions regarding the history of the land, the interview shifted towards the current use of the land upon which Mr. Steeves lives and the surrounding area. When asked about the current use of the land upon which he lives, Mr. Steeves replied that it used primarily for residential purposes. He also maintains a small garden on the land. Without getting to specific, Mr. Steeves commented on some of his concerns regarding the surrounding area. Mr. Steeves emphasized that people in the area are generally quite respectable in regards to land use. He also noted that there were a few things that he did not agree with. First and foremost, Mr. Steeves commented on the lack of concern for disposal fields. Mr. Steeves stated that, “for the most part people are responsible but some of the tanks are pretty grim.” Many of the fields in the area are too close to the water and do not have the elevation to sustain themselves. Another reservation that Mr. Steeves had in regard to land use in the area was directed towards huge houses being built on small lots. He believes that this is a mistake and he is sorry to see it. People can sometimes find ways to get around the bi-laws and that is not right. An excellent quote taken from Mr. Steeves in regards to the bi-laws is that “it easier to obtain forgiveness than permission.”
An important aspect in regards to the current situation in the Tod Creek Watershed area is the community atmosphere. Over the years, Mr. Steeves has noticed a shift in community spirit. Years ago, people played a much bigger role in community activities. Nowadays, people just want to go home and do their own thing. There are a few successful events that are held by the community hall; however, it is not as widespread as it used to be. Mr. Steeves is one of the directors of the community association and believes that community events are essential in bringing people together for a common cause. According to Mr. Steeves, people actively participating in community events play an integral part in preserving the community spirit. He believes that “the prospect lake region is one of the few areas that have a physical community hall to work from, which tends to be the natural nucleus of the community.”
Following our discussion with Mr. Steeves about the current use of land, we began to talk about the future possibilities. There are various strategies for action that I would like to highlight from the interview. They will be critically discussed later on in the paper. In the near future, Mr. Steeves would like to see the lake cleaned up considerably more than it is. He also mentioned the possibility of a “community distribution system”, which would prevent the inevitable leakage of pollutants into the lake. Another problem that Mr. Steeves would like to see dealt with in the near future is regarding speeding in the area. He lives on a country road with a lot of curves, a lot of ups and downs and a few blind corners. There are many children in the area and people drive way to fast down the roads. The final future strategy for action to be highlighted includes: an increase in public awareness as well as greater participation in community events.
Summary of Interview with Dave Wallace
Dave Wallace has had contact with the Tod Creek Watershed for fifty (50) or more years. Whilst growing up Dave Wallace’s next-door neighbour’s grandfather was a cattle dealer and the young boys used to accompany him to the auction on the corner of Durance. Although he did not grow up in the Tod Creek Watershed area, Mr. Wallace attended school with a large number of people who lived in the Prospect Lake region, so he was very familiar with the Tod Creek Watershed/Prospect Lake vicinity before moving into the area.
Upon marriage in 1965, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace moved into the Tod Creek Watershed area, and have been living on their present property ever since 1971. Some of the major changes in the area that Mr. Wallace has noticed over the past thirty (30) or so years include; firstly, increased traffic levels; secondly, new housing developments; and finally the sub division of some of the larger properties. Some of the other major changes in the area include the elimination of some of the larger farms, “down the valley there used to be four (4) dairy farms you could see from our front window, and now there are [roughly speaking] only four on the whole peninsula”(Wallace, interview). According to Mr. Wallace the area used to have a large number of “family style farms”; their specific piece of property was previously owned by Henry Robinson, who owned about 100 acres.
Furthermore, St. Joseph’s Hospital used to own and run a farm in the area surrounding Mr. Wallace’s home; it included a dairy farm, pigs, and also grew produce for consumption by the hospital. Some of these once booming farm lands are now used to grow potatoes and vegetables because it is “bottom land” (flooded farm land) (Wallace). Additionally, Mr. Wallace stated that, “agriculture is moving out of the peninsula, there’s just no other way around it…[because][ farmers] cannot make it with only fifty (50) or a hundred (100) cows, because you can’t compete…that’s the whole problem with agriculture…you need to be big volume”.
Although they have long since grown up and moved away, the Wallace’s raised children in the Tod Creek Watershed area. Currently they use their property primarily for residential use, but moreover they “run a few sheep…[have] a few cows…and grow hay” on their property to feed their stock. Since his retirement about three (3) years ago, Mr. Wallace has had more time to work with/on the land and has since planted three (3) acres of grain that he uses “get the crops to grow better”. What’s more, Mr. Wallace said “ I get the greatest charge out of putting something in the ground and watching it come back up…or the lambs bouncing around outside…[or the] calves playing…I enjoy that”.
When asked if he had any concerns regarding the current use of land by his surrounding neighbour’s and properties, he had none. He went on to mention that, “sometimes you see things happening you don’t particularly think should happen but I am probably doing things that other people don’t think should be happening…in fact I ‘m sure I am”.
Mr. Wallace is a member of the community association and feels that his community is a good one. He went on to say, “A lot of these communities are you only get out of them what you put into them”, and then he mentioned some of the events his community association participates in, such as the Christmas potluck dinner along with a number of additional seasonal BBQ’s.
The future of the Tod Creek Watershed and particularly the areas surrounding his property are of particular interest to Mr. Wallace. He would like to see very little or no development in the region and expressed concern over the thought of “big block stores” (i.e. Wal-Mart) in his area. The local gas station and corner store, along with the ‘Big Barn’ are very much pleasing to Mr. Wallace because they are “owned by individual people who live in the area and [therefore] care about the community”. Also, Mr. Wallace likes accountability of the local shop owners for their actions with in the community. Conversely, Mr. Wallace said that he does “not want to see commercial development or auto wreckers” in the area. Additionally, the preservation of remaining green space in the area is of paramount importance to Mr. Wallace.
With regard to the Hartland Landfill in the surrounding area, although he would like to see the dump somewhere else, Mr. Wallace feels that the CRD (Capital Regional District) has been doing a good job of taking care of the landfill, and are “being as responsible as they can”.
When asked about his expectations as to the future use of his and surrounding properties, Mr. Wallace expressed hope in that the future residents will be someone with “white (picket) fences and (horse) riding rings”. Having stated that, he went on to mention that he sees the future of his area in the Tod Creek Watershed as becoming residential houses with horses, and sub divided lands with small acreages.
Section III: Suggestions for Solutions to Problems/Strategies for Action
As critical research strategies are social change oriented, the ultimate goal of the research is to, among other things, promote social change. As Institutional ethnographer Marie Campbell put it, “there is no relationship between research and action”, so inevitably the researchers themselves and the community must take it upon themselves to take the results of the research and turn them into a plan of action aimed at promoting social change. According to critical research theorists there exists a three prong activity which adds up to Participatory Action Research (herein referred to as PAR), one of them being, “means for taking action to create social change”. Additionally, the final outcome of PAR is the acting stage; drafting a report with an action plan, implementation of the action plan, and finally an evaluation of that plan.
This section is devoted to action, social change, and solutions to community problems. Throughout the interview process a number of problems were pointed out to the researchers regarding the current situation of living in the Tod Creek Watershed. As the capitalism advances, more and more of everyday life is becoming commoditized. Having said that, one of the interviews pointed out that, “agriculture is moving out of the peninsula, there’s just no other way around it…[because][ farmers] cannot make it with only fifty (50) or a hundred (100) cows, because you can’t compete…that’s the whole problem with agriculture…you need to be big volume”(Wallace). This problem could possibly be overcome through the implementation of community networking, amalgamation and conglomeration of small family farms in the area in order to counter act the corporate rule and control of the agricultural industry.
Secondly, through our interviews it became apparent that there is an ongoing issue in the Prospect Lake area with regard to septic tanks leaching into the lake causing inescapable ecological issues from nutrient loading. One such solution for this problem could be the implementation of a community distribution system to get rid of the septic waste. Instead of pumping into a septic field (it is here where the septic systems are leaching into the ground, and eventually into the lake causing immense ecological problems), the sewage waste could be put through a common connector and transported away, eventually leading to the leveling off of nutrient levels in the lake.
Additionally, both interview sessions revealed a new issue that residents in the Tod Creek Watershed are dealing with, increased traffic and increased speed in the area. The introduction of speed bumps on some of the more residential streets coupled with signs reminding drivers of the curvy and ‘up and down” nature of the road, hidden driveways, and of the residential characteristic of the area are two possible solutions and strategies for action.
On a more general level, some of the issues facing the residents of the Tod Creek Watershed area could be addressed through an open forum in which residents are able to discuss problems and some possible solutions. The issues facing residents could also be taken up through networking, “building networks is about building knowledge and data bases which are based on the principals of relationships and connections” (Smith, p.156). This concept of networking on a community level is a method in which residents are able to express concerns and ideas about the current and future situation facing residents of the Tod Creek Watershed. Moreover, an increase in community awareness and participation could be achieved through; (a) increased circulation of community newsletters (i.e.- Watershed Connections); (b) an increase in the number of community sponsored events; and (c) sharing of information regarding history of the area.
Section IV: VIPIRG Research and the Connection to Critical Research Methods
Through out the semester we have explored a “plurality of social critical approaches to social inquiry, that can in different ways contribute to a sociology for social justice” (Carroll). The five distinct, yet overlapping approaches covered this semester have given us a methodological toolkit, which allows critical examination and ‘problematization’ of the everyday thru unmasking injustices, by way of teaching us to question the hegemonic “truths” presented to us ‘from the top’. These praxicalogical critical research strategies allow us to effectively move away from the previous research methods in sociology which taught students a set of techniques for ‘knowing the social’ in a certain scientific way: certain quantitative research methods may objectify its subjects and reduce the complexity of our social world to the “bloodless language of variables and correlations” (Carroll). It is of paramount importance to think in a critical manner because our social world is distinctive; it is imperative to remember our social reality is not a scientific laboratory where some variables are constant. Rather, our social world is dynamic and fluid and therefore so too must be our methods for social research.
Standard methods of social research are problematic because they accept the social world as is, and then attempt to work with in it. As all of the five critical research strategies were each developed out of a dialogue between activism and reflection –theory and practice, and therefore do just the opposite from the standard methods; they provide a collaborative and more democratic way to develop social policy by means of shedding light on research and policymaking by the ‘experts’, and creating an environment that welcomes new community participants to the research process (Fagan and Vera, p.192)(Carroll). Participatory Action Research is one of the tools in the critical research strategies toolkit. PAR, which places an emphasis on praxis, is comprised of three activities; firstly, it places an emphasis on the method of research- full participation with the community- meaning members of the community are not just sources of data; secondly, it is an educational process which is oriented towards changing consciousness; and finally, it is a means for taking action to create social change (changing existing social structures). Additionally, one of the key primary components of PAR is the development of relationships between the researchers and the community which should promote feeling of equality rather than “experts” vs. “laymen”. This is what we, the researchers, attempted to do with our research- develop a real relationship with the people we are interviewing because it the research is not only about them, but also for them. Furthermore, this method of critical research insists on a “two-way dialogue between scholars and communities”, which is exactly what transpired in our research for VIPIRG and The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed.
Institutional ethnography is another critical research method explored in this class which is directly related to the research conducted for the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed and VIPIRG. A main starting point for institutional ethnography is becoming familiar with how people are living their realities, and analyzing how things are organized. Furthermore, institutional ethnography looks what is happening in the “local” setting and how the “extra-local” shapes the “local”. More specifically, an example would be looking at the current agricultural situation in the Tod Creek Watershed, and attempting to understand exactly how it is affected by the “extra- local” (commoditization of agricultural lands by corporations).
Section V: Conclusion
The Research Internship Program is a project of the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group (VIPIRG). The objective of the program is to link the research needs of community groups to University of Victoria students undertaking research projects for academic credit. As stated earlier, The Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society is a neighborhood group with the mission “to protect and enhance the integrity and biodiversity of the Tod Creek Watershed.” In undertaking one of the on-going projects arranged by the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed Society, we have helped in the pursuit of that mission. Even though our project will only play a small role in gathering an archive of stories as told by the members of the community, we hope that by sharing these stories we will contribute to the history of the Tod Creek Watershed and the people who live there.
In these neo-liberal times in which we live there are “accentuated political contention and social justice struggles, whether over matters of material distribution, cultural recognition, or ecological well being.” (Carroll). Such initiatives can take on many different forms, one of which is local community organizing to meet specific human needs. We have utilized many critical approaches to social inquiry in our course, in hopes of contributing to a sociology for social justice. This project has helped demonstrate the importance of democratizing knowledge and the value of increasing peoples access to information. Access to that information may grant them access to the discussion making arenas from which they are usually excluded (top-down planning) in hopes of helping them make decisions that affect their daily lives. One of the long- term goals of this project is to create and develop a watershed management plan: additionally, the information and stories may also be used as material for the journal, “Watershed Connections”. Furthermore, the data collected in the interviews will be used to inform the residents about the Tod Creek Watershed/Prospect Lake community. Playing a role in a project of this type has certainly been an educational experience as well as pleasure to be a part of.