The history, people, development and creation of the west coast trail.
The high cost of constructing and maintaining a lifesaving trail was not viewed as cost efficient in lieu of the small number of deaths and infrequent emergencies. After the tragedy of the sinking of the Valencia with the loss of many lives, the commission which investigated the tragedy, recommended that a lifesaving trail be built. Public pressure finally resulted in the government authorizing its construction.
Work began in 1907 to build a road wide enough to accommodate a horse and wagon. The road was 12’/3.5m wide and ran for 15.5 miles/25 km from Bamfield before construction was stopped in 1910 near Shelter Bight (location of Valencia grounding). The slow pace and the huge cost resulted in a decision to proceed with the construction of a narrower trail to Nitinat (1911) and ultimately to Carmanah (1912). Beyond Carmanah the trail remained the original primitive telegraph line.
After the 1940’s, with the development of more sophisticated navigational equipment eclipsing the technology of the past, trail maintenance was discontinued. Parks Canada undertook a major re-development in the 1970s to create the West Coast Trail.