A brief history of Aguilar House and Aguilar Point – taken from R. Bruce Scott’s books (Bamfield Years: Recollections and Barkley Sound).
Aguilar Point – named after Henry Aguilar of H.M.S. gunboat Grappler, adopted from Captain Richards’ chart 1861. Coincidentally, Aguila is Spanish for eagle and the bay in front of the lodge is called Eagle Bay.
The present site of Aguilar House was originally occupied by the Ohiaht Indians or Huu-ay-aht First Nation as they are known today. The village was called Tsa-he-tsa and consisted of 2 longhouses located where the main lodge is today. Judging by the depth of oyster, clam and mussle shell midden bed, they lived there for centuries. The bluff above the lodge was later referred to as Indian Fort since the Huu-ay-aht used it as a lookout and defence site. As of 1972 the remains of a protective rubble wall still existed on the eastern side of the bluff which was used to prevent attack from the rear.
The village was inhabited until about 1905 when the land was purchased for subdivision into the Bamfield townsite.
Sometime after 1905 Peter Michelsen bought 14 acres on the tip of Aguilar Point. He cleared the heavily timbered land and farmed it to sustain his family. Gradually the forest reclaimed most of the land until only a few acres of orchard remained. Sometime after 1933 Michelsen sold the bluff to Bruce Scott. Scott was employed by Pacific Marine Cable Board that connected London to Australia through various telegraph and submarine cables. The terminus of the marine cable was at Bamfield. Later Scott purchased the remainder of the point, built a log cabin (up against the cliff in front of the cave) and then two cottages for tourists as he felt the point was destined to become a first class resort ”all it needed was a road and it would mushroom overnight” (the road from Port Alberni to Bamfield wasn’t built until 1963). In 1947, Scott built an addition (present dining room and great room) on the front of the larger cottage. Scott tried to raise chickens but gave up due to raccoons and eagles.
Scott continued to add onto Michelsen’s original cabin, named it Aguilar House and lived there with his family until his retirement from the cable station when it closed in 1959 and moved to Victoria. Around 1960, Scott sold 10 acres of the Point to an American but was unable to sell the bluff and the land containing the House. After suffering from retirement depression, Scott and his wife decided to open the House as a summer lodge and so returned every summer until selling it in 1971 to Bob and Florence Peel. The Peels also ran it as a lodge. The Lodge and property was purchased again in 1989 by a retired merchant marine sailor and run variously as a guest house and university student housing site for marine biology students. In 2006 a group of avid salmon fisherman from Calgary purchased and extensively renovated the lodge and surrounding buildings.
About R Bruce Scott:
Bruce Scott wrote books describing life in Bamfield, the West Coast history and was instrumental in the creation of Pacific Rim National Park.
Scott played a major, but mostly forgotten, role in the establishment of the Pacific Rim National Park, devoting close to 40 years to lobbying for protection of the coast he so passionately loved.
“As a local historian, Scott wrote five invaluable books and numerous articles for magazines and newspapers. His fifth book, Gentlemen on Imperial Service, is a fascinating look at the history of the Trans-Pacific Cable, which brought him, as an employee of the Cable Board, to its Bamfield terminus in 1930,” – Judith Phillips, Director with the Bamfield Historical Society.
Other books by R Bruce Scott:
Breakers Ahead – A history of shipwrecks on the graveyard of the Pacific, 1970
Barkley Sound – A history of the Pacific Rim National Park area, 1972
People of the Southwest Coast of Vancouver Island, 1974
Bamfield Years – Recollections, 1986
Gentlemen on Imperial Service – A story of the Trans-Pacific Telecommunication Cable, 1994
A sixth book was left unfinished when he died, aged 91, in 1996. His daughter, Susan Scott, has generously given the rights to his books to the Bamfield Historical Society, which has plans to reissue them.