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

Off-the-grid West Coast Trail restaurant Chez Monique featured on film

“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: Construction is underway on $1.2M Caycuse Recreation Site

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

Just Posted

Duncan veteran recalls war’s end

War changed Jack Bridges’ life forever

Vancouver Island’s long road to recovery will have a few bumps

Some things will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic, local experts say

West Coast resorts cautiously prepare to welcome tourists again

“We need to get the tourist economy in our communities back up and running.”

OPINION: Next stage requires compassion

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s regular column for the 100 Mile Free Press

Bride thankful ailing stepdad was able to walk her down the aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Incoming: Income tax deadlines arrive

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

Greater Victoria guide dog walk turns to virtual physical challenge

Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides is May 31 with an online twist

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria had been set for August

Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre set to reopen on June 18

Local artists will have work on display; COVID-19 protocols observed

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Most Read