One of southern Vancouver Island’s most mysterious historical properties has just gone on the market – for $6.98 million.
Grouse Nest, at 1424 Gillespie Rd., was listed in 2016 for $15 million, and again last year for $12.5 million, but has been taken on by a new real estate agency and has yet to sell.
The site features 33.8 hectares of land, a kilometre of which is oceanfront, a 15,000 square foot lodge built on a point that is surrounded by water on three sides. It is also bordered by parks and intersects with the Galloping Goose trail.
Not only that, the property also has quite the story behind it.
Grouse Nest dates to 1910, when Victoria financier George Gillespie, who came to Victoria in the 1870s from Scotland, first built a summer home for his family, and then transformed it in to a weekend and summer retreat. Grouse Nest was a centre for social activities of well-known Victoria families.
LEARN MORE: Sooke History – Grouse Nest
In 1930, the family sold the property to the Knight family, which also operated it as a resort, and in 1939 the Knight’s son, Roderick, bought the stately home from his dad.
The Nest Resort burned down in 1950, so Knight then set up a sawmill, milled his own lumber and rebuilt.
The new resort featured activities such as rowing, tennis, fishing, table tennis, darts, bridge, canasta, an outdoor swimming pool and dancing on Saturday nights.
In 1963, the property was sold to a man named Hassam Kamil and his family, which is when Sooke historian Elida Peers said the real mystery began.
Peers said Kamil brought in architects from Europe to add a number of A-frame structures on the property, while skilled craftsmen glamorized the property in its entirety.
Rumours buzzed around Sooke about Grouse Nest, as people saw many visitors coming and going from the property by float plane. After a while, the family went bankrupt and had no choice but to move.
Grouse Nest has seen various owners over the years since, and Ron Neal, who is marketing the property, said that it has even welcomed movie stars such as John Wayne over the years. The site is now owned by Mike Ryan of California.
Neal said a lot of interest has already been generating around the site, and they are looking to accept offers by July 16.
He noted that the lodge is in need of upgrades, but the property offers the possibility for a much more significant development.
“The site is currently zoned for recreational or tourism use, which would allow for a marina, hotel, a pub, and a fuelling station. It would even allow for up to 400 units, while still preserving the natural setting,” said Neal.
“A buyer would just need to solve the issue of getting water and sewage disposal to the site, but with Sooke really being a hub of growth for eco-tourism, I think it’s a spectacular spot to build something like that.”