Description of Historic Place
The Belcarra South Cottages are situated on a property along the eastern shoreline of Indian Arm, south of the Belcarra Peninsula near Burrard Inlet. Facing Boulder Island and Dollarton along the North Shore, they are located near the northern boundary of the City of Port Moody's jurisdiction. The property is part of Belcarra Regional Park. The historic site includes six waterfront cottages (cabins) of varying style and scale, built from the early twentieth century through the 1930s. The northernmost seventh cottage is in the jurisdiction of the Village of Belcarra and not included in this designation.
The Belcarra South Cottages are significant for their historic and cultural values, including their association with the influential Bole family, their use as a summer destination for the urban middle-class of the Lower Mainland, and for their longstanding preservation by the Belcarra South Preservation Society (BSPS). The Cottages also have aesthetic value for their surrounding natural splendour.
Solicitor William Norman Bole, known locally as Judge Bole, was a noteworthy figure in Belcarra's history, having at one time owned the southern portion of Belcarra Peninsula and lands including the Belcarra Picnic Area. He was also responsible for naming 'Belcarra' after Belcarra, County Mayo in his native Ireland. Bole was an active British Columbian, known for his excellent marksmanship and yachting skills as well as for his service in a variety of organizations, including acting as: Captain of No. 1 Battery, B.C.; Bencher of the Law Society; Chairman of the Dominion License Commissioners; and president of the Board of Trade, the Royal Columbian Hospital, and the Hastings Sawmill Company. Judge Bole passed away in New Westminster in 1923.
The Bole family began acquiring property in Belcarra in 1883. In 1907, the family purchased the parcel where the Belcarra South Cottages would later be constructed. Judge Bole's son, lawyer John Percy Hampton Bole, purchased a second parcel of land in the area in 1914. This is the property on which John Bole's permanent residence, the Bole House, now stands. Likely, the Bole family began constructing the small cottages on the property over the years as their family grew and as the area became a popular location for summer gatherings and getaways.
The six single-storey cabins lining the waterfront were constructed at different times, beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing through the 1930s. The cottages, which were used as summer homes until the early 1970s, represent a cultural tradition once common to urban middle-class families and are an important aspect of the social history of Metro Vancouver. Without road access, telephone service or electricity until 1959, refuge in Belcarra South provided a sense of adventure, freedom, privacy and tranquility. Significant to the values of the era, the cabins have names: La Soledad, Los Lobos, Cabin Beach Cottage, Skeleton, Wellwood and the Wee cottage. From 1956 to 1974, an annual regatta was held at Bay Cottage, with guests arriving by boat and in costume.
Located along the picturesque shoreline of Indian Arm, the cottages are valued aesthetically for their forest setting. An important part of the local ecosystem, the cottages exist in harmony with the natural environment, integrating both the human and natural aspects that constitute Belcarra Regional Park.
Today, the Belcarra South Cottages are the only surviving example of the numerous cottages that lined the shores of Burrard Inlet. The Port Moody area of Burrard Inlet was home to cottages beginning in the 1890s in locations such as Pleasantside and Sunnyside. The Belcarra South Cottages have survived because of the efforts of the BSPS, which was formed in 1976 in order to prevent their demolition after Metro Vancouver had acquired the property in 1971.
Source: City of Port Moody - Development Services Department, Planning Division
The key elements that define the heritage character of the Belcarra South Cottages are their:
- Location in a mature second growth forest along the eastern shoreline of Indian Arm, south of the Belcarra Peninsula
- Continuous occupation since the early twentieth century
- Connection to the historic Bole family and the Bole House and property
- Arrangement of six single-storey cottages
- Original form, scale and massing of each cottage
- Utilitarian, wood-frame, single-storey design, built on wood block supports without foundations and composed of materials transported to the site by small boats
- Front porches facing the water
- Original wood-frame windows, including double-hung, two-over-six, six-over-one and two-over-two assemblies
- Original solid wood doors, some with glass
- Original tongue and groove fir flooring on all but Cabin #4
- Original siding types including: sawn cedar shingles, wooden drop siding, and tongue and groove fir board and batten siding
- Timber frame structure of two cabins
- Annex building of Cabin #2
- Overall expression of a 'family cottage', with simple alterations over time