Gail Wickens’ Trail – 11 Dec 1971 & Haldon Park – 10 Jan 1980
- From Saanichton, drive west along Mount Newton Crossroad; turn north on Thomson Road; and park near the top of the road. The Gail Wickens’ Trail heads up northward to Thomson Place, crosses the road, and heads up into Haldon and to John Dean Park.
- From Saanichton, drive north along East Saanich Road; turn west on Haldon Road which turns into Thomson Place. The Gail Wickens’ Trail crosses Thomson Place between houses numbered 8233 and 8257; and park along either side of the road. The upper trail leads into Haldon Park and to John Dean Park.
HALDON PARK – On January 15, 1975, Stadocona Properties Ltd. acquired the Central Saanich, upper 181 acres of the former Marcotte farm for $335,000. This area was previously owned by Abraham Collins, who in turn sold to Sydney Pickles. At this time, the developer extended Thomson Place eastward and connected it with the existing Haldon Road; created two other roads, Newton Heights and Marcotte Close; 24 acreages and one park were planned (VIP33318), the survey was completed on April 19, 1979; and was approved by the Central Saanich approving officer under the Land Registry Act on November 16, 1979. This development included a 25th property, 4.06ha (10 acre) that was set aside for a Central Saanich park. The approved survey was deposited in the Land Registry Office in Victoria on January 10, 1980.
Thomson Road and Thomson Place were named after the first pioneer family of the Mount Newton Valley. Family members owned much of the land west of Thomson Road, and over the years logged several portions to the east. Because Thomson Place stretched further eastward, the name Haldon Park was adopted to honour an area pioneer family. Haldon Parks lower boundary is along Thomson Place. The western line is the Thomson Gazette 40 road-right-of-way, up to the southeast corner of John Dean Park (Woodward donation). The upper boundary line runs along the John Dean Park 45 degree line (Pickles’ donation) to the provincial park trail junction of: Wickens’/LAUWELNEW and Woodward/Montfort West. From this junction, the parks east line heads southeast down to the intersection of Thomson Place and Marcotte Close. Essentially, Haldon Park covers the steep southeast slope of Mount Newton and offers lovely vistas towards the Cascades and farmlands below, protects an exceptional open area moss meadow and the seasonal stream known as Moss Waterfalls, affords a wilderness buffer and provides a south access to John Dean Park.
Of special interest, near the provincial parks most southeast trail junction is evidence of John Dean’s Marcotte Trail, which linked the Marcotte Rose Farm and Illahie. This original route can be found just below the upper moss meadow, and meanders southeast along Haldon Park’s east line, and then disappears into the adjoining property. The Marcotte Trail was for many years a main access route for Saanichton residence, until when farm properties were subdivided, vehicles became poplar, and the trail overgrew.
In 1852, several roads were pre-gazetted when the peninsulas first survey was completed. Gazette 40 known as the Thomson right-of-way was placed on the center line and ran south-north between today’s Mount Newton Cross Road, over the summit of Mount Newton to McTavish Road. Today, the south end is Thomson Road, and the north end is the entrance to the Rod & Gun Club property along McTavish Road.
On the weekend of December 11-12, 1971, over 200 volunteers constructed a bridle and hiking trail from the end of the paved Thomson Road up northward, following the 40’ right-of-way which crosses Thomson Place and continues up the western boundary of today’s Haldon Park and into John Dean Park. This trail was built in memory and dedicated as the Gail Wickens’ Trail. Today, the lower/south half (below Thomson) is a bridle and hiking trail, and the upper/north steep half (above Thomson) is for hiking only and serves as the south entrance for John Dean Provincial Park.
Although municipal parks do not have the legislated protection of provincial parks; Central Saanich has done its best to protect their parks. Their June 1999, Parks Master Plan – Summary of Polices, Para 3 states: “That Council dedicate its current Parks and Open Spaces and register this dedication with the province, and that Council adopt a Park Reservation Bylaw that would require a two-thirds majority of Council, as well as provincial ministerial consent to removal of park reservation.”
STEWARDSHIP: This author maintains the upper/north side Gail Wickens’ Trail as if it was within the provincial park; complete with signage and drainage channels. Broom has been removed from the center open meadow and monitored; the entire SE slope has been cleared of Daphne and is monitored; and considerable old camping garbage has been removed. The area was last logged in 1973, and today the trees are of a significant size that the area is considered restored. I truly hope that one-day Haldon Municipal Park will be added to John Dean Provincial Park.
HALDON PARK’S – GAIL WICKENS’ TRAIL
Constructed: December 1971
The following newspaper articles are presented to honour the story of the Gail Wickens
Women Dies in Saanich Smash-up
Victoria Times, November 24, 1971
A woman driving five young children to school was killed and four of the children critically injured in a smash-up on the Pat Bay Highway this morning involving the advance car in Governor General Michener’s cavalcade en route out of the city [Daniel Roland Michener PC CC CMM OOnt CD QC FRHSC Governor General of Canada, 1967–1974].
Police said three cars were in collision at the intersection of Sayward Road and the highway. One of the vehicles was slammed into an RCMP cruiser leading the Michener caravan to Victoria International Airport.
There were no injuries in the RCMP car, and the vice regal couple were two cars back in line. The accident occurred at 8:55am.
Mrs. Gail Wickens, 30, of 402 Brookleigh Rd. was dead on arrival at hospital. In critical condition at St Joseph’s Hospital are Denise Demeule, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rodger Demeule, 5443 Hamsterly; Catherine Pope, 5, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G.R. Pope, 421 Brookleigh Rd; and Melissa and Steven Wickens, children of the driver and her husband, W.E.A. Wickens.
Sarah Pope, 7, Catherine’s sister, suffered serious injuries and was being treated at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gorden Cunningham was a passenger in the advance car. Driver of the second car involved in the initial crash, Carl Turner, 58, of 10018 Sidall, was treated for minor injuries and released from hospital. Driver of the RCMP vehicle was Special Const. Albert Harbottle, 2631 Cedar Hill. He was uninjured.
Driven to School – Police said the children in the Wickens car were being driven to Elk Lake Elementary School. Harbottle was alone in his car.
The accident occurred in driving rain. The intersection is controlled by lights.
The Governor-General and Mrs. Michener were leaving Victoria for Ottawa after a six-day tour of British Columbia.
Victoria Times – Obituary
November 29, 1971
WICKENS – Suddenly on November 24, 1971; Mrs. Gail Frances Wickens, age 30 years, born in New Westminster, BC and a resident of Victoria for the past 7 years, late residence 402 Brookleigh Rd. She leaves her loving husband, Wayne; son Steven; and daughter Melissa at home; and her aunts, Miss Janet McIntosh and Miss Helen McIntosh, White Rock.
Memorial Service will be held in St. Stevens Anglican Church, on Mount Newton Cross Rad, on Tuesday, November 30, 1971 at 2pm. Rev. Ivan Futter officiating. Flowers gratefully declined. Those so desiring may contribute to the Elk Lake Co-operative Play School.
Crash Victim Honoured by Trail
Gail Wickens’ Trail
Victoria Times, December 7, 1971
A hiking and riding trail will be blazed this weekend [December 11-12] in Central Saanich in memory of Gail Wickens, 30, victim of a traffic accident November 24.
Dawn Ruthven of the Garden City Horsemen Club, Bruce Hardy and Phil Kisslinger of the Sierra Club of BC asked Central Saanich council Monday for permission to construct the Thomson Trail as a joint effort involving outdoor and riding clubs, with which Mrs. Wickens had been affiliated.
The 1½ mile link will connect Mount Newton Cross Road with John Dean Park, an area which Mrs. Ruthven says is ideal for riding and hiking.
About 250 persons will work this weekend clearing a trail from which motorcycles will be prohibited. Other clubs involved are the Victoria Western Horsemen’s Club, The Victoria and Saanich Pony Club and 4-H Clubs.
Mrs. Wickens had five children in her car when it was in collision with another auto at Sayward and the Pat Bay Highway [near Elk Lake].
Her daughter, Melissa, 3, remains in poor condition at St. Joseph’s Hospital while her son, Steven, 7 is in good condition.
[Denise Demeule was in critical condition.] The other two children, Sarah Pope, 7, and her sister Catherine, 5, have been released from hospital.