Nestled in the heart of Sooke Potholes Provincial Park on southern Vancouver Island are the remains of an extravagant chateau that never saw completion.
Albert Yuen, a developer from Victoria, purchased the 160-acre parcel of land overlooking Sooke River in the 1980s, and construction on the resort began shortly after. The lodge was conceived as a retreat for those drawn to the lush landscape and quiet outdoor offerings of British Columbia’s temperate rainforests.
Yuen and his wife envisioned a full-support infrastructure for their guests: over 200 luxury rooms, a pool and spa, and access to in-house shopping outlets. Timber Lodge, the centerpiece of the property, would play host to Canada’s largest log-burning fireplace. Guests would navigate the resort via winding stone staircases built into the canyon itself.
But the Yuens’ vision could only carry them so far. A dearth of investment dollars eventually sunk their ambitions, and what had been built of the resort was left to crumble.
In 2004 the property was acquired as parkland, and the partially constructed lodge buildings were stripped down to their stonework. Now, the ruins of the abandoned chateau have themselves become a draw for locals and curious tourists alike. Fencing and frequent patrols by park rangers keep trespassers away, but an ever-shifting canvas of graffiti murals inside the ruins proves that there are still those unable to resist the pull of Yuen’s lost dream.
Know Before You Go
The abandoned resort area is closed to the public. Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is reached via Sooke River Road, just off West Coast Highway 14. Gates to the park campgrounds are closed at night from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.