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  • Hotel Bay (Burdwood Bay Hotel)


    Burdwood Bay Hotel on Read island, circa 1900


    EDGAR WYLIE'S BURDWOOD BAY HOTEL is best known for the story of the 1894 murder of logger Chris Benson and the subsequent trial of John Smith. Smith's wife, Laura, told investigators (and later testified at a trial) that Benson was murdered by Smith in their home, but Smith was acquitted by a jury. Smith and his wife had pre-empted District Lot 169, the land on which the hotel was built. The couple later separated and, after moving to Port Neville, Laura disappeared. Her daughter Daisy, who had accompanied her from Read Island to Port Neville, was sent to an orphanage in Vancouver. Years later, after reading Jeanette Taylor's account of the murder and its aftermath in her book Tidal Passages, Daisy's descendants traced the fate of Laura and Daisy.

    In 2019, the concrete foundations of the two main buildings in the photo above are still evident. The building on the right is believed to be Wylie's store. A white lilac still grows nearby. The Smith's homestead, according to press reports, was visible from the hotel, likely across the cove just to the south of the hotel.



    Hotel Bay, in 2019, at the north end of Burdwood Bay. The red square indicates where the hotel used to be. The Smiths lived in the cove on the left. (Click on the image to make it larger)


    Links to stories about this place:

    Story in Victoria's Daily Colonist (1978) by Cecil Clark.

    Jeanette Taylor's account of the murder of Chris Benson and its aftermath.

    Jeanette Taylor's account of Laura Smith's great-granddaughter's search for her grandmother's fate.



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