The young Dick and Katie Carter, the builders of Shallon, loved camping during the summer. During the twenties and thirties they and several other couples camped and built summer cottages in Fisherman's Cove in West Vancouver. With young children to raise and the hard times of the depression they decided to give up the property. However, as World War II was winding down and their children growing bigger, they began an active search for vacation property. Dick searched the provincial government files for Crown properties that had been sub-divided but were unsold or had reverted to the Crown for unpaid taxes. Throughout the summer of 1945 he continued to search.
Late in 1945 he optioned to purchase, from the provincial government, a ten acre property on Bowen Island, with 200 feet of waterfront. The family rented a 'putt-putt' in Horseshoe Bay and traveled to the shoreline of the property. The boat was beached and the family climbed up the very steep slope to determine if there were any suitable sites for a cabin. Access was by boat because the road from Snug Cove stopped about a mile from the property. Lunch was eaten on the outcrop just below the current house.
The Government had to send a land surveyor down from Squamish to determine the value of the property. It took a number of additional months. In the spring of 1946 the price was established at thirty four dollars an acre. Family lore has it that the surveyor must have gone by the property on the water, determined that the land was very steep and set the price without seeing the bench land above. The purchase was made!
The early years of ownership meant traveling to Bowen on either the Union Steamship’s Lady Alexandra from downtown Vancouver Burrard Inlet dock or by Sannie ferry from Horseshoe Bay. The Sannie was a people and cargo only boat that took about 30 passengers.
Then, Eagle Cliff residents would take a taxi from Snug Cove to the end of the road and walk about a mile to their properties. In the summer months, “Cliff” residents were able to travel from Horseshoe Bay to the Eagle Cliff floats by Sannie, then hike up the hill to their property.
By 1948 Dick and Katie and their two sons had built a cabin and outhouse. The family spent weekends and summer vacations in the cabin which is still on the property to the west of the current house. Ross and Jim, the two teenagers, would head into Snug Cove to meet with friends or to attend the arrival of the Lady Alexandra with a load of 'partiers' who were heading to the dance hall. Bands would travel and play on the Alex and then continue to the dance hall.
When the dance hall was torn down in the early 1960's, Dick was able to purchase enough of the flooring to create the beautiful edge grained fir floor in the living room and two bedrooms of Shallon. Jim worked as a desk clerk and recreation director in Mount Strachan Lodge during the last year (1956) it was open as a resort. It was located at the head of the Hotel Bay next to Snug Cove. Unfortunately it was torn down in the late 50's.
In 1954, Eagle Cliff Road was extended to Hood Point and passed through an existing right of way on the Shallon property. Shortly after, electric power came through and in 1974 the road was paved. Dick started work on building Shallon in the mid 1950s. His goal was to provide a retirement home for Katie and himself. On weekends and during summer holidays he would work, with Katie assisting, to build a snug home using lumber milled on Bowen. With only some assistance with wiring and plumbing, he completed the job in the early 60's. Dick and Katie then retired to Bowen in 1965. An addition was added in 1965, where the master bedroom, second bedroom and bathroom are currently located, to allow family members and friends to visit and be independent.
Ross and Jim purchased the two acres of waterfront from Dick and Katie in the 1970's. Eventually Ross bought Jim out and built his home there. You can see it from the deck just below Shallon.
Dick and Katie enjoyed an active and interesting retirement. Katie helped to start the Bowen Island Historians and led the project to publish Irene Howard’s seminal history of the island – Bowen Island, 1872 - 1972. The Bowen Island Museum and Archives was also started by Katie and her group. Dick and Katie were instrumental in starting a painting workshop that is still going today. Dick was active in organizing the Eagle Cliff water district. As the 1990s approached, Dick and Katie were forced by declining health to leave the island and move to supportive facilities in West Vancouver. Katie passed away in 1995 at age 94 and Dick in 1999 at age 99.
By family agreement, Jim’s daughter, Heather, and her husband Jim have become Shallon’s owners. They have undertaken a major internal and external renovation of Dick and Katie’s hand-built home. The results have been outstanding. However, the 'bones' of the building are still the wonderful work of Dick and Katie. If they were still around, the senior Carters would be elated and proud to see the many improvements made to the house that Jim designed and implemented.
We hope you enjoy your stay at Shallon and that you have a little better understanding of its history and the people who made it what it is today.