A new building is soon to open across from the government wharf. It will be the home of Redden Net, and occupies the site where the McPherson block containing the Sea View Cafe once stood.
The Sea View Cafe was built in 1945 by Armour and Ann Sambrook. Mrs. Sambrook recalls that it was wartime and very difficult to get the building materials they needed.
The cafe was on one side of the ground floor and there were three apartments on the floor above. The Sambrooks home was next door. They had bought two lots and moved over from Quadra Island.
The Sambrooks operated the building in partnership with Mrs. Sambrook's two brothers, and eventually her brother William McPherson became the sole owner. The Sea View Cafe had several changes in management, and Mrs. Sambrook worked for them all. "And my father washed the dishes," Mrs. Sambrook says, "No matter who was running the cafe, my father always was in the kitchen doing dishes in boiling hot water."
Before the new ferry dock was built, the Quadra ferry landed right across the street. "We used to have a rush hour when the Quadra kids got out of school," Mrs. Sambrook says. Saturday nights were also very busy. When the earthquake of "46" struck on a Sunday morning, the Sambrooks had been up until 3 am the night before. The quake was a rude awakening to a hectic day. The broken glasses and scattered cream pies had to be cleaned up in a hurry, because crowds of people left their toppled chimneys and upset households to have dinner at the Sea View.
"I always remember one wife saying ,we should have an earthquake every day," Mrs. Sambrook says. "Did she ever enjoy her chicken and chips!"
In 1967, after hours of heavy rain, a huge mudslide roared down the hill behind the building. Hundreds of yards of debris smashed against its walls and rushed through the space beside it, tearing loose some stairs and pushing parked cars across the street. The occupants of the three apartments were led to safety by ladder from top windows.
Besides the cafe, various businesses occupied the ground floor over the years, including Humphries Waterfreight and Island Outboard. After the cafe closed, United Appliances had the entire ground floor, and then assorted small enterprises came and went. From 1979 until its demolition in November 1999, the structure was the home of Redden Net Company, whose owners are now rebuilding on the same site.
"When we took the building down," says Tim Hobbs of Redden Net, "We found a lot of extra plumbing in one of the suites." And someone said, "Oh, that's because there used to be a dentist upstairs." Likewise, I've been told there were printing presses on the ground floor and that a newspaper was published there." Another find during the building's last days was a timebook for the cafe employees from the 1960s.
Redden Net's new premises will open early this summer, and like its predecessor it will have a business level on the ground floor and apartments above.