The History of the Harbour House Hotel
Early in the 1900’s newlyweds Alfred Fred Crofton and Nona Wilson bought Jack Scovell’s 100-acre seafront farm at the head of Ganges Harbour. They set about raising livestock, fruit, vegetables and their quickly growing family of “D’s”-- Dermott, Desmond, Diana, Doreen, Denise, Donovan and Dulcie. When Fred went off to fight in WWI, Nona began taking in overnight travelers and eventually renovated their farmhouse into a 12-bedroom guesthouse, named it after Fred’s Irish country home and opened the doors of the Harbour House Hotel. Guests came by land and sea to sample the Crofton’s rustic yet elegant hospitality. There eventually came to be a saltwater swimming pool, twin tennis courts, picnics, fishing trips, scavenger hunts and high tea served on the vine-covered veranda.
Meanwhile, the original farm supplied Billy Eng, the hotel’s chef for nearly 50 years, with produce, eggs, turkeys, hams and chicken to feed the Crofton family as well as the hotel guests. There was no refrigeration and no regular ferry service, so the Harbour House Hotel, and Salt Spring Island, was largely self-sufficient.
After the Crofton’s sold the hotel and regular ferry service in the mid 1950’s brought meat and produce from afar, the farm fell into disuse. Much of the land was sold off and developed, donated, or given to the Crofton children. The last 17 acres remained behind the hotel and grew up with alders, blackberries, wild rose, broom and thistles.
In 2004, Jack and Glenda Woodward purchased the Harbour House with the intention of reviving what was left of the old Crofton farm and returning to the tradition of farm-to-table food, friendly service and warm hospitality. Five acres have been deer-fenced and three of those have been cleared by our trusty resident goats and then planted in a wide variety of crops. A new orchard, multiple greenhouses, terraced stone beds and beehives yield an amazing variety of produce that once again nourishes locals and guests alike at the Harbour House Hotel.
Click here to watch the 1950 First Pioneers Day celebrated at Harbour House !
See more of our history here from the Salt Spring Archives.