Lake & Marina History
This lake has always been a central feature in the region. The Kleh-koot-aht people, who inhabited the area prior to European contact, called the lake Kleh-koot, meaning wide open spaces. That name is still preserved on some maps as Klehkoot arm.
The Kleh-koot-aht people, along with the Muh-uulth-aht and the Cuu-ma-as-aht, are known as the Hupacaseth First Nations. The ancestors of these First Nations people are responsible for one of British Columbia’s best petroglyphs. Overlooking the eastern end of the lake is an ancient rock carving called K’ak’awin which is believed to represent a mythical lake creature.
Originally Mac’s Shack, and then Lakeshore Service, the Lakeshore Store & Marina was built circa 1955 on the Shore of Sproat Lake on Klee-Coot arm. The Klee-Coot arm is between 1 and 1/5 km wide and 3km long with one branch leading into the rest of Sproat Lake with its 4 arms and 232km of shoreline. Land attached to the store and marina is approximately 2.5 acres with about 1/3 of the property across Lakeshore Road where the family made their home.
The business was built during an era of change as some of the large logging operations were moving off the lake and organizing themselves in the Alberni Inlet. It was also the last stop before the wilderness trek to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Lakeshore has been a landmark for a brief but interesting part of the Alberni Valley history.
Since inception, the business has been family owned and operated. Our family, the Casavant’s, purchased the Lakeshore Marina and Store in 2003 and in honor of the ancient inhabitants and the original lake name we renamed the Marina to its current name, Klehkoot Marina.
Originally from Courtenay our stomping grounds were Comox Lake, Forbidden Plateau, the Cruikshank River and up to Dixon Lake. Relatives visiting us from other parts of Canada and the world would inevitably end up on a trip to Cathedral Grove and every once in a while we’d sojourn into Port Alberni. If we were really lucky we somehow made it to Sproat Lake for a warm summer swim.
After years of absence and longing to return to the Island, family considerations and a business opportunity enabled us to do just that. And through strong family ties we were drawn specifically to the Alberni Valley. In 2003, we purchased the Marina and Store and since that time a new generation has grown up in the area and at the lake. Many family members currently live and work in the Alberni Valley and around the Lake.
Upon purchasing the business in 2003 we immediately started to improve the store’s offerings. We introduced a coffee service and hot food service; we built out a café and eventually started the pizza business. While these efforts were positively received, revenues weren’t at a level to sustain the business. We needed to think out of the box and establish a long term solution for the business, local residents and tourists alike.
We explored many concepts of re-developing the land and revitalizing the entire store and marina, eventually we came up with a plan that was well received by the public. We rezoned the land and were approved to build 10 larger homes and condos on the property.
There were significant delays during this process and the delays turned into extremely bad timing as the world went through a global economic crisis. The timing stalled all development and improvement activities.
Fast forward 8 years and we survived. It took another rezoning effort, a major shift in management and finally the sale of 10 lots adjacent to the marina property to keep everything going. In 2014 Sharon and Gerry Casavant took the helm on managing the marina and we began our revitalization projects. Once again we began putting money into the marina and started planning the development. We replaced dilapidated and unstable docks and ramps and by the summer of 2017 all main docks had been replaced. The store foundation and flooring have been completely replaced and we took some of the salvage material and created a moorage area and public walkway.
We recognized that as the lake has grown in popularity many people have been left without access and local residents and lakefront homeowners are looking for more and better services to meet their needs. Public access to the lake has been a longstanding priority of the family’s redevelopment considerations. When evaluating the marina business and the needs of the local residents and visitors we diligently investigated options that would provide maximum benefits to the public, positioning the Marina as a long term resource to the local community and economy.
Also, in re-evaluating the building of 10 large homes on the property we received considerable feedback on what the lake really needed and wanted. The ideas evolved into the concepts of smaller cabins and condos with a rural feel that has received enormous positive feedback in the community. By all accounts we think we have come up with a winning formula. Please see the ‘Design Concepts’ tab.
Once you have had a chance to review this website we hope you will share in our vision and passion to re-vitalize the business so we can continue to provide essential services to local residents and visitors alike.
Also, don’t forget to endorse us when you get the chance.