Eagle Cliff is a narrow strip of waterfront land on the east side of the island between Scarborough and Hood Point. Water views are bountiful and a goodly number of residents have an easy walk to the Eagle Cliff beach.
Eagle Cliff development began with the MacCauley & Nicholls firm who subdivided the 176 acres of District Lot 1552 into 18 eight to ten acre lots. In 1911 Frank Dodson bought 3 of those lots and built 15 small cottages. He may have been the developer who christened the area “ Eagle Cliff” because of the large eagle’s nest on a prominent cliffside tree: the nest was visible into the early thirties.
Before WWI, the small subdivision limped along in competition with those at Miller’s Landing and Scarborough. In 1922, a float was installed and a few families built summer cottages. Financial difficulties resulted in property changing hands several times and somehow, an area earmarked for a small park disappeared. A handful of cottage owners kept their properties through the twenties and thirties. By the forties, two cottages were occupied year round with others occasionally used by summer people.
Early access was via Sannie boat from Snug Cove directly to Eagle Cliff. Occasionally, people took the Union Steamship boat that came down from Squamish. In the fifties, the Union Steamship service made it much easier to reach the island and slowly, Eagle Cliff began to grow.
Easy building sites were hard to find so Eagle Cliffers utilized steep hillsides above or below the road. The road’s first form was a single track put through in the 1950s. By the 1970s, the road became so inadequate and dangerous that it was often impassable even for the most intrepid driver. Residents wrote letters, gathered petitions and interviewed authorities hoping for road improvements. Nothing happened until a change of government brought in money for roads and the Eagle Cliff road was included.
Making the road safer was difficult because of houses all along below the road. Small blasts and protective wire netting had to be used which took months. During the process cars were left at the south end of Eagle Cliff and Eagle Cliffers walked (or climbed) to their homes. Happily, another change of government authorized blacktopping the road.
After years of quiet, a new generation began to arrive. Some families built retirement cottages while other neighbours were primarily summer folk. As the area grew, the access to water was a challenge. Power had been put through but water was a community responsibility and so water supply and service became the assignment of the Eagle Cliff Improvement Association. Finally, a mountainside well was dug and a water line was put in.
A reservoir on the site of the original well now holds 1,600,000 gallons and is supplemented by a deep well. Water was a binding tie uniting residents. Volunteers solved problems together and socialized together. Now, because a number of local responsibilities are handled by the municipality, residents have created an Eagle Cliff Community Association which handles significant local issues as well as a bit of social life. New generations are joining those who have been around since the forties or fifties and both are swimming off the Eagle Cliff floats.