Elphinstone Chronicles: Revisiting Chaster House


At the May Elphinstone Community Association (ECA) meeting, Sunshine Coast Regional District Administrative Manager Dean McKinley addressed many concerns, including stormwater runoff, local trails and bylaw enforcement. And Chaster House is open! After being closed due to COVID (of course) and the flooding of the bridge, residents are allowed to enter the property but not through the bridge. To find out more about its rental, send an email to [email protected]

I recently spoke with Brian Thicke, great-grandson of James Chaster who owned and developed many of the cottages along the Ocean Beach esplanade that still stand today. Brian and his wife Janice have built a lovely home on an old family plot along the esplanade and are founding members of the Ocean Beach Esplanade Association (OBENA). Chaster House was rebuilt around 1955-56 near the same location as the original house. The first was built in the early 1900s by James Chaster and was called Trelawney. Brian says: “The Union Steamship brought guests to the area and they became the owners of summer cottages along the beach, so I’m going to guess the original house was also a lodge at one point .” He notes that the area was used and known by the Skwxú7mesh as Stelkaya.

Some believe the original house was burned down and others remember it was torn down due to its cold seaside location, but either way it was gone by the mid-1920s when the Chasters built the first Bonnie Brook Lodge farther from cold winter winds. blowing from the ocean. This first Bonnie Brook Lodge burned down and was rebuilt into the beautiful place it is today.

Chaster’s estates were gradually distributed among subsequent generations and, as Brian told me, many cottages were sold to summer families who begged Mr. Chaster to sell them. He fondly remembers spending every summer as a child in the little cottage (still there) next to the Chaster House estate with his parents, two brothers and sister. Brian says his grandmother Florence Chaster was a real force – she would arrive at the cabin at 7 a.m. to wake him up from bed to pick blackberries. Florence was the wife of Harry Chaster, the youngest son of James Chaster. She ran the store that supplied summer vacationers which stood at the foot of Harry Road. A few years ago, I interviewed Murray King (August 15, 2019 edition), after whom the King Road family is named. He remembered Florence Chaster as a kind woman who occasionally bought him dwarf chickens, which he raised for extra spending money. He bought Orange Crush at the store and ice cream cones for a nickel.

The SCRD had the foresight to purchase the Chaster House and its grounds in 1992, and since then residents have enjoyed the beauty of this little piece of land by the sea. The ECA has hosted many summer barbecues here . Brian says Florence had a wonderful garden in what is now a lawn – he remembers helping pick rhubarb, peas, carrots, beets, raspberries and potatoes. Florence was an avid competitor at fall fairs and often won prizes for her products. Residents will be happy to have this little gem back and available. Do you have memories of Chaster House? Email me at: [email protected]


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