History of the Harbour House Hotel
Early in the 1900s, 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 the First World War, 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.