The bay itself is more a slight dent in the coastline, open to the waves and currents of Georgia Strait. Better a semi-bay for mooring log booms than none, and the flat surrounding land was a good place to lay out workers' cabins and logging machinery.
|Looking inland from the tip of the breakwater. Flat river bottom land ahead.|
The flatlands had other residents in those first years. Around the depression years, a relief camp housed young men otherwise out of work. They cleared land, worked on the roads; the cordwood road was gravelled; there were bridges to build and repair.
In 1938, a dry year, sparks from small logging operations set off dozens of small brush fires in the Campbell River - Courtenay area. Oyster Bay is in the centre. One fire grew into a raging blaze that eventually consumed 470 square kilometres of Vancouver Island Forest; at the end, over 2000 men fought it, hopelessly until the rains came.
When that was over, the Forestry department hired 40 men to cut a road through from Courtenay to Campbell River; they also replanted trees that had been lost in the fire.
|The breakwater, today. Rocks and rust. Simpson's ship pieces.|
As World War II was getting underway, the need for lumber grew. Al Simpson, of the Iron River Logging Company, bought the old logging camp and built a causeway out into the bay to enclose his booming ground. As added protection from the huge waves kicked up by winter storms in Georgia Strait, he sunk parts from dismantled ships as a breakwater.
|Rusted ladder. One of Simpson's collection?|
|The causeway was here. Looking straight east across the channel.|
And now, we have a real bay. Coastal currents have been bringing in sand and debris, piling up along Simpson's causeway at first, then on the added breakwater, changing the shape of the shoreline, even building bird habitat.
|Three pilings left over from the causeway, with flying kildeer.|
|Google map. Oyster River at the bottom, the wide-open "bay", with the modern, enclosed bay at the star.|
Tomorrow: MacBlo, the war's remnants, and today's hulks.