As told by Victoria Smith
In 1887, the first European Settler on Cortes, Michael Manson, pre-empted 160 acres on Gunflint Lake. He obtained full title in 1913. His daughter Flo McKay inherited the land in 1928 and purchased an additional 120 adjacent acres. The property was called Lakeview Ranch. Flo’s daughter, Hazel Hansen, took it on in 1950. Ken and Hazel Hansen purchased 40 more acres, making Lakeview Ranch the largest piece of agricultural land on Cortes Island.
Activities reflected similar endeavours on other homesteads, such as large gardens; varied livestock and poultry; hayfields and orchards. Logging was carried on in the forested area. Ken and Hazel Hansen operated a raw milk dairy and a guest ranch while they lived here.
The Hansens sold the property to Robert Cabot in 1978, keeping 16 acres for their new home. Robert Cabot transferred the title to “Trust for Public Land”, a charitable land trusting organization based in the US. “Trust for Public Land” in turn transferred the title, with certain restrictions, to Turtle Island Earth Stewards, a BC society to manage as a no-sale land trust. The property was renamed Linnaea Farm after the twinflower, Linnaea borealis, which grows here in abundance.
Linnaea Farm, which currently consists of 314 aces, has always been important to the history and development of the Cortes community. Produce from the gardens has been sold and traded, milk was delivered while the dairy was in operation and camps with horse-riding activities were available to young people of Cortes and beyond.
Trails through the property are still commonly used for horseback riding, hiking or simply as shortcuts for Cortes residents and tourists. These include trails to Cortes Bay, Easter Bluff, Larson’s Meadow, and the lakeside trail to Hague Lake. The diversity and beauty of the landscape, the flora and fauna, and the exceptional vistas have always made this property a popular destination for lovers of nature. There is a history of use of the buildings and facilities by the larger community as well.
The stewards of Linnaea Farm are continuing this tradition of providing reasonable access, and of sharing and providing resources to people from the community of Cortes Island and beyond.