JARS v60n4 - Rhododendron Heaven

Rhododendron Heaven
Bill Dale
Sidney, British Columbia

In 1944, when George Fraser was being taken from Ucluelet to the hospital in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, he said to his friend Bud Thompson, "I don't know where I'm going to end up, but it doesn't matter as I've had my heaven here on earth."
Things have changed a lot in the roughly sixty years since then, and I doubt if Fraser could have envisioned the changes that have taken place in Ucluelet.
In 1944 Fraser purchased 236 acres of land that comprises much of the present downtown area for $236 - a dollar an acre! At the present time there is a building boom going on in Ucluelet and any of these sites with a view of the Pacific Ocean crashing on the shoreline is in high demand.
Fraser lived there from 1892 to 1944 and planted many rhododendrons over the years. In the months of May and June these burst forth in a riot of color.
The George Fraser Project Committee has planted more than 200 rhododendron plants beside the five miles of road leading into Ucluelet.

Rhododendrons planted by the 
George Fraser Project Committee
Rhododendrons planted by the George Fraser Project Committee
line the road leading into Ucluelet, BC, on Vancouver Island.
Photo by Bill Dale

This group of volunteers has taken on the task of weeding and fertilizing these plants and the results have been spectacular. Most of the residents of Ucluelet grow rhododendrons and these as well as those planted along the roadside make a unique site during May and June.
Fraser lived in Ucluelet from 1892 to 1944, but I doubt that even he could have imagined what his "rhododendron heaven" would look like after all these years.