From the Hope slide comes beautiful rock furniture

From tragedy comes beauty

Museum manager Sharon Ives shows Ava Carpenter

When the southwest slope of Johnson Peak collapsed in January of 1965, it sent about 60 million cubic yards of rock down a 6,000-foot slope, burying the highway and four people 300 feet deep.

Known forever after in B.C. as the Hope Slide, at least a little of that tragic jumble of rock was turned into something beautiful and is now available for viewing a the Qualicum Beach Museum.

“Cliff Smith and his wife Dorothy went up to the slide and cut slabs of the rock, which Cliff used to make miniature furniture,” said museum spokesperson Graham Beard.

That miniature furniture, he said, shows a high degree of craftsmanship, reflecting the great love and care put into the project.

“He was incredible,” Beard said. “He had to cut them to the right thickness and once he got the slabs he had to select them for the type of furniture he wanted to build, cut them precisely, polish them and glue them. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours he put into it.”

Those hours were well-spent, resulting in a set that is a true thing of beauty.

“All the chests of drawers open and he has petrified wood for logs in the fireplace,” Beard said. “There’s a little TV with the image of a hockey game on it, at record player, lamps and a grandfather clock with a pendulum that swings.”

Beard had run into Smith in the course of his paleontological work.

“He collected for many, many years and donated some amazing things,” Beard said. “He donated a set of 700-million year old jellyfish from the Precambrian and some whale skulls I’m cleaning right now.”

Smith, who died two years ago, also donated the miniatures to the museum and they are now on display in the community cupboard section of the museum.

The Qualicum Beach Museum is open Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m.