Sandi Knighton pays tribute to her mother, Monique, and father, Peter, who ran Chez Monique’s on the West Coast Trail. PINK BUFFALO FILMS PHOTO

Short documentary showcases Chez Monique’s on Canada’s West Coast Trail

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

It started with a $10 can of Coke, recalls Sandi Knighton in the newly released documentary ‘Chez Monique’s: a burger on the edge of the world’ produced by Pink Buffalo Films.

“It was a hot day. There was a hiker that came down the ladder and he saw us with this pop and he comes running up and sits down and he’s sweating and he’s got a big backpack and he says I’ll give you 10 dollars for just one of your pop. And from there it just grew,” Knighton says of her family’s restaurant Chez Monique’s located on Carmanah beach on the West Coast Trail.

Over the last 25 years, the legendary off-the-grid establishment fed and hosted hikers from all over the world.

Vancouver-based director Chris Lorenz first encountered Chez Monique’s while he was hiking the West Coast Trail.

“Like so many others, I was taken aback by the hospitality and persistence exhibited by the Knightons and amazed at how they had made such a harsh environment feel like home — not only for themselves but for their guests,” wrote Lorenz.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades, and all the hearts they touched,” said producer Joaquin Cardoner.

“With the passing of the restaurant’s founder, Monique, in January 2018 followed soon after by the unexpected death of her husband, Peter, the film depicts their daughter’s struggle to keep the business afloat without them, while also sharing the restaurant’s origin story and its impact on visitors,” said Cardoner.

Due to the passing of Knighton’s father, a Carmanah or kwaabaaduw7aa7tx First Nation, this is the first year in which Chez Monique’s has not opened.

“[Chez Monique’s] is all I know. I’ve been out of place,” Knighton told the Westerly from her base in Duncan. “If they said, ‘this is your legacy and you can go back’, I would be there in a heartbeat.”

Her parent’s ashes remain in the cabin they built on the West Coast Trail. Knighton said she is not allowed to go back to the area because she is not a member of Ditidaht First Nation, the tribe that governs the territory within the West Coast Trail, which is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

According to Parks Canada, approximately 7,500 hikers take on the West Coast Trail per year. Knighton said Chez Monique’s was “always for the hikers.” She said her family was there for the people in dire need.

“Come get a warm drink, come get something to eat. Come to the fire. We gave them tea, coffee, put them under shelter. The best gift you can ever give someone is to help them,” said Knighton.

Karen Haugen, superintendent of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, addressed the issue.

“Parks Canada does not own the land where Chez Monique’s restaurant is located, however the Agency respects the Ditidaht First Nation’s land management decisions,” wrote Haugen in an email to the Westerly.

The 21-minute film ‘Chez Monique’s’ was released online and on VOD by Telus Originals on July 16.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations move to final stage of treaty negotiations (June 28, 2019)

READ MORE: Port Renfrew overcomes economic stagnation to become B.C. tourism mecca

Just Posted

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

Divers encounter giant, weird-looking fish in Barkley Sound

Rendezvous Dive Adventures charter sees six-foot creature normally found in tropical water

Longtime owners sell popular convenience store in Ucluelet

“I’ve been here 24 years. I grew up next door. I’ll turn 55 this year. It’s time for a change.”

Youth lead Ucluelet Cemetery nameplate project

Students navigate maps and scour local archives over three years to honour deceased.

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Most Read