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

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“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

Ongoing Saanich Schools strike forces production of ‘Matilda the Musical’ to Esquimalt High

Four Seasons Musical Theatre had to find alternative venue for production

Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

Support workers receive show of solidarity from parents during rally outside school district office

Saanich ranked third for participation in FortisBC energy-efficient upgrades program

800 older apartment buildings in B.C. have received upgrades since 2015

Provincial funding allows Greater Victoria immigrants, refugees better access to counselling services

The Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees was a recipient of new funds

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Most Read