The house as it was originally placed on the hill. Photo courtesy Marcel Hill

Historic Campbell River house has ties to famous explosion and Nazi persecution of Jews

By Marcel Hill

New to Campbell River, I join hundreds from all over the world at this world-class retirement destination. I bought a 1940’s house on the “Campbell Riviera” – the stretch of scenic highway winding its way south past Discovery Passage as it hugs the ocean.

“Redonda Villa” has historic ties to both the great Ripple Rock Explosion and WW2 Jews who hid from the Nazis.

The original house was moved here by barge from West Redonda Island just prior to the 1958 colossal explosion that blasted the twin peaks of a submerged mountain 1,000 feet in the air. Treacherous marine obstacle Ripple Rock had sunk 20 large vessels and 100 smaller ones over the years, claiming 114 lives. The previous owners moved the house before the tiny settlement became a ghost town, since ships no longer had to stop there after circumventing Ripple Rock.

The house was sold to Dutch immigrants in 1965, who built a large addition, modelling this three-storey house after a WW2 Netherlands house where the woman’s mother hid Jews from the Nazis. The elderly woman met with me and my realtor to give me historic photographs and tell this story.

She was a young girl in 1944 when Germans raided her town looking for Jews. Terrified, she would be shot along with her mother if the Jews were discovered, she crawled with them through escape hatches leading from the attic to the gable area, where they quietly laid on their stomachs. The Germans found the attic but did not discover the escape panels. They raked the walls with machine gun fire just in case. At that point in the story, the old woman leaned forward and said “they missed us all”… I was moved to tears. The Jews hid in the attic successfully until the war ended. Ten years later she was married and living here.

My historic house has a hidden staircase leading to the attic, where one of two rooms is the “Anne Frank” room – a tribute to the courage of both Jews who hid from Nazis and the brave souls who risked death to save them. There are three escape panels in the attic providing access to the gabled area. On the first floor, a concealed escape tunnel leads to an underground concrete “bunker.” Each of the five bedrooms have names, like the Honeymoon Suite, the Eagles Nest, and the Nasa room, and every room – even bathrooms and closets – has ocean views. Behind a bookcase in the third floor study is another entrance to the Anne Frank room.

This waterfront paradise on half an acre sits on a raised slope, providing a 180 degree unobstructed panoramic view of ocean, islands and distant mainland mountains. When I’m awakened by barking California Sea Lions, I remember the old woman describing the sound of German jack boots pounding up her driveway. As I enjoy the scenic wonders of whales, sea lions, marine vessels and other wonders, my gaze directs me at Discovery Passage where I think about the many ships and lives lost because of Ripple Rock.

Working at my desk upstairs, I imagine that brave little girl hiding from Nazi bullets on the other side of the wall. The piercing cries of eagles seems to mimic the joyful cries as Dutch people were finally liberated and surviving Jews tasted freedom.

The explosion that blasted a mountain away brought a house to Campbell River to become a memorial of sorts.

Does your house have a story?

Does your house have an interesting history or is just plain interesting in some other way? Let us know about by emailing or call 250-287-9227.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


A wall panel on the second floor is shown opened to reveal old staircase going to third floor. Photo by Marcel Hill

Study in third floor shows bookcase leading to attic area of older house. Photo by Marcel Hill

The old man’s “escape tunnel” is an underground passageway that leads to the hidden access panel at end. Photo by Marcel Hill

Just Posted

Refurbishing computers allows kids to access online learning

Campbell River company donates to KidStart program

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

One injured in accident on Brewster lake and Highway 28 intersection

The accident is the third one this week on the Highway 28 route that connects Campbell River and Gold River

SLIDESHOW: Campbell River’s Summerside Express camp founder celebrates last day before retirement

Mark Lerner started the camp for special needs children 34 years ago

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Unofficial holidays: here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Aug. 16 to 22

World Photography Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day and Rum Day all coming up this week

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

Most Read