Hamish Crawford with just some of antique cars he owns. Don Denton photography

At Home with Hamish Crawford

Creator of bakery, restaurant and winery is also an avid antique car collector

  • Sep. 17, 2018 12:01 p.m.

-Story by Hans Tammemagi

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Hamish Crawford — lean, fit and exuding energy — is waiting at the entrance to the bustling Roost Vineyard Bistro and Farm Bakery. He’s dressed in jeans and working farm clothes, and his face is framed by a white moustache and large sideburns. But what really stands out is an irrepressible smile and a twinkle in his eye. He is clearly a man who enjoys life and, as I am to learn, he’s also a remarkable person.

Early Years

As we start a tour of his 10-acre farm, he explains how in 1965 he emigrated to Canada from Scotland at age 21. He worked for the National Grain Company, first in Winnipeg and then in Calgary.

One year, when he and his family holidayed in Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula, he became smitten by its rural softness, which reminded him of the fishing village in which he’d grown up. In 1989, he purchased — sight unseen from a newspaper ad — a 10-acre farm south of the airport.

With a love and knowledge of farming — he has a diploma in agriculture — Hamish decided to grow wheat, an unusual crop on Vancouver Island. His goal was to start a bakery. The venture proved successful: the wheat grew, a bakery followed and it flourished.

The bakery grew into today’s Roost Vineyard Bistro and Farm Bakery, which is immensely popular, serving a wide variety of fresh-baked goods such as breads, muffins, pies and croissants as well as meals. Hamish believes it’s the only bakery in British Columbia that grows and mills its own wheat.

Cars!

Asked about his hobbies, Hamish says, “Cars! Come, I’ll show you.”

We enter a large, barn-like building and — surprise! — it’s like an automobile museum with 16 shining vintage cars, including a striking black and white 1949 MG touring car with a supercharger, and a 1928 Model A Ford Huckster complete with rumble seat.

“I love mechanics and have been working on cars since I was 12. I always have one on the go,” he says. “It takes me about a year to refurbish a car. At the moment I’m working on a 1926 Austin 7 Chummy.”

We climb to an extended balcony and look down on the rows of gleaming cars. The balcony has a bar bearing several bottles and a sign, “Hamish’s Happy Spot.” Even here, however, Hamish doesn’t rest, for strewn about the floor are parts of an airplane he is assembling to hang from the ceiling above his cars.

Wine and Dungeon

“After visiting California I decided we should grow grapes and make wine,” says Hamish.

He planted two acres of Siegerrebe grapes and now makes white wine, ginger wine and blackberry wine. The winemaker, of course, is Hamish himself.

He leads me into a long, narrow tasting room in the basement of the barn. A full suit of medieval armour stands near the entrance.

“That was a birthday gift after I broke my hip. My friends felt I should be fully immobilized,” jokes Hamish.

He leads me past an elegant table with two candelabras into a dusky back room with foreboding concrete walls.

“This is the dungeon,” he says, pointing to a skeleton and ominous, full-size rack “comfort” chair and iron maiden, which look in perfect working condition.

“I’m still developing the dungeon and tasting room,” he explains.

During a trip to Napa Valley, he visited a winery with an Italian castle where the owner said the dungeon was the most popular part of the property.

Hamish Crawford shows off a lock for his new medieval themed wine tasting room. Don Denton photography

Daughter Sarah

Hamish’s daughter, Sarah Bohl, joins us as we stroll to another building — Hamish’s workshop.

The interior is crammed with two cars partly disassembled, airplane wings and parts, wine containers, tools scattered everywhere and hundreds of jars, bottles and cans.

“This is where Dad spends most of his time,” says Sarah.

When I ask Sarah how it is to work so closely with her father, she gives him a hug and responds. “I love my Dad, he’s my idol. Everybody looks up to him. He’s terrific to work with and he’s very patient.”

She describes how when she was young, living in Calgary, her dad built her a recumbent bike. He also built several other bicycles, so their home became a popular spot for youngsters. Several of the bikes now hang in the rafters.

The three of us walk past a field of grazing sheep to Hamish’s home, an attractive two-storey Early American Farmhouse built in 1990. Sam, a black lab, greets us and accompanies us through the comfortable home, which is full of nautical and antique car memorabilia.

A Rubber-Chicken Cannon?

Back at the Roost, Hamish points to a large, horizontal propane tank with a pipe protruding upward from one end.

“That’s a rubber-chicken cannon I made,” he says. “When school groups come, the kids love it. The chicken flies more than 100 yards.”

Asked about his next project, a twinkle comes into his eye. “A distillery. I think I’ll start a distillery.”

We meet Dallas Bohl, Hamish’s son-in-law.

“Since 2008, Sarah and I have run the bakery and winery business,” says Dallas, “and Hamish supplies the ideas and the energy.”

Hamish counters, “I’m just the hired farmhand.”

Not true. Hamish is one of those gifted people, who not only brims with ideas, but also has the drive and talent to put them into action. And he wears a smile the whole time.

Just Posted

Surrey mayor dissolves public safety committee, creates one for police transition

Locke slams the move, saying who McCallum appoints to the committee will be ‘a very large tell’

Surrey lotto winner plans to spoil his kids

Attila Kelemen won $500K in the Daily Grand draw, held on July 8

Uphill battle for Cloverdale cyclist, 64, and her daughters in Cypress Challenge charity ride

Robyn Wells has lost both of her parents and two uncles to pancreatic cancer

South Surrey mom optimistic changes ahead for recovery homes

Maggie Plett met with Min. Judy Darcy Thursday

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read