Seagirt home of early pioneers.

Buckingham Palace a.k.a. Seagirt

Sooke's historian recounts the bachelor cottage built in East Sooke

Though newcomers arriving in Sooke by sea in the late 1800s were largely Scottish, there was also a good showing of Brits, possibly second and third sons of the British gentry.

Schoolmates seeking a new life in a new world, in 1883 five bachelors put up a cabin in East Sooke on what is now Seagirt Road. Joseph and Jack Dales, Arthur Floyer and two Gordon brothers, Ted and Jack, sons of the Dean of Lincoln Cathedral, congregated there.  With their English accents and manners, it wasn’t long before their home was called “Buckingham Palace.” The fellows nailed animal skins on the walls and began planting fruit trees on the sunny hillside.

When they weren’t called by domestic chores, however, they would head across the harbour to visit folk on the west side. After John and Tom Murray arrived in 1886, rowing across to the wharf at the foot of Murray Road was a favourite.

West of the Murrays the Muirs held the land, with the Muir shipbuilding yard and the Muir steam sawmill the prominent sites. Further west, at what we know today as Gordon’s Beach, the enterprising Ted Gordon purchased the broad hillside farm that had been cut from the wildernessby Thomas Tugwell. Joining him as partner was Arthur Floyer, and the two partnered again later in operating a horse stage to Victoria.

In 1889 Ted Gordon journeyed back to England to marry his childhood sweetheart, Kitty Jalland, daughter of a London physician.  Kitty was to play a large role in the social life of the Sooke and Otter Point communities for half a century. Jack Gordon found his bride close by, wooing Matilda, one of the five daughters of Michael Muir of Burnside.

He and Matilda worked the farm at Burnside, and had two children, Alice and Harry. It was after Jack Gordon had been lost to consumption that Matilda, Alice and Harry moved into Moss Cottage (it was moved, much later, to the museum).

The East Sooke cabin, meanwhile, had lost its identity as Buckingham Palace and been considerably enlarged. Held for years by a series of owners, in 1934 it was purchased by Ray and Grace Horgan, and turned into the resort of “Seagirt” pictured as it looked in 1940.

Elida Peers

Historian, Sooke Region Museum