Doug Pedan was a well-known athlete in British Columbia and a lake in the Sooke hills is named for the Pedan family.

Cycling and the Pedens

Local historian Elida Peers takes a look at Sooke's strong cycling history.

Cycling has always been important in Sooke

Doug Peden was often called “The greatest British Columbia athlete of all time.”  He began his impressive list of more than 60 major trophies by winning the BC Cycling Championship in 1934.

Watching the opening of the new Bike Park at SEAPARC last weekend, I was reminded of how renowned he and his brother “Torchy” were at cycling in the 1930s.  I don’t know whether cyclists of that era had exciting bike jumps to test their prowess, but the Peden brothers excelled at professional “Six day bicycle races” that were the rage then, including events at Madison Square Garden.

Doug Peden was an all-round athlete, excelling in a variety of sports besides cycling.  In 1936 he was on the Canadian basketball team at the Olympic Games in Munich, bringing home a silver medal. In baseball he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s.  Among his honours was his induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.

In spite of the years of international acclaim, he never forgot his roots.  A loyal son of Victoria, he remembered the happy times spent hiking in the Sooke hills, he and his buddies camping out at the lakes that bear his family’s name. The Peden family started in business in Victoria early in the 20th century; they operated a feed store, Scott & Peden Ltd, at the foot of Pandora, just about where Swans Hotel is today.

In the early years, roaming through the Sooke hills from Victoria as far as Sooke Lake was a frequent pastime of young fellows, and the Pedens often camped at these small lakes, where Bill Peden, the dad, built a cabin in the 1920s. It wasn’t long before the name stuck. Sooke’s own Doug MacFarlane was a frequent hunting partner of Doug Peden.

Peden Lakes form the headwaters for Mary Vine Creek. My own memory of the Peden Lakes goes back 70 years, when I’d tag along behind my brothers camping in the Sooke hills. We’d tend to camp on top of Mt. Empress, skirt Sheilds Lake and camp at Peden Lake before heading for home, our packs lighter with the food all gone.  We did not know about the cabin, and tents were unheard of for us, we’d camp under a spreading fir or pine tree, and cut boughs for a mattress. We’d see tracks of bear, wolf and cougar, so I’d stick pretty close behind my brothers, but we didn’t meet any.

Sooke as a community is traditionally very big on sports and the outdoor life, so the next time you are out hiking in the hills on the east side of the Sooke River, maybe give a thought to the Pedens and the long history of sports that have gone before.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum