District of Sooke

Going back in time: Downtown Sooke, 1957

Local historian takes us to year 1957, showing Sooke's humble beginnings.

We’ve certainly had a lot of fun going over this photo, the many knowledgeable Sooke folk who have assisted with information and establishing a date.  We believe the date to be 1957, but we’re open to information from readers if we are in error.

Perhaps the red-roofed house at lower left would be a good place to start. Many of us would recognize this house as the home of Andy and Mary Davidson. Earlier, it was home to the J Stephenson family, parents of longtime Sooke fireman Bill Stephenson. The next house was home to Milt and Fae Gibson (of Gibson’s Shopping Centre).

Third house in the row, with the darker hip-roof, was the Curtis Muir home. Much later, this property was purchased by Bill and Sandy Pedneault, where their new home stands today.   Following at the corner, Rupert Soule’s house was next, with the green field, and residents today will recognize this property as the Ed Macgregor Park, though today it hosts a band shell and a funicular to the waterfront boardwalk.

Next, with the gable roof, is the home of Frank Gray, longtime fishtraps manager. The field to the right of him, reaching as far as Murray Road, was an area owned by Sooke Harbour Fishing & Packing Co, where the nets were laid out to dry each year.

Within the clump of trees behind Frank Gray’s house are the homes of Tony and Frances Sullivan, Gerry and Roberta Davies and Dave and Tanna Reid. Further to the right stands the newly completed home of Rodney and Myrna Sullivan, which helps date the photo as the couple moved in that year.

One can barely see, beyond the Sullivan trees, the newly built Jehovah’s Witness Hall, which is currently home to Royal LePage Realtors and Hallgren & Faulkner Lawyers. The next substantial house, built by the Muirs, is where my Grades 2 and 3 classes were held when Sooke School got too crowded, early in the war. This building became well-known as the Fred Pickerl house, and in turn it was taken down to make room for the building of Bob Sykes Automotive.

Today, a car wash is located here, on Atherly Close. The George & Caroline Throup house still stands, at the corner of Sooke Road & Murray Road, and now houses a variety of enterprises including Wiskers & Waggs. On the left side of the road in this photo, there is a big open field ringed by yellow broom bushes, where, we’re told, the Vantreights of Saanich grew daffodil bulbs to the west of the hayfields.  In the upper right corner of that field in the photo, we now have the BC Ambulance station and the brand-new Hope Centre.

Immediately adjacent to the open field, just below our Code letter A, there is a red roofed house facing Sooke Road that has an interesting history. Today that property houses the Sooke Post Office. The house had started its life as home to the Tommy Blight family, and then went to Bob and Vida Hughes.

Sometime after this photo, when it was owned by the George Miller family, a tragic murder occurred and the house was burned to the ground in the process.

Still on the left side of the road, the next cottage was built for Agnes Collins, as a home after her husband Joe, another fishtraps manger, had passed on; this cottage is now used as a dental office.

Beyond, closer to Sheilds Road, one sees a substantial building which was home to the Benjamin Acreman family, Newfoundlanders who came to Sooke and raised a family of seven sons. The parking lot of the Merchants centre is on that site now.

At the corner of Sheilds and Eustace, one can easily see the Sooke Community Hall.  Left of it, one would expect to see Mom’s Café, except that it was not built until 1962.

Further right, Gibson’s Shopping Centre can barely be picked out, fronting on Otter Point Road, a block which now houses a variety of businesses, with Stone Pipe Grill on the corner, still the same building as in the photo. At the north east corner of Otter Point and Sooke Roads, Sooke Motors, operated by Wm Phillips, can be picked out.

When your eyes reach the Code B, that is where Evergreen Shopping Centre was built years later.  Just below the B, and left, red roof, is the building which housed Sooke Lockers, on Sooke Road, owned by George Duncan and Albert Wilson (later Jack Keating), and is now the CIBC.

To the lower right of B, one can see that the subdividing of the historic Murray farm is well underway. Lincroft, Goodmere and Horne Roads have been established. Homes in place on Goodmere included Bud and Clare Smith, George and Pearl Diamond and Bill and Ruby Stephenson. On the lower side of Goodmere was the home of Jim and Sharon Dunn; this structure now houses Sooke’s Hospice.

Moving over to our Code letter C, it is smack in the playing field of Sooke Elementary School. To its left, are the fields owned by the George and Jim Duncan families (earlier on, the Throup farm); today you would find the Sandpiper Complex.

The glimpse of field you can see just beyond would be the George and Muriel Cotterill Farm, and of course nowadays that area houses both Journey Middle School and Ecole Poirier.

The centre mountain peak in the skyline is Mt Empress, and at the far right, we see a bit of Mt Brule. The Milne farm, now serving as sports fields for Sooke youngsters, is glimpsed at far right. We thank everyone who has contributed to this summary, and invite any who would like to provide further information to contact us.

Elida Peers, Historian,

Sooke Region Museum