Percy Clark and Margaret Anderson wed in 1914

Shirley pioneers have long roots

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Driving west past Kirby Creek and up the hill, on the right, is where this attractive young couple lived their married life.  Though motor vehicles were just coming into use, horse and buggy, bicycles and walking were more common methods for a gentleman to call on his lady love.

Percy was the youngest son of Giles and Lydia Clark, British immigrants to Shirley. His elder brothers Henry Clark and Edwin Clark became well-known as pioneers of Otter Point and Shirley districts, respectively.

Percy had pre-empted 160 acres at the top of the hill in 1902, developing it into a subsistence farm. Ten years later he was ready to begin building a home for the bride he was courting, Margaret, elder daughter of William and Azuba Anderson of Malahat Farm.  (For those who don’t know where Malahat Farm is, it’s on Anderson Road, just east of Muir Creek.)  A good hand with the tools, Percy purchased the lumber from the Anderson’s sawmill and set about his carpentry; it took two years and then the house was ready for their 1914 wedding.

Percy and Margaret had seven children – Evelyn, Hazel, Irene, Gladys, Ken and twins Russell and Ronald, who all attended the little one-room Shirley school, right across the road. The family kept horses, cows, pigs, chickens and a produce garden, and all the youngsters learned to tackle chores early on, demonstrating these work ethics throughout their lives.

Sadly, Margaret was left a young widow and learned to tackle many jobs herself to support her family. Her skill with a hammer and nails led to her years of championships at the ladies’ nail driving competition at early All Sooke Days. For a while she ran a tea room at Sooke. Later, she became Mrs. Ted Perron, and some today will still remember her as an active community worker.

Percy and Margaret’s eldest daughter Evelyn became one of the noted contributors that helped provide a record of the area’s history, once the Sooke Region Museum was built. Many of us knew her as Mrs. Elmer “Smoky” Stolth, as that couple shared many years together living alongside the Sooke River.

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum