Pontoon bridge helped bring spectators to All Sooke Days.

SOOKE HISTORY: Bridge across the river

Many of the All Sooke Days organizers were loggers, and were used to finding solutions, in this case building a temporary bridge.

Back in the days when All Sooke Day was Sooke’s highlight event, attracting many thousands to the July celebration each year, organizers often found ingenious ways to meet the challenges.

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and in 1963 it was parking, like today’s parking issues in Sooke, that caused concern.

In 1963 there were no SEAPARC arena, and no Sooke Region Museum; the areas where they became established in the 1970s, were at that time forested.

While buses brought load after load of visitors out of Victoria for All Sooke Day, and shuttle busing took place locally, there were still a lot of cars to park. Newspaper accounts record 10,000 visitors to the one-day event that year.

Let’s face it, many of the Sooke Community Association organizers were loggers, and generally they are used to finding solutions, creating access roads and bridges, so that’s what they did here.

They approached Fred Milne, owner of the Milne farm, in the 1950s. He agreed they could create a temporary road down the hill from Sooke River Road, and park cars on his fields. The footbridge for visitors to reach the Sooke Flats on the west side of the river was laid on barges at first, and by 1963, it was a pontoon bridge, as in the photo, which was removed after each season.

So vehicles approaching the All Sooke Day celebrations were directed up Sooke River Road. You can barely discern the hundreds of cars in the background of this photo which was shot from the west side of the river.

In the 1960s All Sooke Day hosted the International Roleo Log Birling events, and that year Ardy Wickheim was the birling winner.

Winner of the tree chopping was Alan Woodrow, winner of the bucking was Hugh McKenzie, winner of the square timber chopping was Marshall Smith, and Ron Pappenberger took one of the high rigging prizes. And the winner of the baby contest for Best Sooke Baby that year was our own Elden Smith (the burly guy who runs Crab Shack).

Not only do we hear about parking problems today, but also there are many comments about needing another bridge to cross the Sooke River – one can imagine that today’s power people would be glad if the issue was as simple as it was in the summer of 1963.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria council narrowly approves transitional housing for former Tally Ho

Neighbours angry about decision to allow temporary three-year permit

Inner Harbour pathway in need of repairs: Harbour Authority

Victoria council approves initial design plans for walkway changes

RCMP open investigation to find missing Sooke macaw

$5,000 reward still being offered for safe return of Rufus

Check out what’s happening in Greater Victoria this weekend

From swimming championships to Oak Bay Light Up, there’s plenty to keep you busy this weekend

VicPD chief rescues lost $10 bill in downtown Victoria

The note was promptly returned to its owner unharmed

Victoria Royals giving a boost to fund inspired by Tragically Hip singer

Downie Wenjack Fund recipient of funds raised starting at tonight’s WHL game vs. Seattle

Esquimalt mayor frustrated at latest E&N railbed development

Barb Desjardins says it makes no sense to start over looking at commuter options for corridor

Nanaimo judge won’t let arsonist have a cigarette lighter

Martin Arthur Taylor previously pleaded guilty to February 2016 arson incident in Nanaimo

BC Ferries vehicle traffic last summer was best ever

CEO says positive results reduce future pressure on fares

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

False killer whale ‘Chester’ dies at Vancouver Aquarium

He was found stranded near Tofino in July 2014 and only had a 10 per cent chance of making it at the time

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Black Friday fervour wanes as some consumers, retailers shun practice

Some businesses are choosing to opt out, while some shoppers are turning to buying online

Most Read