Young naval cadets proudly assemble at Sooke’s first cenotaph placement in 1920.

SOOKE HISTORY: Cadets at cenotaph, 1920

The monument stood on the corner of the large farm of John and Margaret Murray

By Elida Peers

The southeast corner of Sooke’s busiest intersection hosted Sooke’s proud cenotaph in 1920 and during the next three decades. We wish that we could identify the young naval cadets and their leader in this photo, but so far haven’t been able to do so. If anyone can help, please contact us.

While the fence-protected cenotaph at the corner of Murray and Sooke roads was framed by evergreen trees in this photo, the far background may not be readily visible, though it is actually the outline of Mount Maguire in East Sooke. Possibly the reason for the fence may have been as protection from roaming domestic cattle and other animals as there was no pound law until much later on.

The monument stood on the corner of the large farm of John and Margaret Murray, brother Tom and sister Janet Murray, acreage which much later was intersected by Lincroft, Goodmere and Horne roads. Recently, this street corner has been the site of several commercial and medical enterprises, which began with Dr. Norman Goodwin initiating a development there in the 1950s.

Today on Remembrance Day when we gather in central Sooke along the streets at this very corner and watch as the marching groups turn up onto Otter Point Road and onto Eustace to fall into place at the newest location of the cenotaph, I’m sure we reflect on the generations of patriotic Sooke-area citizens who have always continued to pay respect to the fallen and to those who protect us. Our population of course is much greater today; in 1920 there were but a few hundred souls here.

After the development of the property on the Murray Road corner, the cenotaph was re-located to the corner of Sheilds Road on Sooke Community Association land. This is the spot where the three-storey commercial building was erected a few years ago, after the cenotaph had been moved once again, to its present fine location on the grounds of the Sooke Branch No. 54 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The photo came to us from the collection of Helen Welsh Yost, granddaughter of James Welsh, one of Sooke’s first settlers, who came here from Ireland in the 1860s.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.