Charlie Perkins 94th birthday celebration in Sooke in 2006.

SOOKE HISTORY: Charlie Perkins birthday party

We have all said goodbye to many good friends in the past decade.

How much change happens in a decade. We have all said goodbye to many good friends in the past decade.

Today’s photo illustrates the changing times since John Arnett, former publisher of the Sooke News Mirror, captured this image early in 2006.

The occasion was to mark the 94th birthday of Charlie Perkins, seen in the centre in a striped shirt and tie, who had come from retirement on the mainland to see old friends. The location was the home of Josefina Jacobsen, on Grant Road, an event where she plied us with all sorts of tasty Mexican dishes.

Of the gentlemen guests on that day, only Ron Barry and John Arnett are still with us. Many readers will remember Charlie Perkins well – not only was he Sooke’s regional director for two, two-year terms, 1976 to 1979, but he was a world traveller of some repute.

His law degree was earned at the University of Alberta, and his first post was as stipendiary magistrate at Yellowknife in 1938. A great raconteur, he entertained friends with tales of travels throughout the Mideast, Asia and Afghanistan, long before such journeys became popular.

At far left in the photo is Betty Wickheim, also now gone. Seated beside her is Norma Arnett, and standing next is our hostess, Josefina Jacobsen. I’m next, and seated is Ron Barry, a Scot who emigrated to Canada with his wife Lorna after RAF service in Malaysia. Perched next is Muriel Peterson, who many will remember as a teacher at Saseenos School. Laurel Matthew, only daughter of Charlie and Joyce Perkins, is standing next; she has the distinction of being born in Beirut, Lebanon, while her parents were on their world travels.

Seated at right of Charlie is Alan Chamberlain, the longtime master of the Canadian government’s survey vessel CSS Parizeau, with his arm around his wife Pauline, who many will remember served several terms as a Trustee for School District No. 62. Lorna Barry, our regional director during 1991-92 and District of Sooke Councillor for two terms, is perched next, in front of my husband Jim Peers, who worked on hydraulics at Burrard Yarrows (when he wasn’t barbecuing salmon for events).

Seated on the floor is my brother Maywell Wickheim, who had a long history running a shipyard and a bit of politics as Fire Chair. Next to him is Norman Peterson, who managed the warehouse at Jordan River for Western Forest Products.

In spring, when the Japanese plum blossoms burst into colour along Sooke Road, we often think of Charlie Perkins, who initiated the first “municipal” plantings.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.