This photo shows the Vancouver Island Library in 1976

SOOKE HISTORY: Our library once looked like this!

Sooke’s library service began with a “Bookmobile” which made regular trips to the region.

These days we’re hearing announcements about a new Vancouver Island Regional Library for Sooke, and it made us think back to an earlier time.

This photo shows the library in 1976, when it was on the south side of the 6600 block of West Coast Road, just west of our busiest traffic light.

Sooke’s library service began with a “Bookmobile” which made regular trips to Sooke.

Bill Zigay, who now has his Husqvarna Power Supplies shop adjacent to the library in the photo shown here, remembers how as a youngster he would go along with his folks to meet the Bookmobile when it stopped at the corner of Harbourview and Woodlands Roads.

By 1965 Sooke actually had a library branch, located in the small space that holds Barb’s Barbershop today.  Maude Adams was the librarian.

By the late 1960s the library had expanded to the site across the road that you see in the photo. This structure had originally been built in the 1950s by Walter Jessiman and Larry and Bill Rumsby as a fixit shop.

When the library had moved to the location pictured, if we remember correctly, the librarian was Molly McDonald, with Irene Wooley and Adele Lewis as assistants. Adele recalls that in that period the Bookmobile arrived every six weeks to bring a fresh book supply to the outlet. The residents of the entire area Sooke to Port Renfrew numbered about 6,000.

Alongside the library in the photo was Betty French’s Sewing Basket, and then the Fisheries Office, where John Stephen held sway, with Donna Collins as assistant.

The structure that houses Bill Zigay’s Power Supplies business, between the library and Lynn and Florence Moore’s house in the photo, was built in 1967 as a government liquor store, with Ralph Grove as manager. When the liquor store moved up to its present site in Evergreen Mall, Harry Corbett ran his furniture store there, until it was sold to Zigay in 1989.

Books had outgrown space by the late 1970s and the library moved to the site that had been built by Bob Hughes as a bowling alley, and which later housed a Salvation Army outlet. (At writing, a little restaurant called Route 14 is at the front of that building.) A bicycle shop was next located behind the window frontage in this VIRL photo.

A longtime employee even during earlier locations of the library, Edith Newman, recalls the library that we are all familiar with opening in the current building on Anna Marie Road in the mid-1990s.  We wait with interest to see what happens next.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.