Sooke Royal Canadian Legion members in 1927.

SOOKE HISTORY: Sooke Royal Canadian Legion, 1927

This 1927 photo was taken in front of the historic Curtis Muir house.

The Remembrance Day parade always brings our servicemen and servicewomen and the Sooke Royal Canadian Legion to the forefront of our minds.

This 1927 photo was taken in front of the historic Curtis Muir house, which once stood where a car wash is located on West Coast Road today.

The veteran who led the formation of Sooke Branch 54 of the Royal Canadian Legion in December 1926, was Capt. P.W. deP Taylor, called “Buck” by his friends.

As a youth, Capt. Taylor had served in India, where he met Rudyard Kipling.

Capt. Taylor served as president during the Legion’s first decade. He is also remembered for his impressive mansion “Deerlepe” facing the Juan de Fuca Strait, still standing, and for his watercolour paintings depicting early Sooke scenes.

Rear:  Harry Webb; Howard Pontious, eldest of the seven sons of Ernie and Hazel Pontious; Albert Wilson, who became a fisheries officer and later co-owner (along with George Duncan) of Sooke Lockers; Harry Page, John Hardy, (unknown), Richard (Dick) Seymour, who was connected locally to both fishing and forestry; Fred Hamilton; Ernie Horwood, who became known as Sooke’s electrician  when we first got access to power in 1929; Joe Collins, who was a manager at the fishtraps operations; Ted Syrett who raised his family on Sooke River Road and whose son Victor Syrett became immortalized when the book Dear Mum was written, a book containing letters Victor wrote from his Second World Royal Air Force service and later from a prisoner of war camp; next Gregory Smith; R Hewer.

Front: Sidney Stacey, Tristram Willett, who lived in a house a bit east of today’s Ed Macgregor Park, a house which in the Second World War was home to the Slack family, the folks who took in a British boy, Alan King, nicknamed Air Raid by all his school friends. Next is Harry Dilley, well-known in Sooke as a member of the Poirier family; George Jones is next, and while it’s many years since he ran a motor stage to Victoria, there are residents who will remember when he and his wife Mabel ran the Milnes Landing Store in the 1960s; folks will remember their sons Stanley and Leonard well, for their many contributions to the community. Next is Harold Kitching, who had rental cottages on Kaltasin Road; then Maj. J.C. Cooke who is buried in the enclosed corner of the Muir Cemetery; Henry Fisher who ran a horse stage and is recognized as the great-grandfather of the Fishers who still run a meat market in Langford.  John Murray, who arrived in the 1880s, was a justice of the peace and ran the Murray farm (Murray and Horne Roads) with his brother Jack; last is John Gregory-Smith.

Among other active veterans not in the photo were Lyall and Edward Sheilds (think Sheilds Road and Sheilds Lake in the Sooke Hills), Frank Rumsby who was an electrician at the Jordan River hydro plant; Fred Thornber, a justice of the peace and community businessman and John E. Martin who became a well-known community leader and organized the first Boy Scout Troop in Sooke in 1935.

A History of the Sooke Legion was compiled by another dedicated comrade, Sam Fedosenko, in the 1980s, and we are grateful to have access to his records.

•••

Elida Peersi s the historian ofSooke Region Museu m.