William and Sarah Vowles

Sooke hopes to become Smoked Salmon Capital of Canada

Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society to host smoked salmon competition this fall

By Elida Peers

We’d like Sooke to be known as the Smoked Salmon Capital of Canada.

The Sooke region has become known for many positive and beautiful things, and one of those, of course, focuses on the many ways to cook salmon.

Salmon is integral to our coastal location, with salmon and other seafoods traditionally imperative in the diet and life of the T’Sou-ke and Pacheedaht peoples.

Once Europeans arrived and began harvesting salmon for commercial purposes, in addition to life sustenance, the fame of Pacific salmon spread throughout the world.

In fact, in poll taking, we have observed that Pacific salmon has been called one of the most popular foods in Canada (along with maple syrup).

While many local families have played enormous roles in this seafood harvest over the past century, one family that stands out is that of William and Sarah Vowles, whose great-grandsons remain in the industry today.

William and Sarah’s sons who have played roles in Sooke’s salmon history have included the eldest, Tuck, who fished for recreation, and Ray, Rudy, Joe, Steve and Wally, who have all worked in commercial fishing.

The Vowles brothers have all given back to their community as well, and today it is particularly Ray and Wally that are putting their shoulders to the wheel in salmon enhancement and development of habitat and education.

Though they are always shy of public recognition, we have persuaded the Vowles brothers to allow us to name the upcoming trophy for the Best Smoked Salmon in Canada, as the William and Sarah Vowles Perpetual Challenge Trophy.

Judging will take place Sept. 11 alongside the Sooke Fall Fair events at Sooke Community Hall on Eustace Road. The smoked salmon booth will be at the eastern wall of the hall.

Entries in the competition are being accepted by an Intent to Enter Notice on our website:  salmonforsooke.ca. Intent to Enter forms can also be picked up at Sooke Region Museum or at the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre, 2895 Sooke River Rd. Please call 250-642-4200.

We wish to advise that once we have 50 entries, we will need to close the entry list, for space reasons, so please contact us early to confirm your intent. Sorry, this competition is intended for backyard salmon-smoking aficionados, and we won’t be able to accept commercial entries.

Readers who would like to join our list of potential judges for the smoked salmon competition are asked to email admin@jdfcharterssalmon.com or call Elida at 250-642-4200 to make arrangements.

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Elida Peers writes for the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society.