Pioneer family’s grandson passes

Clifford Patrick Welsh was born into Irish pioneer family in Sooke

Clifford Patrick Welsh

CLIFFORD PATRICK WELSH

1920 – 2015

The earliest tax rolls for Sooke, in 1865, showed Jamie Welsh as a holder of land, one of only a handful of property owners.  Jamie Welsh had emigrated from County Meath, Ireland. On February 13 his last surviving grandson, Patrick Welsh, passed on.

Born at home in 1920, into one of the earliest immigrant pioneer families to settle in Sooke, Pat was almost a lifelong resident. Growing up on the farm of his father William Welsh and mother Emma Way, Patrick was the youngest, following brothers Ernie and Harold and sister Helen.

The family farm, where his dad operated a dairy and also grew potatoes and other produce, lay on the west side of Maple Avenue.  Pat grew up almost directly across the road from the Millennium Memorial Park, which holds the headstones of Welsh family members, within the Muir Cemetery portion of this pioneer park.

He attended Sooke Superior School along with well-known classmate names, Victor Syrett, Doug Brownsey, Frank Richardson, Russell Pontious, Jack Blight and Richard Arden.  He also enjoyed his membership in the Boy Scouts, and camping up Sooke River in the 1930s. Like most young fellows of the time, by his teens Pat was helping earn the family living.

In time, as elder brother Ernie Welsh established his own farm on Grant Road, which ran almost to Caldwell and Sooke Road, Patrick could be found there helping with the haying and delivering milk.  The family had a milk route throughout central Sooke, and Pat drove his 1927 truck loaded with quart bottles. On Grant Road, where there has been a great influx of construction near the eastern end, ie Haywood Road, many houses can be found today where once the Welsh pasture lands lay.

One of my early memories as a youngster was being invited along on a hayride, when Pat was helping with the haying, watching him and the other men loading forkfuls of hay onto the wagon pulled by Ernie’s team of draft horses. That sunny hillside, ringed with brilliant yellow broom bushes, set an idyllic peaceful scene, one that I am sure Pat carried with him and treasured throughout his life.

In the late 1940s when Gibson’s Cottage Store operated on the corner of Sooke and Otter Point roads, Pat was working there when he met a girl visiting from Ireland, who soon caught his eye.  Next he worked for his good friend Frank Richardson at the building supply store which stood right where the street leads today down into Mariners Village.

His friendship with Miriam, the Irish colleen, had blossomed into marriage in December 1950, and the new couple spent the next few years in Ireland. On their return to Sooke, they set up a home on Solent Street, where they raised their family of four, adding to that family by fostering children. Miriam was qualified as a Public Health Nurse, and worked part time serving the community in this capacity as well as raising the children. Pat and Miriam Welsh were active church goers and brought their family up as devout Christians.

Pat teamed up with Doug and Barry Cree to operate the Irly Bird building supply firm where the Village Foods Shopping Centre is today.  Pat had a passion for all things mechanical, particularly cars and motorcycles. He very much enjoyed salmon fishing and camping, and lived a life in appreciation of nature.  Featured in his values were generosity and helpfulness to those around him.

In his later years, Pat and Miriam moved into assisted living at Jesken Aerie in Colwood. As his health began to decline, Pat needed to be in a care home, and was at the Priory for a short time before moving to Kin Village Care Home in Delta, where he and Miriam could be together, and where they could be close to daughters Sharon and Pam and their families.

Pat leaves his wife Miriam, sons Clifford (Cathy) Trevor (Linda) daughters Sharon (Dan) Pam (Mike) as well as foster son John (Karen) nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service for Pat Welsh is to be held on Monday, March 16, at 1 p.m. at Sands Funeral Home, 317 Goldstream Avenue, Colwood. Online condolences can be made by going to www.sandsmemorialcolwood

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum