Blessed as Sooke has been with generations of gifted artists, perhaps none has been more prolific than Captain P W deP Taylor. His watercolours of local scenes grace many walls here and throughout the world.
It was 1921 that “Buck” Taylor, a veteran of World War I, arrived in Sooke with his socialite wife Margaret whom he had met in London, England. Still on their honeymoon, the young couple purchased 17 acres at what is now the corner of West Coast Road and Grant Road (think Steve Arnett’s place). He established a purebred dairy herd, shipping milk and cream to Victoria via motor stage.
Interviewed 50 years later, Margaret Taylor spoke of the contrast between her private school background and being “pitchforked into rural life” contending with oil lamps, a woodstove and backyard privy. Back in those days, her husband was too busy making a living from the farm to indulge in painting but his keen interest in the community led him into much organizational work, such as establishment of the local Royal Canadian Legion.
In 1926 the couple’s circumstances changed with an inheritance from Britain and a fine three-storey home took shape near Whiffin Spit, even graced with an elevator. The Taylor daughter, Fiona, grew up to marry a naval officer and live in Ontario, while son Robert became a helicopter pilot flying the Canadian north.
By the 1940s an artist’s palette had replaced farm tools and Buck Taylor began recording the rural scenes around him. His life connected him to all aspects of the community and his heart wanted to leave a legacy showing the village’s story. Historic homes and landmarks, secluded lakes dotted with water lilies, a picturesque gnarled tree, breakers rolling in from the Strait, his paintbrush recorded them all.
By the 1970s his scenes were legendary, with more than one thousand art sales. Lying ill with shingles in his later years, he called friends to come and choose one of his remaining works to take home with them. My choice was Grassy Lake.
His son Robert, the pilot, inheriting his dad’s deft hand with the brush, turned his attention to scenes of flying ducks and geese, and these scenes as well are often hung in Sooke homes. Robert’s interests too, were varied, and he left another community legacy; the establishment known today as Buffy’s started out on the corner as his enterprise.
Sooke Region Museum