Throughout the region we’ve been hearing a lot about promoting our attractions and encouraging people to vacation here. Far from being a new initiative, this process has been in effect since the 1930s.
Two resorts in East Sooke, Seagirt and Glenairley, plus Grouse Nest on Gillespie Road and Sunny Shores in Saseenos were drawing vacationers. Attractions further west included Sooke Harbour House, Woodside Farm and Malahat Farm. Woodside Farm offered Victorians a tempting treat on Sundays, “Chicken Dinner – 75c” complete with strawberry shortcake dessert.
Malahat Farm boasted the renowned Emily Carr among its clientele, while Sooke Harbour House, operated at that time by Antony Kohout, prior to the LaVertu family, offered restaurant service and four bedrooms with shared baths.
The accompanying brochure/image came into the museum’s collection through Roman Catholic Church historian Grace Horgan. Ray and Grace Horgan operated Seagirt as a resort during the 1930s and 1940s, and in 1950 purchased the more expansive property of Glenairley. One of their repeat-guests at Seagirt was the first woman speaker of a Legislative Assembly in the British Commonwealth, Victoria’s own Senator Nancy Hodges, who was also a columnist for the Victoria Times.
When built by Alexander Gillespie as a family home and farm in 1911, Glenairley was home to his wife Rose Ellen Todd and their four daughters, Sheila, Daphne, Jean and Rosanna. The Gillespies farmed until they moved to Victoria in 1929 and the property became a resort, with a succession of owners up to the Horgans.
Building small A-frame cottages on the seafront hillside was an initiative of the Horgans, and guests were attracted to bask in the sunshine or wade out into the salt water of the basin to bathe in their modest swimsuits.
After the passing of her husband, Grace Horgan left the Glenairley property to the Roman Catholic Order of the Sisters of St. Ann. For a time, the Order, then based at Queenswood in Victoria, used the historic resort property as a rest retreat for the Sisters.