Get social with the Sooke Classical Boating Society

Rowing twice weekly with the scciety is a great way to meet new people

Dawn Gibson

Sooke News Mirror

The Sooke Classical Boating Society is aiming to bring people out of their shell.

Offering sessions twice a week, joining the society is a great way for people to get out and socialize year round.

“Everyone is welcome to come out and participate,” said Garth Gilligan, president of the society. “It provides the community with a chance to get out and enjoy some fresh air, socialize and see some wildlife”

The society rows on Saturday afternoons from 1 to 3 p.m., but as the summer months progress and according to demand, it may add Thursday evening outings. Each session costs $10.

Within the society there is also a group called the Monday Morning Rowers, which generally consists of women ages anywhere from 50 to 81. The women will usually row for around two hours from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and will row as far as six kilometres.

Gilligan said the club is an especially great way for Sooke newcomers to meet people.

“You can make life-long friends by coming out here and rowing,” said Gilligan. “One of our members, Val, said she was on the verge of moving back to Calgary until she joined the society.”

Sooke resident Val Davey has been a part of the society for 10 years.

“I joined for the social aspect of it,” said Davey. “It’s like my Monday morning routine now. We get some good exercise, and then we all go out for coffee after.”

The society was formed after it took ownership over the boats, which were built at the Edward Milne Community school in 1989-1990 but have an 18th century Spanish design.

“The design on these boats dates back to the 1800s when people first explored the harbour, and I think it’s important that we preserve them and get the community involved with them,” Davey said.

The longboats are made from wood and are 27 feet long and seven feet wide and weigh approximately 2,500 lbs.

“It’s not just a group that decided to use some longboats, it’s a part of Sooke’s history,” said Davey.

To learn more or to get involved with the society, visit

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