Logger Harry Vogel has long roots in Sooke
Perhaps the suggestion that he was a rake is a bit strong, but it seems Harry Vogel, a teamster, logging camp operator and jack of all trades, got a bit of a reputation as a charming ladies’ man.
Born in Minnesota, he arrived in Canada as a youngster in 1895. The earliest references we have seen show him working for a logging outfit in the Comox Valley developing his teamster skills up to 1910. Soon after, he was in the Otter Point area setting up on his own, using horse teams to haul logs to the water on skid roads.
He logged on the property of widowed Kate Gordon, a London socialite who had arrived as a bride in 1890 with her British husband. When Ted Gordon suffered a heart attack in 1912, she had inherited the farm and extensive lands. In about 1914, Harry Vogel was contracted by Milligan Logging to carry out horse-logging above the Gordon Farm; he is reported to have used five or six matched teams.
Widowed Kate Gordon and dashing Harry Vogel were married in 1919 on a trip to Vancouver, and he built a fine new two-storey home for her on the northwest side of Otter Point Road (on the route it followed at that time, now Otter Pt Place). Longtimers in the area will know this house as home to the Dunnetts and the Purdys before it burned down in the early 1970s.
Around 1920 he started a camp and sawmill in the Clark Road/Otter Point Road area. Local men who worked for Vogel Logging included teamster Reg Clark and a crew of Ernie Fletcher, Andrew Davidson, Bill and Bert Shambrook, Harry George, Tony and Wilf Sullivan and Ed Clark.
The 1921 Otter District census shows Harry Vogel as age 35, and Kate as 47. One of his legacies was the building of the Otter Point Memorial Hall, in tribute to those who lost their lives in World War I; this building was host to local social events for many years.
In 1923 Vogel Logging was cutting Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce and western hemlock, operating with sixteen horses and a five ton truck for hauling. His experience with horses led him to management of the stables for the Belvedere Hotel (now Castle Beer & Wine store) and he enjoyed riding with pack teams up the Sooke River to the lodge of the Alpine Club of Canada at Sheilds Lake.
One of the feats that earned local glory for him, along with the husky loggers who did the pulling, was his coaching of winning tug-of-war teams at All Sooke Day. Starting out coaching the Sooke team, when Elder Logging Company got established, he moved to become the Elder team’s coach, and an unbeatable reputation followed.
After Kate’s passing in 1955, Harry moved to the Saanich area, married another widow and went into land development. He passed away in 1974 and rests in Colwood/Hatley Cemetery.
Elida Peers, Historian
Sooke Region Museum