Marian Roberson

A doyenne from our historical past

Historian Elida Peers writes about the history in the Sooke region

Marian Roberson was her name and her home was in Saseenos, though this 1945 photo shows her in the front garden of her friends Maggie and Sid Gates, at the corner of Otter Point and Grant Roads.

British-born Marian Burton came out to Prince Rupert to marry her fiancé, a sea captain, and proceeded to set the social scene of the town awhirl with her June 1908 Anglican Church wedding.  Captain Harold Roberson had emigrated to become master of a coastal steamer.

When war came in Europe, the patriotic couple left to serve overseas, with Captain Roberson serving on a troopship and his wife demonstrating her spirit by driving ambulance. After their return home to Prince Rupert, Captain Roberson joined the BC Pilotage Authority based in Victoria and looked for a new home.

He chose a spot on Sooke’s inner basin, declaring it the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The couple lived in a small cabin as the area was then being developed into the 1,000-acre subdivision of Saseenos, which took the name from the T’Sou-ke term “sunny land gently sloping from the sea.” During the 1920s their fine new waterfront home was built and filled with their treasured possessions, while the garden was landscaped with all manner of exotic trees. (Readers may recall that Dr. Malcolm was a later owner of this property.)

Their family now included two children, Gerald and Joan.  While the youngsters were lavished with an assortment of pets, including Shetland ponies, Marian Roberson was firm in her beliefs and the children grew up on porridge and a healthy life style. Captain Roberson owned a “Model T” and after he passed away in 1932, Marian, as an experienced driver, did not hesitate to take the helm. She also raised specialty game birds for the Empress Hotel menu.

It was in 1934, when the community’s first All Sooke Day was being planned, that Marian took on the role of organizing the popular Baby Show, a responsibility she carried out for 16 years.  As a leader in the Holy Trinity Church, where she was organist, she set a style and helped raise funds at garden parties, such as  the one held at the Gates home where she’s posed in our photo.  In 1952 her life came to a close.

Additional note:  Readers may recall that another early waterfront land holder in sunny Saseenos also came from Prince Rupert, Thomas Dufferin Pattullo, who during the 1930s held the office of Premier of B.C.

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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