All Sooke Day was a hit with people all around the south Island.

All Sooke Day in its heyday

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Nowadays I’m sure we all feel a little disappointed that because of changing times, All Sooke Day no longer leads our community celebrations, but in its glory days it brought fame and pride to Sooke in abundance.

Begun in 1934 as the annual celebration of the Progress of Sooke, it soon became All Sooke Day and attracted visitors here in the thousands. Standing timber chop, bucking, springboard chop, axe throwing, climbing, log birling, peavey log-rolling, chokermen’s race and much more, the day was a whirl of excitement.

Sooke loggers threw their burly muscles into gear against competitors from around the world that traveled the international circuit vying for Canadian and World Championship titles. This scene showing the logging sports arena in 1985 came to the museum from Jan Farquhar, one of the many loyal fans supporting the big event. In my memory, the largest crowd on the Flats ran to 13,000.

While we can’t pick him out in the photo, the announcer here was Bob Waters, a transplanted Aussie who made Sooke his home after World War II and made the Sooke Community Association his passion. The year before this photo was the 50th anniversary of the event, and the Sooke Region Museum teamed up with a lot of sponsors to produce a movie documenting the spectacular tradition. Now in video format, it can be seen at the museum.

Good thing we made the film (Sheila Whincup did a great job as director), as the tradition is now gone, with the 2002 All Sooke Day becoming the swan song for the extra-ordinary logging sports teams that truly put Sooke on the map. It took hundreds of volunteers to put the gigantic show together and to produce enough succulent salmon and traditional Leechtown beef to feed the hungry hordes as well.

Eying up the two 80-foot climbing poles in the photo, just imagine the heart-stopping thrill of watching a climber buckled into his belt and spurs, running up the tree, clanging the bell at the top and descending again so quickly his spurs barely touched the pole. For myself, I remember watching each year and scarcely breathing until the climber was safely down again. There were times that an ambulance was needed.

Our Ed Johnson of Sooke became the World Champion, running up the pole and back down again in the unbelievable time of under 30 seconds!

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Sooke Potholes viewing area likely to remain closed

Report says that more rockslides likely in the area

Loud repairs of navy vessel in James Bay peak today

Asterix undergoing repairs at Ogden Point

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

More than 115 people attend UVic blood drive

Canadian Blood Services says UVic is a target location to create lifetime donors

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

One-third of pregnant women think cannabis won’t harm their baby: UBC

Review of six U.S. studies found doctors didn’t communicate health risks of pot use

No cash, no election sign policy pondered by B.C. city

A deposit could be required to put up election signs in 2022.

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Collapsed floor traps worker at decommissioned North Island pulp mill

Man frees self, escapes injury, investigation underway at Elk Falls facility in Campbell River

Auto shop apologizes after Vancouver Island employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

Most Read