Chowder was a big draw during All Sooke Days.

All Sooke Day with clam chowder, 1934

Sooke pioneers celebrated with huge pots of chowder

Don’t they look lovely in their summer dresses, these young women of Sooke, as they gathered at “the Flats” and admired the men making clam chowder.  It was the “First Annual Celebration of the Progress of Sooke”?  Feminine glamour seems to have trumped for the bevy of beauties, in contrast to the men who were clad more conservatively in long sleeved shirts and sweaters.

The big pots steaming on the wood stove at the Flats would have been borrowed for the day from the fishtraps operators, Sooke Harbour Fishing & Packing Company, at that time based at the foot of Maple Avenue.

At left front is Dorothy Doran who grew up on her parents’ dairy farm near Glinz Lake Road; she became Mrs George Seaton. Next to Dorothy is Hazel Clark, one of the four daughters of Percy and Margaret Clark of Shirley hill.  Next is Minnie Dixon, wife of fishtraps worker Tommy Dixon; driving out West Coast Road, you pass Tominny Road, near the Prestige Hotel, named for Tom and Minnie’s old stamping ground.  Next is British-born Mrs. Slack, who lived at Felton Road.

Standing smack in the centre wearing a cap is Peter Wadams; it is for him and his wife Olive that the new connector road, Wadams Way, is named. Standing at rear, left, is Ken Cains; the motor garage on Sooke Road that he and his brother Bill Cains operated for decades has more recently been home to Razu Welding and headquarters for Sooke Backhoe.

Also in the photo is Ralph Kirby; he grew up at Kirby Creek but in the 1930s was operating a shingle mill on Kirby Road, off Sooke River Road. The other fellows include Willie Welsh, who was born in Moss Cottage to Jamie and Mary Ellen Welsh; Dadie Michelsen, second son of Captain Mandus Michelsen and his wife Sarah Poirier; Hugh Campbell, whose family settled up the hill from Muir Creek in 1890; fishtraps worker Fred Underwood whose family lived at the wharf, and longtime fishtraps company superintendent “Pop” Gray.

This happy gathering at the Sooke Flats heralded nearly seven decades of community visiting and volunteering that followed. While we all miss the traditions and legacy of All Sooke Day, new initiatives and events continue to come forward and claim a role in Sooke’s life today.

Elida Peers

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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