All Sooke Day queen competition
All Sooke Day wasn’t just about burly loggers, there was a period in the 1950s and 1960s when the All Sooke Day Queen competition was a popular feature. A champion bucker from up-Island, Hugh McKenzie was happy to link arms with this bevy of young beauties in 1952.
This photo was taken in the days when viewing stands were set up closer to the river, long before the hillside logging sports arena and birling pool were established. Nowadays, the purpose-built birling pool, too, is gone, but before that, in the time of this photo, the log birling took place in the river itself.
At left in this scene is Esther Gibson, who married Dick Herrling, Anna Jensen, who married Bud West; Lorraine Duncan, who married Bob Helme; and on logger Hugh’s other arm is Myrna Reid, who married Rod Sullivan; next in line is Pat Gibson, a Victoria girl, and then Connie Brown, who married Allan Olmstead.
Retaining their good looks, most of the girls are well-known, participating in community life. Esther and Dick Herrling raised a family of four boys in Sooke, she is living at Ayre Manor today. Anna and Bud West raised a family of four in Colwood, and Anna was well-known in later years as a teaching assistant at Sooke Elementary School. Lorraine still has a home in Sooke today. Myrna became known for her KEEP FIT classes and she and Rodney keep fit today with outdoor activities. Connie graduated as an RN at Royal Jubilee Hospital and she and Allan moved to Vancouver where she did hospital nursing.
Sooke’s population may have been 3,000 at the time of this photo, and we did have a paved road to Victoria. In the earlier years of all Sooke Day, bus after bus, operated by Vancouver Island Coach Lines, brought thousands of visitors from Victoria out to enjoy the festivities of the day, including the barbecued salmon and the Leechtown beef.
People got to vote on who should win the Queen competition, but I’m afraid I can’t remember hearing who polled the most votes to be queen. At that time, 1952, I was married and living in Smithers where my husband was a DOT radio operator at the newly opened airport.
Sooke Region Museum