Audrey Wilson on the steps of the Brownie hut.

Audrey Wilson on the steps of the Brownie hut.

Brownie Camp has a long history

Historian Elida Peers tells tales of the history of the Sooke area.

A secluded oasis in our midst, the Brownie Camp on Sooke River Road, with its 75 year old Brownie Hut, has seen a lot of history and speaks to the forethought of Girl Guide organizers so many years ago.

Entering into the green bower through a leafy portal, one passes through “Faith’s Gate” named in memory of Faith Jacobsen, longtime Guide leader and District Commissioner. An avenue of gigantic Douglas-firs, stately red cedars and feathery-foliaged hemlocks leads to the hut itself, kept in fine condition by decades of dedicated volunteers.

One of the first youngsters to attend sessions at the Brownie Hut was Audrey Wilson, who posed on the steps last week.  As 10-year old Audrey Sullivan, she rode her bicycle to the centre from downtown Sooke with her friend Merle Forrest in 1939, a year after the hut was built.  At that time Girl Guide meetings were held there, with Zara Pike of Kaltasin Road as the Guide Captain.

During the 1960s, Audrey was back at the hut again, this time as a leader herself, when as Brown Owl, she supervised camping stays for Brownie groups. She recalls having all the youngsters seated in a circle around the fireplace, practicing their knots, before they settled into their bunk beds for the exciting weekend sleepover.

After the Sooke Region Museum was built, it became a favourite destination for weekend campers, and the roadside pathway would be filled every Saturday with  little uniformed figures marching neatly from the campsite and across the bridge for personal tours of the museum exhibits. It was fun for museum volunteers as well as for the kids.

Many Victoria Guide and Brownie leaders took their turns coming out to the camp and providing safe, supervised camping experiences for tiny youngsters beginning to stretch their wings. It was a particular pleasure to recognize faces year after year shepherding new groups of little campers. One such Brown Owl we remember from the 1980s, from the Oak Bay/Willows area, was Angele Segger, one of many Victoria women who took shifts at Milne’s Landing as camp supervisors.

Guide leaders today have arranged an Open House for July 21 and are hoping to welcome the community back to the 75-year-old hut, to revisit old memories or start new ones.

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read