CURATOR’S CORNER: Belvedere frequented often by royalty, celebrities

Hotel was the forerunner to Castle

This painting by Paul Robillard once hung at the Belvedere. Robillard was one of the brothers who managed the hotel inthe 1920s. (Contributed - Sooke Regions Museum)

Emma Wilton | Contributed

Did you know that every time you drive by the Castle building, you’re going past a piece of Sooke’s history? Part of the Castle building was the riding academy for the Belvedere.

It is always interesting to learn about the buildings in Sooke since you never know the history behind them.

Starting in 1912, ground broke on the then Sooke Harbour Hotel by a Seattle syndicate that owned a large parcel of land in the area. The hotel wasn’t finished until just before the First World War.

By 1919, Maj. George Nicholson took over managing, and things started to pick up. By 1923, the Robillard Family bought the Sooke Harbour Hotel and renamed it the Belvedere. The hotel gained a reputation for sportspeople in the region.

Sadly in 1934, a fire put an end to the Belvedere. When the hotel burnt, Andre Robillard took some of the original 10,000 pieces to his house. Some articles made it into the Sooke Region Museum’s collection and are on display.

Contributing to Belvedere’s legacy today are the stories that surround it. There are tales of rumrunning activity in the nearby waters during the Prohibition Era in the 1920s. Some famous faces frequented the Belvedere, including renowned artist Emily Carr and HRH Edward, Prince of Wales.

MORE CURATOR’S CORNER

We carry an original chair, several dishes, and various other items in the museum collection. Our storage also holds four wicker chairs and some iron railings, initially from the Belvedere. Then, in the museum’s art collection, we have a painting by Paul Robillard, one of the brothers who managed the hotel.

We are working on revamping the Belvedere display. The chair and some of the dishes are on display. We hope that the Belvedere memories will continue with the new display.

The legacy of the Belvedere continues today, and it is nice to know that the remains of the Belvedere are kept in the community and serve a purpose.

If you have any photos or historical information on the Belvedere, do not hesitate to reach out to the museum at musasst@sookeregionmuseum.com. We always welcome community members’ knowledge to assist the museum.

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Emma Wilton is the collections manager and curator of the Sooke Region Museum. Email musasst@sookeregionmuseum.com.



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