Sooke’s wild nature, breathtaking views and rich history has long inspired local and international artists. These artists have created many types of art including paintings, sketches, carvings, embroidery and multimedia.
In the Sooke Region Museum’s artifact collection are several art pieces modelled after different aspects of the Sooke Region.
The sesquicentennial quilt, which is on display at the museum, displays various aspects of Sooke culture and heritage; it also demonstrates the talents of Sooke quilters. Our caption for this quilt states: “the sesquicentennial quilt was worked by the Sooke Quilters and friends to celebrate peaceful coexistence between the T’Sou-ke Nation and European Immigrants. Presented to the Governor General Romeo Le Blanc at the Festival Pageant in May of 1999, the quilt was given to the people of Sooke from Rideau Hall for safe keeping and the enjoyment of all.”
A few of the topics represented on the quilt are First Nations, immigration, settlement and gold mining.
On display in the Visitor Center portion of the museum is a hand embroidered image that depicts historical locations and events in Sooke as well as organizations and associations. Each scene has a title and description in multi coloured threads. All Sooke Day, Leechtown, the Boy Scouts Jamboree and industries are among the depictions. It is framed with dark wood and protected by glass. The back of the frame states that this piece was designed and drawn by M. Agnes Dilley, embroidered by Olive Wadams and framed by Peter Cook. This 1976 embroidery was made specifically for the museum.
Another fabric artifact is a banner advertising a “Sookesquatch Squares” dance at the Sooke Community Hall. The embroidered banner displays event details and a furry brown Sookesquatch wearing blue jeans and red suspenders. This banner is an excellent example of how Sooke artists have used their talents for unique advertising mediums.
Artist Dorita Grant constructed a unique “curiosity cabinet” that features several portrayals of Sooke history, culture and locations. This 12-inch-high cabinet has two French-style doors on the outside, two shelves on the inside and one drawer below the doors. Inside, on the shelves, are of Sooke scenes created using paint, fabrics, beach finds and photos. A few of the scenes are the Sooke River and bridge, the Sooke Community Hall, the Sooke Region Museum, and First Nations in traditional dress on the beach.
The museum also has more than 40 paintings illustrating the Sooke Region. A large majority of these paintings depict local farms, All Sooke Day events and the Muir family homes Woodside, Springside and Burnside.
Paintings of Sooke are particularly interesting as we can use them to compare what the town looked like “then and now.” For example, the late Evelyn Stolth (nee Clark) painted a scene that shows several store fronts in the 1930s. The oil painting on plywood shows businesses that used to be west of Church Road; some of these businesses include Bremner’s Garage, Brownsey’s Pollyanna Store and the Mugford Boarding House. This painting was donated by Evelyn in the late 70s when the museum opened and is still on display in our general store exhibit.
Brianna Shambrook is the Sooke Region Museum’s collections and exhibits manager.