By Brianna Shambrook
On the Sooke Region Museum grounds there are two shacks located across from each other called the Polemaker’s Shack and the Maclure Shack. Both of these shacks have exhibits inside and are open during the summer months. In the off season, we are able to accomplish repairs, maintenance and artifact inventory tasks.
The Polemaker’s Shack was donated by the Ken Collins family and moved to the museum by the Sooke Lions Club in 1988. It sits on top of logs and inside there are two adjoining rooms: the stables and the polemaker’s accommodation. A teamster doing polecutting work would have shared this shack with a horse or two. Once a road was put through the forest, polecutters were the first on the scene felling the tall slender poles before the actual logging got underway.
The Polemaker’s Shack was first used during the 1930s at the Deerholme CNR railway stop. Then it was hauled over the Malahat to G.E. Bernard’s operation at Point No Point. While this portable shack was at Point No Point it housed a 2,200-pound coal-black Percheron horse named Roy. Before the structure was moved to the museum, it was stored near Saseenos School on the Collins’ property.
There are more than 260 artifacts in this shack and several Sooke Region Historical Society photographs. All of the artifacts on display represent the daily life of a polemaker or an outdoorsman prior to the Second World War. For example inside the shack are tin and aluminum kitchen ware, horse brushes, fishing rods, lanterns, tobacco tins, boots and Stanfield sweaters. Also present are lots of tools and equipment such as saws, axes, tree plates and horse harnesses.
Opposite of the Polemaker’s Shack is the Maclure Shack, which was donated by the Robinson family of East Sooke in the early 1990s. In the late 1920s British-born Capt. James Edward Radcliffe and his wife purchased a large tract of forest land and commissioned the famous Victoria architect Samuel Maclure to design their main house. Although this utility building was not designed by Samuel Maclure, it housed the estate’s Chinese cook. Due to this connection, it has been identified as the Maclure Shack since its move to the museum.
When the Maclure Shack was moved from East Sooke to the museum it needed a lot of restoration. The structural underpinnings needed to be strengthened and a beetle infestation needed to be addressed. Inside the shack are three separate rooms. Two of the rooms are unused and one room houses an exhibit detailing the history of East Sooke.
One of our exhibit maintenance goals in 2016 is to update all photographs and signs for the two shacks. We also hope to update the existing exhibit in the Maclure Shack and add more displays to the additional rooms.
Brianna Shambrook is the collections and exhibits manager at Sooke Region Museum.