By Brianna Shambrook
This year the Sooke Region Museum will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
In the early 1970s, the Sooke Lions Club had an idea to build a museum. To make this idea a reality, the Lions Club brought a group of people together to form the Sooke Region Historical Society, which would oversee the museum.
The society, formed in March 1974, began to collect artifacts and archival material for the museum.
Initially, Woodside Farmhouse had been the preferred location for the museum; however, this idea didn’t come to fruition.
Later, the Sooke Community Association donated agricultural reserve land on Phillips Road and Sooke Road as the location for the museum. In September 1976, the B.C. Land Commission approved the application to build the museum on this land. The Lions Club oversaw the construction with the assistance of a Local Initiatives Program grant.
An article published in the Sooke News Mirror on Nov. 24, 1976 said: “Clearing and groundwork is under way on Phillips Road preparing for the proposed museum. Much of the work is done by volunteers working with five people paid through a Local Initiatives Program grant. The 30 by 50 foot building will be of log construction and will include a lean-to. Logs have been prepared by the Sooke Lions Club who will do much of the work in cooperation with the Sooke Region Historical Society. Cedar logs for the roof shakes have been donated by Canadian Puget Sound Lumber and Timber Company, Ltd.”
On June 11, 1977, the museum held its first annual open house and salmon barbecue to celebrate the completion of the museum. A few weeks later, on July 2, the museum opened to the public.
Over the last 40 years, the museum has had countless dedicated employees and volunteers, as well as several expansions.
Also in 1977, Moss Cottage was donated to the Sooke Region Historical Society by Ernie Welsh; the home was moved from its original location opposite Woodside farm (today’s Sooke Baptist Church site) to the museum grounds. A Canada Works grant of $26,796 made the dismantling, reconstruction and restoration of Moss Cottage possible. Moss Cottage opened for tours on July 8, 1979.
The museum invites the Sooke community to look through our scrapbooks and see the many photographs and articles that have been published about the museum, Sooke history, volunteers and community projects.
To celebrate our 40th anniversary, the museum will hold its annual open house and salmon barbecue with additional festivities on June 25.
This year, the museum will also be celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday with a summer exhibit on salmon and a fall exhibit on the political leaders of this region.
Brianna Shambrook is the collections and exhibits manager for the Sooke Region Museum.