Hello Sooke and welcome to Curator’s Corner!
This column is a way to give you a behind-the-scenes look into the collections and exhibit production at your regional museum. The museum’s artifact and archive collection has over 20,000 items stored in various buildings on the grounds. Over the past two years we have been inventorying, reorganizing and inputting data for our entire collection. In that time we have also finished 14 exhibits, some of which were complete overhauls of pre-existing displays. In order to get all of this work done we have trained and supervised 19 collections assistants who have been hired on various grants throughout the two years. This week we will be discussing artifact number 1978.035.001a-b, a stable door from the Belvedere Hotel riding stables, and our upcoming summer exhibit.
Let’s start with a little bit of history surrounding this artifact. In 1912 the Sooke Harbour Hotel was built on the headland at the mouth of the Sooke River. In 1923 the Robillard family purchased the establishment and renamed it the Belvedere Hotel. The hotel gained a reputation for being a hang out spot for sportsmen and had stables at the foot of the hill. The hotel had a riding academy and provided horses for excursions. In the 1950s the Milligan family took over the stables and converted them into a beer parlour which would become the Sooke River Hotel and now the Castle.
The door was donated to our collection in April of 1978 and stands at eight feet tall. It is the last remaining stable door and was removed when the structure was being converted into the beer parlour. It has remnants of the original red paint, but unfortunately the wood is in poor condition. The top of the door is curved with a paned window (in six sections). The door has three side hinges, but only two remain attached.
The stable door will be featured in our annual summer exhibit, which opens Sunday, June 22 at our yearly Open House and Salmon BBQ. This year’s exhibit is titled Accommodating the World and will celebrate Sooke’s thriving tourism industry. Different accommodations and restaurants will be included with a particular emphasis on historically significant establishments, such as the Belvedere Hotel. To make this exhibit come to life we are looking to the community for unique objects to put on display. We are particularly interested in items such as old menus, furniture, decorations and pictures. All contributed items will be considered a short term loan from now until the middle of September. If you are interested please contact us at 250-642-6351 or come to the museum at 2070 Phillips Road.
Collections and Exhibits
Sooke Region Museum