Unless you made a sharp turn to the left, when driving way out on East Sooke Road, you could run right into the wrought iron gates of GRAYMAR.
During the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s this fine looking structure, designed by Samuel Maclure, was home to a Hollywood screenwriter, Garnet Weston, his wife Marion and son Gray.
To our knowledge, this is the only Samuel Maclure-designed home in Sooke.
It didn’t start out with the Westons.
Shortly after the First World War, a British officer, Capt. James Edward Radcliffe, along with his wife, sailed for Canada.
Attracted to the British influenced Victoria area, they learned of one of our region’s foremost architects, Samuel Maclure, and commissioned a home near the entrance to Sooke’s beautiful harbour.
Maclure, of course, was noted for many fine structures, frequently in Tudor revival style, and more than 400 homes within Victoria and Vancouver.
He designed Hatley Castle (now Royal Roads University) and along with fellow-architect Frances Rattenbury, was responsible for Government House on Rockland Avenue early in the 20th century. (Not the current structure, which has replaced the original Government House on this site, that burned down in 1957.)
A Vancouver building designed by Maclure which would be of interest to Sooke readers, is Brock House in Point Grey, named for Reginald Brock, dean of applied sciences at the University of B.C. Dean Brock was grandfather to well-known Sookie Phoebe Dunbar.
Anyway, back to the Radcliffes, who commissioned the house in 1927. (This photo is 1947.) Besides the elegance of design, not generally found at the time in our pioneer community, this home was equipped with an unusual feature on its grounds, a kerosene-fueled power plant. One night it blew, and the experience was too much for Mrs Radcliffe, who wouldn’t sleep there again, after the front windows of her home were shattered.
The Radcliffes gone, the home was later bought by Garnet Weston, a Torontonian who wrote for the Vancouver Sun before his Hollywood decades, where he wrote for Paramount Pictures and had fiction in the Saturday Evening Post.
Another family who owned the house and became well-known in Sooke was the Robbie and Mary Robinson family and their two children. A retired vet, Dr. Robinson enjoyed farming as a hobby on his spacious grounds, while Mary’s time was focused on cultural pursuits. The Robinsons moved to Victoria in 1992; since then, I understand, non-local owners visit the home seasonally.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.