This endearing photo reminds us of life in simpler times. The birthday party was held at Elder’s Camp around 1942. The little girls in their party dresses and shoes look so sweet, all dolled up, and the handful of boys in the group are all spruced up as well. The photo came to our collection from Mrs. Cawsey, who gave the party for her daughters Lorraine and Jeannie.
While readers with a history in the region will remember Elder’s Camp, many others won’t recognize the name. Driving west from Sooke, just before you reach Muir Creek, there’s a road heading off to the right, Anderson Road. While it’s not heavily travelled today, this road led to Elder Logging Company’s headquarters from the mid-1930s through the 1960s.
Besides the logging office buildings, the sawmill, machine shops, filing shed, the cluster of Elder family homes, the bunkhouse, cookhouse and blacksmith shop, there were camp cottages that provided homes for the married loggers and their families. There were perhaps twenty such cottages, built in logging camp style, where the families created the social life of the logging community.
Ed Elder, the boss, even had a school built on site in order to keep the families happy. Called Muir Creek School, the 36’ x 40’ structure was open between 1941 and 1954, when buses carried students directly to Sooke elementary school.
In the photo are Lorraine (now Earp) and Jeannie Cawsey, Dorothy and Evelyn Arthurs, Glenda and Esther Gibson (now Pimlott and Herrling, respectively) and Jimmie Gibson, Faye, Connie and Sally Brown (now Bullen), Christina and Nana-Lisa Matson, Evelyn Dods, Peggy and Dorothy Hamilton, Howard and Jo Ann Elder and Larry Johnson.
Sally Brown, the youngest of logging contractor Alf Brown’s three daughters, went on to graduate in 1958 from Edward Milne High school and to marry Glenn Bullen, son of another early forestry family, who became one of Sooke’s hotshot softball pitchers.
Sally, who contributed many years on the executive of Sooke Region Historical Society and now lives in Comox, says “I have good memories of those years; altogether everyone in the camp made one big happy family.” Her sentiments are confirmed today by birthday girl Lorraine, who says “And it’s true – we were one big happy family.”
Sooke Region Museum