Sharron Ho photo Jim Arden and his wife Elsie

Former president remembers the way it was

Jim Arden was the president of the Sooke Community Association

Former Sooke resident, Jim Arden, 93, was the recipient of a miniature carved chair at the Sooke Community Hall’s 75th anniversary celebration on April 28.

Arden, who was president of the Sooke Community Association in 1949, fittingly won one of two chairs made during the carving demonstration.

His long-standing history with Sooke stretches back to his childhood, where he lived and played at the lighthouse at Sheringham Point.

His father, Eustace Arden, opened the first store in Sooke in 1909, and worked as the lighthouse’s watchman.

During the early years, the lighthouse’s access road did not extend all the way to the main highway. Arden humorously remembers the days when his father would make the arduous commute to Victoria in the 1900s.

Arden said his father would run and walk a mile and a half to get to the family’s vehicle, which he would then drive into town to catch a horse stage into Victoria for work.

Then during the night, Arden’s father would return on the same route through the “wild” to perform his watchman duties.

The family extended the access road in 1927, after the government refused to develop a connector.

Due to a lack of heavy duty machinery, the Ardens employed the alternative — ingenuity.

The main hindrance to the project were large boulders that riddled the path to the main highway.

In response, the boulders were set on fire, doused with water andhammered into oblivion.

In the 1950s, Arden and his wife Elsie moved to Port Alberni to start a logging company, where they currently reside.

Despite spending the second portion of his life in the lower-central Island city, Arden said there’s no place like Sooke.

“It’s a great place, no place like it that I know of.”

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