Glenairley has a long history in East Sooke.

Glenairley has a 100 year history

Historic East Sooke farm has had many different 'lives'

With Glenairley beginning a new chapter in its unfolding story now may be a good time to look at highlights of its past 100 years. Beautifully situated on the waterfront at East Sooke, it has been a family home, farm, resort,  religious retreat, community centre, ecocentre and now has a new role as a training base for the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue.

It would be hard to overstate the significance of the families who have lived there. It was 1910 when Alexander Gillespie, a B.C. Land Surveyor occupied in surveying the northern wilderness of the province such as the Skeena River area, decided he could no longer bear being so far from his wife and children in Victoria.

Thinking to join the neighbourhood at the far reach of Sooke Basin, where his father, George Gillespie had a summer home “Grouse Nest” Alexander Gillespie purchased acreage on the eastern shore and set to work. The fields were tilled, crops planted, and before long a family dwelling built by a carpenter named Owens stood on the sunny slope. In 1913 carpenters from England – Harry, Vernon and Charlie Richardson enlarged the house.

Alexander Gillespie was married to Rose Ellen “Nellie” a daughter of Jacob Hunter Todd, and the couple raised Sheila, Daphne, Jean and Rosanna. The sojourn on the farm was an idyllic childhood for the girls as they helped with farm chores and tending the prize Jersey cattle. It ended only when the Gillespies sold the farm in 1929 and Alexander joined the family firm of Gillespie, Hart & Company in Victoria.

Around this time the eldest Gillespie daughter, Sheila, married Dr. J. W. Anderson, whom she had met on a liner bound for Hong Kong. One of the Anderson sons, David, followed Gillespie family tradition and became well-known as a federal politician, serving in Liberal cabinets as Environment Minister and Fisheries Minister.

The Anderson daughter, Fiona Hyslop also became known to Sooke residents during her time as an event organizer at the University of Victoria. In her position, she was able to steer many conference attendees towards the Sooke Community Association and its loggers sports/salmon barbecue entertainment evenings, in those days a popular convention field trip.

In Glenairley’s life as a resort after the Gillespie years, perhaps the most significant owners that followed were Ray and Grace Horgan, who hosted many distinguished figures looking for a quiet secluded getaway. Among those who stayed in the little rustic A frame cabins that dotted the grounds was Senator Nancy Hodges, whose career had included being a newspaper columnist and the ground-breaking first woman Speaker of a Legislative Assembly in the British Commonwealth.

Grace Horgan herself was no stranger to history. A daughter of Dr. J. McKenna, Chair of the McKenna-McBride Commission appointed to visit and re-structure First Nations Reserves throughout the province of B.C. between 1913 and 1916, her own interests led her to write several historical articles, especially on the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the new colony that became B.C.

Grace deeded Glenairley to the Sisters of St. Ann in 1960, to be used as a retreat for the nuns. This arrangement carried on until recent years, when it was leased for use as “a centre for the earth and spirit.”

A smaller portion of East Sooke acreage next door to Glenairley was retained by the Gillespie family and has been home for many years to a Gillespie granddaughter, Janet, and her husband David Broadbent. By an interesting quirk of fate, David Broadbent, a retired mariner, enjoyed a career with the provincial Search & Rescue Co-ordination Centre.  Janet says “I believe my grandparents would be so pleased to know that the land they cherished is now to be in the public domain.”

Elida Peers,Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Coun. Fred Haynes to run for mayor against Mayor Atwell

Haynes to go head-to-head with Atwell for Saanich mayoral seat in 2018

Bob Heyes back behind Shamrocks bench for 2018 season

Art Webster, Mike Simpson, John Hamilton will also return

UPDATE: Driver escapes from crash in Sidney

Town truck and another vehicle collide, causing van to roll over

Victoria Women’s March draws hundreds

Pink pussy hats aplenty as demonstrators took to downtown streets

FISHING ADVENTURES: Winter fishing season in full swing

Upcoming fishing events include Local Pub’s Salmon Superbowl Derby and Victoria Boat Show

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Reynolds, Edward Milne capture titles at Esquimalt hoops tournament

Host Dockers take fourth in senior girls draw

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Road conditions wreak havoc for Comox Valley drivers

Icy road conditions early Monday morning kept first responders very busy throughout… Continue reading

Most Read