The first Anglican priest resident in Sooke was the Reverend John Lancaster. The year was 1963 and John and Miriam were newly married. A cottage next to the church had been renovated as a manse.
The young couple were just the right assets for the parish and for Sooke in that time. Tall, dark and handsome John got right to work improving the church alongside the men of the parish.
This 1964 photograph, copied from the Grapevine (forerunner of the Sooke News Mirror) demonstrates hand mixing concrete for the basement floor of the original Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Murray Road. Holy Trinity celebrates its 100th anniversary this summer, and the Lancasters mark their 50th wedding anniversary this August as well.
Miriam joined in with other Sooke women to teach Red Cross swimming classes at Sunny Shores open air pool. John got right to work with the guys in the community, helping with All Sooke Day and the activities of Sooke Community Association. He served as a director, and in 1967 as chair of that organization.
1967 was Canada’s Centennial year, and it fell to John to chair Sooke’s Centennial Committee as well. His easy humour made him a favourite with youth groups who met in the refurbished church basement, and with the adults as well. He laughingly recalls “I started out at All Sooke Day, clearing the picnic tables and picking up garbage, and rose through the ranks to become chair.”
John and family left Sooke in 1968, he then studied in Princeton, N.J. before joining the staff of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. They spent 1976 in St. Andrews Scotland, then returned to Victoria. He was then appointed Archdeacon of Quatsino and rector of the Church of St John the Divine in Courtenay. Both John and Miriam, a piano teacher and church music director for many years, are now retired and live in Vancouver.
Elida Peers, Historian
Sooke Region Museum