HISTORY: Electrical power came to Sooke in 1929

Hydro development built for region in 1911

The VI Power Company hydro-electric substation brought power to Sooke in 1929, but not before Victoria serving Victoria needs starting in 1911. (Sooke Region Museum)

The VI Power Company hydro-electric substation brought power to Sooke in 1929, but not before Victoria serving Victoria needs starting in 1911. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

When I was a little girl in Grade 1 in 1938, this was a scene I would see on the two-mile walk to Sooke School from my home in Saseenos.

I don’t know who these horseback riders were, but the white structure behind the horses on the roadway was the second store run by Edward Milne Jr, perched at the northwest corner of Sooke River Road and Sooke Road. The structure was direct across the gravelled Sooke River Road from today’s retail store at Milnes Landing.

On the right side of this photo (at today’s Derbend Road) stands an exciting development that significantly impacted the progress of this community, for it brought power to Sooke.

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When the hydroelectric plant was created by VI Power Co to harness the waters of the Jordan River and began carrying electricity from Jordan River to Victoria in 1911, the system did not allow electricity to be diverted into Sooke for local use; its purpose had been to serve Victoria, and pass straight through Sooke is what it did.

It was not until 1929 that Sooke householders could access electricity through the hydro-electric transformer substation, shown what a boon access to electricity must have been to the few hundreds of folk that lived along the main route through Sooke at that time.

Expansion continued into the side roads through the 1930s, and with the coming of the Second World War, access to electrical power became almost universal in Sooke.

You might wonder how the impressive four-storey building, Sooke Harbour Hotel, which stood atop the hill on the west side of the Sooke River mouth, could function without electricity. The truth is, the hotel had its own generating plant to provide electricity for its use.

Electrical power has been available to Sooke folk for less than 100 years. In Sooke at that time, who could have guessed that the commercial and social life of the community would become so dependent on electricity and fibre optics-new age communication services that a serious interruption today could potentially bring the place to a standstill.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email historian@sookeregionmuseum.com.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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