HISTORY: Sooke men went off to war

Frank Richardson, left, Wilf Strong and Jim Pontious take a break from training in 1942. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

Frank Richardson, left, Wilf Strong and Jim Pontious take a break from training in 1942. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Training together at Hamilton, Ont. in 1942, these Sooke boys posed to send a photo to their families back home.

Many young Sooke men went off to war, and sadly, some did not return. The fellows pictured did return from their service, and by coincidence, you might say that these three represented some of the families in Sooke’s core.

At left is Frank Richardson, son of Vernon and Emmy Richardson, part of the Richardson family group who emigrated here from Britain in 1911. The Richardson brothers were known for constructing several Sooke buildings (i.e. the original Anglican Church on Murray Road and Ragley in East Sooke) and developing a prosperous building supply enterprise. Frank married Doreen Pendray, and the couple raised three children in their Church Road home.

The tall figure is Wilf Strong, son of Ralph Strong and his wife Jessie Cains, descended from the well-known Charters pioneering family. Ralph Strong farmed in the Church Road area, where today, you might see a density of homes, particularly in the area known as The Ponds. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, there would have been scenes of horse teams and threshing crews. Wilf Strong married Margaret Lorimer, the only daughter in another family of some prominence in Sooke’s history.

At right is Jim Pontious, one of the six sons of Ernest and Hazel Pontious, who lived on a small farm at Caldwell Road. This area, too, is dense with housing today. The Pontious sons were mainly engaged in forestry and their many years with the fishtraps industry, Sooke Harbour Fishing & Packing Co.

Basketball was Sooke’s popular sport in the 1930s and early 1940s. We noted that each of these three servicemen had played basketball with the Saanich & Suburban Basketball League before going off to war.

Some years ago, when Brenda Parkinson served on the Sooke council, I was pleased to note that she initiated a move to name streets in the new subdivisions for service members who did not return: Two names that come to mind are Brailsford Place and Caffery Place.

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Elida Peers is the historian at Sooke Region Museum.

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