HISTORY: When Belvista Place was a part of Sooke Road

A visit to blacksmith Lyall Sheilds’ workshop was always a thrill

Now Belvista Road, this area was once part of the Sooke Road corridor, writes historian Elida Peers. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

Now Belvista Road, this area was once part of the Sooke Road corridor, writes historian Elida Peers. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

While it’s now called Belvista Place, back when I was walking to Sooke School from where I grew up in Saseenos, this was the route of Sooke Road, rather than straight past the museum as it is today. In this 1940s photo, you see the hydro poles, carrying electricity from Jordan River to Victoria.

Much earlier, this same route was followed by the tree to tree telegraph line from Cape Beale, which was part of the “Red Route” communication system which connected the various points of the far-flung British Empire.

Some time ago, electrician Larry Rumsby donated to the Sooke Region Museum a glass telegraph insulator that had been wedged into a tree standing just east (left) of this view.

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This photo was taken prior to the time when Coopers Cove Oyster Farm was moved from Sooke’s inner basin out to this waterway where the water was not affected by sawmill pollution.

It was the blacksmith shop that held the chief attraction for us on this roadway. What fun it was to stop and watch blacksmith Lyall Sheilds, clothed in heavy protective aprons, as he pounded the red hot embers to carry out the forming of the tools he was forging.

The other neat job to watch was when he shod horses.

In those days horses were used more frequently than farm tractors, and shoeing horses was part of a regular day’s work. It is interesting to know, as well, that today several young Sooke people have taken up the trade of blacksmithing and becoming farriers, time-honoured pioneer traditions.

While it is not apparent from the photo, there is quite an elevation of a hill to climb from sea level to where Charters Road crosses Sooke Road, and then again to Sooke School. The William Bell Charters family had claimed the entire block back in 1865, and it was because Lyall Sheilds was a Charters grandson that his blacksmith shop stood there.

As we walking youngsters from east of the bridge trod that morning climb, known to all as Charters Hill, we diverted ourselves by picking up the green spiky horse chestnuts dropped from the trees planted by the Charters family along the roadway. What entertainment it was to lob the spiky little slugs at each other, and try to dodge the ones coming your way. Do you still remember that climb, Arnie and Gerhart Hansen?

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



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