With today’s modern heating that we take for granted, perhaps it’s good to remember that after Sooke’s Holy Trinity Anglican Church was built 100 years ago, someone had to get up early to light the furnace before Sunday service.
While many parishioners have shared that chore over the years, one who stands out is Sid Gates, a Britisher who lived with his wife Maggie near the brow of the hill on Otter Point Road that looks down towards the harbour and Murray Road.
This 1920 photo shows the shingled facade of Holy Trinity Church on Murray Road in its infancy. Retired from a lifetime of farming and dairying, it was in the 1940s and 50s that Sid Gates rose in the dark, walked with a lantern the four blocks down to the church, got the furnace well started, walked back up the hill and made his wife a cup of tea.
Maggie Gates had been a British Nursing Sister in the First World War and met Sid in France where he had been injured in the service. When they retired to Sooke, Maggie taught Sunday school and was a member of the church’s Women’s Auxiliary.
Readers who have lived here more than the last decade will recognize the venerable church, consecrated in 1913, that served its flock until it was razed by fire in 2005. The tall, gable-roofed structure was built in 1912 by the Richardson brothers.
Many were drawn to watch sadly as the unexpected blaze devoured the building. I recall standing by our town’s mayor of that day, who had tears in her eyes. Hard as it was for the parishioners to accept the shock of the loss, they pulled themselves together and by 2007 a fine new structure stood proudly in its place.
Not only did the parish’s men and women rebuild, they saw to it that the church continued to house community activities such as the weekly Vital Vittles lunch that has become a tradition.
Nowadays the group is making plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Anglican Church in Sooke, with special events ahead throughout 2013. Sid and Maggie Gates would be proud!
Sooke Region Museum