Hot dogs and cigarettes were “in”

Sooke historian Elida Peers writes about the region's history

Recent newspaper headlines discussing the banning of smoking in public parks brings to mind a different era – when those of us who didn’t smoke were in the minority.

The first thing you notice with this 1946 photo is the promotion of cigarette smoking; smoking was the “IN” thing to do. In that era, the social phenomenon of cigarette smoking was almost universally accepted and signs such as these, for Sweet Caporal and Black Cat, were everywhere.

How times change, and sometimes it is hard to remember just how much society’s attitudes have changed.  It is quite a shock to remember that when this photo was taken 67 years ago, people had not yet come to understand the hazards of smoking.

This hot dog stand, one of Sooke’s earliest, was located at the west end of Sooke River bridge, not far from where the “Welcome to Sooke” sign is today. These nailed-on signs also promote Orange Crush, Coca Cola and 7up.  This stand, operated by Art and Elaine MacFarlane, was a popular hangout and was the fore-runner to the restaurant they quickly established on the same site. The restaurant was the “Bellevue Chalet,” a much finer piece of architecture that offered more substantial meal service.

The attractive entrance signage that now greets visitors at the Sooke Road/Phillips Road corner, and other signs we are more likely to see today, promoting eco-tourism and healthy lifestyles, are further indications of the cultural evolution society has been experiencing.

On the lower fertile land behind the restaurant, along the river, the MacFarlanes grew strawberries, and were proud to record that one of their strawberries grew to three-quarters of a pound. While the rows of strawberries are long gone now, the gorgeous pink rhododendrons the family planted have continued to thrive and grow to a great size, a legacy of beauty left by this pioneering entrepreneurial couple.

Elida Peers, Historian                                                                                                                                    Sooke Region Museum

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