The Sooke Region Museum and sponsor Spinnakers Brewpub will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Leechtown Gold Rush on July 19.
There are a number of activities planned for the day. The Vancouver Island Placer Miners’ Association (VIPMA) will present a new monument to replace the old cairn erected in 1928 for Leechtown. Very special guests will be on hand for the dual unveiling at the old Leechtown site.
This day marks 150 years since gold was found on the confluence of the Sooke and Leech Rivers under the Commander Robert Brown. In 1864, the Scots-financed Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition began a thorough exploration of the area. Brown was there to collect botanical specimens and seeds.
The party described going a distance up Sooke River and getting information from a settler named “Broulle.” His assistant Lt. Peter Leech continued up the river, while Brown headed for Cowichan. When they met again, Leech had discovered placer gold in the Sooke and in a tributary they named “Leech.” The lieutenant, who had burned his foot in a campfire enroute, had brought with him as guide, a young boy from the T’Sou-ke village, named Lazzar. (information from The Sooke Story – The History and the Heartbeat.)
Much has been written about the short-lived gold rush, and the community that sprang up at Leechtown, but what it did do was put Sooke on the map as fortune seekers arrived in the area.
Try your hand at gold panning, enjoy refreshments and food, including the historic Leechtown beef. Games and contests and a special skit performed by the Sooke Harbour Players all take place at the Sooke Region Museum between 12 noon and 4 p.m at 2070 Phillips Road.