LOCAL HISTORY: Skating on Sooke River

SKating on the Sooke River was a popular pastime in the 1920s. (Contributed - Sooke News Mirror)

SKating on the Sooke River was a popular pastime in the 1920s. (Contributed - Sooke News Mirror)

Elida Peers | Contributed

It was kind of neat to see the snow on the Sooke Hills recently, and perhaps there will be more to follow as the winter progresses.

You can believe that 100 years ago, the winters were colder, though, as this photo taken on the Sooke River in the late 1920s illustrates so well.

I don’t think anyone will be trying to skate on the Sooke River this winter, though when I was growing up, we used to drive up to the higher-elevation lakes where the temperature was 10 degrees colder in the Sooke hills, enabling us to skate each year.

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The skating party shown here was photographed where the river is pretty well at sea-level, just about where DeMamiel Stream enters the Sooke River, where the SunRiver development begins.

The group gathered in this photograph represented a cross-section of active community folk among the few hundred people who made up our population at the time. Today, Helgesen Road is a well-known thoroughfare, and Haldis Helgesen is seen at left in this scene, with her husband Christian (Sandy) Helgesen next to their son Harry at the far right.

Harry George was another active community worker who represented the well-known George family in the party. Rupert Soule, whose family is remembered by Soule Road, is also in the group. These folks continued working for the advancement of Sooke throughout their lives; they were each contributor to the efforts of the Sooke Community Association and much more.

Perhaps some will remember that a Helgesen grandson-in-law, Terry Sankey, came back to his family’s hometown, taking the principal position of Edward Milne Secondary School in the 1970s. Terry Sankey is married to one of the Helgesen granddaughters, whose mother, Irene Helgesen, is in the skating photo.

No doubt, this happy group would be enormously surprised if they had been able to see the extensive development that has taken place and also the warmer temperatures as we celebrate the Christmas season in Sooke today.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.


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