Pamela Woodland, left, and Barry Macleod hang out on Macleod’s deck in 1980. (Photo by James R. Page)

New book offers glimpse into Sooke’s colourful past

The Tugwell Years is made up of letters written by Barry Macleod

A newly published Sooke book is sure to give readers a blast from the past.

The Tugwell Years is made up of letters written by Barry Macleod, who lived in Tugwell Creek from 1978 to 1986.

The book gives the reader a glimpse into what life was like in the Sooke area during those times, through Macleod’s critical eye.

“Barry was larger than life, hilarious, smart, and a close observer of the times,” said Pamela Woodland, who published the book with Harland Press and was a close friend of Macleod’s. “He would write about everything that crossed his vision, whether it be political issues or a musician he met in the street.”

Macleod was famous among his friends for his letters, and took a strong interest in writing his view on what was happening at that time, while painting exaggerated pictures of the characters around him.

“His writing is what I like to call poetic licensing, but all the people and places he talks about in the letters actually exist,” laughed Mary Alice Johnson, who helped create the book. “I think people who were around in Sooke during those years would really get a kick out of the book.”

The truth is stretched and blurred at certain times throughout the book for dramatic effect, but she believes it still clearly portrays what it was like to live in Sooke at that time.

Johnson got to know Macleod when she moved to Sooke with her husband, and said it was a very special time to be here.

“Friendships were really important. The job you had, the money you made, or the car you drove wasn’t,” she said. “Sooke had such character, and I think Barry captured a lot of that.”

She explained that the book would also be of interest to readers who are curious about what it was like then.

“It seems like history repeats itself, and I think a lot of young people now would find it very interesting,” said Johnson.

“It’s an insightful, and intelligent man’s picture of that time. I’m sure another person could have told the stories completely differently, but it was his view and I think he did a great job of grasping what was going on.”

In the beginning, the book was just put together by a group of people who knew Macleod as a way of honouring him after he died of lymphoma at the age of 40.

It was only meant to be shared among friends and family who knew Macleod, but much to Woodland’s surprise, people in the Sooke community started requesting copies of the book.

Woodland said she never expected the book to reach a larger audience than the people who knew him, and is excited to see how readers will connect with it.

“I think it shows that lots of things change, but they also stay the same over time,” said Woodland. “And I’m looking forward to finding out what the book communicates beyond a private and personal level.”

All proceeds from the book go towards the Sooke Fine Arts Show’s Jan Johnson Memorial Award for Best Social Commentary.

Copies of the book are limited and can be purchased at Stick in the Mud Coffee House, or at the Sooke Museum.

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Barry Macleod in 1975. (Photo by James R. Page)

Macleod’s cabin in 1983. (Photo by James R. Page)

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