A car on a dusty road driving past Point No Point in 1937. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Point No Point in 1937

Region’s logging industry dates back to 1855

Elida Peers | Contributed

Back in the days when the road to Jordan River was gravel and dust, this photo was taken by Peggy Walker, daughter of D.I. Walker, the engineer who developed the hydro system and the town itself, as it was in its heyday.

You wouldn’t recognize it now, but this image shows Point No Point as it looked in 1937. We were fortunate to be able to begin developing a photo collection in the 1970s as at that time, there were many descendants of pioneer families among us that could share their photos, artifacts, and knowledge.

In this view, you can see a coupe driving towards Victoria, a rare sight in those days.

After the Sooke Region Museum opened, I recall that we were approached by the University of Victoria and asked about forest history photographs. They were delighted when they were able to obtain a copy of this image, as they wished to use it to illustrate that trees do grow back after harvesting.

Over the years, there has always been a lot of discussion about logging, the pros and cons, and indeed our region, the west coast of Vancouver Island, has a tremendous logging history. It was here that the first water-powered sawmill in the new colony was initiated by Capt. Walter Colquhoun Grant in 1849, and the first steam-driven sawmill by the John Muir family in 1855.

The Milligans horse-logged at Point No Point early on, followed by Pedneaults, whose show was called Pioneer Logging, during the 1930s. Canadian Puget Sound Lumber & Timber Company were rail logging at Jordan River and built a rail line at Point No Point as well. In 1927 they brought a steam donkey and a Climax locomotive ashore – later adding a 107 ton Shay locie to their powerful force. When Ken shepherd was working for Pedneaults, in early truck logging days, he recalled that the loading engineer was Pete Pedneault, and the head loader was Ivan French.

If you were having lunch at Point No Point today, you would find it hard to believe that this is how it looked in 1937 – long before there were a wartime RCAF installation and a teahouse/resort on the site.

When I met the photographer Peggy Walker in the 1970s, she was still living at Jordan River and married to Gordie Willoughby, who loved charging into Sooke on his motorbike, on the road now nicely paved.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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