Saseenos in the 1920s.

Saseenos in the 1920s.

Saseenos was different in the 1920s

Another interesting and factual bit of Sooke history

The chug-chug and hiss of this steam locomotive hauling flat deck cars loaded with logs was a daily event when this photo was taken in 1920. Felled with cross-cut saws in the watershed of the Sooke River valley, these Douglas-fir logs were destined for sawmills on the outskirts of Victoria. Engine No. 395 was hauling on the Canadian National Railway, first laid out as the Canadian Northern Pacific during World War I.

If you were heading east towards Victoria today, driving on Sooke Road between Woodlands and Harbourview Roads, this scene would be on your left. The standard railway grade had been hewn from the wilderness, ties and rails laid, the line reaching between Sooke Lake, the Cowichan Valley and to Selkirk trestle on the Gorge waterway, to facilitate harvesting of the great conifers of the rainforest.

During its decades of history, the railway carried, besides these limbed logs, poles, pilings and milled lumber from upcountry sawmills. In its busiest period up to the 1940s, two runs were made each day.  During its last decade before closing down in the 1970s, munitions offloaded by vessels at Cowichan Bay were hauled by diesel locomotives through the Sooke hills and Metchosin’s pastoral meadows to storage at Rocky Point.

While this scene appears freshly cleared through the woods, the subdivision of Saseenos was surveyed and properties put on the market in 1921. The one-thousand acre subdivision of Saseenos was bisected by Sooke Road, from Idlemore Road to Coopers Cove. Generally, lots on the waterfront side of the road were purchased by people of means, such as retired diplomats or politicians, while the larger acreages on the uplands side were often acquired by immigrants from Europe seeking subsistence farms.

A common thread for all the newcomers establishing their new way of life in Saseenos was the daily thundering run of the locomotives, hooting their warning signals as they approached crossings and slowing to a hissing stop at the Saseenos station. The most treasured sound, though, in the memories of those of us who lived the era, was the steam locomotive’s mournful yet romantic wail as it echoed through the hills.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read