Nowadays we don’t seem to have cold enough winters to skate outdoors, but that was not always the case, as this 1950s view of skaters at the western end of Gordon’s Beach illustrates. Lynda Fisk, who supplied the photo, said Sooke kids would pile into whatever vehicle was available and bring their hockey sticks and have a fun day in the cold.
This slough area, facing onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca just about where Bob and Judy Stinson live today, was called Vogel’s slough because Harry and Kate Vogel’s home stood on the hillside well above it. Vogel had logged with horses, decades earlier, pulling logs from the uplands to store in the slough for eventual forming into log booms to be towed to sawmills.
Harry Vogel’s great-niece, Harla (Owen) Eve was among the skaters as were Lynda (Sullivan) Fisk, and Myrna (Reid) Sullivan, Rodney Sullivan, Yvonne (Sullivan) Reibin, Leslie Eve, Pat, Bob and Len George, Mickey Walker and George Pedneault. Former Saskatchewan boys Bob and Milt Gibson, Sooke businessmen at the time, also joined in the fun, and caused a bit of a stir, we’re told, when Bob fell through the ice – (It wasn’t deep, so no danger).
Going back another decade, in the 1940s, Velma (Cook) Jessiman recalls that cold winters brought some of the crew from Elder’s Camp, such as Dal Elder, Elmer Dods, Horace Arthurs and their families of kids. Other neighbourhood folk who joined the fun were Nelson and Art Cook, Audrey and Jean Goudie and Walter and Phyllis Jessiman.
Back in those earlier days, Velma said many folk made their own skates, fastening blades onto old caulk boots. The groups would build bonfires, put on a vat of coffee, heat cocoa, and roast marshmallows or wieners.
Some of today’s seniors also speak of the winter days when they would skate on ponds in Otter Point near Boneyard Lake and in the Sooke hills, skating on Crabapple and Sheilds Lakes where the temperature would be ten degrees colder than at sea level.
Sooke Region Museum