SOOKE HISTORY: Raising funds for a good cause

Community joins forces to build new museum

A talent show, of sorts, at the Sooke Community Hall in 1976. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

It’s wonderful what grown men can be persuaded to do to help raise funds for a good cause.

This photo was taken at the Sooke Community Hall, way back in November 1976.

The Sooke Lions Club received a federal government grant to help build the Sooke Region Museum, and the historical society was busy raising funds, and learning the ropes for cataloguing artifacts, etc.

On our board at that time was an incredible force from East Sooke called Marion Rushton, of Tideview Road, and she organized this fundraising fashion show. The models paraded in an array of different attire (sorry, one was even in blackface) including bathing suits and evening gowns.

Central in this photo was realtor Ray Nestman, who later became regional director from 1984 to 1987. He’s the stocky figure in the white gown, and you can just glimpse the black brassiere underneath, which I recall he borrowed from Shirley Vowles. At left of Ray in the photo is our well-known Bill Wilson, also known as the mayor of Leechtown, in the black split dress and wig.

Playing a role here as well was Charlie Perkins, third from right, who wore a long gown with a bare midriff. Charlie, who was a lawyer and had served as the first magistrate in Yellowknife, was regional director from 1976 to 1979. Longtime Sooke School principal Laurie Simpson was also on stage; he’s wearing the fancy hat at left in photo.

The Lions, always great supporters, had other participants as well, including Milt Gibson, Peter Hotton and Ken Shepherd, president of the historical society. Allan Chamberlain, captain of the federal research vessel Parizeau, is at far right. Also in the photo are Gordie Govenlock, Melvin Elrose, Bill Solberg, Larry Duke, and John McKay.

Marion Rushton was farthest left; you can barely glimpse her with mike in hand as she presented a fascinating commentary that was as illustrious as the fashion models. I don’t recall how much money was realized, but everyone had a lot of fun.

The museum was opened the next year on July 2, 1977.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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