We’ve all been experiencing a road crew project nowadays in the centre of Sooke as the roundabout nears completion.
My personal experience as the traffic moves slowly through Sooke is that the crews and the flaggers have done a good job, with disruption as minimal as possible.
Looking at this photo of a road crew back around 1920, working on the road leading from Muir Creek towards Jordan River, I am drawn to wonder what this group of settlers would think of the fine modern equipment that is carrying out the road improvements in Sooke today. What an incredible difference from their picks, mattocks, crowbars and shovels to the excavators, backhoes, rollers and curb-laying machines of today. These men never heard of flaggers – what for, there was no traffic to flag!
The road through Otter Point had reached as far as Jordan River by 1912, so this group of pioneers was working at improvements to the rough grade, we believe located in the Kirby Creek area. Sometimes settlers had the opportunity of being hired on contract for specific improvement projects, and sometimes they were working to pay off that year’s property taxes.
Among the settlers in this photo are Joe Poirier (grandpa of Velma Jessiman) George Goudie (grandpa of Norm Goudie) Harry Kirby (one of the three sons of Ma and Pa Kirby of Kirby creek) and Ted Harris. The Harris house on Otter Point road was home to Ted Harris when he wasn’t away working in the oilfields of the Caribbean. Today the Harris farm is the ALM organic farm owned by Mary Alice Johnson.
We can imagine that these men wielding their muscle-challenging hand tools would be most impressed if they could have had a look into the future of road building.
Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.