It seems quite a contrast, a Girl Guide camp and an elaborate silver candelabra, but that’s the way it was for Valerie Tveit.
A British nurse who served on the front lines in the Second World War, Tveit spent the last half of her life on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
While living in Sooke, she served as Girl Guide captain; in this 1964 photo she is at French Beach, with her 1st Girl Guide Company, back in the days before the site became a provincial park.
Girl Guides that we can recognize include Debbie Morris (now Grove), Evelyn Linell (now Rhode), Diane Clark (now Goudie), Kathy Peers (now Tveita), and Gail Banner (now Cook).
After her years in the British military, Tveit wanted to see more of the world, and became a passenger on a freighter that sailed international waters.
As luck would have it, the pert, dark-haired young woman caught the eye of the freighter’s Norwegian master, Capt. Sigurd Tveit. It wasn’t long before a proposal of marriage, and the two sailed the oceans together.
When Sigurd Tveit decided to settle down in Canada, with his own fishing boat, it was Sooke that was chosen, and their Saseenos cottage was furnished with artifacts collected from exotic ports. It was then that Valerie Tveit became a Guider, and played a role in the community life of Sooke.
Among her family heirlooms was the candelabra pictured, which she bequeathed to community use, for bridal showers and weddings, held often in those days in the Sooke Community Hall or the Legion.
There wasn’t a florist in Sooke at that time, and our accomplished Jo Ann Lajeunesse, a master at ikebana, was called in to create superb floral centrepieces together with the candles in this candelabra.
Countless celebrations in Sooke were made more elaborate using this silver heirloom, which has now been given into the care of the museum, a reminder of the days when women got dressed up, and in leisurely fashion sipped tea from china cups.
Following their time in Sooke, Valerie and her husband, their 32-foot boat Havorn (Norwegian for sea eagle) and their fluffy white dog Bamse moved to Bamfield, where Sigurd Tveit was contracted to provide specimens for the Marine Sciences Centre, and the couple made their home on Grappler Inlet.
With her husband’s passing, Valerie sold the boat to Sooke fisherman Dalton Schrank around 1990, and it continued to sail in local waters for many years.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.