In historical mention, we generally think of the Cains brothers, Bill and Ken, as garage operators on Sooke Road next to Charters Road.
This photo is a different view of the family’s early life in Sooke; the wooden structure perched on their truck (is it a Model T Ford?) in the mid-1920s, right across the road from the garage, looks like it was parked in front of Bill’s house.
Bill and Ken Cains were sons of Richard (Poppa) Cains, a Newfoundlander who had come to the west coast as a sealer in 1890, later going into boat building.
Richard married Margaret, a daughter of William Bell and Louise Charters, and the parcel of land holding their garage and their side-by-side homes had come to them through the Charters family.
When I was growing up, walking to Sooke Superior School from Saseenos, I recall Poppa Cains in his 90s living in a little red-trimmed white cottage just west of the garage. In his active days he had been a boatbuilder, and it was a real treat to be invited to cruise the harbour in one of his vessels.
Bill Cains married Irene Arden of Metchosin, and brother Ken Cains married Jean Purgavie, a Scottish lass.
The mechanically-minded brothers worked in a solid partnership in the service garage, which also pumped gas. Prior to the garage, the brothers had worked for their uncle at Charters Sawmill. Another job was cutting stave bolts for shipping to Sweeney Cooperage in Vancouver.
Bill and Irene’s son Dick Cains became an engineer and it was he who created the development atop Mt. Matheson (think Cains Way, and also Western Slope, which was the name of one of the boats his granddad built to fish black cod off Alaska). Ken and Jean Cains had one son as well, Stan, who became a schoolteacher.
A couple of weeks ago there was a joyous 50th anniversary reunion in town, of Edward Milne Secondary students – (the name of the school in the 1960s) and it was so nice to see a visiting Diane Cains, granddaughter of Bill and Irene, chatting with friends of half a century before.
Crews working today on vehicle repair at WestShack Automotive, the historic garage site, would likely be all agog if they were to view a scene like this across the street today, but no doubt they’d be impressed by the wooden-spoke tires.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.