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SOOKE HISTORY: A look back at the Sooke Centre Mall

The mall blossomed into a series of business and retail outlets
The Sooke Centre Mall, pictured in the 1990s. (Submitted by Elida Peers)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Our image today shows how the Sooke Centre Mall looked in 1990, the area where you now see Sooke Village Foods and its frontal parking lot. It had begun with the arrival of Ray and Bea Hull in 1956 in Sooke, with Ray employed at Sooke Forest Products Sawmill on Goodridge Peninsula.

Shortly after, a lumberyard had been set up behind the subject property on Fred Raue holdings, to serve as the local marketing outlet for the sawmill, and Ray Hull became manager of Sooke Building Supplies. During its tenure, it offered competition to the longstanding firm of Richardson Bros Building Supplies.

Sooke Centre Mall became established on the location pictured, blossoming into a series of business and retail outlets. After Ray Hull’s tenure, Barry Cree became manager of Irly Bird Building Supplies. Pat Welsh, son of a pioneer family, joined the firm, also working with lumber sales.

In our photograph, we see Evergreen Paint & Hardware, owned by Mal and Diane Cummings and on the left next to Sears, we see Snappy Photo, owned by Will and Francoise Earnshaw (later sold to Dave and Judy Barlow). The Sears outlet also had Noble House Tea and Coffee, Bill Jones had Irly Bird Carpet Centre, and on the upper level, seamstress Pat Rocko had the Remnant Shop and H & R Block had their offices. Village Food Markets used the structure for extra storage space as well. Mal and Diane Cummings later moved their hardware outlet to the far-right-hand corner.

Since 1979, Village Food Markets – Bruce Logan, Jerry Liedtke and Chris Craig, as JCB Holdings – had operated a supermarket in the Evergreen Shopping Mall built by Stan Eakin. The JCB group had purchased this pictured property across the street in the mid-1980s, with the plan to build their shopping mall behind the pictured structure. After constructing the new enterprise, they would then dismantle the building in this photo. We understand that when they constructed the current Coast Capital building, it was built just about where the white car is parked in this photo.

The new Village Food Markets, that we know so well, operated by Bruce Logan and Jerry Liedtke, was opened in 1995. Prior to the new supermarket opening (Thrifty’s at the time) the existing structure was removed, allowing for a substantial parking lot.

We are particularly grateful to Mal Cummings for background history assistance here.

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email