SOOKE HISTORY: An icicle display along the Sooke River

By Elida Peers | Contributed

The wood stave pipe carrying water across the Sooke River in the mid-1920s must have had leaks in the joins, as the icicles formed by the drip make a pretty impressive sight here.

This photo was given to us by a beloved matriarch in the T’Sou-ke Nation, Agnes George, who lived to her 102nd year in 1979, and whose box camera recorded many images over her lifetime.

In 1913, a group of forward-thinking Sooke residents headed by John Murray, decided to bring piped water into Sooke, so that homeowners needn’t be dependent on wells.

They contracted with a Vancouver firm, the Canadian Pipe Company, to bring water from the Charters River (at that time known as East Branch), down Sooke River Road, cross alongside the bridge, up the hill to the four-storey Sooke Harbour/Belvedere Hotel and into the village.

The ditch for the pipe was dug manually and more than 27,000 feet of wood stave pipe was laid, with the labour crew camping by the roadside at night. A-frames were constructed at either side of the river next to the bridge, to suspend the cable which supported the pipe. This photo was taken from the west side, and looks toward the Milne property.

While water is flowing in the foreground, the eastern portion of the river is covered with ice, and one can see pilings and boomsticks installed to prevent logging debris from striking the bridge structure, like the bridge abutment which can be barely seen at right. We all know that winters were much colder a century ago.

Though the water system was primitive in contrast to our infrastructure today, it demonstrates the ingenuity of a pioneering community, and one can imagine what a boon it must have been to householders. Its life was brief, however, as by the mid-1920s the organization was in financial difficulties and its assets were taken over by the City of Victoria Waterworks Branch.

A section of that leaky wood stave pipe of long ago rests in the collection of the Sooke Region Museum today. It may be of interest to readers that Harvey George, the skilled carver who has given his intricate fishboat models to the museum and to the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre, is a grandson of matriarch Agnes George.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Journey Middle School students try out the trades

Program is designed to expose students to career options

Province’s oldest lawyer shares advice for living well at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Saanich swaps last propane-powered Zamboni for electric model

Pearkes arena’s all-electric ice resurfacing fleet to reduce carbon emissions by six tonnes

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

VIDEO: Dashcam records driver’s near-miss near Sooke

Driver crossed four lanes of traffic and back over again, barely missing three other vehicles

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Most Read