All Sooke Day babies were the talk of the town. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

All Sooke Day babies were the talk of the town. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Babies squeal and coo at All Sooke Day

Annual community celebration was important to everyone

Elida Peers | Contributed

It may be hard for newer residents today to understand the importance of All Sooke Day in the lives of those who lived our earlier history.

It was the day of all days that mattered when you got together to visit with your friends, to catch up on all the news, whether you still lived in Sooke or came back to see from wherever you were living. Whether you were volunteering day-long shifts or were free to wander, it was fun.

In its beginnings in 1934, when the first picnic was called The Progress of Sooke, there was no television, and not everyone had radios either – the annual All Sooke Day kept us connected in the days when Sooke’s entire population numbered not much more than a thousand souls. Sooke Community Association was formed the following year to run the show, build the community hall, and do much more.

Customs changed, and one of the annual events that were a highlight then would no longer be in vogue today – the Baby Show. The first show was offered the Victoria Daily Times Trophy for the best baby, which was won by Mary Pember, an 11-month-old daughter of Mrs. W. Pember of Esquimalt (shown in the attached picture at the left).

Next in the photo are 16-month-old Beverley Sheilds, daughter of Will Sheilds and Florence Gray. Will Sheilds was the only son of blacksmith Lyall Sheilds, grandson of Ed Sheilds and Louise Charters (think Sheilds Road and Charters Road), and Florence’s dad Frank Gray was the manager at the fishtraps at the time. Next in the photo is Jack Planes, son of Gustave and Ida Planes. Ida was the daughter of Andrew Lazzar, chief of the T’Sou-ke nation from 1925 to 1928.

Honours as the best Sooke baby went to Hazel Ann Habart, daughter of temporary Sooke residents. The brave souls who did the judging that year were Dr. R.H. Wiggins, Mrs. A.V. Price and Mrs. A.G. Piddington. Many well-known local personalities were to cherish the trophies awarded in their babyhood through the years.

Before the final All Sooke Day was celebrated in 2002, the judging was done by a physician who is now retired to Sooke and has taken an active role in community affairs, Dr. David Lintern. He chuckles fondly when he recalls the judging events.


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

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