While this building on Otter Point Road still houses activities and enterprises, the day is long gone when it reigned as one of the hubs of Sooke’s social life.
The pro shop downstairs was kept busy with dedicated golfers, while the main banquet room was popular for weddings, dances and celebrations of all kinds, in the heyday when it was run by Eric and Jean Michelsen.
This building was the centre of rolling greens and fairways, immaculately kept by Eric, his day starting at daybreak. Eric was married to a dynamo – Jean Murchison, who grew up on Galiano Island, was a hospitable organizer, and an untiring expert at catering for the many events she hosted.
Bachelor Tom Hynds had been the first immigrant to live on the property, clearing enough space for a cabin. In 1906, he was followed by George Cook, who made his home in the same little cabin, clearing more land and developing a farm with milk cows, eventually successful enough to build a three-room cottage for his new wife, Mary. It was this pleasant little home that formed the basis for the building we see today.
Twenty years later, it was Frank Waide, a Yorkshireman who had homesteaded in Alberta, who bought the farm, continuing with dairying, and raising pigs and sheep.
Frank and Gladys Waide made a home for their granddaughter, Faith, a girl who would become, much later, a fixture in Sooke when she retired here in 1970 with her fisherman husband Nils Jacobsen, moving from their home in Burnaby.
Early in the 1940s the Waides established a rustic nine-hole golf course, especially welcoming officers stationed at the Otter Point Army Camp during the Second World War. The golf course idea proved unsustainable at the time, and closed.
In 1949 the place went to Joe and Kate Jackman, and in 1951 it became home to Mac and Ethel Comeau.
Meanwhile, Eric Michelsen, a descendant of the early settler Poirier family, whose ancestral home had been across from the clubhouse on the west side of Otter Point Road, a community leader who had long held a dream of owning a golf course, bought the place together with his wife Jean. Innumerable golfing events were held on the popular and fastidiously cared for golf course until 1973, when Eric died suddenly.
In the years since, many changes in ownership and management have taken place, with the Swinburnson family the last to operate the green hillsides as a golf course. Today the land surrounding the clubhouse on the east side is enjoyed as John Phillips Memorial Park.
Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.