SOOKE HISTORY: Claude Cook family – 1929

Velma Cook Jessiman with her mother and father in 1929. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

What a cute little baby Velma Cook Jessiman was sitting on her dad’s lap in 1929, and she’s still a nice looking woman today.

Velma grew up with a group of relatives centred around a section of property near Kemp Lake Road which belonged to her grandpa, Joseph Poirier Jr.

Joseph Poirier Jr. was born at Milne’s Landing to parents connected to the fur trade and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

His father Joseph Poirier Sr., while originally from Quebec, was at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River when the Oregon Treaty, signed in 1846, set the boundary between the U.S. and Canada at the 49th parallel.

The boundary decision meant that the Poiriers and Brules were among a group of voyageurs who set out to travel north by wagon train, wishing to stay in the realm of the Crown, rather than live in the republic. They came to Sooke.

While Poirier Sr. settled at the mouth of the Sooke River, long before the arrival of the Edward Milne family in the 1880s, his eldest son Joseph elected to become a sealer, and in 1901 took up Otter Point property reaching from the Kemp Lake area to the waterfront.

Married to Mary White, and retired from sealing, he farmed the land and raised sons Joseph III, Phillip and Wesley and four daughters. The four girls were Lizzie, who married George Goudie, Lily, who married Claude Cook (above), Mabel, who married Walter Cook, and Phyllis, who married Walter (Red) Jessiman.

Velma, an only child, attended Otter Point School, and went into the floral business, in addition to picking ferns for the nursery business in Victoria. When she married Frank Jessiman, it simply expanded the family connections of Poirier, Cook and Jessiman. Velma’s dad Claude was employed as a truck driver by Elder Logging, and drovetrucks from the forested hillsides down to dump into Muir Creek.

Lily Cook and her sister Mabel became great sources of historical information for us at the Sooke Region Museum, as we began piecing together the history of the area and developing our incredible photo collection.

The cute little toddler in the photo, all grownup, a family raised, and sadly widowed today, continues an active life in the community as a generous volunteer, but her chief joy is her family, sons Bill and Alec, the grandchildren, and one little great-granddaughter, Riley Rose.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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