SOOKE HISTORY: Dairy farming on horseback

Sooke Way Dairy operated near Glinz Lake Road

Ada and Violet Doran search the Sooke River for cattle in 1922. Sooke Way Dairy operated in the area from the 1920s to the early 1940s. (Sooke Region Musem)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Now that we know the B.C. Transportation Ministry is re-routing a section of Highway 14, it was interesting to come across a photo showing two of the women who once lived and farmed in that section of land which is undergoing the change, in what we call North Sooke.

In this photo are Ada Doran and her daughter, Violet.

Driving from Sooke towards Victoria on Highway 14, when you pass Glinz Lake Road on your left, you reach the site that was, in the 1920s, ’30s and early’ 40s, Sooke Way Dairy, on your right side.

The dairy farm was run by John and Ada Doran. Ada was born Ada Veitch, daughter to the Veitch family that settled a bit further east, at what is now the border between Sooke and Metchosin.

James Veitch, Ada’s dad, was born at Craigflower Farm, the son of an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and moved out to his own land to farm in 1892.

Ada Veitch grew up knowing a challenging pioneer life and in time met and married another hard worker, John Doran, who augmented the farm income by working on the concrete pipeline that was built in 1914 to carry water from Sooke Lake to supply Victoria.

The Doran farm was on the western part of what had been Veitch property. That parcel of land, too, was later subdivided; on the left side, when you pass Glinz Lake Road, you see a log house – that house was built in 1927 by Olof Frederickson, who married Violet, the girl in the photo.

The small dairy, situated right on Sooke Road, was handy for passersby to buy fresh milk. In those years fencing was practically nonexistent, and while some of the dairy herd was kept close at hand for milking, others, such as bulls and heifers, roamed throughout the hills, finding their own pasture, and from time to time were rounded up on horseback.

The cattle would roam as far as Sooke River, and it was while fording the river in search of their cattle that Ada Doran and her daughter Violet were photographed here in 1922.

When I was a little girl walking from Saseenos to Sooke School around 1940, I was terrified if I met the Doran cattle browsing along the way. I was particularly fearful of a large blue cow with a horn that stuck out sideways, and would try to hide behind broom bushes to escape them.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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