SOOKE HISTORY: Dance recital with love in the air

Members of the Sooke School of Dance in June 1947. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Members of the Sooke School of Dance in June 1947. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

With Valentine’s Day happening this weekend, we thought it would be neat to celebrate this photo with so many little sweethearts pictured in dance costumes.

Sooke welcomed several war brides in 1945 and 1946, and among them was Marj Lindley, pictured here at left in the back row; at far right stands Bev Arnet, her partner in teaching the dance classes held at Sooke Community Hall. Our researcher friend Carol Sheilds found a Victoria newspaper story, June 1947, which records the Sooke School of Dance donating $162, proceeds from the Revue to the Solarium Junior League.

Back row: Marj Lindley, Glenda Gibson, Beverley Sheilds, John Martin, unknown man, Bonnie Arnet with her piano accordion, unidentified man, Danny Lajeunesse, Elaine Sheilds, Carol Collins, Joan McCauley, Bev Arnet. In the centre, in front of this row, are five little boys; we’ve been unable to identify them.

In the second row from the front, we think the 12 girls are: Diane Duncan, Mary McMillan, Diane Arden, Maxine Neil, Gail Lajeunesse, Esther Gibson, Beth Martin, Lorraine Sheilds, unknown, Diane Acreman, Joan Crawford, Yvonne Sullivan. Seven girls perched in the centre: unknown, unknown, Donna Michelsen, Georgiana Colthurst, unknown, Eloise Nixon, unknown.

Sooke was still a tiny town then, and it’s interesting to note that the two dance instructors were connected to well-known families.

Recently there’s been a lot of mention of “The Tin Grotto on Otter Point Road, which started life as Sooke Machine Shop, built by Bill Lindley in the mid-1940s. Bill and Ruth Lindley’s home was a cottage standing right where the Legion housing complex is today, and it was their serviceman son Jack, who brought home Marj, the war bride.

Bev Arnet attended Sooke Superior School; it is her mother, Bonnie, standing at centre rear, married to Bjarne Arnet of the Tofino Arnet family. Bonnie was a daughter of Major George Nicholson, a distinguished figure in Vancouver Island history, whose story we will be featuring in an upcoming article.



Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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