The East Sooke women’s group recently held a 40 year reunion at the home of Linda Mooney. (Contributed photo)

SOOKE HISTORY: East Sooke group creates enduring friendships

Group hosts 40-year reunion

Elida Peers | Contributed

West Sooke can just be glimpsed in the background as these East Sooke women gathered together for “old times sake” on the deck of a beautiful home at Eliza Point. Standing are Kathy Planiden, Linda James, Dorothy York, Susan Foster, Liisa Gale, Jan Stope, and Jennifer Jones. Seated are Linda Mooney, Ute Schnarr, and Vivienne Gargus.

While the village on the Sooke side of the harbour was embracing development after the close of the Second World War, the East Sooke side was generally seen as a forested area along with its meandering length, homes scattered few and far between.

By the 1970s and 1980s, the side of the harbour and basin that was closest to the Equator begun attracting young families.

Moving into a new area amongst the trees may have seemed daunting at first, but young Kathy Planiden and her husband Al were up to the challenge.


Inspired by a group she attended in Victoria, Kathy determined to contact other young mothers, suggested forming a group that could meet together and offer each other social and family support. The group met every two weeks, in the evenings, so husbands could look after the kids.

Kathy’s idea worked beyond her wildest dreams, and a group of women came together, became friends and confidantes, developing friendships that have endured.

The group members helped out with each other’s kids, arranged carpooling to school, held bake sales to raise money, and when the first East Sooke Firehall/Community hall was built in 1985, they had a home where they could organize more elaborate events. Dr. Robbie Robinson (who owned the district’s only Maclure house) was the grandfatherly figure they called on as Santa Claus at their community Christmas parties.

A scrapbook history of the group shows they used almost any occasion to create an event. A poster from May 1986 describes “A Celebration of Spring” with a luncheon, fashion show, door prizes and bake sale, held at the firehall.

As the group matured, it went on to raise funds for community social needs and even bought a theatre seat for EMCS when that fund drive was on.

The group has continued meeting when it can, in the 40 years since. As times changed, names changed as well years the friendship in their hearts has remained over the years.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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