SOOKE HISTORY: Four chiefs at Whiffin Spit

HMS Endeavour’s commemorative voyage comes to Sooke

A proud moment: Capt. Chris Blake, left, T’Sou-ke Nation elder Frank Planes, T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Jim Cooper and CRD director Diane Bernard at the commemoration of HMS Endeavor in 1999. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

A proud moment: Capt. Chris Blake, left, T’Sou-ke Nation elder Frank Planes, T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Jim Cooper and CRD director Diane Bernard at the commemoration of HMS Endeavor in 1999. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

It’s not often we see four community leaders of this stature lined up together in celebration of a historical event.

This photo was taken in August 1999 at Whiffin Spit, at the welcoming ceremonies taking place in honour of the replica vessel HMS Endeavour visit.

At left is Capt. Chris Blake, a South African mariner who was in charge of the Endeavour’s international voyage, commemorating the historic voyages of exploration made by Capt. James Cook more than two centuries earlier.

Second in this photo is the legendary Frank Planes, the renowned elder of the T’Sou-ke Nation, grandson of Chief Andrew Lazzar. His welcoming support was one factor that made the Endeavour’s visit such a celebration in Sooke.

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Third in line is Chief Jim Cooper, who was the elected chief of the T’Sou-ke people during the 1990s, the second time he took on the task of governing, already serving 14 years during the 1960s and 1970s.

At right, Diane Bernard was the regional director for Sooke Electoral Area from 1997 to 1999, the final term for that electoral area, as Sooke’s incorporation vote took place that year, with the new mayor and council being sworn into office in December 1999.

Besides Capt. Cook’s visit to our coast in 1778, his journeys were mostly in the south seas, where Cook met his death in Hawaii in 1779.

The replica vessel was built at Fremantle, a small coastal town near Perth on Australia’s west coast, and on its epic journey, sailed to the British Isles, South Africa, and both coasts of North America.

Those of us in Sooke Festival Society who worked with the T’Sou-ke nation, and with Bernard, got to know Capt. Blake and the crew quite well, as our local community residents were welcomed aboard to tour the vessel while moored at Sooke’s government wharf.

It turned out Frank Planes and Chris Blake became real buddies, with the captain presenting Frank with a framed section of the rigging of the original 1778 Endeavour, and with Frank gifting the captain with a case of Sockey salmon canned by his wife Bunny.

We were thrilled when Capt. Blake told us that the visit to Sooke was the most welcoming and enjoyable of their entire commemorative expeditions schedule.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.