SOOKE HISTORY: From farmhouse to townhouse

Wadams Way farm land dates back 100 years

Olive Wadams photographed on the steps of her home in 1942. The house was built around 1919 by Austrian Antony Kohout. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

For some time, there’s been discussions and plans underway on the future use of the Wadams property on Church Road, and whenever the development is finished, it will create a high-density housing area in contrast to the simple farmhouse there for 100 years.

In 1942, Olive Wadams was photographed on the steps of her home, which the family called Forshaw for their earlier home in England.

The house was built around 1919 by Austrian Antony Kohout.

Employed as a shipyard worker in Victoria, it was rumoured he lost his job during the First World War due to his pro-German sympathies.

While he built this simple house, he was clearly a man of entrepreneurial spirit as he soon sold this place and set up a new venture at Whiffin Spit, where he constructed several cabins as an auto court, and then a tea house.

This property was the forerunner of Sooke Harbour House, built in 1930, and the beginning of the reputation for hospitality which became so celebrated during the tenure of several owners over succeeding years.

Peter and Olive Wadams were farmers at heart and the Church Road gardens thrived under Peter’s tender care; he became recognized as a perennial winner at the annual Sooke Fall Fair.

Olive, too, was known for farming and home-making skills, and shone in needlework, recognized with many awards at fairs, including the Pacific National Exhibition.

The farm property, which will soon house many residents, provided pasture for a couple of cows, which were raised for beef and milk, and provided the fertile base that produced a plethora of old-fashioned flowers of just about all kinds.

This striking harvest of colour and scents didn’t remain behind the fence; everyone knew to call Olive when flowers were needed for a celebration. Regularly Olive picked her precious blossoms and walked about downtown, delivering them to all – her way of sharing the farm’s bounty.

In 2014, the municipality created a new street: Wadams Way. We’ve heard that in the last couple of years, Roosevelt elk have been seen within the woods adjoining the Wadams farm.

While Peter passed away decades earlier, and Olive in 2004, we expect they each would have been thrilled at a glimpse of elk, foraging among the trees.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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