SOOKE HISTORY: Gone are the days of All Sooke Day

Annual event was the pride of the community

First started in the Great Depression as “The Progress of Sooke,” All Sooke Day turned into a featured event that became significant in the culture of Vancouver Island. (Dan Haverty - Sooke Region Museum)

In happier times, it would have been preparations for All Sooke Day that would have occupied many minds and hands at this time of year, as the whole community geared up for the annual celebration in July.

First started in the Great Depression as “the Progress of Sooke,” the community picnic on the Sooke Flats turned into a featured event that became significant in the culture of Vancouver Island.

While started as a community get-together with races and sports beside the river, along with servings of succulent spring (chinook) salmon barbecued over open alderwood fires, plus beef buried in pits of embers in the Leechtown style, it was the championship logging sports competitions that began attracting international visitors in the thousands.

This photo, taken in 1982, by Dan Haverty, from atop one of the two, 100-foot climbing poles mounted at the Sooke Flats. While Dan himself was a novice climber, he helped ready the poles for the championship competitions, and for the dancing atop the pole, an act performed by the very daring professional climber Danny Sailer.

The climbing events were among the most popular features, as were the log birling competitions that had begun in the river and then advanced to performances in a specially constructed pool on the Flats.

Choppers and axe throwers were also renowned, and entrants in these competitions came not only from U.S. locations but from Australia and New Zealand.

From 1934 to the final All Sooke Day in 2002, this event was the pride of the community, a very special volunteer accomplishment, and many have felt its loss in the decades since.

In 1984, the Sooke Region Museum embarked on making a a movie to showcase the attraction on its 50th anniversary, with Sheila Whincup as director of the movie. When the production was completed and launched in Sooke Community Hall in 1986, it was standing room only.

While the museum is not open because of the coronavirus pandemic, when it’s back in business, those who have not seen the movie the All Sooke Day Story could obtain a video copy to enjoy the exciting replay of logger sports.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

Saanich farm stands can stay open

Council amending bylaw to allow for temporary use permits

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read