This 1934 photo was taken in the power company’s dance hall, converted from a cookhouse. It looks like there are pseudo palm trees gracing the background. Musicians in the photo are: William McHugh, Ted Holmwood, Albert Sjoberg, Lewis Fatt, Gordon Willoughby, Robert Walker, Albert Walker, Jack Elliott and the boss - Duncan Irving Walker. (Photo contributed by Sooke Region Museum)

This 1934 photo was taken in the power company’s dance hall, converted from a cookhouse. It looks like there are pseudo palm trees gracing the background. Musicians in the photo are: William McHugh, Ted Holmwood, Albert Sjoberg, Lewis Fatt, Gordon Willoughby, Robert Walker, Albert Walker, Jack Elliott and the boss - Duncan Irving Walker. (Photo contributed by Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Jordan River’s nine-piece orchestra

Today it’s a different type of music you hear at Jordan River, the sound of the pounding surf, the seabirds, a whole symphony of nature’s offerings, right alongside a busy highway fronting the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, when Jordan River was a remote community reached by gravel road or by boat, amazingly enough, one could enjoy a presentation by a nine-piece orchestra.

This 1934 photo was taken in the power company’s dance hall, converted from a cookhouse. It looks like there are pseudo palm trees gracing the background.

Musicians in the photo are: William McHugh, Ted Holmwood, Albert Sjoberg, Lewis Fatt, Gordon Willoughby, Robert Walker, Albert Walker, Jack Elliott and the boss – Duncan Irving Walker.

Marked on the drum held by Robert Walker was VANCOUVER ISLAND POWER CO. – JORDAN RIVER. Robert and Albert Walker were sons of D. I. Walker, the stalwart engineer who had been hired by the company to undertake construction of a hydro-electric system to supply the power needs of the city of Victoria.

The Walker family name became almost synonymous with hydro for some years on Vancouver Island, and the Walker impact on Jordan River was enormous.

Not only did D. I. create the massive hydro system but he turned the community into a model company town, with all sorts of amenities to make a happy social life for the employees. Additionally, D. I. was married to Katherine, daughter of Hannah Maynard, a leading pioneer female photographer in British Columbia’s photography history.

Gordie Willoughby married the Walker daughter Peggy. Albert Sjoberg was a maintenance worker at the power plant, while Both Jack Elliott and Lewis Fatt became superintendents in turn after the retirement of D. I. Walker.

Many years later, Jack Elliott’s name was given to a dam established when the system was re-organized in 1971.

Jack Elliott was generous in sharing his historical records and photos with the Sooke Region Museum, and I do recall his once telling me, “When I applied for a job with V. I. Power, it was the fact that I was a musician that tipped the scales for me.”

It’s great to know that our history includes so many interesting people who have contributed to making our region such a great place to live.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.