The Brown family clam digging at Becher Bay.

SOOKE HISTORY: Lady clam diggers

The photo came to us from Flora Brown Manion; it’s Flora’s mother Mary Jane Brown who is wearing the stylish wide-brimmed hat.

What strikes me most looking at this photo is the hourglass figures of the two women doing the clam digging.

The photo came to us from Flora Brown Manion; it’s Flora’s mother Mary Jane Brown who is wearing the stylish wide-brimmed hat.

Mary Jane, who was born McKenzie, had landed with her parents on the U.S. East Coast, came across the continent as a child in a covered wagon and eventually became a schoolteacher.

Teaching in Vancouver, she met a dashing teamster, George Brown, who was a son of pioneer settler George Brown Sr. and his First Nations wife Agatha, a couple who had pre-empted Section 88 at Becher Bay in 1883.

When Mary-Jane McKenzie married George Brown, she clearly brought some of her stylish city clothes with her, no matter that her new home was in the very rural community of Becher Bay.

It was Mary-Jane’s mother-in-law Agatha, a woman believed to be of Haida descent, who introduced her to her skills of using nature’s resources. This in turn shaped the lifestyles of her children and grandchildren, and steamed tiny clams are an example of their traditional delicacies.

One of Agatha’s great-granddaughters, Louise Paterson, a well-known member of our community, still lives on the original Brown property and has the greatest respect for nature and maintaining the environment.  If you chat with Louise, you’ll note her attractive striking appearance, her high cheekbones perhaps signifying a Haida heritage.

Louise’s interest in nature led her to serve as chair of Sooke’s Parks and Recreation Commission for many years, and most recently in the same role for the Juan de Fuca Parks Committee.

The other woman shovel-wielder in the photo is Jane, a sister of George Brown, who married Andrew Medwedrich.  Also settling in the Becher Bay area, the Medwedrichs added to the extensive Brown clan who made homes throughout the neighbourhood, a tradition that carries on to this day.

Jane Brown Medwedrich was the matriarch to a whole group of young descendants, including being grandmother to Joe Medwedrich, who is currently looking after things at the Sooke Community Flats, and is the nature-watcher who kept us appraised recently of the whereabouts of the Sooke wolf. Coincidentally, the background to our clam digging scene is Wolf Island off Becher Bay.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

Just Posted

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Almost 150 hectares purchased for parks in the CRD

Capital Regional District purchases two sites to increase park connectivity

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

CRD land ideal for alternate route

Reader says old pipeline route best option

Most Read