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

EMCS Wolverines off to slow start

Wolverines start season 0-2

Victoria Police investigate stabbing in restaurant on Douglas Street

Police were called to the 800-block around 1:30 p.m.

‘Fix Canada First’ posters found at Victoria bus stops

At least five posters found along Douglas Street

Saanich residents deliver notice to Capital Regional District

Grange Road residents fear the loss of up to 50 trees

Council approves plan banning cycling in Haro Woods

Municipality accused of caving to small minority of park users

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter shows heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Baptists aren’t the ones to blame

Re: Lack of shelter leaves homeless out in the cold (News, Dec.… Continue reading

LETTERS: Traffic on roundabout is a tragedy waiting to happen

Re: New laws will make roads safer (Our View, Dec. 12) I’m… Continue reading

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

LETTERS: Finish repainting Otter Point Road lines

In June, September and November, I requested the lines on Otter Point… Continue reading

Most Read