SOOKE HISTORY: Lillian Davies and a pioneer school Christmas

Lillian Davies with her children at the pioneer woman’s 90th birthday celebration at Sooke Community Hall in 1990. (Sooke Region Museum)

Lillian Davies with her children at the pioneer woman’s 90th birthday celebration at Sooke Community Hall in 1990. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Posed with their mother, Lillian Davies, her sons, Howard and Henry, daughter Doreen and youngest son Gerry were helping her celebrate her 90th birthday at the Sooke Community Hall in 1990.

Born in an Otter Point log cabin on a snowy day in March 1900, Lillian knew what real pioneer life was about.

Born to Bessey, wife of Henry Clark, a Brit who had pre-empted 80 acres in Otter Point in 1893, Lillian grew up without the amenities that most children have today, but her stalwart origins meant that she demonstrated kindness and dignity all her life.

After Henry had put up a cabin, he sent back to England for his wife and first youngster Lena, so Lillian had an older sister, and her birth was followed by brother Reginald, who grew up to become a teamster.

As her dad, Henry Clark drove a four-horse stage between Victoria and Otter Point, Lillian grew up helping with farm chores.

At eight, it was her job to milk the cow before setting off 2.5 miles to school.

In 1919 she married George Davies, grandson of the first lightkeeper at Race Rocks. The young couple made their home in Otter Point, where George worked as a rigger for Milligan Logging and for Harry Vogel. Along with raising five children, Lillian also worked with her husband in the field, and they bought their own 30-acre farm.

Widowed in 1952, she made her home in downtown Sooke.

While alone, her life was so full with visiting children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all gathering to see grandma and hear her pioneer stories, she had lots of company.

Most of her family lived nearby.

Daughter Doreen married Herb Piggott; Henry married Willie, Howard married Terry, Gerry married Roberta; George Jr., married to Bertha, died before this 1990 photo was taken.

Before she passed on at 94, pioneer Lillian Davies described Christmas season.

“In November the school teacher began to plan for the annual Christmas Tree Social … a list of names of the pupils was obtained from the teacher.”

Kay Shambrook and I were made responsible for collecting the money to purchase the gifts, which would be presented by Santa at the social.

Kay and I walked many miles to each farm as I recall.

The classroom was gaily decorated with a very large Christmas tree.

It was beautifully decorated with shiny glass ornaments and at the tip of each branch was clipped a tin holder that held the candles.

As precarious as it sounds, we never once lost the schoolhouse to fire.

Great excitement prevailed, the children arrived with their parents and the concert program got underway.

At the completion there was a dead silence that prevailed as every ear listened for the magic sounds of sleigh bells.

Soon Santa was warmly welcomed by all.

The gift giving was followed by the next best event, the delicious goodies prepared by the ladies.

Thhe remainder of the evening was spent with games and dancing, in which young and old participated.”

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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

Just Posted

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

The biggest risk to the Island's economy post-earthquake is that it may never return, according to Bruce Williams, interim CEO of the South Island Prosperity Partnership. (Contributed by Bruce Williams)
Greater Victoria businesses in chamber spotlight for 2021 awards

Annual awards program highlights local companies making the most of things, despite the pandemic

A shot from the rehearsal of Being Here: The Refugee Project, the Belfry Theatre’s filmed play that’s set to open on March 16. (Photo: Belfry Theatre)
Victoria’s Belfry Theatre shows filmed play on refugee, sponsor experience

Being Here: The Refugee Project is based off the first-hand accounts of refugees and their sponsors

Alain Bedard’s Two Shores on acrylic is in the West End Gallery in March. (Alain Bedard Image)
At The Galleries: March exhibitions come to life

A look at what’s on display this month at Greater Victoria art galleries

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read