SOOKE HISTORY: Mariner once owned sunny Saseenos cabin

Saseenos ‘sunny cabin’ was once owned by a British sea captain. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

It’s changed over time, but still stands. This Saseenos cabin was built by a sea captain called Roberson, back around 1920.

Capt. Roberson and his wife Marian were originally from Britain, where the ship master served in the Royal Navy during the First World War, and his wife drove an ambulance.

Coming out to the new frontier of British Columbia years earlier, after their 1908 Anglican wedding, the captain was employed on a coastal steamer, out of Prince Rupert. When they returned to Canada after the war, the captain became a B.C. coastal pilot, based in Victoria.

Exploring the countryside, the couple had the opportunity to see the Sooke inlet, and felt the sloping hillsides of the basin created a place of extraordinary sunny beauty.

In 1920 the Franco-Canadian Company was in the process of planning the subdivision of Saseenos, land which they had acquired in a tax sale, and would see 400 hectares of properties placed on the market by realtor Alfred Carmichael.

While the couple camped in the cabin on weekends, it would be several years before they were able to move into the fine new home they built on the property.

Nowadays that waterfront area is filled with housing, when I was a child I recall going for walks on the gravel roads of Saseenos and enjoying watching the two Roberson youngsters, Gerald and Joan, romping in the open fields with their Shetland ponies.

The captain died in 1932, but during their tenure, the British couple had landscaped their home with all manner of exotic trees, and assorted pets for the children.

With Marian’s death 30 years later, the main house changed hands, and in time it was a Scottish physician, Dr. John Malcolm, who took ownership of the property, building a pool close to the main house.

Besides his medical practice, Dr. Malcolm was a stalwart in the Sooke Highlanders Pipe Band.

Meanwhile, the cabin had seen varied uses, including serving as a garage for the Roberson’s Model T. The structure was converted into a guesthouse, and for a time in the late 1950s and early 1960s the occupants were another Sooke physician of British origin, and his paramour.

The sunny hillside estate, now under new ownership, seems destined for a future as a family home.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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