The Mugford Board and Lodging House stood at the corner of Church and Sooke roads.

The Mugford Board and Lodging House stood at the corner of Church and Sooke roads.

SOOKE HISTORY: Mugford Boarding House

Mugford was a significant name in Sookw for many years, beginning with Robert John Mugford and his wife Emma Jane Bradley

Mugford was a significant name in Sookw for many years, beginning with Robert John Mugford and his wife Emma Jane Bradley and their two sons, Bertram and Bob.

While Bertram left no issue, Bob, who married Violet Eve, left three children. One of his grandsons, John Mugford, recently created an intriguing carving that graces the entrance wall of the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre.

The structure shown here, built in 1899 and a landmark for 40 years, stood at the corner of Church and Sooke roads,where the Chevron station pumps gas today.

On the third floor attic wall, a sign reads “The Mugford Board & Lodging House.” Eventually the building had a total of 19 rooms.

When the museum compiled its book “101 Historic Buildings of the Sooke Region,” one of its student employees working on the survey, Elizabeth Morton, described the structure this way “an excellent example of unique whimsical design resulting from additions.” Perhaps the building’s enclosing fence is an example of this thought, in part with neatly painted pickets and part in page-wire.

Robert John Mugford came here from Newfoundland in 1887 in the days of sail and then went back to marry his sweetheart, Emma Jane Bradley. The ceremony was conducted by Sir. Wilfred Grenfell, and the young couple and first baby then set sail to make their new home on the opposite coast in 1896.

Mugford’s hospitable wife became known as ”Aunt Janey” an industrious woman who not only ran the boarding house but tended her garden to produce the vegetables, fruits and berries to set a sumptuous dining table. When things were especially busy she had to put extra travellers in the barn to sleep.

Eldest Mugford son Bertram became a wireless operator on the Canadian Coast Guard tender Estevan, sailing on this coast for 38 years. Youngest son Bob, while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War, suffered an accident at the Sooke Potholes, leaving his wife with three youngsters, Patsy, John and Peter.

Besides his sailing prowess, R.J. Mugford was skilled as a carpenter, building several houses for sale. It was his story of sailing his ship Kilminnie, though, loaded with freight, from Victoria back to Sooke Harbour, that particularly took my fancy. Lowering a sack of sugar from his deck to the waiting arms of an East Sooke settler in a rowboat, he cautioned that it was heavy.

“Let it go” was the response, with the result that the settler went overboard with the weight in his arms. Mugford remarked that “Davey Jones must have got the sugar, as (the settler) did not have it when he came to the surface.”

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.