The Otter Point  and Sooke roads intersection has often been called the historically busiest corner in Sooke

The Otter Point and Sooke roads intersection has often been called the historically busiest corner in Sooke

SOOKE HISTORY: Pumping gas on the corner for 87 years

Automobiles were just coming into vogue during the 1920s and Louis Gettle built a gas outlet with two gas pumps in 1928.

We understand the block of land here on Sooke Road, just east of the Otter Point Road corner, was owned from the early 1900s by Adam Godtel and then his son Louis Gettle.

Automobiles were just coming into vogue during the 1920s and Louis built a gas outlet with two Union gas pumps in 1928.  Darryl Sheilds recalls that in her teens, his mother Florence got a job there pumping gas (in those days, the gas was actually pumped).

By the time this photo was taken in 1958, Eric Phillips Sr. had come to town and bought the corner tract of land where the two pumps stood and built a fine new BA station on the original spot.

Sadly, the Gettle children, whose dad ran the original station, had been left fatherless in 1929 when he was accidently shot by the Presbyterian minister Samuel Lundie in a hunting tragedy.

Another tragedy occurred after the Gettle incident, when A.C. McLennan, who operated a small non-prescription drugstore behind the gas pumps, lost his life in a fire there in 1945. It was soon after, in 1946, that Eric Phillips Sr. arrived and within a few years, had established a much-expanded service enterprise, still owned by the Phillips family today.

On the right hand side of the photo you can see scattered buildings, but that property also underwent change when it was bought by entrepreneur Bob Hughes, a new pool hall and bowling alley attracted dozens of bowling teams over the next couple of decades.

Today this area houses a restaurant and other businesses.

The hip-roofed building standing behind the shiny new service station in the photo is the Louis and Betty Gettle family home. After the Gettle time, it had been purchased as a family home by logging contractor Archie Manzer and later rented out to one of his truck drivers, George Pimlott.

This house was then in use by the Phillips family until about 1960, when it was relocated to Grant Road, becoming home to the Evan Haldane family.  It still stands on Grant today, though altered in style.

The Phillips family continued with renovation and expansion on the corner property and Eric Phillips Jr. and his brother Richard tell us that over the years their gas pumps have gone from BA to Gulf to Petro-Can. Since Eric Jr.’s retirement, the enterprise has been leased to another operator.

There’s an enchanting little story from Muriel (Gettle) Boyle, now living in Burnaby.  Muriel, now 93, has told us that a favourite memory of growing up in the house pictured, was lying in bed at night and listening to a fascinating sound. It was one of the Swiss cowhands working for the Glinz family, at Woodside Farm out on West Coast Road.

Muriel believes the cowhand was walking home to Woodside from an evening of pubbing, and the melodic Swiss yodeling she heard has stayed with her forever – the beautiful and haunting memory almost brings tears to her eyes.

•••

 

Elida Peers is the historian for Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

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