The three Richardson wives are seen here with neighbours at Whiffin Spit. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Richardsons helped Sooke grow

Three brothers moved here in 2011

Elida Peers | Contributed

Three Richardson brothers arrived here in Sooke from Britain in May 1911, accompanied by their new brides. The six walked 15 miles from Goldstream to reach Sooke, and spent their first night at the Mugford Boarding House.

The next day they saw the five acres they had purchased bought near the base of Whiffin Spit, where they set up tents. Their arrival was propitious, as the area was experiencing a land boom.

The three wives are seen here at their Whiffin Spit campsite, along with neighbours across the water on the East Sooke side, the Donaldsons, who’d rowed across the water to offer support. Mrs. Donaldson is at the left with her son Alex, standing, and the ladies are May, wife of Harry, Flo, wife of Charlie, and Emmie, wife of Vernon.

The Richardson brothers were sons of a Leicestershire shopkeeper. Harry was a trained carpenter, while Vernon and Charlie were quick to learn, taking odd jobs throughout the village at first.

Structures built by the Richardson brothers included Ragley in East Sooke, Margison House on Sooke Road and Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Murray Road.

While initially shocked at their surroundings, the women learned to cook on a stove made from an oil can with holes punched in the sides and filled with fir cones. Daily they walked the trail to the Muir farm (Woodside) where they bought eggs and milk. Sometimes they were given ducks shot on the Spit, but the women found them fishy.

A four way traffic signal sends its beam today approximately where Charlie Richardson built his building supplies store at what was then the foot of Church Road. Further down the hill stood a fine home built by Harry before he went back to England to enlist – he did not return from the war – now we see the Mariner complex established in this area.

Vernon Richardson and his wife Emmie built on Church Road; their stuccoed house still stands today, just about where Wadams Way meets Church Road. Among Vernon and Emmie’s family of four, their son Frank was the best known; a community-minded person, he took on many roles to serve the community in addition to running the store begun by his uncle Charlie.

Considering the importance of the Richardson contribution to Sooke’s development in earlier years, it’s a surprise that there’s no road named for the family. Perhaps a future developer might want to consider using the Richardson name.

•••

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

Playgrounds reopen in Sooke

The move comes two months after facilities were shut down during the height of COVID-19 pandemic

Sooke food security initiative grows local interest

Around 30 grow-at-home kits handed out to Sooke residents

Sooke Food Bank takes steps towards ‘new norm’

Need for Sooke Food Bank nearly doubles since beginning of pandemic

Accessibility for disabled still an issue in Sooke

Room for improvement, says councillor

B.C. Conservation kills bear in Langford amid growing problem of habituation

Officer demands garbage lockdown for residents in bear territory

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Most Read