The display at Knox Presbyterian Church marking the deatgh of Queen Victoria in 1901. (Contributed - Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke History: Settlers took the passing of Queen Victoria to heart

Former monarch died in January 1901

Elida Peers | Contributed

Because our history is so connected to the city of Victoria, and because our Victoria Day holiday was originally set as May 24 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s birthday, we found it interesting to come across this photo. A small village of only a few hundred settlers alongside the T’Sou-ke people was Sooke in 1901, but it seems that the immigrants took the passing of Queen Victoria to their hearts.

Knox Presbyterian Church, our first actual church building, was opened in 1898, and it served as a gathering place for the devout, many of whom had ties to the British Isles.

Queen Victoria was recognized as Britain’s longest reigning monarch, from June 1837 to January 1901, until the recent decades when of course, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch, with 70 years.

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Queen Victoria to the test

This exhibit photographed within the church included a floral-framed photo of the Queen, bordered by floral wreaths. The background fabric appears to be velvet. When you drive up Church Road today and see the Presbyterian Church alongside the new housing development, you’d be looking at the second church, which was built on the same site as the original in 1955.

The first church building, of which we see an interior glimpse here, had served its time after half a century; it was dismantled, and the lumber was used to erect a new structure for group meetings on Throup Road.

For some time now, the re-located old structure has housed meetings for the Masonic Lodge, the Order of the Eastern Star, and more.

While we do not have information on whether there was any public event here to mark the historic passing of Queen Victoria’s reign in this outpost of the empire, I personally found this display quite remarkable. Considering that goods bought in Victoria must be delivered by horse stage, this commemoration might almost have been termed lavish for a remote pioneer community.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email

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