Gerry Eddy displays a tray of freshly picked strawberries from her parents farm on Sooke River Road.

SOOKE HISTORY: Showcasing Sooke’s Farms

Strawberries once a mainstay on Sooke region farms

Never wavering in popularity, Sooke Fall Fair demonstrates the wholesome, down to earth values that have traditionally been so dear to the hearts of the people of our district.

The strawberry farm shown here in the late 1950s belonged to Arthur and Elaine MacFarlane, located just west of the Sooke River bridge.

Displaying her tray full of luscious strawberries was Gerry Eddy, eldest of the three lovely daughters of Bill and Dorothy (Doey) Eddy of Sooke River Road.

Picking berries was a handy way for young girls to earn pocket money in their high school years. Pickers were paid pennies a hallock, and 24 hallocks made up a crate. We’re not sure how many farms are growing strawberries and raspberries in the area today, but in the 1940s and 1950s they were a popular crop.

Behind Gerry in the photo, three other pickers can be seen, while Phillips Road would be at the top of the hill in the background. The museum wasn’t there in those days, but its location would be top left corner of this photo.

Another interesting difference between gardening then and now, was that deer lived in the woods at that time, and were seldom seen in village yards.

Loading up their Suburban and their pickup, heading for Saanich, Arthur and Elaine MacFarlane sold their berries to a specialty produce wholesaler, who distributed them at premium prices to selected customers. With the population Sooke has today, one could imagine they would be easily gobbled up by local customers.

One of their proudest deliveries was when they were chosen to supply visiting royalty staying at the Empress Hotel. It was in late June 1959 when Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were in Canada primarily to open the St. Lawrence Seaway, that this distinguished strawberry shortcake meal took place at the hotel.

Their berry crop was British Sovereign, and MacFarlane’s only son, Douglas, recalls that his parents were especially proud as well that the rich earth of their riverfront farm was able to produce a berry that weighed in at three quarters of a pound.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

Just Posted

Saanich resident sends distress signal over cell-phone tower

Wes Solomonson says proposed cell-tower will undermine value of his rural Saanich home

Passengers bound for Victoria say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Third Victoria person pricked by needle in past week

Police say this one appears to have been deliberately placed

Sooke swim team competes well at end-of-year meet

The Tyee Aquatic Club finished off 2017 strong, as multiple swimmers beat… Continue reading

Police in brief: Teens nabbed for pot smoking near Oak Bay cop shop

Yacht club thefts, fireworks found and wakeful arrest in Oak Bay this week

Community rallies behind Sooke boy with rare condition

Dozens called on government to cover cost of drug for six-year-old Landen Alexa

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Most Read