The Sooke Knox Presbyterian Church Choir in 1962. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

The Sooke Knox Presbyterian Church Choir in 1962. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

SOOKE HISTORY: Social activities once centred around Presbyterian church choir

The original Knox Presbyterian was the first church built in Sooke

Elida Peers | Contributed

The recent impressive and massive housing development at the corner of Church Road and Wadams Way, adjacent to Knox Presbyterian Church, seems to overshadow the stature and significance that the church once held in Sooke’s cultural life.

This photograph was taken in Knox Presbyterian Church in 1962. While there are certainly still active churches in Sooke today, it appears that the church-going population forms a smaller proportion of the total population than was the case 50 years ago.

The Presbyterian Church Choir was a leader among the social activities of that time, as evidenced by the members in this photo.

Standing at the back are Dr. Grattan Roberts, Ross Pitre; Rev. Alan Beaton, Joseph Jackman, Henk Van Ek, and Eric Butler. In the centre row are Edith McLeod (of Wells O’ Weary), Hazel Shepherd, wife of Lion Ken Shepherd, Doris Burrough, Mrs. Fairweather, Sheila Gallant, who became Mrs. Jim Geskell, Lynda Sullivan, who we all know as Mrs. Lorne Fisk, Dianna Clark, who we know as Mrs. Lanny Seaton, and Christine Clark, who became Mrs. Vanzetta.

Seated in front are Kate Jackman, Mary Pitre, Anka Van Ek, who became Mrs. Wayne Hull, and the church organist and choir leader, Mr. S. McDowell. Next is Joyce Clark, who became Mrs. Barwis, Judy Billan, who became Mrs. Ross Musfelt, and Jean Clark, wife of Ed Clark and mother of Bob and Glenn Bullen.

When I spoke with Lynda Fisk about the photo, she recalled: “After choir, I would have to walk out in bare feet; I used to slip my shoes off during the singing, and the two men standing behind me, Henk Van Ek and Eric Butler, would steal my shoes and then laugh their heads off as I had to walk out barefoot.”

The original Knox Presbyterian Church was the first church built in Sooke, in 1898, a predecessor to the structure shown, and served until 1956 when that structure was moved to Throup Road, where it continues to serve as the Masonic Hall.

The church built in 1956 continues to serve today, standing alongside the historic stones in the old churchyard established 120 years ago.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.