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SOOKE HISTORY: Sooke’s evolution from settlers to subdivisions

Today’s map illustrates one of the first substantial subdivisions of the 20th century

Elida Peers | Contributed

For decades, Sooke has seen the development of many subdivisions, with population growth increasing by leaps and bounds.

Today’s map illustrates one of the first substantial subdivisions of the 20th century. Saseenos was the name given, meaning, according to the T’Sou-ke Peoples, “Sunny Land Gently Rising from the Sea.”

Vancouver’s Franco-Canadian Company acquired land stretching from Indian Reserve No. 1, at Lazzar Road, as far east as Coopers Cove, much of it through tax sales.

After B.C. land surveyor Pemberton’s survey of Sooke District, registered in 1858, followed the Oregon Treaty in 1846, several settlers from the fur trade looked to settle here.

Many voyageurs who were affiliated with the Hudson’s Bay Company and had married women of Indigenous descent wanted to establish their homes on Vancouver Island. Despite their hard work, settler families faced tough times due to the scarcity of cash, and they had to pay land taxes every year.

Though the taxes seem very low to us, what could a settler do if there was no cash at all? They could sometimes pay off the debt by working many days for the Department of Public Works in road repairs. However, this was not always the case, and it sometimes meant the settler’s family had to forfeit their land and find somewhere else to live.

One such was the Lannan family, who lived on the waterfront at Billings Spit and farmed throughout the region. They were raising a large family of boys who attended Sooke School. When the museum started gathering history in the 1970s, we were told the family name was Lannon, so that’s the spelling we used.

Likewise, the creek which enters Sooke Basin at Parklands Road was called Lannon Creek. When the Lannan family had to leave, settling in Sidney, it was not until years later, when I attended a funeral of the last of the Lannan boys at a Sidney cemetery, that I discovered the correct spelling was Lannan.

With the Franco-Canadian tax sale properties, a new subdivision of 1,000 acres was established, with realtor Alfred Carmichael, assisted by an employee named Carlow. When my parents arrived from Norway in 1922, they purchased four acres off Parklands Road from Alfred Carmichael. As a youngster growing up in the 1930s, I remember this kindly gentleman who would come by every Christmas with a basket of goodies, including much-treasured mandarin orange.


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