A local Boy Scout troop has been part of life in the community since the 1930s. This group was part of the first camp held in Sooke. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Sooke History: The first Sooke Boy Scout troop

While Sooke has always been big on youth sports, there has also been an active scouting community.

The first Scout leader for Sooke was John Ede Martin, who was born in Vancouver, and was a Scout as a youth.

After serving in the First World War I, he returned to Vancouver, married, and brought his bride, Sheila to Sooke, where he planned to farm.

In 1935 the Sooke and North Sooke Women’s Institute decided to sponsor Boy Scouts in Sooke. That was the year that founder Lord Baden-Powell came to Victoria, and Scoutmaster John Martin took his new troop to meet him at the Willows.

If you are driving on Sooke River Road, you’ll notice at the opposite side from where Meota Drive begins, a beautifully-kept farm site with a stately historic residence in the distance. Though the land is now owned by others, this is where John Martin brought his Boy Scouts in 1936 and 1937, giving them an opportunity to camp at the river, alongside Pemberton Pool.

The names of many early Sooke families are recognized here, at this first camp.

In the photo, Harold Peterson stands next to the Scoutmaster at left, then Wilfred Strong. Wilfred’s father Ralph Strong farmed the land on Church Road, growing oats where at this time, a new Jehovah’s Witness Hall stands. Pat Welsh is next, youngest son of William Welsh, who was born in 1871 in historic Moss Cottage. Pat is followed by Jim Peterson.

Dick Cains stands second from the right; Dick was a grandson of the pioneering seafaring man Richard Cains, and a son of the family that owned Cains Garage right in the middle of Sooke. He is also recognized for developing Mount Matheson in East Sooke. Charlie Syrett, far right, was a son of Ted and Alice Syrett whose little cottage on Sooke River Road still stands; he became a carpenter.

In front is Jack Peterson, followed by Stan and Len Jones. It would be hard to find twin brothers anywhere who contributed more to their community than Stan and Len Jones; strong, dedicated workers for Sooke Community Association, for sports fields, for the school district; they also built Sooke’s first mall, Cedar Grove Shopping Centre. Stan Cains, next, was cousin to Dick Cains of the garage family. Ed Pontious grew up the youngest of seven brothers on the Pontious farm on Caldwell Road. You might see his niece Judy Jay at the till in the hardware store.

The last of these fine young fellows, part of Sooke’s growing-up years, was John Syrett, youngest brother of Charlie Syrett. John became a professor at the University of British Columbia.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Museum showcases Snapshots of Canada exhibit

Photo exhibition displays ‘triumphs, failures and sacrifices’ of the nation

Legion in Langford keeps things clean with hand sanitizer donation

Legion aims to draw in new members and volunteers

Driver slapped with $483 ticket for excessive speeding in Saanich construction zone

Police traffic unit reminds drivers to slow down in McKenzie interchange

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Island Health issues Victoria overdose advisory

Health authority warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Most Read