The incorporation of Sooke did not happen overnight – it was a process that spanned 36 years.
Now that the District of Sooke has been incorporated for 20 years, it might be appropriate to look at the incorporation study group, pictured, in 1998.
This group met before the referendum that brought the incorporation vote to the people of Sooke for a YES result on June 12, 1999.
While several incorporation studies had taken place over the years, beginning with the first study in 1963, none reached this conclusion.
This photo, taken in the Sooke Community Hall, shows, standing: Geoff Barnett, Ellen Lewers, George OBriain, Lori Messer, Michael Dick, Patricia Hunter, and Lynn Wang, employed as recording secretary.
Seated are, Stan Eaken, Dwight Johnston, Gerry Van Ek, chair Ed Macgregor, Wendal Milne and Ron Dumont. According to the meeting minutes, two members, Dr. Norris Rich and Howard Elder, were absent.
Another incorporation meeting photo that we came across, of a meeting held at the CRD Room that once existed in the Evergreen Centre, shows the inclusion of Diane Bernard, Hubert Rhodes, Rev. Les Barclay and John Stephens.
Once the decision was taken, the vote to elect the first mayor and six councilors took place on Nov. 20th, 1999. In the mayoral race, Don Rittaler, whose count was 1,058 votes, was defeated by Ed Macgregor, who amassed 1,954 votes.
Twenty-two candidates were interested in serving as councillor. In the final count, the polls were led by John Farmer, followed by the five who became his fellow councillors: Lorna Barry, Jeff Stewart, Janet Evans, Marcus Farmer and Ron Dumont.
A candidate who did not make it that year was George OBriain, though he was later elected and served on a following council.
The other candidates who offered themselves but were not successful in their goal of serving on Sooke’s first municipal council were: Marilyn Andreychuck, Judith Burke, Harry Connor, Bill Dixon, Len Jones, Al Jones, Ellen Lewers, Doug Lumb, Jim Merrill, Jim Mitchell, Tony Searle, Mike Swinburnson, Bob Sykes, Gail Welsford and Patricia Zogar.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.