Local tour guides mark the 200th anniversary of Capt. James Cook’s original HMS Endeavour. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: When HMS Endeavour visited

Elida Peers | Contributed

The smiling faces of our local tour guides enlisted to host visitors to the replica vessel Endeavour in 1999 show Sooke’s enthusiasm for the epic round-the-world journey of the ship which marked the 200th anniversary of Capt. James Cook’s original HMS Endeavour.

The replica vessel was commanded by Capt. Chris Blake, a South African who had been commissioned for the challenge by the group that built the replica Endeavour in Fremantle, Australia.

The inclusion of Sooke in the tour came about through the T’Sou-ke Nation and Sooke Festival Society.

T’Sou-ke chief in 1999 was Jim Cooper, and it was through the support of the chief plus elders Frank and Jack Planes that the vessel was invited to visit on the last leg of its commemorative journey which had included ports in South Africa, the British Isles, and both coasts of North America.

We were delighted when the ship’s crew assured us that Sooke’s welcome, as she approached Whiffin Spit to moor at the Government Wharf, was the most memorable of their entire trip. Canoes and longboats went out to greet them.

Volunteerism was our way of life, and there was never a shortage of volunteers to help with the many celebrations held in that exciting period of our history.

This group, assembled at the government wharf after training as tour guides, is a perfect expression of the welcoming enthusiasm. More than 1,600 people stood in lines to accompany the guides as they toured the vessel, which measured 143 feet, was 30 feet in the beam and had a draught of 11 feet.

It’s a shame that we can’t remember everyone’s name in this 1999 photo by Angela Bailey, but perhaps readers can help us. Kneeling In the front row we see Barb Broster, Bill Sheppard, commander of the Coast Guard auxiliary vessel, and Bill Laurie on the right, with his son Chris.

In the centre row are Ron Barry, Joan Titus, Georgie Steele, Lorna Barry, Shirley Sutherland, Marion Laurie, Albin Johnson, Verne Moore, and Emily Whitney. At the rear we can pick out Joe Titus and Stuart Whitney. Hopefully we’ll get some calls to fill in the blanks.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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