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SOOKE HISTORY: Works foremen kept careful eye on projects from Port Renfrew to Happy Valley Road

Elida Peers | Contributed
Public works projects in the region came about through the many efforts of project foremen. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

The Sooke Region has been blessed over the years to have so many generous supporters.

When I thought of the kindly civil-servant friend that photocopied for us hundreds of pages of public works records from long ago, I realized that descendants of these hard-working public works foremen might like to see some of these references.

For instance, in 1929-30, Christian (Sandy) Helgesen was listed as general foreman for Esquimalt District (Sooke, Metchosin, Colwood and Port Renfrew were considered Esquimalt District in earlier times).

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Records spoke of the construction of Gillespie Road and work on the Otter Point Road to Jordan River. He also recorded construction of the Harrison Trail, three miles of trail built from Sooke River Road into the Sooke Hills in 1928-29.

In 1899, J.S. Muir was a foreman, quoting work on Sooke Road between Mugford’s Landing and Otter Point Road, where he ditched 200 yards, six inches deep on both sides of the road. E. Clark was foreman on the Otter Point Extension Road, building six culverts, a bridge 50 feet long and a bridge 112 feet long over Coal Creek (now Kirby Creek).

Also in 1899, E. Cutler was foreman on Sooke Road between Happy Valley Road and Sooke River bridge.

In 1901, Hugh Campbell was the foreman who built a new road between Muir River and schoolhouse, 2,706 feet long. (The school mentioned was Tugwell School, built in 1899 between Gordon’s Beach and Muir Creek.)

In the Metchosin Division, 1902, J. Witty was foreman from Colwood Junction to Quarantine Station. In the Highland Division, A.H. Peatt was Superintendent in 1898, and in 1901, H. Pike was foreman. Joseph Poirier, Jr, was then foreman from Sooke to Tugwell Creek, and records show made new road to Andersons, 1,900 feet and cleared out and repaired Race Course Road.

Aaron Denton White was shown as foreman from 1886 to 1901, building a trail in 1898 from Vines in Metchosin to Sooke. (Mary Vine was the district’s midwife.)

Records indicate that he built a new road of 264 feet to Brule’s place on the Sooke River (this would now be Calvert Road). It also shows “cutting fallen timber out of the Sooke River, to prevent forming a jam at Sooke Bridge.”

In Port Renfrew Foreman Charles Blackstaff put in a 66-foot corduroy road between J.J. Baird’s and the sawmill. In 1949, Muir Creek bridge was rebuilt at a cost of $31,249.19 and Tugwell Creek bridge at $9,609.09.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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