When Lorne Christensen takes the stage along side Al Bedows as one of the short historical vignettes of the Canada 150 Pageant, the two long time Sooke residents will bring alive a piece of history in a personal and compelling way.
Christensen’s great-grandfather, Capt. James Christensen, was a part of that history, and Christensen feels a deep sense of pride in the contributions that his predecessor made to early Vancouver Island.
“It’s wonderful that I’m getting a chance to play this really special man. He’s always fascinated me and the connection with the Dunsmuir family is really very interesting,” said Christensen.
“His career began when he became the captain of the schooner, Surprise, a ship he sailed around the world and one that he used when he pretty much started the seal hunt on the West Coast. It was a 55-foot sailing ship and without his contribution, that industry might never have gotten started.”
Christensen went on to tell the tale of how, after a decade long position as the HBC’s legendary vessel. the Beaver, his great-grandfather became master of the largest tug on the West Coast when he assumed command of the Lorne, a ship owned by the famous coal baron, James Dunsmuir.
“It’s that ship that my great- grandfather, and then my grandfather both captained,” said Christensen.
It’s also the ship that gave Lorne Christensen his name.
“We’ve got a little play that we’ll be doing as part of the pageant that has a meeting between Dunsmuir, who Al Bedows is playing and my great-grandfather, who I’ll be playing,” said Christensen.
“It’s going to be informative and, I hope, a little funny and entertaining.”
Elida Peers, one of the many organizers of the Canada 150 Pageant, is certain that the skit planned by Christensen and Bedows will be a hit.
“These two gentlemen have both played an important role in our community and it’s only right that they are portraying two men from the past that helped shape the community,” said Peers.
She explained it’s been over a decade since the community had it’s last pageant of this kind (the last one was in 2003) and that she felt that Canada’s sesquicentennial was a perfect time to revive the show and let people get a glimpse of the region’s rich history.
“We’ll have more than 20 little skits and I’m sure people will have a great time. It’s a real opportunity to learn about history and have a great evening of entertainment.”
The pageant takes place on Friday (Nov. 3) at 7 p.m. in the Edward Milne Community School Theatre. Tickets are $6 and are available at the Sooke Region Museum, Sooke Shoppers Drug Mart, Sooke Home Hardware and EMCS.