Velma Jessiman points to her grandfather

Telling tales of the way it was

Circle of Sharing: an afternoon of farm stories

Blackberries growing through one window and out another, no running water or bathroom and a leaky roof on the house at Seaside Farm didn’t make the prospect of farming very appealing back in 1951. This story and many others will be told on March 13, when local storytellers tell their tales at the Charters River Interpretive Centre.

An informal afternoon dedicated to the telling of stories on early farming and agriculture was an idea hatched by Phoebe Dunbar, the Sooke Food CHI, Sandy Reber and the Sooke Region Museum.

“It’s a chance to hear the stories people never hear,” said Elida Peers, historian for the Sooke Region Historical Society. “We’re so pleased these women asked us to do this, I think it will  be tremendous fun.”

A new back-to-the-land movement is growing along with an interest in the old ways.

Stories from all areas of the Sooke region will be told and, to date, 10 speakers have agreed to speak at the informal event.

Farming was a way of life for residents in the Sooke region up until recent times, back then they didn’t have the luxury of supermarkets or coffeeshops. Life was one built upon the earth they farmed and the animals they raised.

Velma Jessiman, a descendant of the pioneer Poirier family will relate some of her memories of the life the family lived at their farm at Kemp Lake.

She is still living on the property pre-empted so long ago by her great grandfather. She remembers large gardens planted in potatoes and carrots by her grandparents. She said she rode the horse many times to keep them in the rows when they were being furrowed. Wheat was grown and shipped to Scott & Peden in Victoria for milling and sheep sold to butchers.

They were self sufficient and capable and Velma had a garden up until last year. Now that tradition is carried on by her two sons. Then, like now, it is a matter of doing for yourself that which you can do.

Those coming to the afternoon event (2 to 5 p.m.) can hear stories from such local characters as Maywell Wickhein, Peter Wilford, Louse Brown Paterson and Elinor Eve as well as others. Tea at two, program starts at 2:30 p.m.

The Charters River Interpretive Centre is located at 2895 Sooke River Road at the creek bridge just before the Sooke Potholes.

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