“Sooke Lock-Up” was the title of a 1946 notice to contractors advertised in the Daily Colonist, inviting tenders to the Minister of Public Works by noon September 9, 1946.
Real estate transaction records from the estate of Alfred Carmichael show that Lot 7, Block 1, Plan 5855, at the corner of Sooke Road and Drennan, had been purchased that year for $400.00 from the holdings of Arthur MacFarlane. The successful (and only) tender was McKinty and Sons of Victoria, who submitted a bid of $19,100. Additional accounts indicate the cost rose to $25,000.
First occupant in 1948 was Constable Allan Quinn of the BC Provincial Police who had initially arrived in April 1943, the first resident officer-in-charge to serve Sooke. He had occupied various rental accommodations prior to the new structure which included a police office, courtroom, two cells, and six rooms for use of the officer’s family. His wife and daughters Winona and Brenda-Jean shared this new home with him.
Officers-in-charge who came after Quinn, up until the new Sooke Detachment was built on Church Road in 1993, were Cst Matheson, Cst Humphreys, Cst Knight, Cst Eastman, Corp Dempsey, Corp McKay, Sgt Troiano, Sgt Rehman, Sgt Miller, Sgt Ferguson, Sgt Baker, Sgt Johnston and Sgt Watson.
While each of these men made their mark on the community’s history, one of the longest serving was Lew Dempsey, who had joined the BC Provincial Police in 1949 changing to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police when the takeover came in 1950.
When the Dempseys arrived in 1961 Lew was a Corporal, the lone officer from Port Renfrew to Colwood, his duties extending into 24 hours a day. In those days the officer’s wife often acted as staff (unpaid) as well. I can recall Lew’s wife Ioline saying that when Lew was detained out on police business through the night, she could not relax and go to bed, so she lay with a blanket on the kitchen floor waiting for him to come back safely. While the Dempseys were here, the detachment expanded to three members and when Lew left for his new position, he was a Sergeant.
By the time the new Church Road RCMP detachment was opened in 1993 the complement had increased to 11 officers and two office staff. Still with us in Sooke today is Jean Kellner who ran the office and mothered the men from 1974 to her retirement in 1995. In recent years this building has been a private residence and a B & B.
Sooke Region Museum