The Arnets

The Arnets

The Arnets of Tofino

Historian Elida Peers writes about the past in the Sooke region

When Les Eve asked on the phone if I’d noticed the obituary for Edgar Arnet of Tofino, both of us were thinking of the years the Arnet family members spent in Sooke.  It was in the closing years of World War II that we all got to know Edgar and his sister Beverly when we were going to school together, first at Sooke and then at Milnes Landing High.

Jacob Arnet was the patriarch; born in Trondheim, Norway, he fished with his father in the Lofoten Islands and as a young immigrant pre-empted a homestead in Tofino in 1893. His sweetheart travelled out to join him and the couple raised six stalwart sons and a daughter. All of the sons, Edgar, Harold, Karl, Bjarne, Trygve and Walter became well-known fishermen, and four became officers in the Fishermen’s Naval Reserve during World War II.

As there were no canneries on the coast when Jacob Arnet started fishing, the fish had to be salted down in barrels, which the family made themselves. The nets they used for seining, and cedar floats, were also fashioned by their own hands. The Arnets were recognized as one of the leading fishing families of the BC coast, and until the road to Tofino was opened in 1959, they operated in a relatively remote area, packing their fish to Vancouver markets. The second generation Arnets owned several boats, fishing primarily for halibut, besides salmon seining.

Brothers Bjarne and Trygve were the men I had the opportunity to meet, (from afar only, I was just a little girl) as the two had married sisters, the daughters of Vancouver Island historian and entrepreneur Major George Nicholson. The two vivacious Nicholson girls had attended school in Sooke years earlier when their dad was a businessman here (think of the Belvedere Hotel) so it was a bit of old home town for them.

Bjarne and Bonnie Arnet set up a home on Sooke Road (later sold in the mid-1950s to the Jim Owen family) and their two children Edgar and Bev joined the school and social scene. Trygve and Gretel Arnet made their home in Vic West, and their daughter Lorraine went to Vic High, at the same time as Sooke’s own Pat Forrest was attending there.  Pat, who has spent his lifetime fishing, says that the two Arnet brothers that he got to know well, Bjarne and Trygve, were among the finest men he ever met.

When Beverly Arnet finished school she became a dance teacher, with reviews and performances held at Sooke Community Hall. She married the son of an old Sooke family, Nelson Cook, and the couple left Sooke for Nelson’s work up-island. While Edgar moved back to the old family haunts of Tofino, and Beverly Cook lives there today, the Arnet chapter of Sooke’s history added a bit of dash and glamour for us all.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seattle Mariners field coordinator Carson Vitale before a game at T-Mobile Park during the 2020 season. Vitale, who grew up in Victoria, has pledged to run 10 miles a day for 2021 and to donate 50 cents per mile to the United Way of King County. (Ben Van Houten/Seattle Mariners)
Mariners coach running 10 miles a day for United Way

Saanich-raised Carson Vitale, Seattle Mariners field coordinator, plans to run 3,650 miles in 2021

Gordon English, construction manager of the Habitat for Humanity project in North Saanich, shows off the current interior of a townhouse part of the affordable housing project. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Families set to move in to affordable housing project in North Saanich by spring

Pending completion of Habitat for Humanity project comes against backdrop of new housing report

A rainbow graces the departure of CCGS John Cabot as it leaves Victoria Jan. 7. (Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)
Follow a coast guard ship’s trip from Victoria to Halifax, through Panama Canal

Canadian Coast Guard Ship John Cabot left for St. Johns on Jan. 7

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Dr. Shannon Waters, the medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley Region, is reminding people to stay the course with COVID-19 measures. (File photo)
‘Stay the course’ with COVID measures, Island Health reminds

Limit social activity, wash hands, wear a mask, and isolate if you feel sick

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
BCAFN condems racism against Cowichan Tribes after COVID-19 outbreak

“Any one of us could do everything right and still catch the virus”: Regional Chief Terry Teegee.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read