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

Deadline extended for annual writing competition

Mail-in entry format makes Victoria Writer’s Society contest perfect for the times

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Most Read