1942 class photo shows a school class practicing a cancan dance.

1942 class photo shows a school class practicing a cancan dance.

The Cancan dancer and the Chopper

Elida Peers writes about the Hansen boys who were involved with the Sooke Community Association

Growing up on Harbourview Road in the 1930s, the Hansen boys were a tight-knit bunch. Walking three miles to Sooke Superior School and general household wood chopping chores got them in shape for the active lives they pursued as adults. The boys, Lloyd, Peter, twins Norman and Arnold, the youngest Gerhart and little sister Irene were the children of Norwegian immigrants Sverre and Dagny Hansen.

Their dad Sverre came to Canada in the 1920s along with Herman who settled on Parklands Road. The senior Hansen brothers were fallers and got jobs with Elder Logging  at Muir Creek.

This 1942 photo shows a school class of boys practicing a cancan dance skit for a concert; Pete Hansen is second from right. The 1975 inset shows Canadian Chopping titleholder Gerhart Hansen leaving for Australia with the Canadian team.

While Lloyd, Pete, Arnold and Gerhart followed the family footsteps and went into falling, brother Norman became a City of Victoria police officer.  While Gerhart maintained his chopping skills he also became a fisherman, trolling for salmon. Arnold was featured in a Toronto Star article in 1982 that highlighted Sooke’s volunteer activities, especially the loggers of All Sooke Day and Sooke Community Association, suggesting that Sooke was Canada’s volunteer capital.

The eldest, Lloyd, earned a different claim to fame. Still a teenager in the 1940s he was written up in the Victoria Times for having come to the rescue of a woman in distress. It seemed that a Saseenos neighbor mother-to-be found herself giving birth suddenly and Lloyd Hansen was called in to help. Unexpected as it was, Lloyd had performed the duties of midwife so well that mother and baby survived and the event hit the news.

While he was a volunteer firefighter and served as chief, one of the biggest contributions Gerhart made to his community was his 50 year commitment to the Sooke Community Association. He has been a director, president, and volunteer for all those years, besides being a competitor in the logging sports, excelling at swinging an axe and power saw bucking. Working right alongside Gerhart for All Sooke Day was his wife Betty, logging sports organizer, and their two daughters.

One of the highlights of the amateur video to be shown at the Sooke Community Hall 75th anniversary celebration on April 28, however, will be brother Pete. Who knew he had such public entertainment skills, as when he demonstrated the cancan skit he performed at school?  “When I wore a Tulip…”

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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