Students at first school in East Sooke.

Students at first school in East Sooke.

The first East Sooke school

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Posed in the doorway of the first East Sooke School, this group of children appears to be dressed in their Sunday best. While the first school at Sooke was built in 1872, approximately where Caldwell Road is today, East Sooke soon followed, with a school in 1888.

This photo, taken in 1906/1907, came to us through Tod McLennan, whose mother was the teacher at the time. Tod McLennan, when I knew him many years later, was a prospector, who made his home on Grant Road in the 1960s and 1970s. Another well-known family, the Filgates, lived in that home later on.

Standing alongside Mrs. McLennan in the photo, besides her son, are Marjorie and Victoria Donaldson, from the Donaldson farm at the far end of East Sooke Road; also standing with them are two Brown family youngsters, and a Margetish youngster.

Louise Paterson, well-known to many people throughout our widespread community, is a Brown family descendant and still lives on Brown property in East Sooke. She tells us that this first school was built near the corner where the eastern loop of Seagirt Road meets East Sooke Road, facing onto the waters of Sooke Basin.

Over the years, East Sooke youngsters were also served by two other schools. One was near Anderson Cove (Caffery Bay to us locals), on the south side of the road just west of Ragley.  The final East Sooke School was on Anderson Cove Road, closing in 1949, after which the young people were bused into Sooke.

But back to this first East Sooke School, there is an anecdote about it that rather staggers the mind. We all know that schoolteachers can face many challenges in the classroom, but I’d venture to say that not many have experienced the ordeal endured by a male teacher here in the early years.

According to this account, a group of the more substantially-muscled young fellows decided to get back at their teacher for some reason by overpowering him and tying him up. As it was a Friday, the poor man was left to suffer over the weekend until his cries for help were finally heard and he was rescued.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum