The Syrett family

The Syretts of Sooke River Road

Historian Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Back in the days when we ordinary working folk built houses for basic shelter, a little cottage was built on Sooke River Road which still stands today.  The cottage was home to the Syrett family, pictured here in 1937 or 1938.

Ted Syrett was a Brit who emigrated to Canada in 1910 looking for a better life. In 1914 he crossed the ocean again to serve with British Forces, and was wounded at Vimy.  He met a singer called Alice entertaining at a troop hospital and married her in 1918. Back in Canada they put a payment on four acres on Sooke River Road.

Five children were born to the couple, posed with their parents: Florence, Victor, Charlie, John and Edna. They all attended Sooke Superior School, where the boys went in for basketball. Victor, the eldest, developed a love for airplanes. Delivering papers, he earned a few dollars a month, and while contributing to his mother’s grocery budget, he also managed a few supplies to build model airplanes.

After the start of World War II, Victor wanted to enlist and joined the Royal Air Force in 1940. After training in Britain as a Flight Mechanic, working on Hurricanes, he was shipped overseas, first to Java and Sumatra. Meanwhile his sisters grew up writing to their dedicated older brother; his brother Charlie worked in carpentry in the burgeoning wartime economy and youngest brother John went on to a university education and became a professor.

A new chapter began for the Syrett house in April of 1943.  With increased activity in the region through two large Canadian Armed Forces training camps and increased traffic through a growing population, a BC Provincial Police detachment was established at Sooke. Rental accommodation at the time, however, was in short supply.

The first local BCPP ledger records the following:  “April 1st, 1943 – Constable Quinn, #793 – i/c new Sooke Detachment located in basement of Syrett home on River Road … arranged for installation of a telephone at this office.”  While this accommodation was short-term, the basement room did serve as Sooke’s first police detachment.

The story of Victor Syrett’s life was told by writer Ken Stofer in 1991; his book, entitled Dear Mum, included Victor’s letters home to his mother, until he passed away in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1943.

 

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

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

Just Posted

The long road to recovery will have a few bumps

Some things will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic, local experts say

Sooke council approves new funding for chamber of commerce

A $16,000 service agreement to be created

Sooke council delays vote on Whiffin Spit memorial wall

Sooke district council has again delayed a decision to erect a memorial… Continue reading

Peninsula farm stands open for business with COVID-19 restrictions

Growers hopeful shoppers will support local farms

Income tax deadline looming

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Asian giant “murder hornets” found in Langley, expanding range

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

Most Read