Now that the longest continuously operating farm west of the Great Lakes has changed hands, we don’t expect to see a sight like this again (see photo). However, Pete Wilford is a farmer at heart and has spent most of his life on Woodside Farm, a couple of miles past downtown Sooke on West Coast Road.
Growing up among six brothers and sisters, Pete naturally helped with farm chores as a youngster, and when his dad Phil Wilford was past his youth and took up teaching, Pete took over the farming responsibility.
Woodside’s farming history began with the Scottish John and Ann Muir family in 1851, and Woodside has been a featured landmark ever since.
While the Muir family’s focus was on providing enough food to sustain their large family and the dozens of work crews employed in their industries, they also grew enough produce to send to market in Victoria via cargo canoe. The census of 1855 showed the Muirs as holding 16 horses, 41 head of cattle, 14 working oxen, 29 swine and a flock of 100 chickens.
When a Swiss couple, Arnold and Rosa Glinz, took over the farm in 1917, they concentrated on dairying. The industrious couple shipped milk in cans to a Victoria dairy and even set up their own cheese-making business. When the Glinz son Teddy grew up and married Elsa, the couple expanded the farming venture to include turkeys, and their birds became sought after by Victoria hotels.
With a Glinz and Wilford intermarriage, the Wilford family continued with the dairying and shipping milk until that industry became unworkable when they went into beef and produce, pigs and turkeys, in addition to the historic fruit trees that throve there.
Pete and his wife Jeannette Robertson raised their two daughters on the land as well, with all family members treasuring the annual hayrides.
The bull scene pictured was taken in the 1980s when Pete still had a herd of Herefords. I would treasure this photo as it shows a way of life we won’t see again.
Historian Elida Peers writes for the Sooke Region Museum.