SOOKE HISTORY: The Richard Cains’ legacy

Richard Cains, a Newfoundlander, arrived in Sooke in 1890, and from that time until this week, when his grandson Richard (Dick) Cains passed on at the age of 97, the Cains name has been a staple of our community’s history.

The photo shows the vessel Britannia, one of several boats built by Cains, as it was anchored at Goodridge Peninsula in 1942. The backdrop for the photo is the Canadian National Railway, now the Galloping Goose, on its route just a bit east of Coopers Cove.

While Richard Cains was a mariner who sailed around the Horn to reach our west coast and became a sealer, his real love was boatbuilding. In 1902 he built a 60 foot sloop called Western Slope, an event so significant in the tiny Sooke community of a few hundred souls that a school holiday was declared at her launching

In 1896 he married Margaret, one of six daughters of William Bell Charters. They raised a daughter Jessie who married Sooke farmer, Ralph Strong, and two sons, William and Kenneth, who established Sooke’s first service garage in the mid-1920s. The Cains brothers operating for half a century at a Sooke Road location that later became a welding shop for Rasmus Rabien and headquarters for Sooke Backhoe. Today this structure has been converted back, and is a four-bay service garage known as West Shack.

William Cains married Irene Arden, and raised a son Richard who earned a degree in mechanical engineering, expanding his interest beyond the garage to sawmilling and land development. He married a girl from another well-known family, Mary Stephenson (yes, sister to Sooke’s longtime fire-fighting volunteer Bill Stephenson). Those who have bought homes with a wonderful view at Mount Matheson, owe their fine subdivision location to Richard Cains the younger. One of those streets bears the name Cains Way, while another is called Western Slope.

As Richard and Mary raised three daughters, Diane, Heather and Debbie, but no sons, and as Ken and Jean Cains had one son Stanley who was childless, there is no one left to carry on the Cains name in Sooke today. In 2005 a tiny waterfront lot on Water Street was dedicated by the family to the District of Sooke, and a Heritage Shield sign honours this history.

Aboard the Britannia in this 1942 scene are Cains members, and Strongs, Lorimers, Charters, Stephensons, and Hansons, while the venerable “Poppa” Cains stands guard on shore.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

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

Just Posted

Royal BC Museum’s Woolly the Mammoth turns 40 years old

The museum is hosting a party on Jan. 26

Prices for recreational marijuana in B.C. down from a year ago

New inflation figures show gasoline, housing and certain kinds of food cost more

Literacy global phenomenon lands in Sooke

A worldwide program Free Little Library boasts more than 93,000 locations

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

B.C.-based Coulson Aviation C-130 crashes in Australia

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Island Bakery in Cobble Hill to close

Cobble Hill store in business since 1982

Man killed by police in Lytton called 911, asking to be shot: RCMP

Howard Schantz, also known as Barry Schantz was killed following a standoff at his Lytton home

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Most Read