The saga of Sooke’s first pharmacy

It was in long ago 1957 that the first beginning of a drugstore for Sooke was initiated by Alice K. Feltus. She called her business, at the southeastern corner of Sooke Road and Murray Road, Sooke Clinic Store. (See first photo) She carried a variety of non-prescription health supplies and miscellaneous personal items. This was a welcome innovation for our semi-rural community.

  • Jan. 11, 2011 7:00 p.m.

While Jim Mitchell’s building is much changed today

It was in long ago 1957 that the first beginning of a drugstore for Sooke was initiated by Alice K. Feltus. She called her business, at the southeastern corner of Sooke Road and Murray Road, Sooke Clinic Store. (See first photo) She carried a variety of non-prescription health supplies and miscellaneous personal items. This was a welcome innovation for our semi-rural community.

The building (which still stands) was owned by Dr. Norman Goodwin, who had established a medical office next door. When prescriptions were written, they were shipped by stage into a pharmacy in Colwood, where they were filled and returned to Alice who held them for the patient in Sooke. Joe Despot was the pharmacist who purchased the business from Alice Feltus, but it wasn’t long before the pharmacy was taken over by George West.

While George was operating the drugstore as Seaview Pharmacy, he sometimes took time off and would look for a young pharmacist to fill in for his holiday time. The fledgling pharmacist that he hired was John Farmer, a Victoria boy who had just graduated from UBC. Unable to find a permanent position locally, John Farmer and his wife Cecile went to Prince Rupert where there was an opening.

As fate would have it, John and Cecile were back in Sooke again before much time had passed. George West was a sailing enthusiast and when he had an afternoon off, he would enjoy setting off in his sloop for a few hours of sailing in the basin. When he failed to return one day he was found drifting near Coopers Cove; sadly, a victim of a heart attack.

Offered the opportunity to purchase the pharmacy, John Farmer’s response was immediate, and he set about building up the Seaview Pharmacy business over the next five years. In 1971 he was ready to expand, and moved his pharmacy to the building now owned by Jim Mitchell, which had been built by Doug Brownsey in 1958. (see second photo). Readers will recognize this as the block across the street from today’s Sooke Home Hardware. For their home, John and Cecile purchased property in Otter Point, where they raised their five children.

By 1981, when Stan Eakin built the Evergreen Shopping Mall, John Farmer moved his ever-expanding business into the exciting new plaza.

As he began to carry more lines of merchandise, he moved to a larger facility within the center, where the business has remained ever since. The biggest change within the past two decades was the Farmer family’s sale to Shoppers in 1990. While the sale of Seaview took place, John and Cecile became owners of the Shoppers franchise, where John remained as pharmacist and store manager, along with son Marcus, until his retirement in April of 2009, when the franchise was sold.

While the fine new Shoppers emporium which opens this month is not under the ownership of the Farmers, still, with their eldest son Marcus managing the store and one of their daughters Dee on the pharmacy staff, it does seem a continuation of the story or at least the legacy that John Farmer, kindly pharmacist, has shared with the people of Sooke.

As residents look forward to exploring the new facility, it seems certain that there will be an enormous range of items to tempt the shopper – what a vastly different world from those long-ago days of 1957, and the band-aids and ointments that became available to us at Sooke Clinic Store!

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Sooke’s Park Watch to cease operation

People not carrying money for donation boxes led to funding shortfalls

Indigenous artist challenges people to re-assess environments with new project

The ‘Indigenous Illuminations’ transforms the ordinary into something new

Last week for first year of Oak Bay deer contraception campaign

Crew working to administer second booster to all 60 does

Downtown Victoria tea shop switches to plastic tea bags

Murchie’s Tea and Coffee says the transition is temporary

Dog memorial at Esquimalt Lagoon encourages living in the moment

Owner of Jazz the black lab sets up tennis ball memorial one year after dog’s death

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Vancouver Island’s West Coast going wild about cycling

Ongoing project will tie Tofino and Ucluelet together with a paved cycling trail

Drop, cover and hold on: Thousands of British Columbians to take part in earthquake drill

This year’s drill comes as scientists announce discovery of ‘stormquakes,’ an earthquake and hurricane

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Frustration and pride in Canada after a year of legal pot

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

Most Read