Long white gowns for a picnic or not, they still had fun. The Sooke Flats was the scene of this community picnic back in 1915.
Long before the first All Sooke Day, the salt flats alongside the Sooke River was a popular gathering place for summer activities. Both this locale and the salt flats bordering Kaltasin Road were sites where residents could gather for celebrations and sunny summer fun. In shady pockets bordering each place, there were glimpses of pink lady slippers, seablush and purple and yellow violets peeping through the greenery.
Tug-of-war competitions became serious rivalries later on, with muscular men pulling with all their might. These young ladies, however, while giving it their ladylike best, never pretended to have any brawn between them all.
Christian “Sandy” Helgesen (grandfather of Ed Helgesen of Coopers Cove Oyster plant) is the coach here. Far left on the rope, we see Jessie Phillips, youngest daughter of the Phillips farm family (she later married Rueben Acreman). Next is Violet Doran, the youngest daughter of the John and Ada Doran farm family (Sooke Way Dairy) in North Sooke, who later married Olof Frederickson, the man who carved the sleighs for the steam donkey engine yarder at the museum.
Daisy Margison is next – think Margison House (current home of Marv and Sylvia Hallgren) that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Bertha Muir is the next young lady – elder daughter of J S Muir, she married Bill Auchinachie of Duncan and raised a large family of Muir descendants. Myrtle Whittier, May Hatcher and Mary McDeavett follow, with pioneer and industrial family connections as well.
Alice Gordon (with the black hatband) is next in line. While she is probably about 20-years-of-age in this photo she is better known to viewers of Moss Cottage tours as 6-year-old Alice Gordon, daughter of “Aunt Tilly” Gordon. The “lead” on the rope is Eliza Phillips, sister to Jessie, who did not marry but kept house for her brothers in later years.
At the time, this riverside land was held by the Charters family and was purchased by Sooke Community Association in the 1930s.
Elida Peers, Historian, Sooke Region Museum