History: Bert Mugford and the bell

Elida Peers, historian for the Sooke Region Museum, writes about the town's past

Bertram Mugford

Bertram Mugford

While today a cast iron bell has pride of place suspended over the entrance to Sooke Region Museum, in its lifetime stretching over more than 100 years, it has had two earlier careers. It was the son of a Sooke pioneer family who played a significant role in its  recent life.

Bertram Mugford was one of two sons born to R. J. and Janie Mugford who built and operated the Mugford Board and Lodging House at the corner of Sooke Road and Church Road (where the Chevron station stands today). R J Mugford, from Newfoundland, had a seafaring background and transported supplies from Victoria to Sooke by schooner.

Bert recalled that when he was a young man back from his service in the Great War, as he stood watching the construction of the Johnson Street bridge in Victoria his eye was caught by the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Estevan berthed nearby. He made up his mind on the spot; he would set a goal to become radio operator on the Estevan.  In 1924 his resolve came true and he spent the next 32 years sailing the coastal waters, as the tender carried out its federal government responsibilities.

It was when the vessel was berthed at Comox that he noticed a steam locomotive on a siding along the railway line that hauled to the wharf; it appeared to be destined for scrap. Not wasting a minute, Bert thought quickly and found a way to relieve the locomotive of its bell. What Bert had in mind was the Sooke School, and sure enough, on his next trip back home to Sooke, the big heavy clanging bell began its next career, calling pupils to class.

The Sooke Elementary School building that we see today facing Highway 14 is a replacement for the building that once mounted the old locomotive bell. When it was time for changes in the school structures, sharp-eyed workmen at the site saved the bell from the trash heap.

It was brought to the museum, a manila rope attached, and it now graces the front entrance. Today the foot-long wrought iron clapper striking the bell’s rim signals changes of tour stations as happy groups of kids gather to hear the sounds of history. It’s a special treat when a youngster gets to give it a pull.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

The Sooke Region Museum, located at  2070 Phillips Road, is operated by the Sooke Region Historical Society. The museum acquires artifacts, archival records, and historical reference material relating to Sooke and surrounding area.

The Sooke Region Museum and Visitor Centre is open throughout the year from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. with the exception of Mondays during the winter season and a brief Christmas closing.

Phone 250-642-6351 or toll free 866-888-4748

e-mail: info@sookeregionmuseum.com.

Just Posted

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Most Read