1912 – 2012 –
Elegant and substantial when it was built as a family home 100 years ago, Margison House remains both elegant and substantial today.
Could businessman John Yeats Margison have possibly envisioned 100 years ago that the home he meant for his family’s enjoyment in the centre of the quiet village of Sooke would remain central to Sooke’s core development a century later?
The 1912 photo shows the house under construction by the Richardson brothers, recently arrived from England. Screened from Highway 14 by large Douglas firs, the house has an atmosphere of quiet seclusion, almost an oasis, a feature that has been appreciated by its residents over the years.
Its tradition of occupancy by successful business families was begun by realtor Margison, who raised his five children there before relocating to San Diego, California in 1918. Purchased by the Milligans who operated a logging enterprise further west, for a few years the house was rented out, tenants including businessman James Wilham who operated the Red & White Store at the north-east corner of Sooke and Church Roads (the stucco building still stands).
For the next two decades another local business entrepreneur, Fred Thornber and his wife Elsie owned the house. Subsequent owners were pole contractor Eric Bernard and his wife Marjorie, followed by Frank Ellis who ran a tearoom there.
After the Second World War, more expansion took place in Sooke, with businessman Bob Gibson from the prairies acquiring the historic store at the north-west corner of Sooke and Otter Point Roads, turning it into Gibsons Shopping Centre. Bob and his wife Julie made their home in the Margison House, selling in 1968 to Alan “Bud” Smith and his wife Clare. Bud was superintendent at the busy Sooke Forest Products Sawmill on Goodridge peninsula. As the Smiths had a large family, they particularly enjoyed the spacious gardens and tennis courts.
Current owners of the house are Marvin and Sylvia Hallgren, who have not only raised their family in the spacious home but for a time used it for business purposes as well, with Sylvia hosting the elegant Margison Teahouse, and Marvin conducting his law practice across the hallway. Nowadays Sylvia is able to devote herself more to her two passions, her grandchildren and her art, while Marv’s law office has moved down the street.
Sooke Region Museum