Members of the Juan de Fuca Historical Society members at the B.C. Forest Museum in 1965. (Sooke Region Museum)

SOOKE HISTORY: Pioneers, the roots of a community

Before the Sooke Region Historical Society, which was formed in 1974 to operate the museum planned by the Sooke Lions Club, there was another history group, called the Juan de Fuca Historical Society.

The group was exploring ideas for the possibility of a future museum, and some of their members are shown here on an excursion to Duncan in 1965 to visit the B.C. Forest Museum.

Posed are Byron Johnson, Phyllis Johnson, Olof Frederickson, Violet Frederickson, and next, two ladies I did not know: Mrs. Hampton and Mrs. Bethell, then Anna Hanson, Herman Hanson, and Margaret Perron.

Holding his hat at left is Icelander Byron Johnson, the pioneer logger who built the suspension bridge that once traversed the Sooke River. Byron was a cousin of the onetime premier of B.C. Byron “Boss” Johnson. His wife, Phyllis was matron at the small hospital at Lytton, and after she married Byron, she became an active force in Sooke. She spearheaded the fund drive for the Elderly Citizens Housing Society, enabling the purchase of the property that houses the Ayre Manor Campus of Care today.

Olof Frederickson, a Swede, married Violet Doran, whose pioneering family ran the Sooke Way Dairy at North Sooke. Olof was the man whose axe shaped the donkey sleighs supporting the old Phillips donkey when it was restored at the Sooke Region Museum.

Today, if you glance at the corner of Phillips Road you may see Ray and Wally Vowles shaping the new sleighs being prepared for the new steam donkey exhibit.

Third from the right is Anna Hanson, a Swedish lady who married Norwegian Herman Hanson, who worked many years as a faller for Elder Logging at Muir Creek. The Hansons also operated a poultry farm on Parklands Road, still productive today, though under different management. Their son Hank became head of Western Forest Products, and now 90, never forgetting his roots, he still comes from West Vancouver to visit Sooke.

Margaret Perron, far right, grew up Margaret Anderson at the historic Malahat Farm near Muir Creek. She married Percy Clark of Shirley and when widowed with seven children, this hard-working mother still managed to raise her family. Widowed again, she remained active in her community. She left many well-known descendants; some of them who come to mind are Elinor McClimon, Karen Brooks, Doni Eve and Laurie Szadkowski.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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