Barbecuing salmon at All Sooke Day is only one of the ways that Sooke people remember Pete Pedneault. Another recollection of a fellow woodsworker goes like this, “When we’d have mechanical trouble, I was sure glad when Pete would come along because he could monkey-wrench anything and get it going.”
Pete was born in Manitoba in 1912, the eighth of 10 children of Alfred and Emma Pedneault. He was but a babe-in-arms when the family moved to Victoria, where they lived on Wilson Street in Vic West.
The children rode the streetcar across the bridge and uptown to attend St. Louis College to receive a catholic education. Pete recalled that after school he would be dispatched with a Thermos of tea to the Gorge Vale Golf Course area where his dad was a contractor clearing the land.
In the late 1920s Pete was working with his dad and older brothers Joe and Louis cutting cordwood around Sooke Harbour. The wood was loaded on a barge at Whiffin Spit and towed to a pulp mill in Port Angeles.
The Pedneault brothers also ran their gas donkey for Yat Fine when he was logging up Mt. Shepherd Road, and then logged on the Invermuir property in Shirley.
During the 1930s, operating as Pioneer Logging Company, the Pedneaults began truck logging timber at point No Point. Pete was loading engineer, working with head loader Ivan French and hook tender Ken Shepherd. Ed and Albert Robinson and Charlie and Andy Davidson were falling for them, while Art Pedneault and Ted Banner were both driving trucks at the time.
As markets were poor then, Pete recalled that they had to sell some of their logs to Sweeney’s Cooperage in Victoria for barrel making.
In the late 1930s several of the Pedneault brothers — including Pete — operated successful gold claims in Zeballos.
Pete returned to the Shirley area where he started working for Elder Logging, married, and set up a home west of French Beach. He and his wife Myrtle raised a daughter (Patsy) who attended classes first at Shirley and Muir Creek schools, then on to Milne’s Landing high school.
Later on, in 1970, Pete married Rossine Musfelt, moved in to Sooke and worked in the woods for Butler Brothers for many years. It was during this time that a memorable experience occurred at the waterfront booming ground at Butlers.
A fellow worker — boomman Jim Cooper — lost his arm in winching machinery. Pete’s quick action was credited with saving Jim’s life as he used his own suspenders to stop the bleeding.
Pete enjoyed community activities and was particularly sought after by the Sooke Loggers Club who asked him to barbecue salmon for the contestant’s supper after each All Sooke Day. His special secret recipe for a brown sugar marinade is one of the legacies he handed down to his family.
When daughter Pat was an avid softball team member during her 1950s high school years, he designed an interesting method for watering down the playing fields by building a watering arm extending from his pickup as he drove across the field.
When Pete retired in 1977, it gave him the opportunity to indulge his love of boats and fishing. He owned a series of boats, and particularly enjoyed cruising the Strait with Rossine in his 26-foot cabin cruiser, “Whata-Gal.”
Another past time he particularly treasured was gardening. In his backyard greenhouse he specialized in grapes, tomatoes and cucumbers.
As his heath declined in recent years, frequent visits from his and Rossine’s 16 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren continued to bring him special joy.
Fond of dogs, Pete especially enjoyed the companionship at this time of his Rottweiler Cleo.
Pete Pedneault passed away Nov. 23. A service was held at Sands Chapel in Colwood. He leaves wife Rossine, daughter Pat Brooks (Mervin) stepsons Ross and Joe Musfelt, daughter-in-law Carol Musfelt, brother Art Pedneault (Ida) grandchildren, great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.