SOOKE HISTORY: Gone are the days of All Sooke Day

Annual event was the pride of the community

First started in the Great Depression as “The Progress of Sooke,” All Sooke Day turned into a featured event that became significant in the culture of Vancouver Island. (Dan Haverty - Sooke Region Museum)

First started in the Great Depression as “The Progress of Sooke,” All Sooke Day turned into a featured event that became significant in the culture of Vancouver Island. (Dan Haverty - Sooke Region Museum)

In happier times, it would have been preparations for All Sooke Day that would have occupied many minds and hands at this time of year, as the whole community geared up for the annual celebration in July.

First started in the Great Depression as “the Progress of Sooke,” the community picnic on the Sooke Flats turned into a featured event that became significant in the culture of Vancouver Island.

While started as a community get-together with races and sports beside the river, along with servings of succulent spring (chinook) salmon barbecued over open alderwood fires, plus beef buried in pits of embers in the Leechtown style, it was the championship logging sports competitions that began attracting international visitors in the thousands.

This photo, taken in 1982, by Dan Haverty, from atop one of the two, 100-foot climbing poles mounted at the Sooke Flats. While Dan himself was a novice climber, he helped ready the poles for the championship competitions, and for the dancing atop the pole, an act performed by the very daring professional climber Danny Sailer.

The climbing events were among the most popular features, as were the log birling competitions that had begun in the river and then advanced to performances in a specially constructed pool on the Flats.

Choppers and axe throwers were also renowned, and entrants in these competitions came not only from U.S. locations but from Australia and New Zealand.

From 1934 to the final All Sooke Day in 2002, this event was the pride of the community, a very special volunteer accomplishment, and many have felt its loss in the decades since.

In 1984, the Sooke Region Museum embarked on making a a movie to showcase the attraction on its 50th anniversary, with Sheila Whincup as director of the movie. When the production was completed and launched in Sooke Community Hall in 1986, it was standing room only.

While the museum is not open because of the coronavirus pandemic, when it’s back in business, those who have not seen the movie the All Sooke Day Story could obtain a video copy to enjoy the exciting replay of logger sports.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read