The District of Sooke is a largely rural municipality with a developing residential core and is the westernmost of Greater Victoria’s western communities. With a population of around 11,000, Sooke was only recently incorporated in 1999.
This sheltered harbour takes its name from the T’souke people, who prospered here because of the rich clam beds, salmon bearing river, and abundant berries and game in the forests. In the mid 1800’s the first Europeans arrived, among them Captain Walter Colqohoun Grant of the Royal Scots Greys. Feeling nostalgic for home, he brought some seeds of Scottish Broom, and now this invasive species is overtaking native habitat from Alaska to California.
The industries that established Sooke are fishing and logging, and these continue to contribute to the local economy, although on a reduced scale. Tourism plays a leading role these days, both adventure related and cultural tourism have been promoted quite successfully. Sooke boasts a vibrant arts community, and hosts the premier juried art show on Vancouver Island – the Sooke Fine Arts Show, each summer.
The commute to Victoria is not arduous and many residents have chosen to live in Sooke to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and because of significantly lower property values. Choices in housing are varied; you will find condominiums, townhomes and suburban family homes in and near the village, and hobby farms, country residential and estate properties out of town. The Sooke basin has some spectacular waterfront and waterview properties.Neighborhoods of Sooke include:
- North Sooke;
- Milne’s Landing;
- Sunriver Estates;
- Sooke Town Centre or “UpSooke”;
- Broom Hill;
- Whiffin Spit;
- Otter Point, and
- Kemp Lake
Near the town core there is municipal water available and the sewer system is under expansion. Rural properties usually rely on wells and septic systems. Sooke has a volunteer based fire department and policing is provided by the RCMP. There is a recreational facility, SEAPARC Leisure Complex that has a swimming pool and ice rink.
Typical of many smaller communities, Sooke enjoys a variety of annual events that bring residents and visitors alike together to appreciate the ambience of life in a rural town. Among these is:
Sooke Canada Day Celebrations – featuring logging sports, a canine agility demo, music and, of course, fireworks at dusk;
Sooke Fine Arts Show – a juried art show presenting the best local artists and drawing patrons from all over British Columbia, western Canada and the US;
Sooke River Bluegrass Music Festival – this family friendly festival is held each June at the Sooke River Campground;
Sooke Fall Fair – held in September at the Community Centre on Otter Point Rd, and
The Sooke Country Market – Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm mid-May through September, where you can purchase local produce, plants, bread and crafts.
People who choose to live in Sooke will find a community united in its spirit of independence and acceptance of diverse lifestyles and eccentric personalities. This has created a most interesting society which values all its members. The vibrant arts culture and adventure tourism for which Sooke is now known contribute to the atmosphere and desirability of this beautiful place.