Sooke is a village named after the T'Sou-ke Nation, a Coast Salish band that lived off the land and bountiful sea produce of the area. The name T'sou-ke is said to be that of a stickleback fish found at the mouth of the Sooke River.
In the early 1860s, gold-rush fever hit the area when a few precious nuggets were found inland at the confluence of the Sooke, Leech and Wolf rivers. A town of 3,000 sprang up but quickly waned as the gold finds were sparse.
In June, 1990, Sooke celebrated the bi-centennial of the first European contact in these waters made by the Spaniards in 1790. A statue of Spanish commander Manuel Quimper was unveiled on a grassy point at the start of the Whiffin Spit breakwater and is a favorite spot for photographers.
Sooke is located 38 km (24 mi) west of Victoria, a 40-minute drive along Highway 14. It is the start of the gateway to the scenic West Coast Road (Highway 14), which winds 70 km (44 mi) along the coast to Port Renfrew.
The Sooke Visitor Centre shares a log building with the Sooke Region Museum. Guided tours are available of Moss Cottage, an 1870-era working class home relocated to the museum's grounds from the pioneering Muir family farm (known as Woodside and still standing in the 7100 block of the West Side Road across from Sooke Baptist Church), and a unique viewing opportunity from a heritage lighthouse brought here in 2005 from Triangle Island off the fierce northern tip of Vancouver Island (entry point to the infamous shipwreck alley known as the "graveyard of the Pacific" that extends into local waters). It's a sister to the dramatic lighthouses at nearby Sheringham Point and Race Rocks.
Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery was licensed as British Columbia's first Meadery in 2003. The combination of 43 years of beekeeping experience and over 25 years of mead making experience bring a unique and educational culinary experience to each visitor to the tasting room. Award winning Meads (honey wines) reflect harmony and balance by blending varietal honeys and berries from our local region.
West Coast wilderness awaits you at East Sooke Regional Park. Experience it as you hike along the windswept rocky coast, over dry hilltops, through dark rainforest to sheltered coves. Features include: 50 kilometres of trails through forest, marsh and field; challenging 10 kilometre Coast Trail; pocket beaches, rocky bays and tide pools for exploring and scuba diving; spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic Mountains.
Sooke Potholes Regional Park is located on the banks of the spectacular Sooke River. You can picnic or swim at the river, explore the short forest trails or enjoy the stunning vistas from one of several viewpoints. The "potholes" are unique geological formations - deep pools in the river rock - that offer some of the best freshwater swimming in the region. The Sooke River is the second largest on southern Vancouver Island and home to a productive salmon run every fall.
The best salt water fishing can be found just outside Sooke Harbour and around the Port Renfrew area in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Salmon are plentiful all year round, particularly in the Sooke area for winter fishing. Also available is excellent bottom fishing - large halibut, ling cod and rock fish. Dungeness crab are also plentiful in Sooke Harbour and crab traps can be purchased or rented. While you're on the water, keep your eyes wide open for eagles, seals, dolphins, Orcas and waterfowl. Charter fishers are available. Fresh water fishing in Sooke and the surrounding area is excellent. With a professional guide or without one, you can enjoy fly and drift fishing for salmon, cutthroat trout, steelhead, rainbow and brown trout on the Cowichan and Sooke Rivers. If you prefer lake fishing, try nearby lakes where there's cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout as well as yellow perch and bass.
Golfers can tee off at the 9-hole par 64 public John Phillips Memorial Golf Course in Sooke. Other courses in nearby Victoria include the 9-hole par 75 Metchosin Golf Course, the 18-hole par 72 Olympic View Golf Club, and the Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club with two 18-hole championship Nicklaus-designed courses.
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail begins at China Beach and continues a tough but accessible 47 km (29 mi) hike along shoreline and through forest to Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew. This ambitious trail has been open since 1995 and is intended to be an alternative to the increasingly popular West Coast Trail. The Kludahk Forest Recreation Trail runs along San Juan Ridge for 30 km (18 mi). The trailheads are located at the western terminus of the Galloping Goose Trail in Sooke and at Parkinson Creek Provincial Park on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail east of Port Renfrew. The trail, much of which is composed of former logging roads, follows San Juan Ridge through the Jordan Meadows in a subalpine region dense with avalanche lilies in springtime and four varieties of blueberries later in the summer. There are also trails in East Sooke Regional Park.
If you have ever wanted to fly or overcome your fear of heights while soaring over a majestic West coast forest then try ziplining. Adrena Line Zipline Adventure Tours, offer people the chance to experience an exhilarating ride up to 60km/hr on eight scenic ziplines ranging from 150 feet to an unforgettable 1000 feet.
The Sooke region is a year-round haven for Island artists, artisans and crafts-people. Enjoy the creativity of our many artists through galleries, arts & craft studios, music, plays, concerts, festivals, workshops, lectures, events and tours. Examples of the varied works of Vancouver Island artists and crafts-people include: canvas paintings, abstract drawings, screen and printmaking, decorative painted gifts and furniture, sculpture, preserved foliage and flowers of British Columbia's Pacific Coast, felt making, pottery, and Vancouver Island West Coast First Nations Culture in the form of traditional artwork and carvings.
Sooke Region Tourism Association
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia