This 9,000 inhabitant village sits on the pretty Sooke Harbour, and lies about 25 kilometres west of Colwood. The town is named after the local Indian tribe T'Soke. This is western Canada's southernmost harbour, protected from the ocean seas by narrow Whiffin Spit. In 1864, miners were dropped off here to work the gold mines on the Sooke and Leech rivers, about 16 kilometres upstream from the sea. The gold rush lasted a year with $100,000 in gold extracted from the area. Sooke continued to grow as a logging and fishing community, and hosts the All Sooke Day (third Saturday in July) which trumpets its logging heritage. The Sooke harbour is about 5 kilometres long, before the waters widen into the larger Sooke Basin. The harbour is excellent for paddling. Often fishermen sell their catches fresh from their boats.
Highway 14, also known as the Sooke Road, heads west from Victoria and takes you to some rugged Pacific shoreline along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The paved road continues to Port Renfrew which is 107 kilometres from Victoria. The attractions here are listed from east to west.
Much of the recreation in Sooke is focused on the water, on its protected harbour. The community also has an arena, a museum, and access to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, which extends from View Royal through Sooke up the Sooke River to abandoned Leechtown. Sooke also has the John Phillips Memorial Golf Club, just north of the town centre. To the south of Sooke is 1,422 hectare East Sooke Park, which has many kilometres of trails along the coast, and up to the various peaks in the park. Also close by is Roche Cove Regional Park, on the east side of the Sooke Basin.
East Sooke Regional Park
Becher Bay Rd (south of East Sooke Rd)
This large 1,422 hectare park covers some rugged terrain between the Sooke Basin and the Juan de Fuca Strait. The park has extensive old growth forests including Douglas fir, sitka spruce, shore pine and arbutus. The habitat supports extensive wildlife including bald eagles, otter, mink, and killer whales. The hills in the park rise over 270 metres above sea level and provide sweeping views of the water. There is a challenging 10 kilometre long Coast Trail, which takes you from one end of the park to the other in about 6 hours.
Galloping Goose Regional Trail
Along the route is the Galloping Goose Trail, which is Canada's first rail to trail conversion. The trail along an abandoned Canadian National Railway Line runs for 58 kilometres, with more being added each year. The trail, named for the locomotive used to carry passengers to the now-abandoned mining town of Leechtown, begins just west of the Highway 1A underpass toward Colwood and is well marked with signage.
Matheson Lake Provincial Park/Roche Cove Regional Park
Matheson Lake Park Rd (off Rocky Point Rd)
This provincial park, lies on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, and has trails through cedar groves that circle the lake, as well as fishing, canoeing and swimming on the lake. The park is connected to Roche Cove Regional Park, which is on the Sooke Basin (and accessed from Gillespie Rd, east of Sooke), and offers saltwater recreation.
Sooke Region Museum and Art Gallery
Highway 14, on Sooke side of Sooke River Bridge (14 km from Colwood)
This museum provides an interesting look at pioneer life, with costumed actors. Buildings include the Moss Cottage, and the reconstructed Sheringham Point Lighthouse. Exhibits include logging and fishing artifacts, Coast Salish items. Open year-round except Winter Mondays.
Whiffen Spit Park
Whiffen Spit Rd, just west of Sooke
This 1200 metre long spit protects Sooke's harbour from ocean seas. Vicious storms in 1983 and 1984 split the spit, preventing access to the spit during high tides. In 1989, the local community funded repairs which again made the whole spit accessible.