Home & Land – September 2015 Issue

Island Living
Sooke & Metchosin – Where The Coast Is Clear

With a landmass of slightly more than thirty-two thousand square kilometers, Vancouver Island has no shortage of areas to explore. For those considering making the move to western Canada, this means a number of communities to choose from when searching for a place to call home.

About an hour’s drive from Victoria, along the scenic southern tip of Vancouver Island’s weathered coastline is the region of Sooke. Known as the gateway to the west coast, it includes East Sooke and the District of Sooke, which are joined by the Sooke Harbour and Basin. Whiffin Spit — a naturally formed sandbar of sorts that fans out across from the harbour – marks one’s passage into this 11,000-plus strong community. This elegant neck of land is, in fact, what protects Sooke basin from breakers coming in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and has become an unlikely, if not unusually beautiful, mascot for the seaside community.

Considered a temperate rainforest, Sooke boasts one of the most pleasant climates in Canada with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Reflected in activities such as fishing and whale-watching that are easily accessible to its residents, water sports top the weekend to-do list. Those who prefer their water wading height can enjoy seaweed tours and the famous Sooke potholes (a string of polished rock pools and potholes that create natural thermal baths in the bedrock of the Sooke River) in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. Alongside these outdoor activities, Sooke’s arts and culture scene thrives. Numerous artist collectives can be found here together with the annual Fine Art Show – widely recognized as one of the top in Western Canada. Music lovers will enjoy the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as local choirs that perform regularly.

In 2013, the Sooke Region was designated an official Age-Friendly Community. As its title suggests, Sooke has worked hard towards a goal of being a community where all ages are respected and supported. Its plan includes community support and outreach for seniors, and an emphasis on equal health care. Despite a growing number of young families in the area, those over 55 make up a greater share of the population and will continue to inform the direction in which this community develops and flourish.

Not far from Sooke, on the outskirts of Victoria, the region of Metchosin is another flourishing neighborhood. With a population of just under 5,000, it is a largely rural region with miles of farmland and old-growth forests bordered on the south by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A slowly growing community of around 5,000 residents, Metchosin shares a mild climate with its neighbour. Here, a large majority of residents operate small farms or enjoy retirement in their bucolic surroundings.

With its alpine setting and lower-lying areas such as Happy Valley, Metchosin is a virtual tour de force of nature. Mount Matheson ascends from Matheson Lake in the southwest and a number of extraordinary natural destinations including Albert Head Lagoon, Matheson Lake, and Metchosin Golf Course and Green Acres Golf Course and Driving Range round out the offerings. Known for its national parks, Metchosin is rightly proud of its extremely well maintained trails and parks.

Home to Lester B. Pearson College, one of only thirteen United World Colleges around the world (and named after former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson), it is also home to the renowned Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts. Excelling in its educational facilities, Metchosin also claims fame as the home to the Albert Head Air Cadet Summer Training Centre: the main training facility for the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in BC.

Whether for their much-loved natural assets or strong sense of community, both Sooke and Metchosin remain unique areas that deserve to be explored by those seeking a new and distinctive home base.

Volume 9, Issue 12 – September/October 2015