The Royal Canadian Legion in Sooke was the scene of a reunion recently when friends of Harla (Owen) Eve gathered to celebrate her life.
Sixty three years ago this photo was taken by prolific Sooke photographer Norman Rogers and some of those photographed were at the Legion event. Many knew Harla as a dedicated member of staff at the Sooke News Mirror, but they may have missed another dimension: dancing.
It all started with British war bride Marge Lindley, who when she arrived in Sooke in 1946 had quickly taken up her favorite occupation: teaching dancing. Through her skills and enthusiasm with the Sooke Dance Club, a new cultural dimension was initiated in Sooke, a culture that probably wouldn’t have existed without her.
Marge’s variety of classes and reviews over the next decade or two took place at the Sooke Community Hall. Several of the students who joined her followed in her footsteps with their own later classes, including Harla Owen, Beverley Arnet and Myrna Sullivan.
This 1959 photo shows Joan Perry, Harla Owen, Pat Ellis and Diane Clowes. Joan Perry came from Chemainus for the memorial; she spent much of her life in Dawson City running a retail grocery store with her husband, George Kerr. Pat Ellis, now Mrs. Hatch, couldn’t be here from her home in Nanaimo. Diane Clowes, daughter of another war bride, briefly visited her mother Terry’s British base, but moved back to Sooke with her husband, Mal Cummings.
While Harla was born in Comox, most of her life was spent in the Sooke area, and when I first knew her she was one of the Owen sisters who lived on the corner northeast of Sooke and Charters Roads. She had ties to Sooke’s story, as her mother was the sister of Harry Vogel, well known in our area’s logging and entrepreneurial history.
For a time before her long tenure at the Sooke News Mirror, Harla taught her classes. One of the highlights of the trip down memory lane at the Legion was when a Harla student, Lee Barwis, stood up to say how warm Harla’s dance class had been for her as she was growing. It was a chapter in Sooke’s history that brought together many fond memories.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email to [email protected].
Local historySookeWest Shore