Who was it that said “Women in Business” was a relatively new phenomenon? Not a bit of it, in Sooke, early in the 20th century.
Caroline Sanderson arrived here from England in 1910 with her brother Daniel. The Sooke River Road house where he raised his family still stands.
While the population numbered only in the hundreds, they were primarily a forward-thinking lot, eager to see the village become a comfortable place to make their homes and raise their families.
It wasn’t long before Caroline Sanderson met George Throup, son of Jonas Throup and Rebecca Norton, who arrived in 1868 and taken up land on the shores of Sooke harbour. The two married, and George Throup continued operating his horse stage to Victoria and ploughing his fields with oxen in the centre of the town.
Eustace Arden, who married Annie, one of Daniel Sanderson’s daughters, was operating a general store at the corner of Sooke and Murray roads when the Sheringham Point lighthouse was installed in 1912. When Eustace Arden received the posting as a lighthouse keeper, and he, Annie, and baby daughter Frances (who became Frances Sullivan) went to Sheringham, Caroline Sanderson Throup took over the business.
Throup store, which included Sooke’s post office, became a centre for the community, as folk dropped in to pick up mail and food supplies needed to be store-bought. Aunt Carrie Throup, as she was called, was right in the middle as neighbours exchanged news and gossip.
Her leadership came into play as she joined with men such as Dr. Richard Felton and realtor R.G. Mellin in planning for an Anglican church in town. The group purchased a lot on Murray Road from teamster Wesley Carscadden, who owned a block at Sooke and Murray roads. They paid $250 for the land and hired the Richardson Brothers to build the church, which rose in 1912, costing them $967 in materials and labour.
In 1913, Caroline Throup joined with Dr. Felton, realtor Mellin, John Murray and Adam Godtel in acquiring a piece of land at the corner of Sheilds Road (where the Sheilds Business Centre stands today) and building a hall for community events and meetings. This structure stood until the much larger Sooke Community Hall was built by volunteers in 1937.
Caroline and George Throup built a home at the corner where Sooke’s first traffic light was installed in 1983. Folk will recognize this building nowadays as a pet store. The beautiful rhododendron which graced their front yard can now be seen at the W.J. Stephenson Firehall.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.