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SOOKE HISTORY: Harla Eve and the Sooke Dance Club

Elida Peers - Contributed
This 1959 photo from the Sooke Region Museum archives shows Joan Perry, Harla Owen, Pat Ellis and Diane Clowes performing in the Sooke Dance Club. (Contributed - Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers - Contributed

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 Sooke’s prolific photographer Norman Rogers, and some of those pictured were at the Legion event. Many knew Harla as a dedicated staff member 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 gotten herself into her favourite occupation – teaching dance classes. Through her skills and enthusiasm with the Sooke Dance Club, a new cultural dimension was initiated in Sooke, a culture which probably would not have existed without her.

Marge’s variety of classes and reviews over the next decade or two took place in Sooke Community Hall. Several of the pupils who joined her followed in her footsteps with their own classes later, 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 business with her husband, George Kerr. Pat Ellis, now Mrs. Hatch, could not be here from her home in Nanaimo. Diane Clowes, daughter of another war bride, visited briefly at her mother Terry’s British home base but returned to make her home in Sooke with her husband, Mal Cummings.

While Harla was born in Comox, most of her life was in the Sooke area, and when I first knew her, she was one of the Owen sisters who lived at the northeast corner of Sooke and Charters Roads. She had ties to Sooke history, as her mum was a sister to Harry Vogel, well-known in our area’s early lumbering and entrepreneurial history.

For a time before her long tenure at Sooke News Mirror, Harla taught her classes. One of the highlights of the trip down memory lane at the Legion was when a pupil of Harla’s, Lee Barwis, got up to say how warm-hearted Harla’s dance class had meant to her as she was growing up. It was a chapter in Sooke’s history that brought many together with fond memories.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email

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