The future is very murky for this grand old hotel, its next chapter remains to be written. It’s been a while since Mrs. Toad and I were on the west coast of Vancouver Island on a photo-excursion and when we recently visited the Sooke area and found this landmark in its current state it was a bit of a surprise. Join us in today’s post where we take a look at the Sooke River Hotel and Castle, a place with a storied past.
This isn’t the original hotel as it was designed and built in 1912 by folks from the Seattle area who were speculating that a rush of buyers would come to the shores of the island intent on buying some of the beautiful and rich lands that were available at the time for sale. As the years went by, many famous people came to stay at the hotel including the Prince of Wales and Emily Carr, as famous Canadian artist. Stories have lingered over the years of rum-runners staying as well, adding a nefarious touch to the overall history of the place.
In 1934 the main four-storey hotel burned to the ground. The stables were left intact and were then used as the main foundation for building the facility we see standing here today. Known as the Sooke River Hotel and Castle, it has a distinctly European look to it, complete with turrets and rolling roof-lines. On the day we visited, the way the light was playing off the angles and edges of the red roof really added a great dimension to the scene as a whole, further adding to the olde-world feel.
My deep love for turrets as architectural details is no real secret. The lovely Mrs. Toad has to endure, no less than once a week, yours truly standing in front of The Hollow with a quizzical look in my eye as I proudly and loudly state our house needs a turret. My distinct lack of skills with a hammer has precluded this from actually happening, but I am sure deep in Mrs. Toad’s heart she fears the day I start up a chainsaw and being to execute my grand plan.
But, I digress.
The way the light plays off the edges of the turret and the way it softens the lines is spectacular to me. This shot is one that looks a lot better full-screen and close-up, if you have the time and interest you will really be amazed at the incredible textures and details in the construction. This all serves to add an authentic feel to the impression you have when visiting in person.
Now knowing that this building started it’s life as a stable, the scene begins to make more sense. One of the neat parts about this picture was noticed by Mrs. Toad when we were post-processing, she noticed the red stairs that lead up to a window. If you look closely you can see a door was once there. Stuff like this makes me want to get inside to shoot the interior of the facility rather badly. I just love the character here.
Also, as we were making our way around and shooting the hotel, we noticed the weather was changing quickly, and with it the light. By the time this shot was taken, the sky had begun to take on a more ominous look with dark grey rain clouds coming in. Pure drama.
This is our final shot in this series. At the very end of the building where we see the nose of a blue truck is where the Sooke Castle Liquor Store calls home. This last remaining heartbeat in the building serves to remind that us that indeed, the last chapter for the Sooke River Hotel and Castle has yet to be penned, anything can happen. We love this facility, it was always one of our main highlights when traveling up and down the west coast to see as we came through the town of Sooke. With any luck someone out there will share our deep love for this place and bring a new vision to bear, one that will see a whole new life begin for a place that is truly special to so many islanders.
Thank you ever so kindly for visiting today. We always love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have. Until next time, friends!