The Sooke Arts Council’s annual ARTiFACTS show will offer a unique glimpse at the history of Sooke, Port Renfrew, and the surrounding region – and the initiative all started with shoeboxes of photographs.
“When my parents passed away, I found that they had these boxes and boxes of old photos … some of them dating back to my grandparent’s time. I shared some of them with Diane (Moran) and she came up with the idea of putting together a presentation that would showcase the photos in a series so that others could see them,” said Hugh Smith, a resident of Port Renfrew and self-declared lover of history.
“My grandparents pioneered up here. My grandpa ran the mill, and the Baird family is related to me as well so we have some pretty deep roots in the community.”
Moran is a visual artist who divides her time between Port Renfrew and Sooke and is a lover of history and culture.
After hosting a presentation of a collection of the photos in Port Renfrew she was approached by Linda Gordon and the Sooke Arts Council to bring the display to Sooke as part of the ARTiFACTS Show, which runs from March 22 to April 28.
Beyond the photographic display, the show will feature a singular twist to the static presentation as Smith will be on hand to accompany a slide presentation of some of the photos with original songs that he has written especially for the display.
Smith describes himself as a sailor by trade (he’s worked as a marine engineer with the Canadian Forces auxiliary fleet and has worked the coast since 1983 on oil tankers with Imperial Oil) and says the music is just a serious hobby. In truth, his group, Mexican Bus Ride, has been a regular fixture in Port Renfrew and at a host of venues across B.C. for a very long time.
“I’ve written these songs as a way to make the photos come alive and to evoke some memories,” said Smith.
“I think it’s important that people know where they came from and, by writing these songs and marrying those songs to the photos it’s a way of bringing some of those people back to life.”
“This is all about the working history of the region. It’s important. People just don’t understand where things began and I think it’s important that they have some appreciation of where it started. It’s the foundation for building the future,” said Moran.
Now in its fifth year, the ARTiFACTS Show will feature the photo display and the music of Smith and maybe a few surprise musical guests on April 13, between noon and 4 p.m. at Sooke Region Museum.