History of the Sooke Potholes

August 10, 2020

Have you been to the Sooke Potholes, floated in one of the many pools of water and wondered "how did these get here?" Well, we are glad you asked! Glacial action during the last ice age 15,000 years ago is responsible for the formations. The moving, melting ice packs stripped the surface area and carved a path deep into the natural bedrock. Huge boulders carried along by the rushing river became lodged, were swirled against the canyon walls and consequently carved out the potholes that can be seen today. The potholes are a unique feature on Vancouver Island, providing some of the best swimming in their clear, deep, and refreshing waters.

The T’Sou-ke First Nation predates the arrival of European settlers in the area, and continues to make use of the surrounding area. As the town of Sooke was built up in the 1900’s the potholes became a more and more popular picnic and recreational spot. In 1972, the Provincial Government, recognizing the increasing pressure of human use on the non-maintained site and trails, designated the lower portion of the river a BC Park, and installed pit toilets, upgraded existing facilities, and committed to maintaining the trails. The upper section, still popular with visitors, remained unprotected and open to logging, as it was still crown land. In 2005, after years of fundraising, a $200,000 donation from Shaw Communications, and a 2.4 million dollar pledge from the Capital Regional District, The Land Conservancy was able to purchase the land surrounding the upper reaches of the Potholes and turn it in to a regional park. Overseen since then by the CRD, the Sooke Potholes are now fully protected from end to end. If you haven’t yet been, the Sooke Potholes are a local favourite and a convenient 11 minute drive or 29 minute bicycle ride from Sunriver Estates and RiversEdge Village.

Sourced from: www.conservancy.bc.ca and www.bcparks.ca

Photo credit: Josh McCulloch