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SOOKE HISTORY: Rediscovering the elegance of Lady Emily Walker

A glimpse into the past of East Sooke’s illustrious pioneer family
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Lady Emily Walker, centre, with grandson Reggie Caffery and daughter Margaret Caffery in downtown Victoria in the mid-1930s. Lady Emily Seymour arrived at East Sooke with her five children and her husband, Rev. Reginald Walker, in 1912. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

In the 1930s and 1940s, street photographers used to ply the downtown streets of Victoria, snapping photos of folk they met in the hopes of making a sale of the photograph. One such was this mid-1930s snapshot of Lady Emily Walker, of East Sooke fame, flanked by her grandson Reggie Caffery and her daughter Mrs. Frank Caffery.

This picture was likely captured on Yates or Douglas Street based on the surroundings.

Born Lady Emily Seymour in 1893 in England, at this time, she would have been in her 60s, arriving at East Sooke with her five children and her husband, Rev. Reginald Walker, in 1912.

ALSO READ: Rupert Walker, son of Lady Emily

Lady Emily and her family were to leave England to settle in an outpost of the British Empire, possibly due to her close relationship with King George V. To make this happen, they purchased the East Sooke property from Tom Oldershaw. They commissioned the Richardson brothers, local builders in Sooke, to construct a house for them.

The four-storey house, including a billiard room on the top floor, was called Ragley, after the Seymour family estate in Britain, Ragley Hall, established in 1680.

One of Lady Emily Seymour’s earlier family members was Lady Jane Seymour, who had become one of the wives of King Henry VIII. Our Lady Emily became a fixture of pioneer life but never forgot her rank.

A decade ago, I had the good fortune to visit the ancestral estate Ragley Hall in Warwickshire and was suitably impressed, even catching a glimpse of the current marchioness while walking with her dogs.

While I admired the beautiful gardens, my granddaughter, who was my travelling companion, hung out with the grooms in the estate’s stables, picking up the current gossip.

On their 1912 arrival, the Walker children were Seymour, Lionel, Margaret, Rupert and Eric. Their history unfolded sadly, as Seymour did not survive long in Canada, Lionel was killed in an air crash in the First World War, Eric passed away as well, and when the Sec ond World War came along, Reggie, pictured here, and young Johnny Walker perished overseas.

Margaret, pictured here, married Frank Caffery, who ran an oyster farm at what was called Caffery Bay (now Anderson Cove). It was from Margaret and Frank Caffery’s daughter Kay that we received much information on this history-laden family.

Kay Caffery, listed in Burke’s Peerage, became Mrs. Coates, and raised a large family. Most of us knew her in later years as Kay Jeffery.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Email historian@sookeregionmuseum.com.