Sooke Harbour House has been our family project since 1979.
It all happened like a fairy tale. I met Sinclair Philip in Nice in 1967, only a month after he had arrived in France from Canada. He was, at the time, a young student on his first trip abroad to explore Europe and perfect his French. I think his initial idea was to keep traveling, eventually on to Africa. Instead, he stayed 10 years in France, studying political science and international economics. He earned his PhD, and I completed my Masters of Economics.
During those years in France, we lived in a small village at the end of a valley. Although we lived very frugally, we always had large gatherings of friends over for long meals, prepared with local ingredients that we usually gathered from our own large vegetable garden and from nearby farmers. Most of our friends were students and artists.
In 1978, we decided to move to Canada and chose Toronto, then home to Sinclair’s mother, as our first destination. We lived there for a year, Sinclair working as a researcher with the Steelworkers’ Union, and I doing my best to adapt to a completely new culture, learn English, and be a mom-at-home to my first two children, Benjamin then 11 years old, and Jasmine who was one and a half.
Both Sinclair and I dreamt of leaving the big city, and our dream soon became a reality. On a business trip to Vancouver, Sinclair took two days off to tour Vancouver Island and found Sooke Harbour House. Much to our surprise, we became the owners of an Inn!
We imagined running the tranquil little B&B in the holistic manner in which we had lived in France. In our minds, the transition from that very peaceful way of life, to being owners of a small business based on similar values, seemed simple and straightforward. Ignorance is bliss!
I trusted that if we worked hard, offered local, seasonal cuisine and comfortable rooms, artistically decorated, we would be successful. And although it was not simple or straightforward, my trust was not betrayed. We were successful in the sense that we had a home, (we lived in the basement of the Inn for 16 years), food nicely prepared by our chefs, a garden and a place to expand, transform, and mould our lives to match our dreams and aspirations, as we happily raised our four children.
So we have lived and are living our dream. It is based on a solid philosophy of offering our guests the experience of a coastal hotel on the Pacific Ocean, serving local, regional, seasonal cuisine, growing native plants, decorating our rooms with the work of local artist and furnishing them with cabinets, sinks and beds of local craftsmanship