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1934::Canada's First Nudist Colony In Sooke, British Columbia

Updated: May 8

Somewhere in a small wood on Vancouver Island...


1932::The Recruit to the Nudist Colony Brings a Hot Water Bottle

"1932::The Recruit to the Nudist Colony Brings a Hot Water Bottle"

Illustration Clip: The Bystander (1932)

Artist: Leslie Butler - a play on the fact that the British Isles were considered simply too cold to host nudist colonies... nonetheless, nudist colonies were alive and well in Britain in 1932.


Some claim that the Garden of Eden was the world's first nudist colony. That may be so. But Canada's first nudist colony was just as mysterious. It was not in some big city or a little town named Fallis, Alberta. Surprisingly, Canada's first official publicly known nudist colony appeared in the backwoods of Vancouver Island.


1934::Canada's First Nudist Colony Established in Sooke, BC

"1934::Canada's First Nudist Colony Established in Sooke, British Columbia"

Clip: The Province (1934)

Vancouver, British Columbia


The year was 1934. It was a year of awakening for many West Coasters as the veil of prohibition finally lifted, giving rise to a new sense of freedom. California had joined the nudist movement already well underway in Europe and announced its own culture of nudism while claiming to be the first colony on the Pacific coast. Oregon soon followed, and before protestors had a voice, the club had already implemented its own rules. It was only a matter of time before the first nudist colony arrived in Canada, and arrive it did.


1934::Comedian Fodder

News that a nudist colony had developed in Sooke, British Columbia, was generally accepted by public opinion. It was a private club on private property a few miles behind the 17-Mile Post (known today as the 17-Mile Pub). The club's exclusive membership was by invitation only, and its guest list was managed by high-profile office workers in Victoria who believed that sun therapy was the answer to their physical and mental well-being. When they posted their rules in the local newspaper, the country took hold of their story in the headlines. 

1934::A Little Colony Humour

"1934::A Little Colony Humour"

Clip: The Windsor Star (1934)

Windsor, Ontario


For a moment, the title of Canada's first colony seemed to belong to Fallis, Alberta. But the townspeople denied that any such settlement had taken root and explained that someone had announced its existence as a joke. Their story was an excellent smokescreen for the Sooke colonists, who had been guarding their privacy and handling the media well enough to quiet their story in the news. Within months, Sooke's nudist story had been overshadowed by the success of its first All-Sooke Days event, and Canada's first nudist colony all but disappeared from the nation's newspapers.


Whatever the fate of the Sooke nudists, colonies continued to spring up along the West Coast. Soon, one-man nudist colonies became a problem, and the government had no choice but to step in and add its own rules. Married men were soon forced to have written consent from their wives if they wished to participate, and colonies were forced to build 20-foot cement walls around their property. But new rules created new problems and, oddly enough, a new angle in tourism. 


1931::Nudist-Tourists

"1931::Nudist Tourists"

Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1931)

Victoria, British Columbia


As the nudist craze continued on the West Coast, tourists chartered private planes to take them on nudist colony fly-bys. It was a lucrative business. Buses loaded with camera-toting tourists drove as close to a colony as possible, giving paying customers something to write home about. The chaos often caused traffic congestion and safety issues, resulting in rules being written and rewritten over the coming decades. Colonies soon sank further into the backwoods but continued to develop on Vancouver Island in places like Spectacle Lake and Cobble Hill. 


1934::One-Man Colony

"1934::One-Man Colony"

Clip: Vancouver Sun (1934)

Vancouver, British Columbia


Whatever happened to the one-man nudist colonies? They were never caught … with or without their pants down.


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