By stage to Sooke for $1. The wildlife show was free.
Barely 70 years ago, stage coaches were travelling the roads from Victoria to Metchosin, Albert Head, Rocky Point, Sooke and Otter Point. Thomas Parker served the Rocky Point run and Harry Clark handled the stage to Otter Point.
In February of 1870, the Executive Council of the B.C. Legislature approved a $ 300 subsidy to carry mall to this area, and the following year Parker was appointed postmaster of Metchosin. He apparently took the post office business to the customers since a post office was not opened in Metchosin until 1881. Initially, the mail was scheduled to arrive at Metchosin around one o’clock in the afternoon on Mondays and it left for Victoria the next day.
Since Rocky Point Road was not built until 1873, Parker rode on horseback and would hand the mail to the farmers as he passed. He soon achieved a reputation as a weather prophet since if he predicted dry weather for a few days he was invariably correct; the hay would stay in the fields. However, if he predicted rain, the farmers lost no time in getting in the hay.
By 1878 passengers and freight were carried in addition to the mail. Parker’s stage coach made two trips weekly, on Tuesday and Saturday. Passengers were loaded and unloaded outside Ross’ grocery store, nearly opposite the New England Hotel on Government Street. The fare for the four-hour journey was one dollar.
After Mrs. Thomas Gleed opened the post office In her house at Metchosin, Parker left her the sacks of mail for sorting and people called for it. Parker purchased his last stagecoach in 1908 from T. W. Dempster’s carriage works, which was on Blanshard Street behind the former Bay department store. The price was $200. The open carriage, with its large diameter thin-rimmed wheels, had three seats which held three persons each. However, there always seemed to be room for one more.
It was indeed unfortunate to be seated behind a cigar smoker or away from the foot warmer in cold weather. This special feature consisted of a carpet-covered metal box into which hot coals would be placed. In freezing conditions, Mr. and Mrs. Demeres at the Colwood Hotel would serve free wine to warm the passengers. An abundance of wildlife, such as quail and deer in the Langford Plains area, was a constant source of interest and delight.
In 1915, because the stagecoach could no longer compete with motor vehicles, an automobile was acquired for the mail run. Fortunately, in 1952, A. E. (Don) Parker decided to donate his father’s “Dempster” to Craigflower School Museum where it was displayed for many years. Eventually, to prevent further deterioration, the curiosity was removed and awaits restoration.
Mr. G. F. Weir, shown driving in the photograph, drove the Colwood & Metchosin stage once or twice a week from Metchosin to Victoria during the years 1902 to 1912. The fare was 50¢ a trip. In addition to carrying passengers and freight, Mr. Weir also shopped for people living along the route, so that the stage brought everything from coal oil to needles and thread, ladies unmentionables, and parts for farm implements to the community. The stage was made in Victoria by John Meston at a cost of $175.00. The stage is now displayed at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum.
Source: Metchosin School Museum
Information provide by Geoffrey Castle, Times Colonist, January, 1985, Landmarks