Community

Gas car to Leechtown Station, 1923

The old Leechtown Station - SRHS
The old Leechtown Station
— image credit: SRHS

I was just a youngster when I met Alfred and Margaret Poole, who had a summer place at the western corner of Sooke and Parklands Roads in Saseenos in the 1930s. They had a home in Oak Bay where Alfred Poole was a fireman, but he really preferred the outdoor life.

Many years later, when Margaret Poole was 99 I had an opportunity to visit with her, widowed but still in her own home in Victoria. One of her fascinating stories was about a trip she undertook to Leechtown in 1923. The Leechtown station on the CNR line was not far from Sooke Lake, where her husband had gone to spend a hunting holiday with a friend in the Sooke hills.

At that time at Sooke Lake the water system caretaker was William Campbell, a son of the pioneer Campbell family that had settled in Shirley District in 1890.  When Mrs Poole was telling me about it, she described that the Sooke Lake water supply needed a caretaker because,   “It was our drinking water … it wasn’t really open to the public.”  She remembered, “I believe Mr. Campbell had a wife and children in Victoria, but maybe she didn’t want to live out at Sooke Lake …. who would want to, with children?”

At any rate, the two men decided to invite Alfred Poole’s wife to come out and cook for them. During the decade 1922 to 1931 a passenger-carrying gas car ran on the CNR track daily from Victoria to Leechtown.  So she set out, with her three month old baby girl in her arms.

Margaret recalled “I got off the gas car at Leechtown, with only a suitcase and the baby, and my husband came to meet me, along the train track.” She remembered the excursion with a smile, seventy-five years later, of how she had managed to cook meals, keep house and wash baby diapers while the men roamed the hills hunting venison and grouse.

She must have been glad enough to get back to Oak Bay after the adventure; as she thought back to those days she observed “I’ve never been excited about eating deer meat myself.”

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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