T.D. Pattullo

The B.C. premier who lived in Saseenos

For nine years, spanning from the Great Depression to the Second World War, Thomas Dufferin Pattullo was premier of B.C.

For nine years, spanning from the Great Depression to the Second World War, Thomas Dufferin Pattullo was premier of British Columbia.

Two of Pattullo’s granddaughters, Anne Ford and Beth Pattullo, still have homes on the property that he bought in 1929 in the new subdivision of Saseenos. Another granddaughter, Clare Smith, well-known in Sooke, currently makes her home in Lillooet.

While T.D. Pattullo began his career at his birthplace, Woodstock Ont., his lively spirit and interest in politics led him first to a position in the Yukon and then to Prince Rupert, where he became mayor in 1913. By 1916 he had been elected to the legislature and became minister of Lands in the Liberal government.

In June 1933 he became premier of B.C., campaigning on a platform of extending government relief to the unemployed. During his busy years in office, he enjoyed the refuge of his weekend home on the waterfront.

Granddaughter Beth says: “He was out here a lot; he took us for hikes up Mt. Shepherd (now Manuel Quimper) and along the railroad tracks (now the Galloping Goose); we swam in the basin and rowed a small clinker built boat.”

Perhaps it was because of “T.D.”’s first political experience in Dawson City, Yukon, but early on he showed himself to be an advocate of building an access road to the Yukon and Alaska.  This did not actually happen of course, until the Second World War and agreements with the U.S. government, but T.D. did live to see his vision of the Alaska Highway become a reality.

Speaking of highways, the bridge over the Fraser River that has connected New Westminster and Surrey since 1937 was named the Pattullo Bridge.  A number of other provincial landmarks bear his name as well.

As premier, T.D. Pattullo followed Simon Fraser Tolmie;  after his government’s defeat, the next premier, who became leader of a Liberal/Conservative coalition in 1942, was John Hart. T.D.’s retirement was spent between Oak Bay and Saseenos.

Though the three Pattullo granddaughters remember with fondness the secluded cottage on the waterfront they all shared for family events, their property is now surrounded by many neighbours.

Beth also recalls that the premier’s jovial spirit, his many friendships and his enjoyment of “a wee drop of scotch” led to wonderful bonfires and singsongs, memories she treasures.

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Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.