Town crier Mike Thomas

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Historian Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

Hear Ye !  Hear Ye ! was the cry we heard resounding through Sooke for more than a decade, during the many celebrations beginning with Sooke’s Bi-Centennial events in 1990. While the white lace and ruffles of his shirt and jabot held up throughout his tenure, our Town Crier lost count of how many pairs of white hose he needed to replenish.

Mike Thomas was the kindly gentleman who allowed himself to be maneuvered into the role of Sooke’s Town Crier, and many were the occasions that his full throated cry was heard throughout our community celebrations. When a festival was in the offing, Mike let the town know – it was a tradition that had begun before the era of newspapers.

We have the Sooke Lions Club and Beatrice Hull (Mel Hull’s mother) to thank for creating the outfit in the first place. Bea’s stitchery talents created the costume and the Lions paid for the beautiful fabrics she cut and sewed, which included a crimson crushed velvet coat and black knee breeches. Ken Shepherd made the brass bell.

One of our very special events was in 1994 when the people of Sooke hosted 1,000 athletes competing in the XV Commonwealth Games in Victoria. As each Commonwealth contingent appeared on the parade field at the Sooke Community Flats, the Town Crier, working with master of ceremonies Wendal Milne, called out their country of origin.

It wasn’t only in Sooke, it was at events in Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Sidney that Mike’s colourful costume and baritone voice became known.  The photo reproduced here is courtesy the Times-Colonist Sunday Magazine, January 5, 1992; his photo has appeared in publications around the world.

The annual International Longboat Competition where the coastal towns of Washington and Oregon sent longboats to enter into the Sooke race were some of the occasions when Mike’s rich voice was required. While the King of Spain’s Cup was the sought-after trophy on those occasions, that prize has now been retired as well as Mike’s Town Crier regalia.

In 2009 Mike was among the regional Town Criers honoured by a statue on Pier B outside the Customs Building at Ogden Point.  Check it out when you’re on Dallas Road, it says “Mike Thomas, Sooke Town Crier.”

Recently when the Sooke Region Historical Society and CRD Parks organized a special discovery occasion in the Sooke Hills, Mike got the costume out of mothballs and donned it one more time to call the news from the mountain top. Perhaps one day Sooke will again have a Town Crier to call their own.

 

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum

Just Posted

Sooke municipal staff enters budget prep mode

All a matter of priorities, says mayor

Sooke mayor travels to Cambodia to empower women in politics

The trip is part of a Global Affairs Canada initiative

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Sooke approves new toilets for popular park

Whiffin Spit loos will have to wait

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

RCMP’s use of force in arrest of Island man not excessive, judge rules

Campbell River man high on cocaine led high speed chase through city’s downtown

LETTERS: Cyclist feels safe on the road

I am writing to thank the many drivers I have encountered riding… Continue reading

Most Read