Milk was delivered in Jordan River by dog and cart.

Jo’s milk delivery in Jordan River

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

It seems a bit casual for today’s highly organized and bureaucratic world, but it must have been a lot of fun for the little kids of Jordan River when this milk cart rolled into view back in the 1930s. The kids loved it when Jo Kirby’s shaggy dog and friendly cheer arrived, laden with fresh milk.  Note the stacked cordwood at the rear of the photo.

At that time, Jordan River’s population numbered in the hundreds, with the menfolk employed by Canadian Puget Sound Lumber and Timber Company and by BC Electric Ltd which ran the hydro-electric system that supplied power to Victoria.

Jo Kirby, daughter of pioneers, was the lady who led her dog cart down the hill from her small farm acreage perched at the top before one heads down to the River.  It seemed farming was in her blood, as she was born Kathleen “Jo” Gordon, to pioneer parents Ted and Kitty Gordon of Gordon’s Beach.

At the Gordon’s Beach farm, which Ted Gordon had acquired in the 1880s from Thomas Tugwell, the family had raised sheep and hogs in addition to growing produce and feed for their horses and cows. When Jo grew up she married Austin Kirby, one of the sons of Ma and Pa Kirby of Kirby (Coal) Creek.  The couple set up a home at the River, where Austin ran a bus service, transporting loggers and hydro workers between Jordan River and Victoria.

Jo did her bit during the “Hungry 30s” by delivering milk to friends in the village spread along the waterfront. Jo was a quiet-natured but very sweet lady and you can be sure that a friendly chat with her customers was just as important as the coin collected for the milk.

Moving beyond her early dogcart days, she decided to get a small truck to get around, and was proud that she became one of the first women to gain a driver’s license in Victoria. By the time the 1950s came, Jo had become the wife of the CPS blacksmith, Peter Giacomini, but continued running her small hilltop farm until her passing in 1982.

True to her caring nature in her last decades she drove her little truck on the gravel road to canvass each door in the sparsely populated area running from the River to Point No Point, collecting for the annual cancer fund raising drive.

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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