SOOKE HISTORY: George MacIntosh and the Sooke Stage

Pioneer sold his transportation business in 1946

George MacIntosh next to his Sooke Stage in 1933. (Sooke Region Museum)

George MacIntosh next to his Sooke Stage in 1933. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

George MacIntosh, pictured with his Sooke Stage in 1933, would likely have been shocked to pieces if he could have imagined the magnitude of the transit system today that links Sooke with Victoria.

A pioneering Scotsman with entrepreneurial spirit, George MacIntosh brought his wife Isabella from Aberdeen, Scotland to Vancouver in 1901, and established a stone monument business in that fast-growing new city.

He must have spoken highly of the new world as the young couple was joined in Vancouver by his parents and siblings who became part of the business.

A decade later, the hustle of city life had led the group of Scots to decide to move to Vancouver Island for a quieter lifestyle, and in 1911 they bought 35 hectares almost at the western end of Grant Road, near today’s Henlyn Drive.

Several MacIntosh houses were built there, I believe all but one of them is now gone.

George and Isabella enjoyed the country life and planted many fruit trees on their small Grant Road farm, where they raised daughters Emma and Isabella and a son, George.

Isabella, who was called by the nickname Bunny married Herb Blythe and the couple ran a sheep farm at Kemp Lake, while Emma became Mrs. Eastwood and lived up-Island.

It was in the late 1920s that George MacIntosh began operating a motor stage between his Grant Road home and Victoria. Called Sooke Stage, the vehicle’s Victoria terminus was 636 Johnson St. The stage ran daily, leaving Sooke at 8:15 a.m. and leaving Victoria for the return trip at 5 p.m., except on Sundays, when the vehicle left Sooke at 5 p.m., returning at 7:30 p.m.

In the early years, his Packard car became a familiar sight, laden with milk cans and sacks of produce, along with the passengers. It was customary for stage drivers like George MacIntosh to carry out special shopping errands for their homebound customers, and he became a much-appreciated figure in the community.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Island Coach Lines had established a bus service out of Victoria, and in 1946, that company bought the transportation business that George Mackintosh had run for nearly two decades. To note his retirement, he was feted with a party at Sooke Community Hall.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.