No one heard of a snowplow on the Sooke Road in the 1930s, vehicles were rare enough, and letter carrier Tommy Seward was on his own in getting the mail delivered. His route was called R.M.D. 2 (Rural Mail Delivery No. 2) Victoria, or also R.R. 2 and he delivered the mail along Sooke Road to Sooke and Jordan River weekdays.
From the weekly mail contract awarded to pioneer Michael Muir in 1872, which took him to Victoria by horseback to bring the mail back to Woodside Farm, it was quite some improvement to have motor vehicle delivery here daily.
Right where today’s Anna Marie Road heads off from the highway in downtown Sooke is where the Sooke Post Office was located in those years, run by postmaster Fred Brownsey at the Pollyanna Store, so it was there that Tommy Seward brought a sack of mail in the years 1933 up to 1946, the year he lost the mail contract to “Curly” Crawford.
Edward Milne, postmaster at Milne’s Landing sorted his mailbag, and Fred Brownsey sorted the mailbag Tommy Seward delivered to him for Sooke. This 1936 photo shows the rural route (now Highway 14) where Tommy placed mail into the silver boxes mounted on solitary roadside posts, and continued westward, though delivery as far as Jordan River wasn’t initially daily.
Because there were only hundreds then, the letter carrier knew every householder’s name, stenciled in black on each mailbox. It wasn’t until much later, in the early 1960s that house-numbering took place in Sooke, a responsibility that was carried out by a committee of Sooke Volunteer Firefighters, headed by Bob Helme.
The dedication that Tommy Seward gave to his job of getting the mail out to relatively isolated settler families along his route was extraordinary. When winter snows and storms gave him extra challenges, he equipped his vehicle with chains and carried both axe and shovel.
Tommy Seward and his wife Betty lived on Sooke Road in Colwood, and through the years their vehicles included a Wills Sainte Claire roadster, a Star roadster, and a Dodge van. Their son Pete Seward, a car aficionado himself, remembers the stress that his dad felt as he struggled to get the mail out to those waiting for it. I recall that the determination that Tommy and Betty Seward felt to serve their customers was such that they forged their way through snow drifts to bring out the mail even on Christmas Day!
Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.