Mike Thomas

Town crier hand overhis bell

Mike Thomas retires as Sooke's official town messanger

Search is on for a new town crier

When the Spanish came to the West Coast, they planted a cross in East Sooke and claimed the land for Spain. That was in 1790 and 200 years later that event was celebrated in Sooke.

In 1990 Mike Thomas donned his town crier’s outfit and rang the bell in celebration of the historic event. Thomas has been Sooke’s official town crier for 26 years and he is now hanging up his costume and setting the bell down. The costume was made for him by Beatrice Hull back in 1989 and it’s been figuratively taken out of mothballs on various occasions.

“I haven’t been too busy in the last few years,” said Thomas.

A town crier preceded newspapers for ordinary folks. Thomas said a crier is responsible to give proclamations and news to citizens of a town. In the old days they were employed by a town and were essential to spread news to those who could not read or couldn’t afford newspapers.

A lot of towns had criers and Thomas’ name is enshrined on a monument of a town crier at Ogden Point in Victoria.

Two very large events he was involved in were the Commonwealth Games in 1994 where 1,000 athletes came to the Sooke Flats. The other was in 1990 when 200 ladies in Sooke made 200 cakes and lined them up at Whiffin Spit to celebrate 200 years since the Spanish came to the area.

The last two events Thomas was involved in was the walk to the old bake oven at the Sooke Potholes and the recent exhibit of the flow line at Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre at the end of July.

“It’s been very interesting. I’ve met a lot of really nice people,” he said.

So the search is on for someone who might want to take on the task of being Sooke’s town crier. The criteria is simple.

“A bit goofy,” quipped Ray Vowles.

What it comes down to is a person with a sense of humor, maybe with a sponsor to build a new town crier uniform, a strong voice and a love of the community and a willingness to be out in the public. Anyone who might be interested can contact  Elida Peers at 250-642-4200 or Bonnie Sprinkling at the District of Sooke.

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