Mary Vine

Mary Vine Creek named for frontier midwife

Historian Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke area.

Hiking north along the Galloping Goose Trail past Charters River and Todd Creek you might notice a creek running through a culvert beneath the trail draining from Peden Lakes.  It’s called Mary Vine Creek, named for a legendary pioneer woman.

Her fame arose from her many years ministering to women in childbirth in this frontier land.  Born in Kent, England and endowed with a nursing personality, Mary’s first experience as a midwife on these shores came soon after her arrival in 1853 on the sailing vessel Norman Morison.

Aged 28, she was the wife of Thomas Reid and mother of Barbara Ellen. While she was widowed not long after their arrival, women were in short supply and soon she was married again, to Edward Vine, a ship’s pilot. In 1858 Edward Vine purchased land at Pedder Inlet, where he took up farming and running flocks of sheep.

As Mary Vine began ministering to births of neighbour families, knowledge of her skills spread and she was in demand as midwife throughout Metchosin, Sooke, Rocky Point and Colwood.  It was said that she never lost either mother or babe.

The woods throughout the southern island abounded in cougars (panthers, they were called by the settlers) bears and wolves. Never daunted, Mary Vine set off alone, usually on foot, responding to mothers counting on the help of a midwife, in this land where medical help was limited at best.

She kept a bag packed ready to go when a summons came, and if at night, she carried a coal oil lantern to find her way. It was reported that Mary Vine could out-stare any panther in her path, and on one occasion even took back and butchered a slain sheep from the jaws of a panther that had been at the Vine flock.  To head out for a Sooke household, she would skirt Matheson Lake.

Her interests extended beyond these bold ventures; she was particularly interested in developing an apple crop in the new territory, always saving apple seeds and nurturing them into growth. When she fell ill at the age of 82, it was remarkable that although she had herself given birth to only one child, the total of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-greats numbered over 100.

In 1907 she was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Metchosin.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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