Seward’s mail truck on summit of Sooke Road c1936.

Seward’s mail truck on summit of Sooke Road c1936.

Tommy Seward and the mail

Seward used motor vehicle to deliver mail west of Victoria as far as Jordan River in 1930s

  • Dec. 26, 2012 2:00 p.m.

While Tommy Seward may not have had to deal with the full quote;  “Come …. or high water, the mail must go through,” he did have to deal with snow and high water.

Nowadays when we stop at the stand of boxes along the street or go to the Sooke Post Office, it’s easy to take the convenience for granted. It was not always so.  From Michael Muir carrying the mail bag from Victoria on horseback in 1872, to the horse stages of men like Henry Clark of Otter Point, delivery advanced to carriers like Tommy Seward, who used motor vehicles to deliver the mail west of Victoria as far as Jordan River.

It was called Rural Route 2, Victoria, B.C. or RMD 2.  The householder’s name on the envelope, with the address as described here, was enough to get your mail deposited into the silver box that stood on a solitary post along the roadside, the householder’s name stenciled in black. No one ever heard of stealing rural mail in those days.

Tommy Seward, born in Victoria in 1907, was still a child when his family moved to Metchosin, and along with sister Peggy, attended classes at both Metchosin and North Sooke School.  When he got the mail contract in the early 1930s, which he continued up to 1946, he used a series of vehicles, the 1928 Dodge panel shown here in winter 1936, and later a ’36 Reo Speedwagon.

To my knowledge, snowplows were not available on Sooke Road in those years. It was every man for himself, with a shovel, axe and chains generally part of the winter gear.

The dedication of these early mail carriers was demonstrated when they spent hours clearing a route, and it might be nightfall before the last envelope, catalogue or package was safely in its mailbox.

Not that it snowed all the time, but cold temperatures and snow were more frequent than today.

One of my early memories is of going for a walk down Parklands Road, when I was about eight years old, to enjoy the snowy scene and admire the heavily snow laden fir branches. When I reached the main road, there was Tommy Seward navigating through the snow in his flashy roadster, a 1922 Wills Sainte Clair, with his wife Betty helping him with the mail.

It was Christmas Day, but the mail got through!

Elida Peers, Historian

Sooke Region Museum

 

 

 

Just Posted

A report on food security in Sooke reveals that nearly 15 per cent of people in Sooke have trouble getting food on the table. (The Canadian Press)
Food security a growing challenge in Sooke

‘This isn’t going to get any better if we don’t do anything about it’

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Greater Victoria with unusually high temperatures expected Monday and this coming weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria’s first week of summer will be a scorcher

Special weather statement issued Monday by Environment Canada

A health-care worker takes part in HeArt Therapy session conducted by Shirley artist Sheila Thomas. (Contributed - Lorrie Beauchamp)
A creative ‘thanks’ to Vancouver Island’s essential workers

Artist Sheila Thomas creates therapy art session for workers on pandemic’s frontlines

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A rendering shows what the Doral Forest Park development would look like from the southwest. (Rendering via D’AMBROSIO Architecture & Urbanism)
Beaver Lake area project passes next hurdle in Saanich

Council approval for 242-unit parks edge development hinges on meeting of conditions

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Most Read