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