What could possibly be better than great photos, a scintillating write-up, and a dapper Toad in a tophat? More of them! Well, things are always hopping here at The Hollow and as much as that makes us very happy indeed, at times it can leave a toad feeling like throwing his flippers in the air and proclaiming “I feel like a frog in a blender!”. So when Mr. Toad told me of his dilemma, I didn’t hesitate to jump right in. Gee, maybe on second thought I should have told him…. oh well, here goes….
Today’s post finds us back at the Metchosin Pioneer Museum as we continue our running photoblog series “The Antiques Toad Show“. We were thrilled to have after-hour access to this wonderful little museum, as it is curated by our dear friend who is a wealth of information on the area and the founding families. These artifacts were owned and used by local folks as they carved out a community and went about their lives, often in difficult and demanding conditions. These early stories pepper the landscape and serve as a reminder of the foundation of what is now a busy and ever-growing community.
One such story belongs to Dr. Oswald Meredith Jones, original owner of this beautiful horse-drawn carriage. Dr. Jones was a Welsh ship’s surgeon who arrived in 1891 on H.M.S. Warspite of the Pacific Command. He left the navy to establish a very successful medical practice in Fort Victoria, joining Dr. John Chapman Davie who was the first to introduce antiseptic surgical practice in British Columbia. He built a house in 1909 in Victoria that was designed by Francis Rattenbury who also architected the Empress Hotel and the Parliament buildings, two iconic structures that proudly stand overlooking the harbour in Victoria. He also bought land in Metchosin, the second oldest area to be settled outside of Fort Victoria, where his family continues to live. Thankfully, they have been very generous contributors to the museum and if not for people like them we surely wouldn’t have these wonderful tales of our past. Dr. Jones later went on to become BC’s pre-eminent surgeon, and passed away in 1918.
Long before disposable items, things were made with care to ensure many years of use and to serve a specific purpose. This carriage could have meant the difference between life or death for the poor soul waiting at the other end all those many years ago before ambulances and 9-1-1. And yet great attention to detail and workmanship are evident in the intricate iron embellishment adorning the front of this otherwise functional item, much like the hood ornament on a modern Jaguar or Cadillac. With ample seating and leg room, and a simple yet purposeful design, no doubt this was a real show-stopper at the time. Even in the face of an emerging landscape where survival was a daily concern, there was still room for beauty and elegance.
Now when it comes to getting a flu shot or some other such thing, I must admit that it is Mr. Toad, and not I, who turns green. But even I have to say that I am glad for modern medicine. The tools and tinctures carried in a medical bag such as this one would have been nothing short of magic to many, I’m sure, but without anaesthetic or painkillers, some of the procedures would undoubtedly have been as bad or worse than what caused the injury in the first place! But then conquering new lands was never meant for the faint of heart, afterall.
Thanks to everybody for letting me try my flippers at something new and I genuinely hope that you enjoyed this post. I feel that I am already among friends as I’ve shared your stories and read every one of your kind and thoughtful comments. I certainly could never attempt to fill Mr. Toad’s big, green, floppy shoes, but I would dearly love to stop by and share a pot of tea and some great stories about this magical place that we are lucky enough to call home, if that’s okay, and maybe a little gossip too!