A Vargas Island Rancher in Saanich

Illustrated presentation, Saanich Archives / Greater Victoria Public Library

The hilarious image of Stella and Fred Hopkins got a lot of audience comments!

“Fred” Hopkins was ranching on Vargas Island in Clayoquot Sound in 1912-1916 when he exchanged letters with the Walter Dawley, owner of the Clayoquot Store — most often about his unpaid bills! When Fred returned from overseas military service, he settled in Saanich, where in 1921 he was a recipient of a Saanich Soldier’s Home. But in 1929, he started exchanging letters with the Municipality of Saanich — about unpaid house mortgage payments. Fred’s original letters, family photos, land records and archives documents brought to life this amusing and exasperating story.

Assisted by the Saanich Archives, I shared this story in a May 2019 illustrated presentation “A Vargas Island Rancher in Saanich”. The audience was enthusiastic, and one audience member was a former neighbour of Fred Hopkins’ widow. To my surprise, I was given a silver spoon that had belonged to Mrs. Hopkins!

One of the many letters between Saanich and Hopkins. Credit: Saanich Archives