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1926::New Coaches for the New Vancouver Island Coach Lines

Updated: May 7

A new motorized stagecoach service for the new Vancouver Island Highway.



Clip: Advertisement for the Vancouver Island Coach Lines (1930)

In the mid-1800s, gold rush prospectors in British Columbia could hire stagecoaches to transport their gear to the northern reaches of the Fraser River and Cariboo mines. Half a century later, automobiles began replacing these old stagecoaches, ushering in a new era of transportation. Sailing vessels were designed to transport these new horseless carriages on and off Vancouver Island, and roads, including the Malahat Highway, were built for automobiles to access areas where the rails didn't go. 

1928::A Quarter Century of Auto Evolution

"1928::A Quarter Century of Auto Evolution"

Photo Clip: Ottawa Citizen (1928)

Ottawa, Ontario

The first automobiles on the Pacific coast were typically small, electric or steam-powered buggy-type models owned by wealthy professionals and hobbyists who could afford their expensive price tags. However, in just two short decades, technology had advanced so rapidly that the buggies were all but replaced with less costly, more luxurious and more powerful gas-powered vehicles. By the 1920s, new automobile designs had revolutionized how people travelled, profoundly impacting Vancouver Island's development. Automobile enthusiasts along the Pacific Coast, whose cars could now transport their passengers longer distances in greater comfort and style, began touring the Pacific Northwest and contributing to Vancouver Island's growth. 

1931::The New Vancouver Island Coach Lines

"1931::The New Vancouver Island Coach Lines"

Map Clip: Vancouver Sun (1931)

Vancouver, British Columbia

When motorized vehicles first arrived on Vancouver Island, a small group of like-minded Victorians formed an automobile club and became advocates for developing better roads. Before long, new and improved roads appeared in and around island communities, attracting automobile-touring vacationers whose money helped them build their small island towns. Seeing the potential for real growth, islanders collaborated to connect their new roads, forming an island highway with roadside resorts to accommodate their motoring guests as they explored the island. Over the years, as technology continued to advance, gas-fueled buses arrived with sufficient power to regularly cart passengers and their belongings over the summit of the Malahat Highway. Private citizens purchased and employed these new buses and used them to service scattered sections of the island. In 1928, the buses were bought out by a new company called the Vancouver Island Coach Lines, which streamlined the island's bus service and brought more tourists to the roadside resorts. Small businesses soon developed around these resorts, and tourist towns began to appear on local maps.

1926::Studebaker De-Luxe Stage Coach for Vancouver Island Run

"1926::Studebaker De-Luxe Stage Coach for Vancouver Island Run"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1926) Victoria, British Columbia

The elegant De Luxe was Studebaker's newest stagecoach and the first bus imported into Western Canada. Its genuine leather bucket seats were trimmed with mohair and featured Westinghouse air cushions to provide ultimate comfort over the bumps and climb of Vancouver Island's highway. The coach arrived in the summer of 1926 and spent two days cruising around Victoria for all to see before departing for Nanaimo to commence up-island services on the Nanaimo-Courtenay route. 

1931::Advertisement for the New Vancouver Island Coach Lines

In 1928, when the Vancouver Island Coach Lines bought out the island's privately owned buses, they imported several more so passengers could continue to ride in maximum comfort.

"1931::Advertisement for the New Vancouver Island Coach Lines" Ad Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1931) Victoria, British Columbia

Vancouver Island Coach Lines Ltd. changed hands several times before being purchased by the Province of British Columbia in 1974. In 1978, the Province merged its two companies - the Vancouver Island Coach Lines and the Pacific Stage Lines - to form the Pacific Coach Lines. 


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