Updated: Jul 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, stagecoaches were used to transport Gold Rush miners and their gear to the northern reaches of the Fraser River and Cariboo. Half a century later, motorized vehicles replaced the old stagecoaches, and advances in other industries came with advancing automobile technology. Motorized sailing vessels were introduced on the Pacific coast to ferry automobile tourists and their cars on and off the islands. New motoring roads, including the Malahat Highway on Vancouver Island, made it easier to seek out beautiful camping spots and resorts inaccessible by boat or rail. But not everyone could afford a new horseless carriage.
"1928::A Quarter Century of Auto Evolution"
Photo Clip: Ottawa Citizen (1928)
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. In just two short decades, technology had advanced so rapidly that the buggies were all but replaced with less expensive, more luxurious and more powerful gas-powered vehicles that could transport many passengers longer distances in greater comfort and style.
*The outdated 1903 auto-buggy next to the 1928 bus in the photo above was consigned to the Smithsonian Institution shortly after the photo was taken.
"1931::The Vancouver Island Coach Lines"
Map Clip: Vancouver Sun (1931)
Vancouver, British Columbia
At the turn of the 20th century, Vancouver Island was home to an ever-expanding group of automobile enthusiasts who worked to develop better island roads. These new roads attracted road-touring vacationers whose money helped to develop their island towns. Soon, roadside resorts were built to accommodate these motorists as they explored the island and worked to extend access to previously unknown locations. By the end of the First World War, gas-fueled buses were built with sufficient power to cart passengers and their belongings beyond the steep slope of the Malahat Highway. These new buses were purchased and employed by private citizens who 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 extended the island's service to the doorsteps of the roadside resorts. Small businesses soon began to develop around these resorts, and tourist towns began to appear on local maps.
"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 to be 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.
In 1928, the Vancouver Island Coach Lines bought out the island's privately owned buses and imported several more so passengers could continue riding 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.