The Life Story of T.P. Barry

Pat Barry Outside his Blacksmith Shop on Nightingale Road

In 2012 when Rosemary Allen was researching the Barry family service station, she and Ken Barry came across a hand written autobiography of the late Pat Barry:

The Life Story of T. P. Barry (As told by him in 1958) Born March 28, 1877 near the Mill Bay School. When 6 months old I was so scrawny that my folks were advised to have me christened, as I could not live very long and I would not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So my parents hired 2 Indians to paddle us in a canoe to the stone church. I was then christened by Father Rondeau. The Indians were paid $1.00 each for this trip. I started school when I was 4 years old. This was necessary to make up the quota. The oldest boy was 22. The first school was held in the old Sayward cook house while the school was being built near Major Pearson’s farm. J. A. Hoy came to teach school in 1894 and taught there for 23 years.

When I was 16 I got a job for Jim Evans (Duncan), he owned all that land where the High School is. I started at 5 in the morning, milked 7 or 8 cows, cleaned the stable, had breakfast, then went out in the hay field. We mowed continuously. He was a good mower and if I slowed up his scythe would swish by my feet. By 1 o’clock I was so hungry I could hardly see. I stayed there 1 month then quit. My salary was $15.00. Soon after I got a job at Shawnigan Sawmill. I then went to work at Shawnigan Lake Logging Camp. Salary was $30 per month

When I was 14 Bill Manley hired me to walk to his place every day after school to throw hay out of a barn to feed his cows. He paid me for this an old shotgun worth about $5.00. I went to Mill Bay to shoot ducks soon after I got it and putting it out of a boat, it went off and shot me through my left arm. There are 9 buckshot still in my elbow. This happened at 4 o’clock and I did not get to a Doctor until 1 o’clock next day bleeding all the time. Anyway I recovered from this accident.

After leaving Shawnigan I went to Vancouver on a steam boat called the R P Riteth, an old boat that took 11 hours to cross to New Westminster. From Vancouver I got a job to go north to Bear River, stayed to the end of the year. The next spring I got a job with D K Cambell out Hastings St. From there to Gambier Island till fall. Then I spent the winter at Cobble Hill. Next spring to Sechelt stayed there 2 years. That was 1897 and ’98. From there I came back to the Island and worked at Chemainus one year. Then I moved to Ladysmith. I got on there as a saw filer and blacksmith helper. That was just the job I wanted. I was fortunate in getting to work in the blacksmith shop with a very fine blacksmith who took a liking to me. He took me in hand and taught me the art of this trade. He even put me in charge of the forge…he acting as my helper. We worked together for two years.

The foreman quit there and opened a camp at Cowichan Lake and hired me to go with him at a higher salary and, of course I moved.

In March 1913 I had an accident, got struck in the face with an axe splitting my nose open. After staying in Chemainus for 2 weeks I had a chance to look at my wound in a gold filled watch which was as good as a looking glass. I looked horrible. Out of 13 stitches the Dr put in there were none left; the swelling tore them all out. I sneaked out of the hospital and went to Victoria and consulted a famous surgeon named Dr. Frank Hall. He operated and made it perfect. While I was laying in the Jubilee, from under the bandages on my face, I could see a vision of a beautiful girl walking down the ward. She came to my bed, a romance developed. That was in March 1903 and on Dec. 2 1903 we were married. I have often said that I married a lovely girl and we have lived a very happy life together. We lived in Ladysmith from Dec 1903 to May 1914. Then I went to Cowichan Lake. In the fall we moved to Cobble Hill. I then started in the blacksmith business and as the motor cars began took up that profession.

I think that is all as far as industries go. Many years ago I used to play the violin for dances at Shawnigan and even Mt. Sicker. That was about 1901 when Mt. Sicker was a booming town. That was about 20 miles which I rode on a bike.

I served on the Mill Bay School Board for several years. Also on the High School area until the Cameron Report was adopted. I then was a representative for several years.

I have lived a very clean life which I attribute to an excellent wife. My wife and I have raised a family of 2 girls and 2 boys whom I feel are a credit to us. Also 9 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. We feel very proud of these offspring.


The Cobble Hill Historical Society meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm in the Youth Hall at 3665 Watson Avenue in Cobble Hill.

our address

Cobble Hill Historical Society
c/o Brenda Krug
785 Red Oak Drive
Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L4