Almost everyone living in Victoria knows that Robert Service, the writer who became known as the Bard of the Yukon for his poems such as The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew after moving to Whitehorse, worked as a bank clerk for the Bank of British Columbia on Government Street before that move.
The bank building opened in 1862 and operated as a banking facility until the late 1980’s. Totally renovated a few years ago the building now operates as a pub and restaurant called, in honour of Service, The Bard and Banker.
Service didn’t move to Whitehorse until 1904 but he was writing poems well before that, even before moving to Canada. The Daily Colonist, now the Times-Colonist, published several of his poems between 1900 and 1902.
A small plaque marking another of the author’s publication sits alongside the road to Cowichan Bay just outside Duncan. the plaque commemorates that he published ” poem local press 1903″. The plague is inset into a stone chair next to a major local history marker.
It was a surprise to come across this plaque commemorating this celebrated writer on a quiet country road seemingly miles from anywhere. That said, a historical search reveals that Service worked as a store clerk in Cowichan Bay in 1899 so maybe he felt a connection to the local paper.
So Service is memorialized in both the name of a pub on the site of his former workplace and on a small plaque on a back road in rural Vancouver Island.
You can check out the Bard and Banker and their fine selection of beer on tap here and for more info on Robert Service here.
Robert Service was one of my mom’s favorite poets and as such is an important personal link to the island’s history and my family. I didn’t know all this about him before, so this was an extremely interesting post for me to visit and enjoy, thanks for publishing this Don!