In 1892 the BC government approved a telegraph line from Nanaimo to Comox. The 65-mile line strung thru’ the forest had just a narrow path for the lineman to repair it when storm after storm brought the line down. At the turn of the century Tom Hudson became lineman. In 1901 he built a cottage south of the Wilson Hotel for his wife, Nellie Piket and family: a daughter Gertie and three boys, Tom, Len and Reg. The boys were a great help. They were often called out of school to assist their Dad in repairing the lines. As Mr. Hudson was also lineman for the phone system, he worked putting in the telephone line for Denman and Hornby. The boys and their friends cut down the brush and were paid in candy and pop.
Tom was a larger-than-life kind of man, a great athlete, who used to sweep the board at local contests in high jumping, shot putting, races, and wrestling. He also served for a time as Special-Policeman. He was the first to own a car in Union Bay, a 1908 red Rambler that arrived aboard the City of Nanaimo. Tommy proudly drove it off the ferry and past the school where the kids had been let out of school to see the marvel. Later, he had the dealership for Chevrolets which served the whole district.
In 1922 the Wilson Hotel burned in a spectacular blaze which spread north to the Medical dispensary, south to Hudson’s house, and across the highway to Waddy Wilson’s home.
Tom rebuilt a lovely home but died soon after in 1924.
In the late 20’s Reg moved their house closer to the highway and built a store on the front. Hudson’s Grocery and Confectionery was in business for the next 40 years. Reg assisted his mother until she died, then with the help of his wife, Violet Feely, carried on until he contracted tuberculosis and was sent to Tranquille. The store was rented to William and Clara Bowden. Will, a butcher, built a modern butcher shop on the north end, which boasted a large walk-in fridge for the prosperous meat business. Clara ran the general store and confectionery, with a counter and four stools where she served up delicious milk shakes.
After the Bowdens retired in 1950, Desmond Stewart and Fred Peters ran the business for five years until Mr. Hudson’s health was restored, then he and his wife Vi were once again behind the counters. After Reg died, Vi closed the store, but remained living in the house at the back until she was over 90 years old. Now owned by their daughter Gloria, the house is rented out.
By Janette Glover-Geidt