Saanich Police Chief Thomas Hastings on a motorcycle

Police Chief fought bootlegging, rode first Saanich Police Harley

In February 1920, Thomas Hastings joined Saanich Police after serving the Canadian Military Police Corps and in First World War.

When the District of Saanich was incorporated in 1906, one of the first actions of the new council was the appointment of a police officer. By 1919, Saanich Police had a budget of $5,000 and employed a chief and two constables. Patrols of the municipality were carried out on horseback until a bicycle was purchased as a cost saving measure.

In February 1920, Thomas Hastings joined Saanich Police as a constable.  Hastings had served with the Canadian Military Police Corps during the First World War.  His attestation papers of May 1918 describe him as 39 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. Following his demobilization at William Head in January 1920, he joined thousands of other returning soldiers looking for work.

Hastings started his career in Scotland in 1898. Records at the Edinburgh City Archives show that he joined the Edinburgh Police at age 20 as a 5th Class Constable and reached the position of 2nd Class Constable in 1900. Born in Scotland on Nov. 11, 1878, Hastings married Ann Gordon in the early 1900s and the family immigrated to Canada in 1905, settling in Victoria where Hastings joined the Victoria Police.

In Victoria, the family built a home on Washington Avenue but later moved to Saanich. The 1921 census shows Hastings, his wife Annie, and their three children living in their five room home on Inez Drive.

Hastings’ work as a constable in Saanich was demanding. In 1922, Saanich Police attended 902 complaints, including serious charges of theft, assault, and use of firearms. In February 1925, the Board of Police Commissioners offered Hastings the position of Chief of Police with a salary of $150 per month plus $50 for transportation.  Hastings accepted, assuring the Board that he would keep peace and order in the municipality.

Hastings was respected for his fairness. In dealing with juvenile offenders, he was in favour of giving the culprit a word of advice rather than pressing charges. Bootlegging activities kept the force busy in the 1920s. In his 1925 report, Hastings described “repeated visits to supposed Bootlegging Joints at West Saanich Road” which were difficult to investigate as they were run as private houses. To help the police with their duties, Saanich Council authorized the purchase of a Harley Davidson motorcycle at a cost of $525.

 

Thomas Hastings served the municipality until 1927. He died in August of that year, at age 48, following surgery at St Joseph’s Hospital.  His funeral was attended by police forces from Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay and Esquimalt, with Saanich Constable F. Cawsey on his motorcycle leading the procession to Royal Oak Burial Park.

 

 

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