Bob-sleds of this configuration were commonly
used in regions accustomed to heavy snowfall to haul a wide
variety of ‘cargo’. It was ideal for moving long
loads such as lumber or pipe, or when a cargo body was added,
it could easily haul almost anything that would fit. Many
of the latter bodies were purpose-built, as in this case,
by the purchaser.
Thomas Deasy, who was Victoria Fire Chief in the 1890s, knew that if the City experienced a major snowfall, fire apparatus likely wouldn't be able to respond to alarms. A Bob-sled was the answer. Instead of cargo, however, a large box could be easily carry firefighters, and the necessary equipment.
He purchased the 'gear'- basically everything
apart from the box--around 1895, but as it turned out, it
remained unused, in storage, until February 1916 when a blizzard
hit Victoria. Deasy's purchase appeared to be exactly what
was needed: wheeled fire rigs were unable to move in the heavy
A box was quickly built, dropped onto the
gear, and loaded with the necessary equipment. Although it
was placed into service, it did not work as well as hoped
- the snow was probably too deep and the runners too narrow.
Luck was however with the firefighters and there weren't any
fires. This apparatus did enable the VFD to maintain a presence
in downtown Victoria until the roads cleared enough for conventional
apparatus to respond.
Text: David Parker, Historian/Curator,
Photo: Dave Noren, VFDHS
Working from the preserved
original, Dave Noren, VFDHS,
built this professional-quality, museum standard, replica.