Sapper

John Scales

John Scales was born in Yorkshire in 1822.  He was married to Mary Sarah "Sarah" Excell and they had 2 children, John Henry (1854)  and Elizabeth (1857).  The two children were born on the Isle of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean whilst Scales was posted there.  In early 1858, Scales contracted Cholera and was Invalided home.  He, his wife, and children, then boarded the "Thames City" for duty with the Columbia Detachment. 

On Board the "Thames City" Scales was recognized as the Master of Ceremonies for "The Theatre Royale".  He was also described as "a finished artist in the Terpsichorean Arts."

As a Sapper Scales' Regimental Pay per Diem would have been 1s. 2 1/2d. plus Working Pay per Diem of 1s. to 4s.

Upon landing in the Colony, Scales was to resume is trade as a Stone Mason or Stone-cutter, but was delegated to be Colonel Moody's orderly.

It appears that Mrs. Moody took to Mrs. Scales.

"I have engaged a "Nurse", a canny young Soldier's Wife, I hope she may turn out a 2nd Mrs. Cassidy.  Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Spalding both expect to require her services about the time I do so I explained to Mrs. Scales that I must have her and keep her for a month, for here if ladies can get a Nurse for a week they consider that more than long enough!!"

--22nd September, 1859
The Letters of Mary S. Moody

Colonel Moody acquired a great deal of land by the time he sailed for England in 1863 - about 2,500 acres - lying principally between Burnaby lake and the Fraser River.  The property included a 5 acre farm (Maryfield) with buildings for a few milk cows and some fruit trees.  The farm work was performed by Scales, whose son tells the story of how when one night the cattle did not come home as usual.  The next day Scales and his son, took a lunch and searched the valley of the Brunette for the animals. 

"Trout were so thick in the lake now called Burnaby", states Mr. Scales (Son of Sapper Scales),  "that when my father and I went out there to round up some stray cattle, we made a hook of bent pins and in a few minutes had a flour sack full.  I believe we were the first white men to fish the lake.

--Date and Publication unknown

Upon Disbandment, the Scales built a log house in Burnaby. 

"If you were late for church," Mr. Scales (Son of Sapper Scales) states, "you could hop over the logs by a short cut.  But with plenty of time we would walk around by the trail.

There were about one or two shacks at the place called New Westminster when we arrived.  But it wasn't long after that, with the Gold Rush, that little town grew up.  Excitement ran high and to me  as a boy it was quite thrilling.  I well remember miners coming in with their pants all patched in flour sacks.  But they often had the real stuff and sure knew how to spend it.

I remember one fellow coming in and throwing big nuggets through a large mirror in the saloon.  When Scott, the hotel-owner protested, he retorted, "Well, ain't there enough there to pay for it?"  Then he would spot a long seat of bums or loungers and to create a bit of fun he'd scramble a few handfuls of nuggets among them.

One man wanted his gold made into bricks and it took seven bricks like our ordinary size to use it all.

--Date and publication unknown.

On the 31st May 1864, a fierce fire swept through the woods north of New Westminster, the chief damage was done at Sapperton.  The Scales family saved their lives by huddling in the bottom of a dry well behind their log cabin.

Later, Scales poisons his thumb and his hand was in a sling for nine months, making him unable to work.

According to the BC online Archives,

Ľa son, George Scales, born 24  June 1865 in New Westminster, was baptised 4 October 1865, at the Barracks (St. Mary's), New Westminster.

Ľa daughter, Avis Angeline Scales, was baptised 8 Oct 1867 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster, New Westminster.  Avis has living descendants on the lower mainland of British Columbia.

Ľa daughter, Rosman Elesia Venes Scales, was baptised 1 Jan 1871, at Ebenizer, Nanaimo.

Scales goes on to live in Vancouver in 1867 and Nanaimo and finally taking his Crown Land Grant at Sechelt in 1869.

His wife, Sarah, died in Nanaimo, at the age of 59, on 9 October 1892.

John Scales dies on July 13th 1906.

"Mr. Scales (Son of Sapper Scales), who lives at 3520 Main St., says: "I've been in British Columbia for eighty years - never have been out.  But I like it here; and I haven't even wanted to move away."

--12th April, 1939
The Daily Province

Our thanks to Laurie, great granddaughter of John and Sarah for some of the above information.