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Richard Nugent Stoker

B. 31 October 1851 at Artane Lodge, Fairview, Dublin, Ireland

D. 14 June 1931 at Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

 

Educated at Rathmines School, Dublin,

licensed by Kings and Queens College of Physicians, Dublin, Ireland.

In July 1873, was licensed to practice surgery by the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.

Married Susan Harden of Raheny, Dublin 1875

 

Richard Nugent Stoker, A Family Perspective

 

Like Tom and their younger brother George, Dick had a lifelong love of nature and the outdoors, inspired in large part by Charles Benson, Rathmines School’s founder and headmaster—a keen naturalist, and married to Susan Stoker’s oldest sister, Fanny.

Dick entered the Indian Medical Service as a Surgeon in September 1874. He served in the Afghan campaign, after which he was appointed Garrison Surgeon of Fort Attock, a post he held until his promotion to Surgeon Major in 1886, when he was posted to one of the newly raised Gurkha battalions. The Sikkim campaign of 1888 took him to the North East Frontier of India and the forcing of the Jelapla Pass. 

Through steady promotions, Dick became Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel in 1894, six years before his retirement.   

Dick preferred the more secluded outposts where he was free to hunt and fish, and had the time to record what he took. He collected specimens, which he preserved, packed, and sent to back to ‘civilization’ for documentation. Dick’s letters and charts detailing “exact measurements and weights,” feather descriptions, and habitats of birds he shot near Attock were published in Stray Feathers: Journal of Ornithology for India and its Dependencies, Vol 10, 1887, edited by Allan Hume, ornithological expert, later turned botanist, and founding father of the Indian National Congress. 

A collection of Dick’s sketches and paintings reveals an artist’s hand with an Irish sense of humor. He labeled his work casually: “A grass cricket half painted, for he would not stay quiet,” “Cockroaches, they are very common in the houses,” “Lots of these beetles on the roads,” “ Flying bug of some sort,” “Such a noise as this bee makes: Green in the body is beautiful. I cannot put it in.”

It was Dick and Susan’s plan to relocate to Tasmania after his retirement, but while traveling, they fell in love with the wilderness of British Columbia, Canada, and bought acreage on Vancouver Island. The area had become popular with the Anglo-Indian military officers and civil servants—travel writers and word of mouth between friends extolled the area’s climate, scenery, and relaxed yet polite way of life. The Stokers returned to stay in 1900, spending the long Canadian winters in a comfortable, two-story, white clapboard house they built in Maple Bay, and the summers in a log cabin on Lake Cowichan, where Dick continued to hunt and fish, and where they both worked to establish a vast, naturally landscaped rhododendron garden—the genesis for Finnerty Gardens, a part of the University of Victoria.

 

      W. Parker Stoker 2018 

Medals awarded to Richard Stoker, sold at auction in 2013. (£1,080 / US$ 1,721)

"Three to Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel R.N. Stoker, Indian Medical Service, Afghanistan 1878-80, no bar (Surgn R.N. Stoker Indn Medl Dt); India General Service 1854-95, one bar, Sikkim 1888 (Surgn Major R.N. Stoker I.M.D.); India General Service 1895-1902, one bar, Relief of Chitral 1895 (Surgn Lt Col R.N. Stoker I.M.S.) Toned, good very fine. (3)”

To the buyer, we say, keep them well.

  Park Named in Honor of Richard Nugent Stoker

Lake Cowichan Gazette, Lake Cowichan, British Columbia 

18 October 2010 

After a months-long competition to name the new park and trail system in the Bald Mountain Peninsula's Woodland Shores development, the brand new signs donning the park and trial's new names were unveiled Wednesday, October 13. It was revealed that George DeLure's suggestion to name the park after the Stoker family was the winning one.

           The Stoker family, headed by Richard Stoker and his wife Susan, were the original owners of the Bald Mountain peninsula area's waterfront University of Victoria property. Richard purchased the property in 1893, and Susan sold the property in 1934, a few years after Richard's death.

         "They were the first people on that property," DeLure said, of his decision to have the park named after the Stokers. Although the Simpsons, who owned the land after the Stokers, donated the land to the University of Victoria, it was the Stokers who were first there, building the first cabin, and creating the first garden.

          An interesting fact about Richard Stoker, a doctor and a colonel in the India Army, is that he was the brother of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.

          Also interesting is that Susan, who was deaf as a result of malaria medication, was an accomplished painter. She painted many pieces with watercolours of local flowers and plants in the area, many of which are no longer seen in the area. These paintings are now in a Victoria museum.

          Stoker Park is a waterfront park in the Woodland Shores development on the Bald Mountain Peninsula, and consists of a parking area, a large sign with its namesake, a covered picnic table area, a large grass play area, a bathroom, a trail to the water, and two little beaches.

The new trail system, named the Denninger Trails, is located across the road and down a bit from Stoker Park. The Denninger Trails are named after Phillip Denninger, another pioneer of the area.

"He built most of the trails on Bald Mountain, and even at that time they were named after him," Youbou/Meade Creek Parks Commission chair Marcia Stewart said. "This just makes it official."

Bald Mountain area resident Roger Wiles was the one responsible for selecting Denninger as the trail's namesake.

The Woodland Shores developers paid for the creation of these parks, with the CVRD taking care of their maintenance from here on. Of the 1,200 acres of land that makes up the Woodland Shores development, 895 has been handed over to the CVRD, designated as parks land.

A three acre park on the property, complete with a play structure, and surrounded by lots, has also been completed, on site. At this point, Stewart said that the area's parks budget is remaining the same as last year, with a recent budgetary meeting with the CVRD confirming this.

 

Copyright 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette

Tyler Clarke