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Oldham Road

Oldham Road is a cul-de-sac off Silvermine Road. The road is not far from the property where Lieutenant Colonel Frank Trevor Oldham and his new wife, Katherine, settled around 1911. Soon after their wedding, the couple moved to thirty acres on the Old Victoria Road, Shawnigan Lake (in the vicinity of Plumtree Road). The motivation to move here was a need to find a place where they could live cheaply on Oldham’s pension. He had recently retired from the British Army after service in China and more than twenty years in India. Once here, they cleared just enough land to build their house, Balgonie, plant a garden, and keep a cow.


Other than his absence for service in the Great War (WWI), Oldham lived on this property until late in his life. He died in 1960 at 90. Frank and Katherine raised four children, two sons born before the war and two daughters born after the war. The Oldhams became very involved in the community. Over the years, Frank was Justice of the Peace, Chairman of the Boy Scout Association at Mill Bay, President of the Shawnigan Farmer’s Institute on more than one occasion, President of the Malahat Branch of the Canadian Legion and was very involved in veteran’s affairs. He was a strong supporter of the Red Cross and instrumental in forming a local unit in 1939.  In addition, The Spring Flower Show at Shawnigan Lake, which for many years was under the auspices of the Farmers’ Institute, was largely arranged by a committee under Oldham’s Chairmanship. Both Oldhams were very involved with the local Anglican Community.

It is hard to imagine that Frank Oldham had any spare time, but he is credited with introducing the game of badminton to Shawnigan in the old SLAA hall. He had played the game in India. He was also renowned for his garden produce, which always collected prizes at the Cobble Hill Fair.


Frank’s eldest daughter Frances, who was educated in the area as a child, went on to become an eminent Doctor. While she was working in Chicago, the US Federal Drug Administration hired her. During this time, she discovered the horrific effects of Thalidomide, a drug given to pregnant women to ward off morning sickness symptoms, and she fought hard to stop the approval of the drug. Due to her diligence, Thalidomide was not approved. Although many children were born with serious birth defects due to Thalidomide, Frances Oldham Kelsey was given credit, and multiple honours, for diverting a much larger tragedy. Frances Kelsey Secondary School is named in her honour.





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