The name/word “Tally-Ho” has various meanings throughout history, most commonly:
- As a cry made by huntsmen on catching sight of the fox, to alert other members of the hunt. Here its origin goes back to 13th century France where “taille haut” was used as a war-cry: “Taille” is the cutting edge of a sword and “haut” means high or ‘raised up’. So the original meaning might be something close to “Swords up!”.
- As a descriptor for a fast stagecoach or other horse-drawn vehicle used for sightseeing.
- As a call used by Royal AirForce fighter pilots in the Second World War to tell their controller they were about to engage enemy aircraft.
- In the Royal Navy it was the name of a T-class submarine (HMS Tally-Ho, 942-1967) which was the only vessel to bear the name.
There were a number of Tally-Ho stages in Victoria in the late 1800s, each operated by independent businessmen. This photo of the old ad for the Mt Tolmie Oaklands Tally-Ho stage dates to the 1890s: this stage was operated by Mr. WBC Mewburn. A jaunt from Mt. Tolmie to Victoria would have cost 15¢ back then. The bottom line on this poster reads “The above stage is the finest running out of Victoria… being well adapted for [among other things] shooting parties”!
On May 9, 1903, the first Tally-Ho stage made its debut, carrying 12 passengers, and pulled by four horses (see bottom newspaper clipping). The stage was imported from Rhode Island, USA.
On the maiden voyage, the Mayor was given a cornet to sound as the horn that was required under city regulation, had not yet arrived. The newspaper, The Colonist, reported that, “…Mayor McCandless, after nearly exploding his cheeks, succeeded in securing the emission of a note which resembled the last gasp of a pig under a gate.”
A Victoria Transfer Company newspaper ad from October 7, 1909 reads “We have the only six horse turnouts in Victoria. Driven by men who have had a lifelong experience on the Cariboo Road and the White Pass and Yukon trails”. The company had only very experienced teamsters on their rigs, coming to Victoria after leaving Frank Barnard Sr’s Barnard Express.
The original Tally-Ho stages were drawn by teams of 4 to 8 horses, depending on the route. They needed these large teams, not to pull the weight, but to brace the wagons when going downhill, or to hold the wagons when stopped on a hill.
The first record of a City Bylaw governing the Tally-Ho is in 1919, where it specifies that the Tally-Ho wagons would be located on the East side of Menzies, south of Belleville, where they would be in direct line with passengers disembarking the ships.