that make Victoria shine
City Guide 2013
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City Guide 2013
50 things everyone should know about Victoria BY DANIELLE POPE
Before you plan out the rest of your year, here are a few select facts that might influence your to-do list for the best places to gawk in Victoria. From lesser-known ghostly cemeteries and historic lighthouses to breakfast hotspots and popular parks, Monday’s 2013 City Guide may have you looking at your city in a whole new way.
Whosaykum, or “muddy place” is the First Nations name given to the mud flats that were eventually filled in to build the Empress Hotel. It was a prime spot for crabbing for indigenous people. Since it opened in 1908, a long line of known faces have graced the restaurant or rooms of Rattenbury’s famous hotel: Shirley Temple, Katherine Hepburn, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, The Tragically Hip, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand, Harrison Ford as well as HRH Queen Elizabeth and crew. But what would a historic hotel be without a few ghost stories? In 1987, a woman asked if other guests had received a similar late-night visitor: a little girl who had watched over her bed and then floated across the room. There are also the stories of an early 20th century maid, who shows up now and again on the sixth floor to help with the cleaning.
While VicPD is better known for a stern stance against homelessness, the Victoria Police Museum contains many lessrealized artifacts, like a collection of antique uniforms and weaponry, as well as centuryold books of criminal charges and even mug shots. They are the oldest police force west of the Great Lakes, after all.
which also grows in the park. Harvesting was a seasonal social and cultural activity and a time of reunion: in May and June, families paddled canoes to the shores of Beacon Hill to set up temporary working camps.
Beacon Hill Park has historically been the place to go for locals and has hosted cricket matches since 1866, horse racing in the 1860s and “love-ins” in the 1960s. Now, the park allows camping from 7pm-7am, is home to new pedestrian-only roads, a petting zoo and iconic blue camas lilies that used to be an essential part of the indigenous diet and cultural life. The Lekwungen People harvested the bulbs for their own food and traded large quantities with west coast Nuuchah-nulth People, while carefully avoiding the poisonous white flowered death camas,
Walk along certain downtown blocks and you’ll see the effects of old glass. For almost 100 years, sunlight has filtered through translucent glass blocks in the sidewalks of Victoria streets to the area below. In the early 1900s, many downtown basements extended to the curb and provided storage areas for merchants and access for coal delivery. The glass turned purple over time as the manganese (used in the manufacture of glass during that time) oxidized in the sunlight. Remnants can be seen on Johnson, in front of the Sayward building on Douglas, near
BEACON HILL PARK
the Ritz Hotel on Fort, along Broad, near the Montrose apartments on Blanshard and the Hamley building on Broughton.
Victoria has been called Canada’s most walkable city, with an estimated 10 per cent of Victoria residents walking to work each day. While the tourist’s scenic walkway stretches from the Ogden Point Breakwater (complete with controversial new handrails) to Ross Bay, there are strolls all over town waiting to happen — try a cycle along the Galloping Goose, or a jaunt around the Inner Harbour.
City Guide 2013
The B.C. Legislature may be the spot to snap a Victoria-perfect picture, but what few tourists (or even locals) realize is that the “Golden Boy” statue on top of the main dome is made of copper and plated in gold, and is of Capt. George Vancouver.
Every city has a gritty underground. Victoria abounds with tales of mysterious tunnels and underground passageways, with some even rumoured to host band practices in the acoustic domains. Many waterfront tunnels are the remains of old streams, which were culverted to maximize the use of land around the former streambeds. One such stream originates in the vicinity of Cook and Oxford Streets, and can be heard flowing underground near St. Ann’s Academy. Many of these streams were used by First Nations for navigation and as early sources of potable water.
The first graveyard in Victoria was located on the corner of Douglas and Johnson. While a quick glance shows that only businesses cover the area now, another area, known as the “old burying ground,” served as a cemetery from 1855 to 1873. A City park since 1908, Pioneer Square is home to nearly 1,300 interments, marked by a number of heritage gravestones and bench tombs. Many fur traders, gold seekers and navy men are buried there, and more than a few “illegal” burials saw Chinese residents placed in the space, often with no markers.
The city offers a berth of spiritual opportunity, from chakra workshops and yoga classes to silent prayer meditation sanctuaries. Another guide is the labyrinth at UVic: a 10-meter-wide map modelled after the one on the floor of the 12th century Chartres France cathedral. Instructional aides show users how to walk the labyrinth to relieve stress and gain spiritual insight. Call
ahead to Multifaith Services Centre to find out when the labyrinth is offered: 250-721-8338.
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Speaking of water, a clear spring on a private lot behind Langham Court Theatre in Fairfield was once tapped by the Crystal Springs Soda Company, which bottled pop in the early part of the last century. Other springs throughout the city included one in Fernwood (an area once referred to as Springridge), which supplied much of Victoria with its water at one time. Now, places like UVic campus have all but banned the use of bottled water for environmental sympathy.
City Guide 2013
COVER ARTIST: MARTIN MACHACEK
ocal artist Martin Machacek doesn’t see Victoria’s landmarks the same way everyone else does. His paintings of local icons like “Old Blue,” the legislature, or the Fairmont Empress Hotel are so detailed and abstract that most people think his work must be computer generated using photomanipulation software. “That’s the number-one question I get when I’m down on the causeway,” says Machacek, who has been vending in the Inner Harbour for the last four years. Machacek began painting in this style, which he calls architectural etherealism, about 10 years ago, after a lengthy career as a graphic designer, sign maker, custom framer and architectural illustrator. He moved to Victoria in 2010 with his wife and business partner, Dana, and the couple now spends six months of the year sitting together on the causeway, chatting to visitors and selling art. In the off-months, Machacek’s work can be seen at the popular Blue Fox Café (currently home to his Johnson Street Bridge painting at 919 Fort), where he was artist in residence for five years, at Willie’s Bakery (537 Johnson), the Monterey Barber Shop (2250 Oak Bay) and Vic’s Steakhouse inside the Harbour Towers Hotel (345 Quebec).
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City Guide 2013
MY VICTORIA: BARRY GEORGE
Forty years on Victoria’s buses Barry George — Senior Safety and Training Officer for BC Transit (Provincial)
hey’re paying me to drive this bus out here and I’d just do this drive for fun. Now, it’s nice to be paid, but it doesn’t feel like work!” As of next year, Barry George will have been transporting Victorians and B.C.’ers for 40 years. He’s a part of the Million Milers, a distinction reserved for transit drivers who have driven for 20 years without a preventable accident. It’s actually been 33 years, so closer to a million and a half, but who’s counting? After 33 years George became a trainer and his work has brought him to many of the 55 BC Transit properties, including Whistler during the Olympics. Victoria has been home since 1966 when George’s parents, both schoolteachers, moved he and his siblings from Alberta to the Island where they’d spent summers. George went to university at UVic and became a driver on a whim. He didn’t think he’d stay at it for long, but once he started driving and interacting with the public there was no going back. Unlike other cities, Victoria’s bus drivers aren’t stuck in smog and fumes. Instead, they enjoy fresh air, decent pay, great benefits and some of the best scenery on earth. The people aren’t too bad either, eclectic though they may be. George recalls one young lady he used to pick up on his Vic High route. She was in head-to-toe gothic wear, make-up and a rather sullen expression. It became a personal mission for
During the worst drought in the recorded history of Victoria in 1951, a much publicized rainmaker from Saskatchewan arrived with his “apparatus” to make it rain. Done partly as a publicity stunt and partly out of desperation to rescue the withering strawberry crop, the cost of the “artificial precipitation” was covered by the British America Paint Co. and The Daily Colonist.
George to get a conversation going. Sure enough, three days and a slew of compliments later, her walls dropped. For the girl’s mother who joined her in transit one day, this was a miracle. She said, “What have you done to my daughter? I haven’t heard her speak a kind word in ages.” George replied, “You’ve got a great daughter there. You should try talking to her differently.” Just one of the many instances where he learned not to judge a Victorian book by its cover.
FAVOURITE ROUTES #6: It starts in Esquimalt and runs up Quadra and into Royal Oak. It’s a long journey with the most interesting and dynamic group of travellers. #75: Starting in downtown and going out to central Saanich, this country route boasts beautiful flora and landscapes to Butchart Gardens. M
Few have come to the Island without learning about its historic seamonsters. One of the region’s favourite legends is the Cadborosaurus. “Caddy” was frequently seen off Chatham Island during the 1930s, with many respectable citizens reporting sightings. More than 300 sightings have filtered in during the past 200 years from Oak Bay, Saanich Inlet, the Inner Harbour, even Alaska. In 1943, two CADDY police officers reported seeing a “huge sea serpent with a horselike head” in Georgia Strait, which turned out to be a bull seal lion leading six others in a straight line.
Victoria is ripe with blossoming protesters, but none more famous than the Raging Grannies, that celebrate their 26th anniversary in 2013. The Grannies were created in a James Bay living room in 1987 when a group of mature women, anxious about possible nuclear threats, started the movement using street theatre and satirical song to get across their messages promoting peace and social justice. Today, there are more than 65 chapters of grannies across the continent. (Read more about the Grannies on P23.)
Victoria’s first mayor was Thomas Harris, who was also a well-known butcher. Harris was a large man who required a special chair to be built for him in Council Chambers, and is also the namesake of Harris Green. Fiftyeight mayors have served Victoria since its incorporation. Of those, only one woman has held the title of “Your Worship” — former Mayor Gretchen Brewin held that post from 1986-1990.
City Guide 2013
Drink up: Victoria was the site of the first commercial brewery in Western Canada. Established by William Steinberger in 1858, the Victoria Brewery of Swan Lake later became known as the Victoria-Phoenix Brewing Company, and eventually was bought out by Labatts. Now, six well-known breweries keep the city pie-eyed, and the Great Canadian Beer festival celebrates it’s 21st year in the city in 2013.
Tick tock. The City Hall clock was installed in 1891 and, in 2006, the City of Victoria restored the clock tower’s exterior to its authentic appearance and designated the tower as a significant heritage landmark in the Old Town District. Before the mid-20th century, the majority of people
CITY HALL CLOCK
did not own a watch — a tall clock tower was placed near a town’s centre so that it could be seen by many. Most residents now are too focused on their smart phones to even know there is a tower.
Victoria’s last streetcar made its final trip in 1948. The BC Electric Railway Company’s openobservation car began service in Victoria on July 11, 1909. Three-hour trips around the rail system cost just 50 cents. Now, the city is abuzz with chatter on light-rail transit, striking buses and even a passenger ferry from Victoria to the West Shore, all of which still have yet to see any action in 2013.
While the Island is the proud host of many local food movements, in 1936 Safeway bought the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores,
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City Guide 2013
MY VICTORIA: KIRSTEN GRANT
Creating art on the human body Kristin Grant — Artist, Urbanheart
s active and conscious Victorites, we are very much connected to our bodies — in health and spirit. It seems only natural that we would be inspired to create art with our bodies, too!” You’ve likely seen Kristin Grant’s work upon the fleshy canvases of fellow Victorians in one way or another. Be it zombies inspired by the Victoria Zombie Walk, Ballet Victoria’s dancers or burlesque performers like Miss Hoop Tastic and Bloody Betty, her airbrushing has taken to the living over the past two years. For Grant, collaboration is the name of the game. This year she’s worked with Vancouver Island Models and Photographers, cinematographer Daniel Curreuthers and Dave Wallace, local music producer Soul Fix as well as Sachika, whose music video Not Gunna Play has been viewed 115,000 times on YouTube. Her work with the human body is something she attributes to her 10
years spent in Victoria. When she first arrived on the Island, Grant took some classes at Vancouver Island School of Art and explored paint and mixed media. The strong connection she feels Victorians have to body, health and spirit naturally lends it and our selves to her artistic touch. Add to that Victoria’s showcasing of local art from shops to street corners and Grant’s love for the Island deepened. For the “freshest of the fresh” in Vic art, Grant’s top picks are: ■ Wolf/Sheep art collective, 1215 Government. ■ Victoria Emerging Art Gallery, 977A Fort. ■ Sunset Room, 401 Herald.
COMING SOON… ■ InterArtsCentre: collaboration with Olio, Cinevic & Makerspace. ■ “Unseen”: new exhibition exploring human emotion through multiple mediums with Grant, David Hunwick (The Sculpture Studio) and Richard Mar (Advanced School of Hair and Esthetics); May 17, 8pm at The Sculpture Studio (211 Harbour). M
which resulted in Safeway being the longestestablished grocery chain on the Island. Then, a package of bacon sold for 15 cents, two heads of California lettuce could be bought for nine cents and beef was sold for under 20 cents per pound. Clearly, these prices vanished with the passing decades.
Fan Tan Alley is still the narrowest street in all of Canada, at barely 1.5 metres (five feet) wide. The alley was named for a popular gambling game of placing bets on the number of buttons tipped out of a cup. In 1910, there were a number of clubs where the game was illegally played and occasionally raided by police. Today, some of those games still exist in an exclusive invite-only underground movement made illegal by the hefty $5,000 buy-in that players put in for a $100,000 cash pot.
Vancouver doesn’t get all the glamour when it comes to Canada’s version of Hollywood. Films made in and around Victoria include Lucky Fugitives (1935), Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicholson (1970), and Little Women starring Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon (1994). When it comes to real fame, however, Victoria also lays claim to electing Canada’s first black politician. Miffin Gibbs was Victoria’s — and Canada’s — first black city councillor, elected in 1867. Gibbs was born in Philadelphia, and was well known for his role in the migration of African Americans from California to Vancouver Island in the 1850s.
There are dozens of greater and lesser known lakes to explore in Victoria, but one spot to be sure to dip your toes in is Thetis Lake Park. While the Thetis Lake monster was exposed as a hoax, the 20-minute trip from downtown is still worth it. Enjoy a swim off the sandy beach, or fish for rainbow trout. Walk the trails, have lunch at one of the picnic areas or use a kayak or canoe to explore the conjoined lakes (no power boats). It’s a great place to kick back and relax on a hot summer day.
It’s poetry to the ears to hear that poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling visited Victoria — back in October of 1907. He was so taken with the city that he told a Colonist reporter at the time, “I am going to take a motor drive to see the beauties of the place. But I really don’t see why I should move away from here. In Victoria, it is a waste of time to look for beauty. It is always with you.”
City Guide 2013
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City Guide 2013
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Ghosts abound on Dallas Road. Ross Bay Cemetery is located on the site of Isabella Rossâ€™ old farm. Ross purchased the property from James Douglas in 1853, making her the first registered female landowner in B.C. The Old Cemeteries Society operates tours each Sunday on a variety of themes that illustrate many fascinating aspects of Victoriaâ€™s past, through the many lives of those who are buried at Ross Bay.
When it comes to notable women, Marilyn Bell was the first swimmer to successfully cross the Straight of Juan de Fuca in 1956 at the age of 18. This marked her second attempt, after being pulled, unconscious, from the water eight kilometres from shore on her first try. During take-two, she started at Port Angeles and was greeted by a crowd of more than 30,000 people at a beach near Beacon Hill Park. A marker on Dallas Road commemorates this achievement. Bell turned in her towel for distance swimming after this accomplishment, saying there was no greater goal to pursue.
The Ogden Point breakwater hit news this year when the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority decided to install controversial handrails on the historically rail-less path that juts into the water. The structure was completed in 1916, requiring over one million tonnes of rock and 10,000 granite blocks. Since those beginnings, the Ogden Point Enhancement Society completed
OGDEN POINT BREAKWATER
several phases of â€œenhancement,â€? including The Unity Wall, which brings the history of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations to the forefront through the work of young Aboriginal artists.
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Residents were ablaze in 1910, when a fire attacked what was then known as the Arcade Block of Government Street and destroyed an entire city block from Fort to Trounce Alley. This resulted in the extension of View Street from Broad to Government. Nowadays, Victorians are more likely to get heated up about the chosen demolition and replacement of historic structures like the old Johnson Street Blue Bridge.
Prohibition â€” the alcohol kind â€” came to B.C. and Victoria in 1917. Within just four years, the failures were so apparent (such as a thriving black market, arbitrary enforcement and punishment and rampant corruption) that alcohol was established as a commodity, subject to government regulation and taxation as it is today, yet the City of Victoria remained â€œdryâ€? for several more decades. If that story sounds current, itâ€™s because advocacy groups like Sensible BC are making it their mission to prove B.C. Bud deserves the same respect: marijuana enforcement is costing B.C. more than any other province in the country, about 10.5 million taxpayer dollars each year.
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City Guide 2013
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City Guide 2013
BROAD STREET’S SECRET POEM
Walk down Broad Street and you may notice the granite street signs embedded in the sidewalk have a series of lines across their top. While these may seem random, if you happen to be a WWII mariner you’ll recognize them as fragments of Morse code — though it’s all pretty enigmatic. The lines code fragments of a poem entitled “Broad Street Blues” by Michael Kenyon, written during the time of the Broad Street Renovation Project, in 1998. The poem included references to drugs and the sex
trade and was judged to be “too racy” for display on the street. Instead, segments of the poem were quietly included in the project when the city planner, Mickey Lam, and the project architect, Christopher Rowe, found a creative way of displaying at least part of the work. The code was placed without any formal announcement or explanation.
The Victoria City Library moved from City Hall into a new structure on the corner of Yates and Blanshard in 1906. The neo-Classical stone building was constructed for $53,000, aNd was financed by American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. This move was controversial at the time, as Carnegie was linked to the Homestead riots and anti-monarchy groups. When the library opened in the new Carnegie building, only the first floor was used. By 1910, that floor had become too small to serve the needs of Victoria’s growing community. The reading room was moved to the second floor, followed by a games room on the same floor. Noise from the “gamesters” disrupted reading room users and the games were moved upstairs in 1913.
Victoria’s own Emily Carr was the youngest of five daughters and was born in a house on Carr Street, a little dirt road in the suburb of James Bay in 1871. Her childhood memoirs are contained in two books, “The Book of Small” and “Growing Pains,” while her paintings have become a staple of art movements, tributes and displays all over Canada.
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City Guide 2013
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City Guide 2013
MY VICTORIA: SEB BONET
Unlearning the lessons of our past Seb Bonet — Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group Research Coordinator
Victoria City Hall is the first and oldest surviving town hall in Western Canada, and is designated as a municipal heritage site and a National Historic Site of Canada. On August 2, 2012 the city celebrated its 150th anniversary. On Victoria Day, May 20 this year, all manner of special events and activities work up to the infamous parade, where over 120,000 people turn out to watch the marching bands, floats, jugglers and performers of every stripe. The parade travels down Douglas into downtown and takes about three hours to pass by.
ictoria — the city of gardens and heritage homes where people live halcyon lives that gravitate around parks, beaches and coffee shops. But all that is built on erasing the dispossession of the Lekwungen people of this land.” Seb Bonet grew up a child of privilege here in Victoria. It’s given him a unique perspective and a number of hurdles to overcome. On the one hand, the money invested in his education broadened his world views and afforded him the time to explore them further. On the other, he had to unlearn lifelong understandings based on the perspective this privilege taught. Unlearning the lessons of our past that tint the world we see is a universal process and, while in Bonet’s case it was personal, in Victoria’s case it’s collective. According to Bonet, the lives many Victorians enjoy are built on looking away from both the highly visible and incredibly veiled social ills many of its citizens face. Ills ranging from poverty to those of domestic violence and ecological devastation threaten the whole in its blindness. He says that taking part in social movements begins with understanding some of the cause of these ills like colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and ecological degradation. Bonet suggests asking the following: Am I benefitting from these systems? What would it mean not to? What do I do to close the gap?
VICTORIA’S SUCCESSFUL SOCIAL MOVEMENTS:
UVic is busy generating famous authors for the city, yet you can’t get far in Victoria without hitting a bookstore of some kind. Bolen Books, Russels and a handful of other stops offer more than just pages — Munro’s on Government is a must if only to see the magnificent architecture of the building. All are well stocked, with a broad selection of established and emerging authors. The remarkable thing about Victoria’s book scene, though, lies in the seemingly endless supply of small shops — there are specialty book stores for specific tastes in genre (from crime to witchcraft) and used shops where first editions can be found at reasonable prices.
Bonet’s love for Victoria is like his love for himself — it’s complicated. He loves Victoria for what it gave him and because there are so many people who take the above questions seriously. It’s part of the reason grassroots movements do well here. Movements like Idle No More are providing an opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past. The grassroots movements against poverty are a longstanding part of Victoria and Bonet expects they will remain strong.
VICTORIA’S NEEDED SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: Victoria exists on the backs of low-wage, non-unionized workers who keep the downtown and beyond running. This group is nearly completely excluded from the decision making process of the city. According to Bonet, what Victoria needs is a workers’ movement. M
DOUBLE DECKER BUS
When it comes to classic Victoria, nothing says City of Gardens like the doubledecker bus tours. The Royal Blue Line departs from the Port Angeles Ferry Terminal on Belleville and travels through Chinatown, over to Craigdarroch Castle, through Oak Bay Village, past Cattle Point and Uplands Park, through Beacon Hill Park and past Fisherman’s Wharf. Visitors can jump off the bus, explore the area and catch the next tour bus as it rolls in.
City Guide 2012
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Victoria offers plenty of opportunities to be a kid again. Fully automatic scooters are available at the Inner Harbour and only require a valid driver’s license. WildPlay, just out of town, may not be for the faint of heart but perfect for folks who want to check off some of the items on their bucket list: zip lines, rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets and other surprises. Sea kayaks give paddlers a chance to reflect on Victoria’s scenic coastline and surrounding islets. A wide variety of tours are available, ranging from a three-hour morning paddle and picnic to an evening paddle to watch the sunset.
Join the Navy — for a tour of the base, not a tour of duty. Bus tours are available Monday to Friday and a walking tour of the base is available every Saturday from June to August. The tours are guided and take in both the historical and modern aspects of Canada’s Pacific Fleet. The base has been around since 1845 and has over 1,500 buildings spread over 500 hectares. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk all of it.) See modern warships and the support that keep them running in this oneof-a-kind tour.
Gardens are an integral part of Victoria’s culture. While the 55-acre Butchart Garden typically gets all the glory, other less touristy options include UVic’s mini version, Finnerty Gardens, or the Fairfield-based Abkhazi Garden. Hatley Park and the gardens at Royal Roads University offers another full experience that often gets overlooked. Along with the plentiful peacocks — watch for the albino ones — Hatley Castle,
completed in 1908, is a prime attraction all on its own, and played house for the series of X-Men movies. The 650-acre grounds host three formal gardens (the Japanese, the Italian, and the Rose Garden), and the surrounding grounds are home to 250-yearold Douglas firs that are the oldest in the area.
2524 Estevan Ave., Victoria, V8R 2S7 www.padellaitalianbistro.com
Padella is a casual style, neighborhood bistro producing traditional Italian cuisine. Atmosphere is lively, service is quick and prices are reasonable at $7-$15 for lunch and $16-$24 for dinner. Menu items are fresh, local (whenever possible), and hand made.
Tuesday to Saturday Lunch: 11:30-2pm Dinner: 5pm to Close Private room available for business meetings or family celebrations. Set menu’s created with your budget in mind.
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Victoria’s famous ghost tour includes Old Town’s most haunted places.
Walking tours every night at 7:30 p.m. starting April 26th. Tours start outside the Visitor Information Centre
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MY VICTORIA: JOHN ADAMS
Ghosts still prowl streets of Victoria John Adams — Discover the Past Ghost Walks and History Tours
he physical surroundings form our folklore. In Victoria, the surrounding salt water, the bedrock, the mountains, all of these things physically hold the energy here of the people who’ve lived and died in the area.” John Adams first moved to Victoria in 1960, as an 11-year-old from Ontario. At the time, Victoria was far less developed, particularly the waterfront, old town and Chinatown. He left Victoria at age 20, but returned 10 years later. In 1979, a dream job came up at the Royal BC museum. After that, Adams worked for the heritage branch of the government, which he retired from in 2004. After helping to found the Old Cemetery Society in the 1980s, Adams began giving tours of the Ross Bay Cemetery as a way to stop the vandalism that had been occurring, and raise city council’s awareness about the need to protect the site. Up until then, city council had little interest in protecting the cemetery because it had received so few complaints about the damage it was suffering. After the tours, council was forced to take notice due to one of the largest letter writing campaigns the city had ever seen. The tours have continued every Sunday since. Adams’ current tour company, Discover The Past, started as ghost tours in his spare time while working for the government. After retiring, demand for the walks has kept him busy.
Archaeology and anthropology expose plenty of history left unwritten. Excavation at Finlayson Point near Dallas Road revealed a deep wide trench and “pallisade” that indicates a fortified area for protection against invasion during conflict. Whalebone and stone clubs were found at the location, likely used both for warfare and for hunting and fishing. Body armour and shoulder protection made from bone are believed to have been used as protection against attack — these artifacts likely date to an archaeological phase referred to as the Gulf of Georgia Period, approximately 1700 years ago.
38 COLIN CAYER
LITTLE KNOWN GHOST STORY: BELLE ADAMS AND CHARLIE KINCAID Charlie Kincaid was an African American from Texarkana, TX who came to Victoria at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. He rented a room at the Empire Hotel, now part of Market Square, and took up with Belle Adams, a prostitute from Seattle. Charlie was no stranger to breaking hearts and when Belle caught word that she was next, she confronted Charlie. In her fury, Belle slashed Charlie’s throat with his own straight razor. For her crime, Belle served five years, while Charlie was buried at Ross Bay Cemetery in a pauper’s grave. The ghosts of Belle Adams and Charlie Kincaid continue to haunt the site of the old Empire Hotel. Books fly from the shelves of the current businesses occupying the space. Water coolers, boxes and doors move on their own. But perhaps most eerie is the crackling laugh and shadowy figure of a woman, believed to be Belle, that occasionally disturbs today’s Market Square. M
Waddington Alley, located between Lower Johnson and Yates, was built in 1858 during the Gold Rush. The alley retained much of its history through the building materials used, including the Douglas fir blocks with which it was paved, the metal curb that edges the sidewalk and the clay bricks and granite in the buildings. Take a peek: the alleys and nooks of “Lo Jo” contain a rich texture of detail that brings this area’s history to life.
HORNE LAKE CAVES
One of the most spectacular adventures on the Island can be found within a few hours’ drive of Victoria — underground. Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park boasts seven different caves that are at least 120,000 years old. The experienced caver can be met with challenging tours, but the park also offers an easy one-hour family tour into the protected Riverbend Cave. Be warned: the inside of the caves are not lit, and helmets with lights are provided. All you need is a sense of adventure.
noisy when it rained. St. John the Divine was rebuilt in more traditional materials of brick and mortar in its current location on Quadra and Balmoral in 1912.
Eat some breakfast. Breakfast eateries go a long way to defining a city, and Victoria’s world-famous breakfast offerings are as diverse as the city itself. Everyone has their favourite restaurant — and there are so many great ones to choose from — so try a new one each week to challenge your taste buds.
When it comes to great creations, Victoria is no exception. St. Andrew’s Cathedral was dedicated in 1892 and stands as a spectacular example of Victorian-era architecture. Renovations that occurred in the 1980’s added a particular West Coast flavour to the building, and decorative panels are based on the Book of Kells in homage to the British (Irish) cultures. Meanwhile, Angela College on Burdett was
ST. ANDREW’S CATHEDRAL
named for Angela Burdett-Coutts, an English baroness who left a lasting imprint on the city. She endowed money for a girl’s college in her name and contributed the equivalent of $30,000 to fund St. John’s Church. The original building was made of corrugated iron and was sent from England by ship, along with two workmen who were to re-erect it in Victoria. The “Iron Church” was notoriously
It might not be high on the tourist’s list of places to sight see, but one of the most unique theatre venues on the Island can be found at William Head Institution — the minimum-security federal prison in Metchosin. Inmates and volunteers stage annual plays inside the prison, and the public is invited to attend. For the more conventional theatre buff, the Royal and McPherson Theatres offer plays, performances and concerts, year round. The architecture is classic, but the shows are fresh and exciting. Metro Studio or Intrepid Club offer intimate spaces, but the prison theatre is not to be missed.
City Guide 2013
guides. If solo is your style, don’t forget the Island’s premium ciders, like the provincially recognized Merridale Ciderworks, or Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse.
What Island would be complete without lighthouses? Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse are national historic sites that take visitors back to a time of sea and sail. Guests can tour the lighthouse, use a GPS device to explore tunnels and camouflaged emplacements, even play a video game that tests users ability to navigate a 19th-century schooner into harbour. Special events include military reenactments, a wine and art show, a vintage Cadillac car show, Canada Day celebrations and a food fair.
For a sip of good grapes, Victoria is rich with over two dozen wineries on lower Vancouver Island — and there are several companies who will take you to the best of the bunch. Speak with expert vintners about the variety of wines and the appropriate food pairings for every vintage. Groups like Wine Country Safaris or Executive Wine Tours offer a relaxing day with first-class transportation and expert
Antiques are the thing to search for in this city. Some say Victoria is more British than Britain and Antique Row on Fort Street may be the defining proof of that statement. The three-block section of Fort is characterized by well-preserved buildings of the Edwardian and Victorian eras. But don’t cast aside the value of auction houses, weekend markets and swap meets that dot the area with a rich collector’s flavour.
Victoria and surrounding areas are rife with summer markets that feature everything from fresh, organically grown vegetables to silver craft, art work, weaving and crafts. It’s a great place to find local artisans and artists with a West Coast feel. Markets are in full-swing by May, and can be found in the Inner Harbour, Bastion Square, Centennial Square and Market Square, as well as markets in Sidney, James Bay and Moss Street. This June, watch
City Guide 2013
MY VICTORIA: ALISON ACKER
Grannies ditch rockers to protest Alison Acker — Raging Grannie
he Grannies paddled out to the warships in Esquimalt harbour, and even presented our ‘briefs’ — very colourful bloomers — to the legislature.” Alison Acker is no stranger to protest, but when she retired to Victoria from Toronto in 1989, part of her anticipated slowing down. She had no such luck. Instead, Acker joined the now infamous Raging Grannies, formed in Victoria in 1987. She literally wrote the book on them with her co-author, Betty Brightwell, in their account of a remarkable and now global group of protesters. Off Our Rockers and into Trouble: The Raging Grannies is an account of this group’s taking to song and sticking it to everyone from governments to the World Trade Organization. Acker was even arrested and jailed for 14 days for her part in the Clayoquot protest of 1993. The largest civil disobedience protest in Canadian history, Clayoqout Sound became a battlefield between forestry giants and the protestors chained to their equipment and camping in trees slated for the saw. The Grannies continue to lend their lyrics, voices and marvelous hats to bring greater light to the issues of the day. They’ve shut down and been banned from the legislature thanks to their Campbell’s healthcare protests, invaded the May Parade and, as mentioned above, taken to warships and exposed their knickers on the legislature lawn. The Victoria gaggle of Raging Grannies gathers at noon once a month, usually the second Thursday,
for the newly opening permanent, indoor Downtown Victoria Farmer’s Market at the Hudson.
Victoria may be a city of many faces, but none quite so secretive as the face in Clover Point Rock. No one is sure who carved the enigmatic visage, but if you can find it and take the time to examine it closely, you can see that it was no mean feat to carve its features. The image depicts an old face, complete with wrinkles around the eyes and sides, with a saddened expression. Long-time residents reported the face over fifty years ago, but no one has ever taken credit for the carving and no one seems to know who might have been responsible.
48 at Fort and Douglas, to focus on one issue like Enbridge or the abuse of first nations’ women. “We have a song and handouts that tell people what they can do to make things better. And then, of course, we go and eat!” If you want to join up, just show up or contact Fran (email@example.com) or Alison (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ACKER’S TOP 5 TOPICS OF PROTEST: (1) Homelessness (2) Attacks on the environment (i.e. Enbridge) (3) Abuse against people living on the street (4) Neglect of the elderly (5) Government duplicity
FAVOURITE WAYS TO MAKE A POINT: (1) Satirical songs (2) Street protests (3) Creative banners and puppets (4) Embarrassing politicians (5) Informational picketing
If you stroll by the south lawn at the Empress Hotel, you might wonder why there are no trees gracing this part of the grounds. Yet what appears to be solid ground is, in fact, an illusion. In 1909, not long after the completion of the hotel’s construction, the whole building started to shift. Engineers were hurriedly brought in and determined that the weight of the earth at the south side of the building was pressing against the foundation, causing the entire side of the hotel to sink. The earth was excavated to relieve the pressure and solve the problem. But that left another problem: a gigantic pit next to the hotel. A structure was built in the pit and the roof was covered in soil and grass, but the area left a gymnasium-sized hole in the ground.
May is a great time to get an eyeful of men without pants. The Highland Games and Celtic Festival is the longestrunning cultural event in the region, with its roots going back to 1864. The festival is held at Topaz Park in mid-May and it features the best of Celtic art, sport and culture. There are competitions for sheep herding dogs, highland dancing, food and music to stir the Celt in all. Naturally, there will be bagpipes.
Speaking of traditions, Big Bad Johns holds the oldest liquor license in B.C. Located at the Strathcona Hotel, it’s a self-proclaimed hillbilly bar with peanut shells on the floor, stumps for seats and bras decorating the ceiling (along with about a million other items). Watch out for the spiders — it’s a place where the bartenders play pranks and the waitresses still call you “honey.”
City Guide 2013
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City Guide 2013