Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 14 - Victoria BC

September 2017 - Victoria BC

See below for links to previous days. 

September 18

We're fueled up and ready to go, laced up our walking shoes and got set to explore the city.
We are going to do some serious walking today!

We are just steps away from the downtown area.

Gatsby Manor history

In 1875 William J. Pendray came to Victoria, BC, to invest the money he made from the gold rush. In 1877 William J. Pendray married Amelia Jane Carthew from England and they had four children: Ernest, Carl, Herbert and Roy.

In 1876 Alexander Blair Grey had been appointed a Justice of the Peace, an important position in the growing town of Victoria, B.C. He had purchased a piece of land at the corner of Belleville and Oswego Streets and decided to build a new home (today known as the Judges House). Mr. Grey’s home created a bit of a stir in colonial Victoria, being rather large and splendid for a city, which, despite being the capital of the new province, was still a small frontier town.

Around 1890, the Pendrays bought a block of property on Belleville Street. It had a small cottage on it (today known as the Middle House) and the family lived in this home while their new Mansion (today known as the Gatsby Mansion) was being built beside it.

The Pendray’s new home was a lovely structure, built in the Queen Anne style, with all the trappings of a grand Victorian home. Mr. Pendray commissioned two German painters, Herr Sterns and Herr Muller, to paint frescos on the ceilings of some of the rooms, including the parlour, the dining room and two of the bedrooms; you can still see them today. Panes of stained glass were shipped from Italy in barrels of molasses so that they would not break.

Confederation Garden Court.

Located at Menzies and Belleville across from the Legislative building, this unusual public space is maintained by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. A waterfall flanked by provincial coats of arms stands in a large concrete plaza. Glacial striations in the rocks are visible near the Menzies sidewalk, geological evidence of the last ice age.

John decides we should take a carriage ride so we opt for the 30 minute heritage tour, $100 plus tip.

It was an interesting tour, although she didn't offer a lot of insight and never gave any photo opportunities.

The tour took us around James Bay. According to their write up:
Travel into the heart of historic James Bay, one of Vancouver Island’s oldest residential districts. See amazing heritage buildings, including the 1871 birthplace of Emily Carr, stunning stained glass windows and delightful gardens. The invigorating smell of salt air and the beauty of the Strait of Juan de Fuca will take your breath away as your carriage turns to roll down Dallas Road. See the Washington snow-capped Olympic Mountain Range while enjoying a panoramic view of the body of water separating Vancouver Island from the United States of America. The tour finishes with a spectacular view of the British Columbia Legislature.

A little exaggerated and the street where Emily Carr was born was closed off for construction.

James Bay is the oldest residential neighbourhood on the West coast of North America that is north of San Francisco.

The original inhabitants of James Bay were the Swenghwung people who were
part of the Lekwungen people of the Coast Salish and whose descendants today are known as the Songhees First Nation. Even after the aboriginal inhabitants allegedly sold the land to the Hudson's Bay Company, remains of fortifications at Holland Point and of burial grounds at Laurel Point remained. The neighbourhood takes its name from the shallow inlet James Bay that forms part of Victoria's Inner Harbour, named for James Douglas.

The Niagara Grocery began in 1906 making it Victoria's oldest grocery store.

Styled on San Francisco's Spanish Ladies, it is meticulously painted in 37 colours.

We can't get down the street with Emily Carr's house and anyway, it is Monday, so it is closed, but we can get the sign.

We start our ramblings at the British Columbia Parliament Buildings and are home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

The Speaker and the Sergeant-At-Arms are amongst those responsible for the legislative precinct, which by statute include the Parliament Buildings and grounds.

Construction of the current Parliament Buildings started in 1893 and they were officially opened on February 10, 1898. The architect, Francis Rattenbury, was just 25 years old when he won the competition to design the new buildings.

The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from The Empress Hotel.

Click here for a good walking tour of the grounds.

Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver.

The Knowledge Totem was carved by Cicero August and his sons Darrell and Doug August, of the Cowichan Tribes, and erected in 1990.

Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn.

A statue of a soldier commemorates the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead.

Kitty corner to the government building is a statue of Emily Carr.

Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a Modernist and Post-Impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until late in her life.

Born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1871, the year British Columbia joined Canada, Emily Carr was the second-youngest of nine children born to English parents Richard and Emily (Saunders) Carr. The Carr home was on Birdcage Walk, (now Government Street) in the James Bay district of Victoria, a short distance from the legislative buildings (nicknamed the 'Birdcages') and the town itself.

The three-metre-tall statue of Carr gazing out to sea with her pet monkey, Woo, on her shoulder and her faithful dog, Billy, by her feet with the Empress Hotel behind her.

The hotel was built between 1904 and 1908, opening for service in that year. Additional wings were added between 1909 and 1914, and in 1928. During this time, The Empress (as it was known then) played hostess to kings, queens, movie stars and many famous people. In 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales waltzed into the dawn in its Crystal Ballroom - an event considered by Victorians to be of such importance that almost 50 years later, the obituaries of elderly ladies would appear under headlines such as, 'Mrs. Thornley-Hall Dies. Prince of Wales Singled Her Out.' In the 1930s, Shirley Temple arrived accompanied by her parents amid rumours that she had fled from California because of kidnapping threats, a story borne from the presence of two huge bodyguards who took the room opposite hers and always left their door open.

On May 30, 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth attended a luncheon at the Empress, as guests of the Provincial Government.

For many years the hotel did not have a sign above the front entrance. The strong emotions the hotel evoked in Victorians and its guests and protectors is exemplified in the statement made by an irate gentleman, as workers raised the sign above the front entrance: 'Anyone who doesn't know this is The Empress shouldn't be staying here.'

Fabulous dolphin topiary.

We stay on Government St. with some sidetracking.

It would be impossible to grow up in Canada and not know the Hudson Bay Company, or The Bay as it is called.
For me, growing up in Montreal, The Bay and Eaton's were the epitome of style back then. These were English bastions.

The company was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay and functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America before European states and later the United States laid claim to some of those territories. It was once the world's largest landowner, with the area of the Hudson Bay watershed, known as Rupert's Land, having 15% of North American acreage. From its long-time headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay, the company controlled the fur trade throughout much of the English and later British controlled North America for several centuries. Fort Victoria was established by the Hudson Bay Company in 1843 as a depot for the northern Pacific trade. The Company’s main headquarters, Fort Vancouver, was too far from the British Columbia interior and coast to service them efficiently. Moreover, it was increasingly likely that the new international boundary, then being negotiated in London, would be finalized at the 49th parallel — leaving Fort Vancouver squarely inside the United States.

HBC decided to scout a destination for a new depot at the southern end of Vancouver Island. In addition to a good harbour, the new post would need a defensible position, plenty of water power for grain and saw mills, plentiful timber, and an adequate supply of arable land. In 1842, Chief Factor James Douglas found just what he was looking for at the location the Lekwungen people called Camosack, meaning “rush of water”. On March 14, 1843, the building of Fort Camosack — soon to be renamed Victoria in honour of the reigning monarch — was underway. The HBC post was located almost exactly where the Empress Hotel stands today.

In Montreal Birks is kitty corner to The Bay and here it is in Victoria.

With an investment of CAD$3,000, in 1879 Henry Birks opened a small jewellery shop on Saint Jacques Street in the heart of Montreal's financial and commercial district. In 1893, Birks went into partnership with his three sons (William, John and Gerald), and the name of the firm became Henry Birks and Sons.

Commencing in 1901, Birks oversaw the expansion of the company across Canada, with stores opening in the country's largest cities.

The Bard and Banker Pub opened in 1885 as the Bank of British Columbia, the building remained a bank until 1988 under a different array of banking establishments’ control.

Of all the bank employees to work at this location in the 126 years it was a bank the most notable was, the bard of the Yukon, Robert Service.

Robert William Service, poet, novelist was educated in Scotland, Service worked in a bank after he left school. In 1894 he immigrated to Canada, where, after wandering from California to British Columbia, he joined the Canadian Bank of Commerce. He was stationed throughout British Columbia and eventually at Whitehorse and Dawson City. In 1907 he published his first collection of poems, Songs of a Sourdough; an immediate success, it was followed by Ballads of a Cheechako (1909) and Rhymes of a Rolling Stone (1912). Poems such as "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" assured Service of lasting fame and gave rise to his nicknames: "the Canadian Kipling" and "the Poet of the Yukon." During WWI he was an ambulance driver, and after the war he travelled throughout Europe but lived mostly in France. His later works include Ballads of a Bohemian(1921), Rhymes of a Roughneck (1950) and his autobiographical works: Ploughman of the Moon (1945) and Harper of Heaven (1948).

Robert Service was the inspiration for the pub's name.

Decorated utility box at Pandora.

Chinatown just in time for lunch.

Fan Tan Alley is named after a gambling game that reached the height of its popularity in this location in the early 1940s. The game is named after its component parts: “Fan” being to turn over, and “Tan” meaning to spread out. The dealer takes a handful of buttons or beads and covers them with a brass cup. The players bet on how many buttons will be left after the dealer has removed all multiples of four. Once the bets are made, the dealer turns over the cup and spreads out the buttons to count them.

Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in the country. At its narrowest point it is only 0.9 metres (35 in) wide.

A fantastic lunch in FanTan Cafe with a gluten free menu!

We can across this handsome guy at the bottom of Johnson St.

Lo Jo or Lower Johnson is a hipster's delight.

Brightly painted Victorian-era shop-fronts flank both sides of busy Lower Johnson Street between Wharf and Government Streets. Once home to hotels and stores supporting the gold rushes of the 1850s and 1890s, today the area is known for its local and independent boutiques and restaurants.

We decide, perhaps, unwisely, to walk to Craigdorrach Castle and there's a church on the way but both are getting their own posts.
Church St. Andrew

After an easier walk back from the castle, downhill, we are back at the harbour with plans to go back and put up our feet. Eventually we do.

We head to the condo by the back of the government building and find some hidden gems.

The Provincial Coat of Arms consists of four major parts; each a symbol of British Columbia. The Union Jack and the Provincial Flag both appear on the shield, signifying both our British colonial ties, and our independence. The supporters, the ram and the stag, also represent the former colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The Royal Crest (the crowned red lion standing on crown) sits atop the Golden Helmet of Sovereignty, which is a symbol of British Columbia’s autonomy, but also of the link to England and the Crown. Lastly, British Columbia’s motto appears at the bottom, entwined with the provincial flower, the Dogwood. Rev. Arthur Beanlands originally designed the Coat of Arms in 1895. King Edward VII first granted the Coat of Arms in 1906, but Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II also granted elements of it on October 15th, 1987.

Designed by Robert Savery in 1962, the Centennial Fountain celebrates the union of the four colonies and territories that joined to form British Columbia. The bronze animals are symbols of B.C.’s geography and history: gull, sea otter, eagle, raven, bear and wolf.

The Last Alarm – Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial Statue: Unveiled on February 13, 2013, the statue honours all fire fighters who have died in the line of duty in the Province of British Columbia. The term “Last Alarm” has become a popular reference to a fire fighter who has given their life while performing their duty.

We finally go back to the condo and put our feet up until we go to Fisherman's Wharf to pick up dinner. It was steps away from the condo, but it was a little disappointing as it is very small and doesn't provide many options.

Time to eat and relax!


  1. Nice to have my memories refreshed, and you have seen much more than we did. Some of the houses in your photos are brilliant. The biggest disappointment was the lighting of the Parliament House. I had expected something like historic buildings are usually lit, not the harsh and unsubtle lighting we saw.

  2. Some beautiful architecture in Victoria, especially the Empress and the legislature. I didn't know about the Emily Carr statue.

  3. Great write up and recap of our visit to Victoria.


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