Victoria 150 Countdown

We counted down 150 days to our anniversary of incorporation -- Thursday, August 2, 2012 -- with a daily historical fact about Victoria.

Historical Fact #1: Today marks the 150th anniversary of incorporation of the City of Victoria. Join us today at Centennial Square for a public ceremony at 11 a.m. followed by 150Forward, a celebration of our proud history and bright future. Happy150th Anniversary Victoria! It's time to cut the cake!

Historical Fact #2:  2012 is the 75th Anniversary of the United Way of Greater Victoria. "Community Chest”, “Red Feather”, “United Appeal”, and for the past four decades – “United Way” – these are the terms which have been used to describe the United Way of Greater Victoria since their inception in 1937. Over the past 75 years, they have been working hard to build a vibrant community. The history of the United Way movement in Victoria mirrors closely the history of our city itself, as a great many caring people and organizations have contributed to the modern, diverse and exciting community that we enjoy today. On BC Day (August 6) celebrate the City's 150th and the United Way of Greater Victoria's 75th anniversaries at the City United! Anniversary Celebration and Concert, an exciting, fun, interactive afternoon event at St. Ann's Academy and evening concert at the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park, featuring Juno and Aboriginal Music award winners ‘Digging Roots' with special guests Jon and Roy.

Historical Fact #3: In February 1912, the British Columbia Forest Service was established following the Forest Reserves and Parks Act of 1911. The BC Forest Service celebrates 100 years in 2012, and celebrations in Victoria include a rendezvous of wooden BC Forest Service vessels in the Inner Harbour on the August long weekend. Be sure to visit their interactive display at the 150Forward Celebration on August 2 at Centennial Square.

Historical Fact #4: 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, as part of the City's 150th Anniversary, the Victoria Civic Heritage Trust will launch a beautiful publication dedicated to #1 Centennial Square, entitled “Test of Time: The Enduring Legacy of Victoria City Hall”.

Historical Fact #5: 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”.

Historical Fact #6: Waddington Alley, located between Lower Johnson and Yates Streets, was built in 1858 during the Gold Rush. It has 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. Lower Johnson Street and its myriad of alleys and nooks contains a rich texture of detail that brings to life this area's exciting history. Throughout the month of August, artist Alison Bigg will demonstrate aspects of this history through “A History in Layers”, a photographic exhibit on display throughout Lower Johnson Street.

Historical Fact #7: The 2012 Summer Olympic Games begin today in London, England, with many local athletes competing. Over the years, many Victorians have competed in the Olympic Games. Victoria's very first Olympians competed in London, in 1908. James Foulkes and Robert “Bobby” Powell represented Canada in Men's Singles and Doubles Tennis at the 1908 Summer Games.

Historical Fact #8: Victoria abounds with tales of mysterious tunnels and underground passageways. Some waterfront tunnels are the remains of old streams, which were culverted to maximize the use of land around the former streambeds. One such stream that flows to the sea originates in the vicinity of Cook and Oxford Streets, and can be heard flowing underground near St. Ann's Academy. Recent efforts by groups such as the Bowker Creek Initiative aim to return these underground streams to the light and to improve the health of the creeks and watersheds. Many of these streams were used by First Nations for navigation and as early sources of potable water.

Historical Fact #9: The historic C.P.R. Alexander Cup was first presented in 1926 at a competition between the Canadian Pacific Railway Lawn Bowling Clubs of BC. This challenge trophy was last awarded in 1940. Join members of the Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club today in celebrating the resurrection of this historic event. Drop by between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. for afternoon tea and cheer on the home team, who will be playing the Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club at 720 Belleville Street.

Historical Fact #10: The City Hall clock was installed in 1891. In 2006, the City of Victoria restored the clock tower's exterior to its authentic appearance, earning an Award of Merit from the Hallmark Society in 2007. City Hall is designated as a national heritage site and its clock tower is a significant heritage landmark in the Old Town District. Before the mid-20th century, the majority of people did not own a watch. A tall clock tower was placed near a town's centre so that it could be seen by many.

Historical Fact #11:  The statue of Captain George Vancouver on top of the main dome at the Legislature is made of copper and plated in gold.

Historical Fact #12: Master carver Tony Hunt has been commissioned by Lieutenant Governor Steven Point to create a replica totem on the grounds of Government House of a pole that he assisted his grandfather and renowned artist, Mungo Martin, in carving. The original pole was commissioned 50 years ago by the Royal Canadian Navy to be given to the Royal Navy. The totem stood for many years at the naval yard in Portsmouth, England, and remained there after the yard was closed. In the 1980s, the original pole collapsed, but was retrieved and stored in Esquimalt and now serves as the template for the new pole. Tony Hunt is carving with traditional tools made for him by Mungo Martin.

Historical Fact #13: The famously popular "Paint-In" on Moss Street celebrates its 25th Anniversary this year. The event began in 1987; in its first year, it was held on a cold autumn day and included 10 artists who spent the afternoon painting outdoors and then met inside the Art Gallery to show their work and warm their hands. Approximately 150 artists will participate in this year's event, with 35,000 people expected to attend on July 21.

Historical Fact #14: Pioneer Square is a small, rectangular park adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral. Known as the "old burying ground," it served as a cemetery from 1855 to 1873. A City park since 1908, Pioneer Square is home to close to 1,300 interments, marked by a number of heritage gravestones and bench tombs. Many fur traders, gold seekers and navy men are buried there.

Historical Fact #15:  A clear water spring on a private lot behind Langham Court Theatre in Fairfield was once tapped by the Crystal Springs Soda Company, which bottled pop from their bottling works on Richardson Street 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.

Historical Fact #16:  Richard McBride (1870-1917) was the first Premier of BC who was born in the province, the youngest to assume office and the only BC Premier to be knighted. During the 12 years he held office at the Legislature in Victoria, he established the BC Forest Service and the first provincial parks.

Historical Fact #17:  Hollywood actress Tallulah Bankhead was a regular visitor to Victoria in the 1950s and 60s. As a close personal friend of Dola Dunsmuir (daughter of James Dunsmuir), the two were known to carry on in an outrageous manner from their base at Hatley Castle (now Royal Roads University). Though Ms. Bankhead claimed to come to the area for the fresh air and sunlight, she was better known for her enjoyment of wild, lavish parties and general overindulgence.

Historical Fact #18:  In the decade before the turn of the last century, Victoria was enjoying a heyday as a small but cosmopolitan city which boasted streetcar and telephone systems, electric lights and running water, a solid commercial district, manufacturing and canning industries, government, grand buildings and stately homes. The port of Victoria was the largest shipping port in British Columbia. By the turn of the century, however, Vancouver was starting to overtake Victoria, due in large part to the shift to rail transport.

Historical Fact #19: In March 1860, the "Société Française de Bienfaisance et Secours Mutuel de Victoria" and its French Hospital were established by Sosthènes Driard, Jules Rueff and Dr. N.M. Clerjon. The French Hospital eventually merged with the Provincial Royal Jubilee Hospital in October 1890.

Historical Fact #20: During the worst drought in the recorded history of Victoria, on this day in 1951, a much publicized rainmaker from Saskatchewan arrived with his apparatus to attempt to make it rain. Done partly as a publicity stunt and partly out of desperation to rescue the withering strawberry crops in Saanich fields, the cost of the "artificial precipitation" was borne by the British America Paint Co. and The Daily Colonist.

Historical Fact #21:  A notice in the British Daily Colonist on this day in 1888 offered a $1,000 reward “…for such information as shall lead to apprehension and conviction of the persons concerned in the robbery of the British Columbia Express Company's Stage, on the Cariboo Road” on Saturday June 20, 1887.

Historical Fact #22: The Vancouver and Quadra Lodge A.F & A.M. #2 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, located on Fisgard Street, celebrates its 150th Anniversary this year. The Lodge was established in October of 1862.

Historical Fact #23: On this day in 1894, William “Billy” Barker died in Victoria. Bill Barker was born in England, came to BC from California in 1858, and became one of the most successful and well known of the province's gold prospectors. He was known to have a fortune in the hundreds of thousands, but was equally free with his money and died in Victoria's Old Men's Home a penniless man. The historic town of Barkerville was founded near his claim and bears his name. Barker was buried in an unmarked grave in "Potter's Field" at Ross Bay Cemetery. A brass plaque was placed at the site in 1962 after Barkerville became a famous Gold Rush historic site.

Historical Fact #24: The MV “Chinook” was launched in 1947 and was tagged the “Queen Elizabeth of the inland seas”. Built for $2.5 million, the Chinook was a car ferry that travelled between Victoria and Port Angeles and was noted for its comfort and elegance. It became part of BC Ferries' fleet in 1954 and was refitted and rebuilt as MV Chinook II and then as MV Sechelt Queen. It was retired from service in the 1970s.

Historical Fact #25: The Memorial Arena was the first major building project after the Second World War. Construction started in 1946 and the building was completed in 1949. The first event was a production of the operetta "The Merry Widow". The first hockey game, featuring the Victoria Cougars vs. the Portland Penguins, was held on October 10, 1949. Victoria won 4 to 1. The Memorial Arena closed in 2002 to make way for the modern Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, but before closing, played host to thousands of sporting events, trade shows and concerts ranging from Mantovani to Nickelback.
Historical Fact #26: Small manufacturers provided much of Victoria's employment at the turn of the century, and many continue to this day. Established in 1886, Jeune Bros. Tent & Awning Ltd. is one of the longest running businesses in British Columbia.

Historical Fact #27:
What is now Camosun College's Lansdowne Campus was once Victoria College, the precurser to the University of Victoria and the Victoria Normal School, which was established in 1915 to staff the schools of the province with qualified teachers.

Historical Fact #28: In 1906, the Victoria City Library moved from City Hall into a new structure on the corner of Yates and Blanshard Streets. The neo-Classical stone building, constructed for $53,000, was financed by American industrialist Andrew Carnegie and was controversial at the time as he 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 opening on the same floor. Noise from the "gamesters" disrupted reading room users and the games were moved upstairs in 1913, where they remained for another 10 years.

Historical Fact #29: The BC Electric Railway Company's open observation car began service in Victoria on July 11, 1909. Three-hour trips around the rail system cost 50 cents. Victoria's last streetcar made its final trip on this day in 1948.
Historical Fact #30: 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. There have been more than 300 claimed sightings during the past 200 years in Oak Bay, Saanich Inlet and the Inner Harbour and even as far away as Alaska. In 1943, two police officers reported seeing a “huge sea serpent with a horse-like head” in Georgia Strait, which turned out to be a bull seal lion leading six others in a straight line. To the naked eye, the sight perfectly impersonated a sea monster. The Cadborosaurus is called "T'chain-ko" in Sechelt mythology, and "Numkse lee Kwala" by the Comox band of Vancouver Island.
Historical Fact #31: The Salvation Army established a chapter in Victoria in 1897.

Historical Fact #32:
Sir Winston Churchill visited Victoria in September 1929. He spent time in the archives looking at historical documents and maps, visited the drydock in Esquimalt, and planted a tree in Beacon Hill Park.

Historical Fact #33:
The province of British Columbia joined the Dominion of Canada in July 1871, in accordance with the British North America Act of 1867. Happy Canada Day!

Historical Fact #34
- Victoria citizens have been attending the Saanich Fair for 145 years. In October 1879, they travelled by steamer and "wheeled vehicles" to the Saanich Agricultural Fairgrounds where they enjoyed displays of roots, fruit and grain, including two turnips weighing 40 lbs each, “creating much astonishment amongst those present, who had never before beheld turnips of such extraordinary dimensions,” according to the Daily British Colonist.

Historical Fact #35
- In 1936, Safeway bought the Piggly Wiggly chain of grocery stores, which in time resulted in Safeway being the longest established grocery chain on the Island. At the time, ads for groceries encouraged shoppers to “shop where your neighbour saves”. A package of bacon sold for 15 cents, two heads of California lettuce could be bought for nine cents, and beef sold for under 20 cents per pound.

Historical Fact #36: Thinking about possible ferry waits and traffic for the long weekend? Consider this: the 1960s saw many significant changes to traffic patterns and travel in Victoria and surrounding areas. The intersection at Hillside and Douglas was once a roundabout, which was removed and replaced with traffic lights in 1963. In 1968, Victoria implemented the one-way street system still in existence in much of downtown, and BC Ferries started offering regularly scheduled service between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. The average load on the MV Sidney was 32 cars per sailing.

Historical Fact #37: 
Archaeology and anthropology can tell us much about history that is not written down. 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, likely used both for warfare and for hunting and fishing, and 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.
Historical Fact #38:  The celebrities staying at the Fairmont Empress for the David Foster Foundation Miracle Concert are among a long line of famous people to grace the rooms of Rattenbury's famous hotel. Shirley Temple, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Ginger Rogers, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Princess Margaret are among the many celebrities to stay at the Empress in the past. The Tragically Hip have been known to enjoy a cocktail at the Bengal Lounge, while Roger Moore, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand, Harrison Ford as well as HRH Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, Prince Charles and Camilla have all visited.
Historical Fact #39:  A volcanic eruption of Mount Baker on June 25, 1863 was visible from Beacon Hill. This description appeared in the Colonist, June 26, 1863: “...flames [were] plainly visible last night from Beacon Hill.”
 Historical Fact #40: The Chinese characters on the Gate of Harmonious Interest read “To work together with one heart” and “To help each other achieve harmony”.

Historical Fact #41: “The Crimson Paradise” was one of many films made in Victoria in the early part of the last century. Released in 1933 and filmed at Craigdarroch Castle, its launch at the Capitol Theatre was heralded with 20,000 advertising fliers dropped from an airplane. The film was a bomb and ran only three days.

Historical Fact #42:
In 1882, Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, arrived here intending to stay several weeks. Her visit lasted three months and she was the talk of the town.
Historical Fact #43: Fernwood became one of the liveliest residential neighbourhoods when a streetcar line was installed with a terminus at the corner of Gladstone and Fernwood Roads, near the Rennie & Taylor Bakery and the Emmanuel Baptist Church (now home to the Belfry Theatre).
Historical Fact #44:  Historically, Chinatowns were the focal points of the early Chinese communities, each being a haven and a base from which new immigrants could begin their new lives. Victoria (which the Chinese call “Dai Fau” or Big Port) is where the early Chinese created the first Chinatown. Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and physically the oldest surviving Chinatown in North America.
Historical Fact #45:  Poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling visited Victoria in October 1907. He was apparently quite taken with the city, telling a Colonist reporter, “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.”
Historical Fact #46:  What would a beautiful historic hotel be without a few ghost stories? The walls of the Fairmont Empress hotel contain stories of unusual guests and employees. In 1987, a woman wrote about her wonderful stay at the hotel and 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.
Historical Fact #47: Thomas Harris (1818-1884) was the first mayor of Victoria, serving from 1862 to 1865. Born in Almeley, Herefordshire, Harris married Emily Dickinson in Liverpool in 1848. Harris came to Victoria by way of California in 1858, at the height of the Cariboo gold rush. He ran a slaughterhouse for a time, then became a butcher shortly afterward and made his fortune. A jovial man who had an opinion on everything and wasn't afraid to tell whoever would listen, he was a likely candidate for election in 1862 when it was decided to incorporate the town. At election time, Harris won by a "forest of hands" amid a group of 600 men.

Historical Fact #48: North Park is one of the oldest residential neighbourhoods in Victoria with landmarks dating well back into the 19th century. Since those days, the neighbourhood's residents and businesses have played a significant role in the city's history.

Historical Fact #49:  The Victoria Police Museum contains many interesting items and artifacts. The oldest police force west of the Great Lakes, VicPD has on display a collection of antique uniforms and weaponry, as well as century-old books of criminal charges and even mug shots.

Historical Fact #50: Livery stables in downtown Victoria in 1890 were so plentiful that artist Emily Carr wrote “the smell of horse manure was so much a part of every street that it sat on your nose as comfortably as a pair of spectacles.” Horses were the only practical form of transportation until the turn of the century, as the roads remained unpaved and were unsuitable for bicycles.

Historical Fact #51: The Abkhazi Garden is an exquisite heritage home and garden in Victoria. Prince and Princess Abkhazi began creating their garden in 1946, the year they married and settled here after living separate lives touched by both privilege and tragedy. Their garden home is a one-acre delight of Garry oaks, alpine plants and flowers in a rugged setting consisting of a massive glaciated rock. The Abkhazis worked together on their creation for over 40 years, referring to it as “their child”. After their deaths, the Garden changed hands, and in February 2000, The Land Conservancy purchased the property. Abkhazi Garden is located at 1964 Fairfield Road.
Historical Fact #52: Beacon Hill Park's beautiful and iconic blue camas lilies were 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 Nuu-chah-nulth People. They harvested the bulbs of both the Common camas and Great camas, but carefully avoided the poisonous white flowered Death camas. The importance of camas to Aboriginal people went beyond food and trade. 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.
Historical Fact #53:  The BC Legislature Library is a grand setting for reading and research, with a vast marble atrium and a reading room with elaborate carvings. The core collection consists of political science, parliamentary procedure, public administration, economics and Canadian history. There is also a significant collection of British Columbia government publications and extensive holdings of Canadian federal and provincial publications. The library is open to the public when the legislature is not sitting.
Historical Fact #54: City Hall has resided in four separate locations since its incorporation in 1862. The first three sites were rented. The first wing of the existing City Hall at the corner of Douglas Street and Pandora Avenue was ready on December 11, 1878 and has been home to Victoria's civic government ever since.

Historical Fact #55: The Royal Theatre opened in 1913. At the time, it was one of the grandest theatres on the West Coast. It became a movie house in 1946, and was taken over and restored to its original purpose by the McPherson Foundation in 1982.

Historical Fact #56: 
In 1884, following a dispute over a bill payment between Mayor Joseph Carey and a local law firm, the High Sheriff seized the assets of City Hall, including the corporate seal, the books, furnishings and horses, and ordered them sold at auction. Despite efforts by prominent ratepayers to return the goods after signing a bond, Carey stubbornly refused and instead rented furniture to furnish the hall. A civic election was held soon after, and R.P. Rithet was elected; upon which all seized property was returned to City Hall.
Historical Fact #57:  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 Street, in front of the Sayward building on Douglas Street, near the Ritz Hotel on Fort Steet, along Broad Street, near the Montrose apartments on Blanshard Street and the Hamley building on Broughton Street.
Historical Fact #58:  When Paul's Motor Inn opened in 1956, there was a ground breaking ceremony featuring giant cutlery. At the time it also featured the world's largest plastic sign. Recently Paul's has returned to offering 50's style drive-in service.
Historical Fact #59: Today marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Sister of St. Ann to Victoria in 1858. Starting today, the Society of Friends of St. Ann's Academy begins their art project "Sturdy Roots, Strong Foundations: Artistic Renderings of Heritage Trees”. Artists of all ages are invited to portray the historic trees of St. Ann's.
Historical Fact #60:  Amor De Cosmos (August 20, 1825 – July 4, 1897) was a Canadian journalist, publisher and politician. He served as the second Premier of British Columbia and founded The Daily British Colonist – predecessor to the Victoria Times Colonist. Although widely regarded as a stirring orator, effective debater, and a man of great intellectual depth, De Cosmos had always been considered eccentric. Contemporaries paint a portrait of an isolated person with grandiose manners, prone to public outbursts of tears, and a fierce temper that sometimes degenerated into fist-fights. He had unusual phobias — including a fear of electricity. His larger-than-life personality has been depicted in one of the City's History2Life characters, which was very popular at this year's Victoria Day Parade.
Historical Fact #61: From June 2 - 5, 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her coronation. Since ascending the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth's visits to Victoria have included her first visit in 1959 on her first major tour of Canada since achieving the monarchy; visits in 1971, 1983, 1987, 1994 (for the Commonwealth Games), and in 2002 for the celebration of her Golden Jubilee.

Historical Fact #62:
The Maritime Museum of British Columbia is located in the 1899 courthouse building and features displays of Victoria's maritime history, including a working steamship engine, an Enfield machine gun, a heritage courtroom (designed by Francis Rattenbury), and one of the oldest functioning birdcage elevators on the continent. The museum also owns a vast array of archival photographs, and to celebrate Victoria's 150th anniversary, will be re-creating a different photo each week all summer long on downtown sidewalks, entitled "Chalk One Up for Maritime History!"

Historical Fact #63:
  On this day in history in 1863, the cornerstone was laid for the Congregation Emmanu-El, which today remains the oldest active synagogue in Canada.
Historical Fact #64:  Painter and writer Emily Carr was born in Victoria in 1871. Emily Carr's life itself made her a Canadian icon, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. “As well as being an artist of stunning originality and strength, she was an exceptionally late bloomer, starting the work for which she is best known at the age of 57. Carr was an artist who succeeded against the odds, living in an artistically unadventurous society, and working mostly in seclusion away from major art centers." She died in Victoria in 1945.
Historical Fact #65:  On this day in history in 1939, Beacon Hill Park was host to King George VI for the presentation of the King's Colour (Royal flag)  to the Royal Canadian Navy Western Command.
Historical Fact #66:  King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (known to many as the Queen Mother), arrived in Victoria on this day in 1939. They sailed to Victoria on the Princess Marguerite, stayed at Government House and lunched at the Empress Hotel, where one of King George's famous speeches was broadcast around the British Empire.
Historical Fact #67:  The styles of heritage architecture for which Victoria is best known are Vernacular (or Folk), Classical Revival, Romantic (or Picturesque) and Arts and Crafts. A newly updated edition of the Victoria Heritage Foundation's book "This Old House: Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods Volume One" will be released this year, presenting buildings in the context of the people and events of Victoria.
Historical Fact #68: Victoria's early days of settlement were as a trading fort for the Hudson's Bay Company, which established Fort Victoria in 1843. In 1849, the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island was established and the HBC was granted exclusive proprietary rights over Vancouver Island. The condition imposed by the Colonial Office was that the company would establish a settlement within five years or see their grant revoked. In 2012 we mark this aspect of the City's early days. One way that we will celebrate our 150th anniversary is with the fun, family festival "Fort Victoria". Join us on Sunday, July 29 for an afternoon of music, storytelling, crafts and a fun, fast and friendly fort building competition. Team registration is now open. Click here for more info and to register.

Historical Fact #69:  Miffin Gibbs was Victoria's first black City Councillor (elected in 1867), and Canada's first black politician. Gibbs was born in Philadelphia. He was well known for his role in the migration of African Americans from California to Vancouver Island in the 1850s, following encouragement by Governor James Douglas. He was involved in business and politics during his stay in Canada. He returned to the United States in 1901.

Historical Fact #70:  Streets, lighting, municipal boundaries and building ordinances have long been the work of the City of Victoria. Within one year of incorporation, the City of Victoria awarded the first contract for street construction, forbid construction of wooden buildings over 18 feet high or more than one storey within town, moved the town boundary east to Douglas Street, and lit the business district with gas lights.
Historical Fact #71:  In 2002, the 300th house in Victoria was designated as a heritage building. Ten years later that number has more than doubled.
Historical Fact #72:  The Fernwood and Fairfield neighbourhoods are named for houses that were built in the 1860s. In 1860, B.W. Pearse built "Fernwood", the colony's first stone house. In 1861, Sir Joseph Trutch's home, "Fairfield" was built at 601 Trutch Street.
Historical Fact #73:  One hundred years ago, the Victoria Police Department purchased their first "motor patrol wagon".
Historical Fact #74: Everyone loves a parade! The Victoria Day parade has filled our streets with joy for 114 years. Victoria Day celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday (May 24), which was declared a holiday by the Legislature of the Province of Canada in 1845.

Historical Fact #75:
The Victoria Day long weekend falls half way though the 150 countdown! What better time to get in the spirit of the anniversary season, as many activities get underway starting this weekend. The Victoria 150 CITYVibe is your free guide to the exciting line-up of summer festivals and arts, cultural and community-based events that mark the City's anniversary in 2012.

Historical Fact #76: In the 1860s, the Scottish Games, which were sponsored by the St. Andrew's and Caledonian Society, were so important to the life of early Victoria that a public holiday was declared for the day on which they were held. The modern day Highland Games are the continuation of these early celebrations; the Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival takes place May 19 and 20, 2012 at Topaz Park. 

Historical Fact #77: Victoria has been called Canada's most walkable city. It is estimated that more than 10% of Victoria residents walk to work.

Historical Fact #78: 
Sir James Douglas described Victoria as a “perfect Eden” when the Hudson's Bay Company first arrived. More than 150 years later, many Victorians are devoted to preserving the natural beauty that remains through sustainable lifestyles and practices that include recycling, composting, supporting local food producers and conserving energy and water.
Historical Fact #79:  St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral opened in 1892. At the time it was constructed, its spire was the tallest point in Victoria. St. Andrew's is the oldest Catholic cathedral in BC. Outside there are monuments to pioneer missionaries; inside, the decorative panels are based on the Book of Kells.
Historical Fact #80:  Pedicabs have long been an iconic part of Victoria's downtown scenery. The first pedicab company began operations here in 1985. Pedicab drivers have had their share of interesting fares, but none more bizarre than when a group of fishermen once paid a driver to tour a dead salmon around town.
Historical Fact #81: Many of Victoria's first houses were iron bungalows that were sent in the 1850s from Britain as prefabricated houses to "tame the wilderness". One was erected on Superior Street and remained there for nearly a century. It was eventually moved to Heritage Acres by the Saanich Historical Artifacts Society, where it is now known as the Moody House.

Historical Fact #82:
Mungo Martin (1879-1962) was one of the most significant people responsible for the revival of Northwest Coast First Nations art, by bringing it to wide public attention during the last two decades of his life. Martin was a fisherman and Kwakiutl Chief from Fort Rupert who came to Victoria in 1952 in the role of Chief Carver for the BC Provincial Museum's totem pole restoration project. Martin built the Longhouse in Thunderbird Park on the museum site.

Historical Fact #83:
Spencer Castle situated high atop Smith Hill near Topaz Avenue, was built for and by Henry Griffith, a wealthy English-born architect. It was completed in 1914 but sold to David Spencer of the iconic Spencer stores in 1918. It is currently part of a private condominium complex.

Historical Fact #84:
The Gothic Revival style of architecture was Victoria's first recognizable style of construction, and was popular from the 1860s until the end of the 19th century. Many examples of it remain in heritage homes around the city. The most distinctive feature is the intricately carved "bargeboard" – the wide boards that define the rooflines of houses.
Historical Fact #85:  Ross Bay Cemetery is located on the site of Isabella Ross' farm. Ross purchased the property from James Douglas in 1853, making her the first registered female landowner in British Columbia. Much of Victoria's history can be told through the "Stories in Stone”. The Old Cemeteries Society operates tours each Sunday on a variety of themes that illustrate many fascinating aspects of the Victoria's past, through the lives of those who are buried there.
Historical Fact #86:  Victoria's Provincial Royal Jubilee Hospital opened in 1890. It proudly boasted the first operating room north of San Francisco. The hexagonal building, named the Pemberton Memorial Operating Room, was in use from 1896 to 1925. The operating room was excavated in 1991 and many artifacts that were in use in the early days were found and preserved. In 2006, the operating room was named a National Historic Site of Canada.
Historical Fact #87:  John Mortimer started a business in Victoria in 1877 dealing in plaster, marble, granite and sandstone. He was later joined by his son Arthur and the company became known as John Mortimer and Son. The successor business, Mortimer's Monumental Works, continues to operate to this day. John Mortimer is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, surrounded by much of his own work.
Historical Fact #88:  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.
Historical Fact #89: On March 1, 1862, an advertisement in The Daily Colonist offered camels for sale by a San Francisco merchant, for use in the Cariboo Gold Rush. The camels arrived in Victoria on April 15 and remained in the city until May 4. They were the subject of much local interest as well as many sensational headlines and editorials. One baby camel was born during their stay, and another escaped with its mother into the wilds and wouldn't be seen until that fall near Cadboro Bay.
Historical Fact #90: John Butts was Victoria's town crier in 1862, a man with a powerful voice who would walk the city with a large bell in his hand and stop at intervals to ring the bell and "announce matters entrusted to him, in both English and Chinook," according to The Daily Colonist.

Historical Fact #91:
Cliff House, once located at Clover Point, was known originally as Henley's Hotel. It was one of the oldest road houses in Western Canada. It was destroyed by fire in 1905.

Historical Fact #92: 
Architect Samuel Maclure helped popularize the “Poor Man's Tudor Revival” in Victoria -- Tudor-style homes which were likely popular with those who were homesick for the "old country". These homes contribute to Victoria's reputation as a "Little Bit of Old England".
Historical Fact #93:  A construction boom in the early part of the 20th Century saw one or two houses started every day. An average of 400 houses were built each year between 1907 and 1910, and this number doubled the next year. The boom continued until 1914, with the start of World War I.
Historical Fact #94: In the 1866 mayoral race, the outgoing and controversial brewer Arthur Bunster ran against William J. MacDonald, but received only 37 votes to MacDonald's 94. During the campaign, Bunster had announced that if elected, he would attend to his duties as mayor only if they did not interfere with his brewing business. This may have impacted the outcome of the election but did nothing to harm business. ‘Beery Bunster''s political ambitions eventually were rewarded as he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and ultimately the House of Commons under Sir John A. Macdonald.

Historical Fact #95: 
Many venerable businesses and organizations celebrate anniversaries in 2012. W&J Wilson Clothiers turns 150 this year, and Island Blue and Brown's the Florist both celebrate their 100th anniversary. The United Way of Greater Victoria is celebrating 75 years and the University of Victoria celebrates 50 years in its 2012-2013 school year.
Historical Fact #96: Angela College on Burdett Avenue was 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 noisy when it rained. St. John the Divine was rebuilt in more traditional materials of brick and mortar in its current location on Quadra Street and Balmoral Avenue in 1912.

Historical Fact #97: 
Marilyn Bell was the first swimmer to successfully cross the Straight of Juan de Fuca in 1956 at the age of 18. It was her second attempt after being pulled unconscious from the water eight kilometres from shore on her first try. On the second attempt, 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. Marilyn Bell gave up distance swimming after this accomplishment, saying there was no greater goal  to pursue.

Historical Fact #98: Richard B. Wilson, Mayor of Victoria from 1961 to 1965, was a third-generation Victorian and a prominent local businessman. As the grandson of the founder of W&J Wilson's clothing store, Wilson followed his family's entrepreneurial heritage and became the president of his own company, Wilson Motors Ltd.

Historical Fact #99:  The Strathcona Hotel was the first cocktail lounge in British Columbia. E.J. Martin had built the hotel in 1912 intending to open it as the "Empress Block" office building, but plans changed midway through construction and it opened as the Strathcona Hotel in 1913. The words "Empress Block" can still be seen carved in stone on the front façade of the hotel.
Historical Fact #100: In 1901, Richard Biggerstaff Wilson hired the noted architectural firm of Hooper and Watkins to design the Biggerstaff Building, a warehouse and office complex at 532 Herald Street. On the west side of the building he emblazoned a large sign: Wilson Bro's Wholesale Grocers. In 1989 Le Fevre and Co. bought the disused Wilson Bros. building and converted it into 31 seismically upgraded, loft-style suites with commercial space on the ground floor.

Historical Fact #101: 
In the mid-1960s during a period of revitalization downtown and in Centennial Square, a new hotel named the Century Inn celebrated its grand opening across from City Hall. The 63-room hotel was decorated in an Arabian theme. Customers were greeted by employees dressed as genies, and waitresses dressed in Scheherazade (Persian queen) costumes served diners in the exotic Persian Room, the Oasis coffee shop, the Rubaiyat Room and Ali Baba's Cocktail Lounge. The street outside the hotel was modified to allow easy access by the driving public under a colourful canopy to experience “the magic carpet valet service".
Historical Fact #102:  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.
Historical Fact #103: In the late 1950's, the original 1878 building of City Hall was under threat of demolition. Thanks to the vision of Mayor Richard Biggerstaff Wilson, city planner Rod Clack, and with a sizable legacy from Thomas Shanks McPherson, City Hall and the old Pantages Theatre were integrated into the City's first redevelopment project: Centennial Square, which was completed to mark the City of Victoria's 100th anniversary.

Historical Fact #104:
The Raging Grannies celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2012. The Raging Grannies were created in a James Bay living room in 1987 when a group of older women, anxious about possible nuclear threats, started a 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.

Historical Fact #105:
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited Victoria on this day in 1939. They sailed to Victoria on the Princess Marguerite, stayed at Government House and lunched at the Empress Hotel, where one of King George's famous speeches was broadcast around the Empire.
Historical Fact #106: 
Bastion Square was fashioned out of a run-down warehouse district, with the revitalized square opening in 1965 and the former Provincial Court House getting new life as the Maritime Museum of British Columbia.
Historical Fact #107:  Joseph Despard Pemberton (1821-1893) was a Dubliner who trained as a civil engineer, and who was appointed colonial surveyor, arriving in Victoria in 1851. By the late 1850s, he was Victoria's largest private landowner. Pemberton and Son Real Estate and Financial Agents was founded in 1887 by Joseph Pemberton and his eldest son Frederick. It lives on as a family business, now known as Pemberton Holmes.
Historical Fact #108:  US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mrs. Roosevelt visited Victoria on September 30, 1937. Thousands of people lined the streets to wave as their motorcade made its way through the city.
Historical Fact #109:  During the first year of WWI, trenches were dug in the vacant spaces created by an earlier fire downtown, and soldiers gave Victorians a simulated tour of the Western Front for twenty-five cents.
Historical Fact #110: A fire in Government House occurred on this day in 1957. Designed by Francis Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure to replace the original house (also destroyed by fire), the wood-frame 1903 building was completely destroyed, with the exception of the stone porte cochere, which was incorporated into the new residence.

Historical Fact #111:
Prohibition came to BC in 1917. However, by 1921, the failures were so apparent -- a thriving black market, arbitrary enforcement and punishment, rampant corruption -- that alcohol was established as a commodity, subject to government regulation and taxation as it is today. The City of Victoria remained "dry" for several more decades.

Historical Fact #112: 
A 1910 fire, in what was known as the Arcade Block of Government Street, destroyed an entire city block from Fort Street to Trounce Alley, which resulted in the extension of View Street from Broad to Government Streets.
Historical Fact #113:  Hudson Bay Company Chief Factor John Work married a Spokane Metis woman, Josette, in 1826 “according to the custom of the country” (according to Aboriginal customs). They lived together for 25 years and had 11 children before marrying in the Anglican Church to enable their daughters to enter Victoria society. One daughter, Suzette, married E.G. Prior who later became Premier and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
Historical Fact #114:  Meteorologist Edmund Baynes Reed began daily weather forecasts at Gonzales Heights Observatory in 1898 and was succeeded in this task by Francis Napier Denison. Mr. Denison, retiring after 21 years of service, continued to take seismic and weather measurements in a small room under the basement stairs of Craigdarroch Castle, then occupied by Victoria College. He did this with equipment borrowed from the Victoria Fire Department and that he made himself. He published his last paper in the 1940 edition of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Historical Fact #115:  Victoria is home to the oldest surviving Chinatown in North America, predated only by San Francisco's original Chinatown which was destroyed by fire.
Historical Fact #116: Two buildings which altered the skyline of the City of Victoria are St. Ann's Academy and the former St. Joseph's Hospital. Both of these institutions were built through the tireless dedication of the Sisters of St. Ann.
Historical Fact #117:
Hannah Maynard became one of British Columbia's first professional photographers, an unusual profession for a woman at the time. Arriving in Victoria in 1862, Maynard opened the city's first portrait studio on Johnson Street, later moving to Pandora Avenue (now home to John's Place). She was responsible for photographing many of Victoria's early residents, from prominent businessmen to police mug shots. Hannah Maynard's photographs, however, are interesting for more than historical reasons. She experimented with every new photographic technique and developed a vision that was surreal and haunting.

Historical Fact #118: 
The McPherson Theatre was originally built as one of the "Pantages" chain of vaudeville houses which became famous all over North America.

Historical Fact #119:
Fan Tan Alley is 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. At barely 1.5 metres (5 feet) wide, Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest street in Canada.

Historical Fact #120:
In the spring of 1931, the Imperial Oil Causeway Garage was opened at 812 Wharf Street, now home to the Visitor's Information Centre and Milestones Restaurant. The art deco building featured a 24.4-metre (80-foot) high tower that was used as an illuminated aerodrome beacon to assist aviators to land in Victoria Harbour at night. The light was used until World War II when it was turned off.

Historical Fact #121:  William Wallace Gibson, a James Bay resident in the early 20th Century, earned the nickname "The Bird Man" when he constructed and flew Western Canada's first aircraft. In September 1910, he took two flights in his aircraft "Twin Plane," both of which were brief and ended with rather heavy landings, but which ultimately launched him into aviation history.

Historical Fact #122: When it opened in 1925, the Crystal Garden was the largest indoor salt water swimming pool in the British Empire. Now a convention facility, the carpet includes lines to mark historic swimming lanes.

Historical Fact #123:  The granite lions on the Gate of Harmonious Interest in Chinatown were a gift to the City of Victoria from the twin city of Suzhou, China.

Historical Fact #124: The bell in the City Hall clock tower weighs approximately 985 kilograms. No fooling!

Historical Fact #125: Emily Carr's monkey “Woo” is reputed to have gotten her name by the sound she made when excited: "Woo Woo Woo." Carr's beloved pet was the subject of many of her drawings and paintings.

Historical Fact #126:  On this day in history, the Victoria Cougars beat the Montreal Canadians to win the Stanley Cup in 1925.

Historical Fact #127:  Esther Hill, the first registered female architect in Canada, was also the first woman to serve on the City of Victoria's Town Planning Committee (1946 - 1952). Despite massive discrimination in a male dominated field, Hill carved a successful career for herself in Victoria, designing houses, apartment buildings and the first purpose-built care home, Glenwarren Lodge Private Hospital.

Historical Fact #128:  On this day in history in 1935, Francis Rattenbury died. Rattenbury, architect of Victoria's Legislative Buildings, Empress Hotel and Crystal Gardens, was murdered by his chauffeur, whom his young wife had taken as a lover.

Historical Fact #129:  Victoria's incorporation as a city pre-dates that of Canada as a nation by five years. For most of the nineteenth century, Victoria was the largest city in British Columbia and was foremost in trade and commerce.

Historical Fact #130: The statue of Robbie Burns and Mary Campbell was installed in Beacon Hill Park (where the putting green is now situated) by the William Wallace Society, but was stolen. It was missing for several days before it was found and reinstalled, and there it remains.

Historical Fact #131: Prior to the arrival of European navigators in the late 1700s, the Victoria area was home to the Lekwungen People. They had many settlements and food gathering sites from Sooke to Gordon Head, with the largest settlement at Cadboro Bay. When the Hudson's Bay Company settled in 1842, many families moved to the area now commonly known as Songhees, for trade.

Historical Fact #132: Victorians have long been passionate about daffodils. Daffodils were first planted in Beacon Hill Park in 1858. In 1887, Victoria artist Sophie Pemberton (1869 - 1959), debuted her painting "Daffodils" at the Royal Academy of Art in London where she received critical acclaim. The woman in the painting may be Ethel Vantreight, whose family farm is Canada's largest producer of daffodils.

Historical Fact #133: Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie (1819 - 1894) became known as "The Hanging Judge" but in fact was known to abhor the practice, which was the only sentence allowed for murder at the time. He campaigned on many occasions to the governor of the time to grant mercy.

Historical Fact #134:  Victoria was the starting point to the longest torch relay in Olympic history. The relay began in Victoria on October 30, 2009 and the flame arrived in Vancouver, BC for the start of the 2010 Winter Games on February 12, 2010.

Historical Fact #135:  The first graveyard in Victoria was located on the corner of Douglas and Johnson Streets.

Historical Fact #136:  Victoria's first mayor was Thomas Harris, who was also a butcher. Harris was a large man who required a special chair to be built for him in Council Chambers. Harris Green is named for Thomas Harris.

Historical Fact #137:  The Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street was established in 1907 with money raised by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. Originally established because of a law that required Chinese children to be able to speak English before they entered public school, it now offers Chinese language and cultural education for children of many different cultures.

Historical Fact #138:  For a short time, Victoria was known locally as "Fort Albert," but by resolution passed by the Council of the Northern Department of the Hudson's Bay Company meeting at Fort Garry on June 10, 1843, it was officially named "Fort Victoria" after the British Queen.

Historical Fact #139:  Beacon Hill Park has hosted cricket matches since 1866. It has also been home to horse racing in the 1860s and "Love-ins" in the 1960s.

Historical Fact #140:  The Belfry Theatre is housed in what was originally the Springridge Baptist Church. It has been a shelter for transient youth and a dentist's office.

Historical Fact #141:  Many past mayors have had parks and/or streets named for them to preserve their memory in the community, including Charles Redfern (Redfern Park and Redfern Street) who served two separate terms as mayor in the late 1800s.

Historical Fact #142:  The Ogden Point breakwater was completed in 1916, requiring over one million tonnes of rock and 10,000 granite blocks. Since those beginnings, the Ogden Point Enhancement Society has completed several phases of "enhancement," including Na'Tsa',mant - The Unity Wall, which brings the history of the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations to the forefront of the City of Victoria through the work of young Aboriginal artists.

Historical Fact 143:  Albert E. Todd (1878 – 1928) served as Victoria's mayor from 1917 to 1919. One of the first licensed drivers in the city, he was keen on promoting Victoria as a tourist destination and making it easier to get around town. During his time in office, he envisioned a crossing over the harbour to the west side, which later became the Johnson Street Bridge.

Historical Fact #144:  2012 also marks the anniversary of a terrible and tragic time in history for First Nations people in the area, as it was in 1862 that smallpox arrived in the city. Believed to have been introduced to the area by a passenger on the SS Brother Jonathan, smallpox and the attendant policies of the day proved to be undeniably cruel to First Nations people. It is estimated that 14,000 Aboriginal people from BC to Alaska perished.

Historical Fact #145:  On this day in history in 1850, the Governor of Vancouver Island, Richard Blanshard, arrived in Victoria.

Historical Fact #146:  Victoria has long been a popular location for filmmakers. 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).

Historical Fact #147:  The first professional hockey game to be played on artificial ice, anywhere in the world, was held in Victoria on January 2, 1912.

Historical Fact #148: The location of the original Fort Victoria was known to the Songhees people as Ku-sing-ay-las, "the place of strong fibre" where strong willow suitable for fishing line grew in abundance.

Historical Fact 149: Fifty-eight mayors have served Victoria since its incorporation. Of those, only one woman has held the title of "Your Worship." Former Mayor Gretchen Brewin held the post from 1986 to 1990.

Historical Fact 150:  The City was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company on March 14, 1843 as a trading post and fort at the location the First Nations called "Camosack" meaning "Rush of Water."