Salt Fall/Winter 2014 - page 30

More history
Emanu-El Synagogue
Built in 1863 on the
corner of Blanshard
and Pandora, this is
the oldest surviving
synagogue in Western
Canada and a
designated historic site.
On Thursday afternoons,
from mid-June to the
end of August, guided
walking tours are
Fort Rodd Hill and
Fisgard Lighthouse
A coast artillery fort
built in the 1890s,
this historic site
includes gun batteries,
underground magazines,
guardhouses, and
barracks. It is also
where you’ll find Fisgard
Lighthouse, built in
1860. Great place for
a picnic.
Chinese Public
Opened in
1909 on Fisgard Street,
this school was built
because segregation
laws in Victoria
prevented students
of Chinese descent
from attending public
school. Full integration
did not take place until
after the second World
War, at which time, this
school became what it
has remained until this
day: a place for people
to study Cantonese,
Mandarin, calligraphy,
and dance.
The Chinese Cemetery
Situated in a corner of Oak Bay, Harling Point is both
stunning and isolated, with just a handful of houses
nearby. Surrounded by cliffs on one side and open,
and often wild, ocean on the other along, it is a fitting
home for the Chinese Cemetery and the remains of
hundreds of Chinese immigrants.
At the turn of the last century, the Chinese were
forbidden from using cemeteries such as the nearby
Ross Bay Cemetery, so they purchased their own
in 1903. Harling Point made an ideal location; the
landscape and proximity to the
ocean offered good feng shui,
and the exposed land made it
unattractive to settlers.
Under Chinese custom, bodies
were buried for seven years then
disinterred and shipped back to
China for burial in the immigrant’s
ancestral home village.The cemetery
still features a prominent alter,
visible with the wide-open ocean as
a backdrop.There also used to be a
bone house, which served as a way
station for those remains on their
way back to China.
World War II and the Chinese
Communist Revolution put a stop
to sending bones back to China, and
the remains of 900 Chinese were denied their trip home.
Instead, the bones were buried in 13 mass graves in 1961.
The cemetery, no longer used, was designated a
National Historic site in 1995, the only cemetery west of
Toronto and Ottawa to be so recognized, and underwent
a major restoration in 2001.Today, it offers a sense of
serenity and a window into an important chapter of the
province’s history.
Emily Carr’s Neighbourhood
Emily Carr, one of Canada’s greatest painters, likely
ran in similar circles as her contemporary Kathleen
O’Reilly of Point Ellice House.They grew up in
Victoria at the same time, though they were destined
to follow very different paths.
Victoria is Carr’s city: from her statue near the
Inner Harbour, to the Royal BC Museum’s grand
plans for a permanent Carr gallery, to the Emily
Carr branch of the public library. And the James Bay
neighbourhood, between downtown Victoria and the
ocean, was her backyard.
Carr was born at 207 Government Street, a
beautiful Italianate-style home that now operates as
museum. In 1863, when the house was built, it was
part of the Beckley Farm, originally Hudson’s Bay
Company land, and it stretched for acres with some
of the city’s most prestigious families as neighbours:
Helmcken, Dunsmuir, Spenser, Irvine, and Trounce.
As the Carr children grew, a few of them built their
own houses on the property including Emily. Her
“House of All Sorts,” referenced in her book of the same
name, was built at 646 Simcoe Street in 1913. It was
truly a character house in more ways than one: to make
ends meet, Carr took in an odd assortment of boarders,
created pottery for tourists, and raised bob-tailed English
sheep dogs. Carr was known for her fondness of animals,
perhaps believing them better companions than the
humans she met, and she was often remembered with her
pet monkey named Woo perched on her shoulder.
The Sooke Flowline
The century-old Sooke Flowline doesn’t make it into
many Victoria guidebooks, but the construction of
this now-abandoned concrete aqueduct was one of
Victoria’s largest megaprojects.The 44-kilometre line
starts at Sooke Lake Reservoir and then snakes through
the Sooke Hills to Humpback Lake; you can still find
moss-covered remnants of the concrete pipes in the forest
As Victoria grew in the early 1900s, so did the need
for water. In 1908, residents voted to move the reservoir
from Elk Lake to Sooke Lake, and the city began to put
its mind to how to manage this feat of engineering. In
1911, the four-year project broke ground. It employed
400 workers, many of them— along with their families
— living along the line as it was built.
This was a crucial waterline for Victoria and, during
World War I, the city had soldiers guarding the area —
on the watch for German saboteurs (it was war time,
after all).The area is still patrolled by caretakers, though
they now keep an eye out — not for spies or saboteurs
— but for marijuana grow-ops, for which this area is
also noted.
Though decommissioned in 1971, the Flowline,
much of it in regional parks, is still accessible and with
a bit of a hike, remnants of the cement pipes can be
found at Sooke Potholes and Mt. Wells Regional Park.
Segments of the pipe can also be found on the grounds
of the Sooke Regional Museum, a much easier stroll.
Emily Carr’s childhood
home in James Bay near
downtown Victoria
Jo-Ann Loro/Salt Magazine
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