Salt Fall/Winter 2014 - page 32

Holland Point
Holland Point is remarkable for its
beauty, but it also has a long, diverse, and
sometimes tragic history.This 14-acre
portion of Beacon Hill Park, nestled
beside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, has fields
bursting with flowers during spring and
is witness to some wild storms during the
winter months.
About a thousand years ago, First Nations
inhabited this area; an engraved granite
monument marks where a village once
stood and you can still find the remains of
First Nations burial cairns within Beacon
Hill Park.The area was rich with food:
the beautiful purple Camas that bloom in
April also provided a starchy edible bulb
and the ocean yielded fish and shellfish.
The wide-open fields, as well as providing
a good vantage point, also offered a venue
for recreation. Today, soccer is the game of
choice at Holland Point; a thousand years
ago, the First Nations played Coqwiallis, a
game similar to field hockey.
Jump ahead to the 1840’s, when Holland
Point had another function: it served as
farmland for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Wheat and potatoes replaced the Camas
and houses and farms were built.Though
the houses have long since vanished, one in
particular lives on in a tragic tale.
In June 1872, the steamship Prince
Alfred arrived in Victoria but was held
offshore after smallpox was found on board,
a disease that ravaged Victoria several times
during that century. A young infected girl
was quarantined in one of the deserted
farmhouses with her parents and later died
and was buried on Holland Point.The
house took on a sinister reputation and was
thereafter known as the “Pesthouse.”
Soon, the Point once again had a new life,
this time with the military. Back then, it was
expected that the Russians would invade,
and so, in 1878, two large guns were placed
on Holland Point for protection. More
than half a century later, during World
War II, searchlights and army huts were
constructed. A stroll along Holland Point
shows that the military never really left:
one of their huts can still be found near the
central playground.
Holland Point
Jo-Ann Loro/Salt Magazine
Jo-Ann Loro/Salt Magazine
The engraved granite monument
at Victoria Point gives passers-
by a taste of the rich history of
this scenic spot. Today, it is a
beautiful place to walk, cycle,
and watch sail boats.
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