Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It All Starts Here

photo taken the first week of our BC visit
 So. Just back after 3 weeks on the wet coast. Still a bit travel-weary, and struck pretty much dumb with the intoxicating beauty of the gardens, the forests, the ocean. I had forgotten how incredibly lush trees, shrubs and flowering perennials can get, when they don't suffer the annual discouragement of winter. And oh yes, the built heritage. More, much more to come on that topic.

Our first few days were spent in Victoria's James Bay neighbourhood, a heritage district just a short walk from the breath-taking inner harbour. These homes are built on land once named Beckley Farm, which in the 1840s served as the 'home farm' which fed the Hudson's Bay Company fort. (The fort's footprint is still visible in the historic downtown, outlined by decorative tile.) Adding another layer, one of the early landowners in this neighbourhood, once the Company divested itself of the farmland, was a Mr. Carr, father of the beloved Emily. In fact, Government Street was once called Carr Street. I'm looking forward to sharing a few of these stories (with matching houses) with you.
Our goal during our miles of walkabouts was to absorb Victoria's natural world, and the built one, thanks to some good planning, and the welcome suggestions of our bed and breakfast hosts, David and Toshie. They were in a good position to make recommendations, as they live in part of the area's history.

David has written a meticulously researched local history about the James Bay neighbourhood, which I am just beginning to enjoy. It's called Victoria's Past: The View from Marifield House. The book is available online, and I recommend it highly.

photo taken on our return to Marifield House 2 weeks later
David Helme and Toshie Kikuta share their home, and their stories, at Marifield House, 235 Government Street. The house was built in 1925. David's book tells the story of the first owner/builders, the Chaves, and subsequent stewards of the property. He tells the couple's own journey which led them here, to welcome other travellers. And he describes the French doors, the granite fireplace, the green stained glass - all of which greeted us each morning in the private breakfast room, as we marvelled at the hummingbirds and spring flowers through the wide windows.

There are so many B.C. house stories waiting to be told.
But first, some other deadlines to honour. No pressure.

Now this is pressure (of the very best sort.) Friends Larry and Bill, enthusiastically returning from a month in Australia, yesterday presented me with two volumes of architectural drawings of favourites from their visits to Sydney and Melbourne, in anticipation of our own travels there, all being well, next winter. Hope I'm caught up by then.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to once again enjoy your writing while having breakfast - a fine way to start the day. Looking forward to more postings about the wet coast!