Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Blame it on David


In recent weeks, friend David, who is past president of our local ACO branch, has been sampling the delights of Victoria, BC. His many Facebook posts have set me longing for the neighbourhoods and attractions of that delightful city. 

Last night I browsed through hundreds of house photos taken when my love and I spent a week wandering the city in 2017. Seems like yesterday. In truth, I suspect Denis indulged me well beyond his capacity for appreciating architecture, as we trudged through most of the Victoria Heritage Foundation's neighbourhood walking tour guides. It's a time I am looking back on today with a full heart.

Back in 2017 I wrote about our James Bay neighbourhood B&B home base with our hosts the delightful Toshie and David. This neighbourhood occupies the  'home farm' land which provided food for the Hudson's Bay Company fort 'downtown', epicentre of the fur trade in the west in the 1840s.

"The Empress"

The area includes the delighful Fisherman's wharf floating home neighbourhood, Francis Rattenbury's grand 1898 "classical renaissance  Romanesque" Parliament Buildings with their lovely grounds, and the imposing 1904 "Franco-Scottish Chateau style Empress Hotel" among other architectual delights   

We explored the beauties of the endless trails bordering the James Bay peninsula, and ventured into lush and exotic Beacon Hill Park. 

A plaque beside the location where a traditional pole is being rebuilt, acknowledges the colonial history of the HBC. There are many public plaques and interpretive panels by which to inform oneself. 

camas flower beneath oaks, Lieutenant Governor's mansion
ave Mason post, written about our guided walking tour tells tells the history better than I, as does the book written by our B&B host David Helme. I look forward to being greeted by the new Welcome Pole when I return this spring.

But the focus of attention on several long walking days were the frame homes which for a red-brick Ontario girl, were exotic enough. 

Thanks to David, I am homesick for the houses of the James Bay area, that neighbourhood of vernacular Colonial bungalows, Arts and Crafts and Craftsman styles - and folksy blends. The photos following also capture the rich colour of March in Victoria, sigh, a feast of flowering shrubs and trees and spring bloom, including the wild camas flower cultivated by the Lekwungen people."Such much", to misuse one of our favourite Casablanca quotes.

For architectural details please consult the wonderful walking tour brochures provided by the researchers of the Victoria Heritage Foundation, those worthy documents  my Denis assiduously followed as I darted about excitedly with my camera.

 I will leave my pilgrimage to the Emily Carr homes for another post. 

Walk on.

deer in Lieutenant Gov's flower beds

Are you still with us? As the Staple Singers said, "I'll take you there."