1882 Victoria Directory

Descriptive

The Capital and seat of Government of British Columbia is situated on the south-eastern extremity of Vancouver Island in lat. 18 deg. 2m min. 20 sec. North and west long. 123 deg. 22. Min. 24 sec., occupying, with the adjacent harbor of Esquimalt, a position of prominent importance, as well for present local needs, as for the requirements of the future commerce of the Pacific. Briefly it may be stated that, distant about 750 geographical miles from San Fransisco, in California, and about 30 from Port Townsend, the port of entry of Washington Territory, its home ports are on all sides accessible as far as the Alaskan boundary, in lat. 54 deg. 40 min. Thus New Westminster, situated on Fraser river (and which is also a port of entry) is distant only about 70 miles, or 6 hours passage of steamer. Nanaimo, another port of entry, is nearly equidistant; while there are other stations of delivery along the coast which, it is needless to specify, are within varying distances. The fact of its being the first available sea-port north of San Fransisco, upon the north-west coast, confers necessarily upon Victoria and its allied harbor of Esquimalt, an importance which cannot easily be over-rated.

The harbor of Victoria itself is not capable, at present, of accommodating vessels drawing more than 18 (eighteen) feet of water; but dredging operations are in progress, under the care of the Federal Government of the Dominion, which will increase the present capacity; while the adjacent and supplementary harbor of Esquimalt is constantly available, where ships of any burden can at all times freely enter and discharge. An excellent mechanized road, upon which stages run regularly, connects Victoria with Esquimalt; there is also telephonic communication. Westward to Sooke, and northward to Saanich, are excellent roads, graded throughout, and a drive in either direction, through charming scenery, can readily be undertaken with the certainty of enjoyment.

As one gazes Southward, across the Strait of Fuca, towards the range extending seaward from mount Olympus in Washington Territory, manifold beauties come into view at every turn.

Among the many advantages Victoria can boast of, not the least is, that the sportsman can within easy distance from the city roam over undulating downs, and grassy hills, enriched by the most romantic scenery, and fill his bag with quail, snipe, and grouse, or bring to earth the bounding deer. Anglers can, upon the placid bosom of the numerous lakes near by hook – amongst other fish – the lively trout, and in the bays of the sea the wily salmon, with which the waters are at all seasons stored.

Contiguous to the city boundary, on the south eastern side, is the Public Park, a spacious tract of great natural beauty. The view from here, looking towards the American side, cannot be surpassed. The placid waters of the Strait, on which swift steamers may be seen passing on the way to New Westminster, Yale and other ports of the Province, viewed together with the snow-capped scenery of the Olympian range, is charming in the extreme. In the centre rises, with a gentle slope, the knoll known as "Beacon Hill," from the circumstance of its having in the early days, been surmounted by a signal post which served to indicate the entrance to the harbor. Around this eminence a racecourse is laid out, where some well-contested matches occasionally take place. And the cricket ground, upon which assemble the players of cricket and base-ball, and the members of the Athletic Club, who indulge, among other sports , in the rough pleasures of foot-ball and the favorite Canadian game of La Crosse.

Within a distance of about two miles from the city is an attractive and beautiful spot called the "Gorge," an inlet from the harbor. This has been so often described that it is almost superfluous to speak of its natural beauties. Visitors to Victoria, and Victorians themselves thoroughly enjoy the boating and other charming attractions, which the Arm and the Gorge afford, and no one can visit this beautiful spot with other than feelings of rapture. This, however, is but one among the number of attractive scenes which invite the tourist’s attention; and, as excursions are extended in various directions, fresh beauties present themselves to gratify the visitor who, bent on recreation, or in quest of health, may sojourn for a while in Victoria and its neighborhood.

From various eminences, notably in the vicinity of the residence of the Lieut. Governor, Blanchard Avenue, Hospital Hill, Head of Pandora Avenue, Church Hill, and from Mt. Tolmie, (a delightful walk of about a couple of miles) the eye is enchanted with the picturesqueness of the landscape, and the pretty house embowered by ivy, honey-suckle, and other lovely creeping plants, and neatly trimmed lawns.

The Government buildings, five in number, built in red brick, and of Swiss style of architecture, are located upon a neck of land, accessible by a substantial bridge across James Bay; and viewed from Government street have a decidedly pretty effect, with their well kept lawn and choice evergreen trees. Here are the Provincial Offices. At the foot of the lawn is a grey granite obelisk, erected by the people, to the memory of the lamented Sir James Douglas, J. C. B., the first Governor, and Commander in chief, from 1851 to 1864. In front of the Government Buildings the Royal Navy Band occasionally favors the public with a selection of sweet music, enlivening a large number of the residents of all classes who attend.

The Dominion Buildings are well and solidly constructed, containing accommodation for the various federal officers. Among these are comprised the Custom House, the Post Office, and the Marine Hospital.

Most of the business portion of the city is well built of stone and brick: many of the buildings displaying considerable taste and architectural skill. The private dwellings are nearly all wooden structures many of which are surrounded by thrifty orchards containing the apple, pear, plum, cherry, currant, raspberry and gooseberry, growing to perfection: and inland may be found the apricot and peach; while the gardens, adorned with luxuriant shrubbery and prolific with many well known flowers, attest the generally diffused taste for horticulture in its most attractive form.

On the opposite side of the harbor from the city, and comprising an extensive area of land, is an Indian Reservation, allotted to, and occupied by, a considerable portion of the Songish tribe. This is, indeed, the ancient capital of these people, their chief dwelling-place from time immemorial. It is needless to say that a great barrier to the extension of the city in what would otherwise be a favorite and much coveted direction is thus established. The legal rights of the natives to the possession of this locality are necessarily respected, and they cling with much tenacity to their ancestral home. A strong attempt was made by the late Joint Commission (appointed in 1876 to define the boundaries of Indian reservations in the Province) to induce the Indians to remove to some other place in the neighborhood, which would have been provided for them. The funds accruing from subsequent land sales (in the aggregate probably a very large amount) would have been secured for their benefit and that of succeeding generations. The effort, however, was unsuccessful. The conduct and disposition of the native residents are not open to complaint. On the whole, they are not adverse to labor, though from the temptations which surround them, their services cannot always be relied on: otherwise they might be regarded here, as elsewhere in many parts of the Province, in a very favorable light as useful members of the community.

Victoria has direct mail communication with San Francisco three times a month, by subsidized mail steamers. An overland communication is also established, via Puget Sound, with Portland in Oregon, at intervals of two days only, by which the Eastern mails also reach here. There is constant communication with ports in Oregon and California, by means of steamers engaged in the coasting trade. Recently, the "Sardonyx," a fine steamer brought from England by an enterprising local firm, has been placed on the route between Victoria and San Francisco for the conveyance of freight and passengers.

A very efficient Fire Brigade is maintained in Victoria, composed of several companies, whose members serve gratuitously. The excellence of the arrangements of this institution, and the zealous activity of the members, have elicited general commendation; and the fact that the town has escaped those devastations by fire so frequent elsewhere, speaks volumes in their praise.

A submarine telegraphic cable, crossing the Gulf of Georgia at Nanaimo, connects Victoria with the Mainland, the line extending far into the interior of British Columbia. A branch from New Westminster joins the Western Union Line, in Washington Territory, and so with New York and other parts of the world. Within the city a useful telephonic system is in operation.

An abundant supply of water is obtained from Elk Lake, a distance of 7 miles, the works costing about $200,000. Gas was introduced several years ago and is in general use, while the introduction of the electric light has been proposed. The climate is very equable, the thermometer seldom failing to zero in winter and rarely exceeding 85 in summer, ranging generally between 55 and 70 degs. of Fahrenheit.

The supply of fuel, both coal and wood, is plentiful, at moderate prices.

Victoria possesses a large and well appointed Public School under the general supervision of a Board of Trustee and a most efficient staff of teachers. The scholars are taught free of all expenses to the parents. The building is of brick, 2 stories high, with well appointed class rooms, play ground, &c., and commands a beautiful view of Victoria and the harbor.

A large and handsome brick structure has just been completed for the accommodation of the pupils of the High School, where all the advanced grades of education are taught. A great incentive is offered to the scholars, from the fact that when sufficiently advanced the can be appointed teachers at a liberal salary.

There are also private seminaries affording elementary and progressive education, and funds are now being raised for the erection of a commodious building and to establish a college with a large staff of able teachers under the auspices of the Anglican Church.

An excellent institution for the education of females already exists, conducted by the respected Sisterhood of St. Ann. It is much appreciated and well patronized. The capacious and sightly edifice which is occupied by the good Sisters and their pupils, is located in the southern outskirt of the city, in a spacious enclosure containing a thrifty orchard and neat gardens.

There are in Victoria ten Christian Churches, besides a Jewish Synagogue, namely: 2 Anglican, 1 Reformed Episcopalian, 2 Roman Catholic, 2 Presbyterian, 2 Methodist, and 1 Baptist.

The Mechanics’ Institute has a complete and valuable library of choice works of the best authors, a spacious reading room, which is largely availed of; and upon its tables may be found the latest newspapers and magazines from all parts of the globe. Strangers introduced by a member are given free access.

As regards local journals there are three daily and 2 weekly newspapers, all of which are ably conducted.

For the benefit of the mercantile marine and merchants there is a Pilotage Board and also a Board of Trade.

There are four banks; namely, the Bank of British Columbia; the Bank of British North America; the Dominion Savings Bank; and Garesche, Green &Co., the last being also agents for Wells, Fargo &Co.’s Express.

Several Societies of usefulness, such as the B. C. Benevolent, B. C. Pioneer, French Benevolent, Rifle Association, Law Society, St. Andrews, Caledonian, Agricultural and Horticultural, Victoria Orchestral, Temperance, Ladies’ Church Society, and three Bands of Music, and also a private Club, known as the Union Club, to which visitors from a distance can be invited by the members. Masonic Lodges, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Foresters, and Ancient Order of United Workmen, who hold periodical meetings for the dispatch of business and to discuss the mysteries of their several Orders, and occasionally meet in brotherly love and good fellowship at the festive board. Besides the Royal Hospital, an institution supported by public grants aided by private contributions, there are two other excellent foundations for the care of the sick, namely: the Hospital of St. Joseph and the French Hospital. For the care of orphan children good homes have been provided.

Thriving manufactures are in full operation, amongst which may be mentioned iron and brass works, planing mills, soap works, boot and shoe, match, cigar, glove factories and other industries.

Besides British, from England, Scotland and Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, there is a sprinkling of other nationalities, Americans, French, Germans, Italians, &c., many of whom have claimed naturalization.

A meed of praise is due to our livery stable proprietors who keep pace with the times, and who have always on hand excellent horses, and comfortable carriages for hire at reasonable rates, to convey sight-seers to the beautiful places which abound in the environs of the city. The hotel accommodation will be found comfortable with good tables at moderate prices.

To conclude: The visitor to Victoria will find in his experience that, in the short summary that has been given, the local attractions of the neighborhood have not been over-stated. On the other hand the steady progress which has of late been witnessed must dispel from the minds of Victorians themselves the misgivings which for a time may possibly have been entertained; while the prospect of the early completion of the railway now in progress, gives, in connection with other public works, the assurance of continued prosperity.