WHILE VICTORIA WAS IN THIS PERIOD of industrial and mercantile decline the elements of its population were changing rapidly. The city was invaded at the turn of the century and in the next decade by Englishmen, many of them remittance men and many others who were ex-Indian army officers. Invariably they joined a club, that period being the heyday of the men's club from which women were rigidly excluded. A favorite then as today was the Union Club, foremost business and political club of Victoria. The Union Club is one of Victoria's venerable institutions, its first meeting having been held in 1879 over Van Volkenburgh's butcher shop, now the site of the Poodle Dog Cafe, in premises vacated by the Mining Exchange.
The Club moved to premises on Douglas and Courtney Streets opposite the Strathcona Hotel in 1885 and the move was a source of considerable annoyance to the nearby St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Many English members of the Club were great dog lovers and parked their pets outside the Club premises. This led not only to many disputes between members and between dogs as to rightful parking spots, but while their masters were enjoying themselves inside the Club, the dogs gave vent to their boredom by fighting and continuous barking. Sermons and prayers lost something in solemnity when punctuated by this chorus of tethered canines, but church protests were of no avail. The canine parking problem, like that with cars today, was apparently insoluble.
The dogs also contributed to inter-Club friction because some members got into the habit of feeding their pets with kitchen leftovers and sometimes with food snitched from the dining tables. Occasionally a member would wonder whether his clean plate was a result of efficient washing up or efficient licking. The Club was also noted for the heavy drinking which accompanied the many political, business and social contacts made there. Drunkenness became too much for some members. Patience was finally exhausted when a member accused of continuous inebriation appeared before the committee in a drunken stupor to answer the charges.
An example was made of him and he was expelled. The Club's reputation was also sullied by dark hints of prostitution. Two "madams," no doubt prompted by traffic density, had their premises near the Club. Mistress Jennie Morris had a brothel at Courtney and Douglas where Woodward's later built a store and which is now an executive block, while Alice Seymour ran a rival establishment facing the Club where the Strathcona Hotel now stands. It was rumored but never proven that an underground tunnel enabled discreet access from the Club premises to one of these establishments. In the easy going ways of those times, the Club was continuously in debt. Many members seemed to regard it as a philanthropic institution and postponed settlement of their accounts indefinitely. There were also complaints on a semi-permanent basis of the food, stench, flies and, in winter, chilly rooms. Cooks were hired and fired like film extras in efforts to satisfy complainants.
The club did not remain immune from the real estate fever which swept Victoria from 1905 onward, reaching its climax in 1914. It acquired from Senator MacDonald for the fancy price of $50,000 in 1908 the old Badminton Club at the junction of Gordon and Humboldt Streets, demolished it and erected its present premises on the site. This accentuated rather than improved its financial predicament. The -Club was later sued by the City for non-payment of taxes and members were shocked to read in the Vancouver Daily Province that the land on which their club stood but they came to nothing. But somehow the Club survived. The list of its presidents, the first being Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, is a Victoria commercial Who's Who.
Every premier, not excluding Premier W. A. C. Bennett, has been a member; it has been racked by political controversy and many Cabinets have been made and unmade in the Union Club. The heavy drinking at the Union Club induced a number of English gentlemen to sponsor a club where they could enjoy tea and crumpets without the shoulder-slappings, snores and hiccups of effusive toppers. They took over the Chancery Chambers on Broad Street built by lawyers for offices and founded the British Public Schools Club in the mid-twenties "to assist any public schoolboy except financially." It didn't pay its way and the reason for this was quickly divined by perspicacious George (the Joker) John Patton, a generous, club-footed ex-Esquimalt tavern keeper.
He obtained a liquor licence for the premises, took the Club over in 1936, broadened the membership base and left in 1950, having apparently made a good thing of it. The Club still operates and its name, savoring of class distinction and a bygone world, brings faint smiles to the lips of those who pass the premises. Rival of the Union Club was the now defunct Pacific Club whose last premises were the B.C. Cement Building at the northeast corner of Wharf and Fort Streets. The B.C. Cement Building was erected by Californian Tommy Golden who made money in the Barkerville gold rush, went broke with the "Brown Jug" and later became insane. When built in 1863 the building cost $3,000 (about $30,000 today). In 1865 Tommy Golden put a saloon downstairs and rented the upstairs to the Oddfellows.
It was later owned by Donald Fraser, correspondent of The Times of London, a position which carried almost diplomatic prestige. In the economically dark days of 1870 a fire broke out in the building. It was insured for $5,500 and the enquiry revealed that the fire occurred after the Chinese caretaker had been told to "take the night off." The puzzling verdict was that "the fire was neither accidental nor on purpose." The Pacific Club was the successor of the Victoria Club formed 159 in 1885 with premises at Fort and Broad Streets (the Victoria Times building). The Victoria became the Pacific Club in 1894 and was the first tenant of the Pemberton (later the Yarrow) Building on Fort Street. The Pacific Club directors, imbued with unwarranted optimism, decided in 1964 to move to larger premises and took over the whole of the B.C. Cement Building. Within a year the Club was bankrupt and many members lost heavily as a result.
The Pacific Club was more of a sporting club than the Union and was noted for its excellent billiard players. Downtown Victoria in 1910 was becoming generally somnolent, seedy and rundown. The situation wasn't improved by a disastrous fire in 1910. The fire left the entire frontage on Government Street empty and debris-infested for decades. It demolished all except one building in the area bounded by Trounce Alley, Government, Fort and Broad Streets, including the Five Sisters Block at the northeast corner of Fort and Government Streets, site of the Hudson's Bay Company bakery in Victoria's earliest years. Only the Times building survived. David Spencer, the city's most go-ahead retailer, seized the opportunity to buy up the partly damaged Driard Hotel and Victoria Theatre for $370,000 giving Spencer's (now Eaton's) frontage on Douglas, View and Broad Streets.
A result of the fire was to bring View Street through to Government Street. The Times of London reported that the blaze had destroyed "half of the City of Victoria" and damage was estimated at $1,000,000. Firemen were handicapped because water pressure decreased as the blaze increased. Victoria has had several large blazes and they all occurred during periods of economic depression, a fact which must have seemed significant to the insurance companies. And firefighting was not very efficient. In the earlier decades firefighters were hampered not only by bad roads and poor water supplies, but also by rivalry. Victoria's first firefighters were members of the Union Hook & Ladder Company formed in 1860 whose motto was "We strive to serve" and who had their headquarters within the Hudson's Bay Company enclosure at Fort and Bastion Streets.
Firemen were also greatly hampered by sightseers who considered fires free entertainment and by the fact that fire engines had to be manhandled when the going was too rough for horses. As to the state of the roads, Fire Chief Thomas Watson was thrown from his fast horse and buggy and sustained cuts and burns even before he reached a fire in 1907. When a venerable old lady like Mrs. Blinkhorn could be pitched from her carriage at Fort and Government Streets and lose her only remaining tooth it does not speak well for road maintenance. Victoria's early firemen were enthusiastic and bibulous. Their bull horns, mouthpiece removed and stopped with a cork, were often used for mammoth libations at social functions and on May Day which, for some unexplained reason, became in Victoria "Firefighters' Day." Sometimes the Firefighters' Day parade would be led by a band from the Royal Navy. Volunteer firemen in their gorgeous uniforms ... scarlet shirts trimmed with black velvet, silver helmets, shining belts and black pants outshone President Nixon's Capitol guards of today. Generally the firemen assembled first outside the homes of the mayor, aldermen, lieutenant-governor and other benefactors to receive verbal and liquid homage to their good citizenship.
Then they paraded downtown. Most saloons along Government Street felt custom-bound to help quench the seemingly insatiable thirst of the volunteers, some even installing barrels on the sidewalk. Many saloon keepers must have thought eventually that fires would be less expensive than fire brigades because there were 70 thirsty firefighters in the Deluge Company, 65 in the Tiger Company and another 60 in the Hook & Ladder crew and they drank not only on Firefighters' Day but during the rehearsals for several days prior to it. The post of fireman, not surprisingly, was much coveted.
There was no pay ... a member even paid to join ... but the liquid and other fringe benefits such as periodic benefit concerts were substantial. For decades after Victoria's incorporation, the City turned down repeated efforts by firemen to have the honorary honor converted into a taxpayer-supported effort, but finally in 1886 City Council agreed to a part-paid, part-volunteer fire service. The force consisted of 26 men - three firemen at $16.25 per month, three at $60 a month and 18 at $ 14 per month. Firemen were expected to be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week with time off for meals. Double shifts were not instituted until 1918. Even allowing for the greater value of money in those days, firemen today are considerably better off. They averaged in 1970 $679 a month plus fringe benefits; fire protection exclusive of the municipalities was costing nearly $1,000,000 per annum.
But at the same time firefighting methods and firemen's training and equipment have greatly improved and become more costly. We no longer have whole areas burnt out like the fire on July 3, 1907, which destroyed everything within the perimeter of Government, Chatham, Store and Herald Streets and rendered 250 families homeless. The blaze consumed the disused Albion Boiler Works, the Indian Mission, an old soapworks, St. John's schoolroom, the Calvary Baptist Church with its 150-foot steeple and the brothels on Chatham Street. Hundreds of people had to stack their belongings in Central Park until they could find substitute accommodation. Damage was estimated at $75,000 and the firefighters said they would have been more successful if the three-hose steam pumper had been used, but unfortunately it had settled through the floorboards of its sheds through neglect. Only three years before, in 1904, another fire devastated the industrial area. It started in the Albion foundry and burned out a large part of the Government-Pembroke-Blanshard Street zone.
Another big blaze was that of 1883 which burnt out Cormorant Street with a loss of $50,000. Pandora Avenue from Government to Store Street was then called Cormorant Street. Cridge of the Victoria District Church opened his back door one morning to find a sick man had been left in his garden. It was a parishioner's way of reminding the minister that he was expected to minister to the physical as well as spiritual well-being of his flock. The minister took care of the patient in the parsonage and immediately asked Royal Governor James Douglas for money to build a hospital. Douglas made a modest grant and in 1858 Victoria's first hospital came into being. It was a pioneer effort ... a mere cottage at Yates and Broad Streets given by Mrs. Thomas Blinkhorn whose husband managed the farm at Metchosin.
Patients speedily outgrew the capacity of the cottage and were very soon transferred to a small building in the Songhees Reserve with Dr. Trimble as supervisor. It was named the Royal Hospital and catered only to male patients. Four years later, in 1864, the cornerstone was laid of a female infirmary on Pandora Hill beyond Cook Street, well away from the nearest dwellings. The building was due again to the indefatigable Mrs. Blinkhorn, Mrs. Harris, wife of the first mayor, the Rev. E. Cridge and Mrs. R. Woods. Mrs. Woods, it may be noted as a matter of interest, was the wife of Richard Woods, registrar of V.I., who built one of the first houses in the Gorge. It was called "Garbally," which is Welsh for "The House on the Hill," and was situated on a rise on Garbally Road. A matron was appointed for the Female Infirmary whose salary varied with the number of patients.
In 1869 the Royal Hospital was amalgamated with the Female Infirmary and in 1890 the Royal Jubilee Hospital was opened on its present site at the junction of Cadboro Bay Road and Richmond A venue by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught. It was very much smaller than the present complex, had its own farm and kitchen gardens and was expected to manage on a very stringent budget. The Royal Jubilee cost $55,000 and had 50 ordinary and 50 paying patients. First directors were John Davies, J. Stuart Yates, James Fell, E. A. McQuade, Alex Wilson, Wm. H. Chudley, Mr. Justice Crease, Wm. C. Ward, C. E. Redfern, Charles Hayward and Thos. R. Smith. The Jubilee, when built, was away from everything. There were only five dwellings between what is now the Oak Bay Junction and the hospital. Beyond the hospital to Cadboro Bay was mostly farm and waste land. An isolation ward was put in in 1891 as a result of the smallpox epidemic of that year. Victoria was no stranger to smallpox. At Holland Point, named after George Holland, a passenger on the S.S. Beaver in 1836, there is a granite memorial commemorating a smallpox victim of 1872. The quarantine station in those days was the nearby disused Nias farmhouse.
But the 1891 outbreak was the most serious Victoria had encountered. The first victim was M. W. Waitt, father-in-law of the late Herbert Kent, who, it was alleged, contracted it in Vancouver. Victoria was panic stricken. All who could afford it made tracks for Seattle and San Francisco. The less privileged fled their homes and lived in tents outside the city. Infected houses had to be marked with yellow flags. Many homes were empty for years. The Royal Jubilee Isolation Hospital was in the vicinity of the present D.V.A. hospital, but in 1893 a contract was let for the erection of a City isolation hospital replacing the temporary building. One of the buildings of the City isolation hospital is now used for storing garden equipment. With the growth of population new wards were added ... the Strathcona (1904), Children's (1906), T. B. Ward, now the Medical Pavilion, in 1908, nurses' residence (1909), maternity (1916) and new nurses' home (1930). In 1940 the central block was erected and soon afterwards a psychiatric unit added.
The new wing was built in 1961 after the razing of the old administration building and the Royal and west wings opened in 1963. The latest addition in 1970 has been a $625,500 laboratory, a great advance on the bare room with sink and tap which was the laboratory of 1887. The beginnings of St. Joseph's were equally modest. The first St. Joseph's cost $13,800 and was opened in 1876. It resulted from the combined efforts of Dr. Helmcken, Bishop Demers and the highly respected Sister Mary Providence. In 1888 St. Joseph's expanded into a second building which cost $33,000. A third $38,500 addition followed in 1893 and in 1900 the School of Nursing was inaugusurgical and maternity unit in 1927. The annex for the treatment of T.B. patients was in the old world garden of Vernon Villa (see page 50). The original wing of the Gorge Road hospital, opened in 1887, was "Ashnola," the former home of Captain and Mrs. Northing Snowden, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. Dunsmuir. Hospital administration problems have not changed much through the decades.
The modest "no patients, no pay" institution of 1864 was described by Edward Mallandaine, a publisher at the time, as being "sadly overburdened with debt." Providing funds and amenities for hospitals became the social urge for Victoria's public-spirited women. Bazaars, sewing circles, tea parties, home cooking sales and other staged events were the mainstay for the hospitals' recurring urgent needs. From 1890 onwards, the annual Hospital Ball was a function which every citizen wishing to retain his fellows' esteem felt bound to attend. The financial problems of Victoria's hospitals were compounded in the 1960's by three factors ... two of them common to hospitals throughout North America and one peculiar to the city. The two common factors were costs of equipment and staff. Advances in medical science resulted in ever more sophisticated and expensive apparatus.
Victoria had come a long way from Dr. Helmcken's surgical kit of the 1850's which were the only surgical instruments in town. The organization of nursing and other skilled and semi-skilled labour into unions immune to the anti-combine laws resulted in a considerable increase in hospital employees' material standards, but was also reflected in much increased costs of treating the sick. The rising costs were a great concern to administrators and provincial revenue departments. The third factor compounding Victoria's hospital problems ... a factor not common to most cities ... was the increasing proportion of older people living here, large numbers of them from other parts of Canada. It was estimated in the mid-1960's that one in every five citizens was an elderly person and that their claims on medical facilities were largely responsible for the acute shortage of beds.
Another factor was the increasing incidence and cost of treating mental illness. In Victoria's earliest years mental patients were housed in a building on Laurel Point at the entrance to the Inner Harbour. This, like the location of the Old Men's Home suggestively overlooking Ross Bay Cemetery was a most inhuman arrangement. Ships entering the Inner Harbour used to fire a cannon to salute the Hudson's Bay Company fort which was deafeningly acknowledged by the gun from the bastion. According to the supervisor, patients not already up the wall used to climb the wall when the building shook to the gunfire. Superintendent of the women was Flora Ross from San Juan. In San Juan she was married to Paul K. Hubbs who, according to Dr. Helmcken was "an ignorant hoodlum who thought that an American should be boastful and a bully." His ill treatment of Flora Ross made her leave him. Patients were few in number because only those who were dangerous were confined.
Today's trend is for mental illnesses which our forefathers had to get over "as best they could" to be treated as seriously as physical illness. An outcome of this trend is the Eric Martin Psychiatric Institute, named after a former provincial Minister of Health and opened in 1970, adjacent to the Royal Jubilee Hospital. It cost $7,275,000 and can handle 232 in- and many out-patients. The growth of the social conscience in the 1890's is also evidenced by the resuscitation of the Y.M.C.A. and the founding of a Y.W.C.A. It is startling to note how little was done in Victoria for women in distress although as a busy seaport, where seamen contracted marital and other obligations with the lightheartedness typical of that roving profession, many women must ha Ye needed help. It was not until 1897 that a committee of the Church of Our Lord succeeded in starting in Victoria a branch of the Young Women's Christian Association. The beginnings were modest ... lunches were prepared for needy women and girls in the homes of the volunteers and served at the Central School. The Y.W.C.A. then rented rooms on Government Street, then in a flat over the store of Thomas Shotbolt, the druggist, on Johnson Street, then in the old Protestant Orphans' Home on Rae ( now Courtney Street).
But these proved to be more than teething troubles. Owing to lack of funds and interest the branch had to close down completely. In 1906 the Y.W.C.A. started up again in an upstairs room at the corner of Fort and Government Streets, moved to the old Denny house on Pandora, then went back to the Courtney Street annex. In fact the moves of the Y.W.C.A. would have kept a moving firm in business if there had been much in the way of furniture. Subsequently the Y.W.C.A. was housed in a cottage at Quadra and Caledonia Streets, in a building at Douglas and Humboldt, in the old Union Club building on Douglas, in two flats in the Stobart (now Standard Furniture) Building and at 920 Blanshard.
The branch's perambulations came to an end with the building of the present combined men's and women's branches opposite the Law Courts towards the cost of which philanthropist McPherson contributed $200,000. Now largely an activity centre, the Y.W.C.A. incurred the gratitude of many citizens normally outside its scope for its good work in the depression years and in entertaining troops during the two World Wars. The Y.M.C.A. also had its teething troubles, but they seem to have been less severe than those of its sister organization. The Y.M.C.A. made an early start in 1859 with an organizational meeting under the chairmanship of Colonel R. C. Moody, Royal Engineers. It was apparently dormant in the depression years which followed the early gold rushes, but in 1875 Thomas Trounce became president and regular meetings began to be held in the Fardon Building and the Omineca Building on Yates Street before it again faded out.
The Y.M.C.A. was next heard of in 1884 when a meeting was held in the Humboldt Hall with the object of "forming" a Y.M.C.A. Among the most active sponsors were B. W. Pearse, Surveyor-General, Walter Walker of the fuel firm and John Meston whose name is perpetuated in an auto-body firm downtown today. Reading rooms were rented successively at Adler's store on Fort Street, Government and Bastion Streets and in Spencer's Arcade building. The latter was burnt out in 1887 and with it the Y.M.C.A. In 1889 the Y.M.C.A. was in the upper storey of a building at the northwest comer of Broad and Trounce Alley, which it occupied intermittently for 20 years.
At times, like its female counterpart, it went completely out of business and on one occasion the furniture was sold to pay the rent. Its revival really began in 1903 when it was put on a firm basis in the same Fort and Broad Street premises and then thanks to the efforts of David Russell Ker and others, the cornerstone of the substantial building at Blanshard (recently demolished) was laid in 1910. The Y.M.C.A. benefitted from the McPherson donation (see page 224) for the erection of the new combined Y.W.C.A.-Y.M.C.A. centre in 1965. The new building cost $1,300,000 most of which was raised through the efforts of former Victoria mayor Hugh Stephen. The Salvation Army which arrived here in 1887 got a rather hostile reception at first. The "Soldiers of the Cross" were greeted with remarks such as "Why don't you get a job?'' "When are you going to do some real work?" But when the lassies arrived with their tambourines, public relations improved considerably.
The girls were much admired, although whether it was solely due to their tambourine performances is problematical. The first Salvation Army men had a barracks in an abandoned skating rink on Fort Street, between Douglas and Blanshard Streets. They then rented the old Methodist Church, Broad and Pandora, the old Y.M.C.A. quarters at Broad and Trounce Alley, then premises on Cormorant Street popularly known as the "Salvation Ark." In 1947 the new Citadel on Pandora Avenue was built and in 1963 a new Harbour Light building at 516 Yates. The Salvation Army gained great popularity during World War I, not only because of its Three Services Centre for troops in the Duck Building on Broad Street, but also because it shared the hardships and hazards of life at the front with its troop canteens. It is Victoria's most enduring charitable institution. In this period the Protestant Orphanage at 269 Cook Street also came into being, helped by a $30,000 gift from city philanthropist George Taylor.
The center is now known as the Bishop Cridge Centre for the Family. With increasing concern for general welfare arising out of the 169 growing prosperity of the 1890's came also increasing concern for education. Royal Governor James Douglas did not differ from the Scots of the homeland in the importance he attached to education. He wrote to London in 1853: "We are now erecting a schoolhouse and expect it will be ready at the end of summer." The school- Craigflower School - was not in fact opened until 1854 and is considered to be Canada's first school west of the Great Lakes. In 1859 a school was built in Victoria itself. It was the Colonial School, a whitewashed log house on what is now the playground of the Central School. The master and his family occupied two-thirds of the building. A cosmopolitan gathering of Scottish, Jewish, German, French and English children were taught in the remaining third. A healthy walk through swampland and forest to reach the school from Blanshard Street where the city ended, enabled the boys to withstand better the caning which played an important role in education. The Royal Governor sent his son James to the Colonial School.
Almost at the same time Miss Langford, an unmarried sister of Captain Edward Edwards Langford, started at Colwood a Young Ladies' Academy. First principal of the Craigflower Boys' School was Charles Clark and first teacher was Charles Bailey, a young man who taught children on the ship which brought him here. These and all other schools of those years were private schools in that the parents were expected to pay a fee for their children. The fee at the Colonial School was $5 a year or about $50 today. But many other private schools sprang up and received no help from the colonial administration. J. Silversmith opened in 1859 a "select day school" for boys and girls from five years up. This was followed by Mrs. Petitbeau's boarding and day school for young ladies on Fort Street.
The school does not appear to have lasted long because Mrs. Petitbeau was on the staff of the Collegiate School soon afterwards. The zeal for imparting education in those early decades may have been due not so much to desire to further learning as the desire of the promoters to get a living.
In the same year St. Luke's opened the Cedar Hill School as a church school. Almost simultaneously Mrs. Cridge, wife of the Dean of Christ Church, started her school for girls on Kane Street which ran from Douglas to Quadra Streets. One wonders with a permanent population of only 600 how so many schools could function. When Mr. J. Jessop opened what he called the Central School in 1863, it was one too many. This school was on Fort Street between Douglas and Blanshard, and had accommodation, according to its opening announcement, for 150 pupils. It appears to have closed down for lack of support in 1866 and the present Central School, it is believed, borrowed the name. In 1866 the lush gold rush years were over and Victoria was feeling the economic pinch. This was not evident at the beginning of 1863 which is perhaps the reason why Victoria got its first "free school" in Esquimalt. But by 1867 the position of this school was so poor that the Victoria Amateur Dramatic Club staged a benefit performance to raise funds for the teacher's salary. There appears also to have been a "free school" in Saanich because in 1864 the School Board resigned after making a final payment of $94.81 to Mrs. Butler who had taught a full year without pay.
School building in the next few years was practically non-existent with a static and sometimes declining population. In 1869 a South Saanich School was opened at White and Veyaness Roads, consisting of one room. In 1872 all Victoria public schools were closed for lack of funds. A great leap forward educationally was the construction in 1876 of the Central School. This was a substantial brick building, in great contrast to the one-room efforts of earlier years which the principal was expected to heat and clean up out of his or her modest salary. Indeed the Central School may have been an over optimistic effort because in 1879 a $3 poll tax on all grown men was imposed to meet school costs which were running at $42.70 per pupil in the city. At that nearly half of the children played "hookey." Out of 720 registered pupils in 1883 the daily average attendance was. An economy campaign resulted by 1887 in the costs per pupil being reduced to $ 1948.
The Central School served Victoria well and was not demolished until 1954, the solidity of its construction causing many headaches to the demolition contractors. An entirely "New World" feature of Victoria was that its economy progressed so fitfully. In good years optimism abounded and school building went ahead. These were succeeded by bad years when everything came to a halt. In 1887 Victoria's economy was taking a periodic tum for the better. For the first time residents began to feel that they had a permanent settlement and not a temporary lodgement in the wilderness. This was reflected in school building. Among schools which went up were the Kingston Street or James Bay Ward School in 1883, which served until 1955 and the Spring Ridge School, or Fourth Ward School at Chambers and Gladstone Streets, whose headmistress used to buy boots for needy pupils and send the bill to the parents. Spring Ridge School had 55 pupils and the teacher principal, Miss L. Horton, was paid $70 a month. The school was closed in 1943.
By 1894 Victoria's school population was 2,500 and the North Ward school was erected, followed the next year with the South Park School on Michigan Street. The North Ward School site was sold to the Victoria Press in 1969 and the school demolished. The Strawberry Vale School went up in 1893. But Victoria was still delightfully rural. The first Esquimalt High School was a three-room building and looked like a large house. The principal, C. K. Kelly, related at the opening of the new Esquimalt High School that "people used to come to the door and try and sell me crabs and things. It was hard to convince them that I was just a poorly paid teacher." The cornerstone was laid in 1901 of the Victoria High School which later became the Girls' Central and is now the Central Junior High at Femwood and Yates Streets. It was built at a cost of $436,000, opened with a staff of six and remained Victoria High until 1914, when the present High School opened. H. L. Smith was with Vic-High for 41 years, for 21 of them as headmaster. Victoria schools built in the early 1900's included the Victoria West Elementary (1908), Cloverdale (1917), Sir James Douglas, Quadra, Oaklands, Margaret Jenkins (1915), George Jay, Burnside, Beacon Hill, Bank Street, Oak Bay High (1929), Willows (1920), Monterey (1914), Mount Douglas High (1931) and Mountview ( 1932).
Victoria College was started in 1903 and was for two years affiliated with McGill University. It consisted of a two-room wooden building on the Victoria High School grounds. The prestige conscious teachers used to put on cap and gown when going from the High School to the College. Victoria College ceased to exist in 1915 when the University of British Columbia opened, but started up again in 1920 at Craigdarroch Castle. It was then moved to the Normal School (junction Richmond and Lansdowne) and is now part of the University of Victoria. Universal education as we know it today was not in the mid-nineteenth century highly desired. Those who wanted to educate their children preferred private to "free schools." Popular with pioneer parents was the Collegiate School, a church school founded by Bishop Hills in 1861.
The premises it used on Church Way were those of a former congregational church (probably negro) which had quarrelled with Christ Church over alleged colour discrimination. Fees were $800 a year. Robert Ker's sons used to paddle from their "Ferniehirst" home in the Gorge to the Collegiate School, tying up their canoes where the Crystal Garden now stands. The Collegiate School was burned out in 1882 and the School moved to premises near St. Paul's in Esquimalt. In 1912 it moved into the central of three buildings on Rockland Avenue at the former Ward home, "The Laurels." The other two buildings were occupied by St. George's and University schools. The Collegiate School closed down in 1929. Mount St. Angela, 923 Burdett Street, was in 1866 the home of the Girls' Collegiate School. The building was then known as Angela College after its benefactress Mrs. Angela Burdett-Coutts. Angela College became a hotel in 1908 and in 1959 was sold to the Sisters of St. Ann, who renamed it Mount St. Angela. In the 1890's Victoria's most prestigious private school was Corrig College.
It had 80 feet frontage on Niagara Street and 60 feet on Douglas Street facing Beacon Hill Park. The site is now marked by Corrig Manor Apartment house. Carrig College could accommodate 125 boys and pupils included many Americans who wanted their sons to be brought up the British way. Corrig College advertised extensively. The promotion-conscious administrators claimed unblushingly that Beacon Hill Park was part of the school "grounds." Carrig College enjoyed the patronage of lieutenant-governors and premiers and was the alternative to sending boys to England to be educated as was the fashion among the well-to-do at the tum of the century. Corrig College was the Victoria equivalent of Eton or Harrow, and J. W. Church, M.A., and his assistants were reckoned the cream of instructors. The school was claimed by its principal to be the oldest of its kind in the province. It dated back to the 1860's when it was conducted by archdeacons Woods and Hogg in the old archdeaconry. It then moved to Ross Bay under the supervision of C. J. Brenton and afterwards to Vancouver Street.
Many of the province's most prominent men of the 1900's were pupils of Corrig College. Sports played a large role in the curriculum, cricket and soccer matches with Royal Navy teams being prestige events. With changing traditions this College also came to an end. But Victoria also had a large Catholic community and the Roman Catholics were first in the field with education. Father Lamfritt, a French Oblate priest, was teaching here soon after he arrived in 1849. By 1865 the Roman Catholics had a girls school on View Street and a boys' school on Humboldt Street where St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church was also located. But pride of the Roman Catholic educational efforts was St. Louis College, founded in 1864, which was attended by many future notable citizens. But the same fate befell St. Louis College as Carrig College, the Collegiate School and other traditional institutions. St. Louis College closed in 1968 and its principal, Brother John Clarkson, left Victoria to return to Ireland.
Bishop de Roo commented that closure was "part of the widespread upheaval affecting society through North America. St. Andrews Elementary School. Public education came in for criticism during the 1929-35 depression years. There were no jobs for young people and critics alleged that they received too much academic and too little practical education. It is interesting to note that the same criticisms were being voiced in 1970 which saw many thousands of young people without work. The effect of the 1929-35 depression was to decrease the number of students and Victoria had fewer school pupils in 1939 than it had 10 years earlier. In the same period the number of teachers fell off by 15%. In post-World War II years the surge in school population was responsible for a tremendous schools-building program.
Among the new schools erected was the S. J. Willis High School. This school, built in 1959, is on the site of the old Hillside Jail, which had 66 cells measuring 6 feet by 9 feet; many criminals were buried in quicklime beneath the exercise yard. The youngest prisoner was a boy of 10 and the oldest was Danny Creigan, aged 90. The City records were at one time stored in a tunnel beneath the jail. The jail burned down in 1912. The post-World War II building program led to a burdensome increase in educational costs. The municipalities lost control of their schools with the formation of the Greater Victoria School Board.
By 1970 educational costs of $22,959,239, 68% of which represented teachers' salaries, were absorbing more than half of most municipal budgets as compared with 27% for the City of Victoria in 1939. The largest short term increase in educational costs was in the period 1960 to 1970. The cost per pupil rose from $346.17 in 1960 to $617 per pupil in 1969. In January 1969 the Greater Victoria School Board controlled 32,155 pupils, 1,240 teachers, 402 other employees plus 289 instructors in the adult education program. Greater Victoria schools numbered 5 7. But for Victoria's private schools the public schools would be coping with many more pupils and the cost to the taxpayer would have been proportionately greater. St. Margaret's School for Girls was first located at 913 Cook 175 Street. It was founded by the Fenwick sisters who drowned with 19 other people when the S.S. Iroquois foundered on Easter Day 1911 - a tragic end to an Easter excursion.
In the following year a new building was erected at Fort and Fern Streets, replaced in 1970 by the new school in 30 acres near Blenkinsop Lake. Norfolk House School for Girls was founded by Miss Julia McDermott and Miss Dora Atkins in 1913. For many years before 1931 the school was in the cul-de-sac formed by Granite and Amphion Streets. J. D. Pemberton's "Gonzales" home was used as dormitory until it was demolished in 1952 and afterwards a home at 620 St. Charles became the dormitory. Today the School is a day school located in 5 ½ acres at 801 Bank Street which was part of the Pemberton estate, the principal being Miss A. W. Scott. St. Michael's on St, Patricks Street was the first private preparatory school in Oak Bay.
It was conducted by Mr. K. C. Symons at the corner of Roslyn and Windsor Roads. The School is now managed by the founder's sons, K. W. and E. J. Symons. Glenlyon, also a boys' preparatory school, was begun in 19 13 in a rented house on St. David Street, and moved to its present location, the former Rattenbury home in 1935. St. Christopher's, a mixed school at Currie Road and Newport A venue in Oak Bay started in a flat over a grocery store on Newport Avenue. But Victoria's most famous private school is University School on Mount Tolmie, the oldest boys' residential school in the province. It was founded in 1906 as a result of the amalgamation of three boys' schools ... one on Belcher A venue, one at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Richmond (now Richmond Court Apartments), and the third on Rockland Avenue. Principals of these schools were J. C. Barnacle, the Reverend W.W. Bolton of St. Paul's, Esquimalt and Captain R. Harvey of Vancouver's Queen's School. In 1908 the School moved to its present many-acred grounds. Many of Victoria's most respected citizens attended University School and know its vice-principal W.R.G. Wenman and the late J. J. Timmis, headmaster from 1948-1970. The School has produced some outstanding Canadians, among them L. Dana Wilgress, Col. C. C. I. Merritt, V.C., and Sir Charles Loewen, Adjutant-General of the British forces in Work!
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