R is for….
…Ross Bay Cemetery
After the old burying ground (see “Q”) became too crowded, Victoria was looking for a new place to bury people. Interesting story – the street I live on almost became the “new” cemetery. Before it was a street, it was a park (and before that a working orchard, apparently). When the City made plans to turn the park into a cemetery, people were not amused and protested to save their park. They did – for a few years when the park became residential streets. I don’t know if they tried protesting again then or not.
Anyway, Ross Bay Cemetery, named thusly because it overlooks Ross Bay, opened in 1873 when the old burying ground was closed due to over-crowding. Note that only a few people were moved from the old burying ground to Ross Bay when it opened – most of the folks buried in the old burying ground are still there.
There are lots of famous people (famous here anyway) buried there. You can see some lists at the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria (http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/prominent.htm) and at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Bay_Cemetery), like Emily Carr (see “C”), and some of BC’s premiers. The original owners of our house are also buried there!
An interesting story (and apparently one of the hazards of building a cemetery close to the ocean)
For many years before the sea wall was built, there were stories of coffins floating out to sea and children playing with the bones of people whose graves had been washed away by the storms. In 1909 violent storms washed away much of the shoreline of Ross Bay as well as large portions of the bank along sections N and L (mostly Chinese and Japanese, as well as First Nations peoples, were buried in these sections) of Ross Bay Cemetery. (http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/cem_rb_sea.htm)
So a sea wall was built to keep this from happening!
Ross Bay Cemetery is officially considered “full”, so no one gets buried there anymore. It’s a peaceful place, that has a fantastic view of the ocean, and definitely worth visiting should you ever be here (and should you happen to like walking in cemeteries). Just don’t try it after a storm – it’s a VERY wet place to walk in after it rains.
Before I start with the tour, I wanted to visit the gravesite of the people who built the house we are living in now. I wasn’t sure I’d find it, but here it is.
In no particular order, here are some of the things I saw on my walk through Ross Bay Cemetery the other day
A quick aside – here is part of the military area – overlooking the ocean
Remember Helmcken House?
And finally, remember Emily Carr??
Websites of Interest
- Ross Bay Cemetery at Old Cemeteries Society if Victoria: http://www.oldcem.bc.ca/cem_rb.htm
- Ross Bay Cemetery at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Bay_Cemetery
- Ross Bay Cemetery at the Vancouver Island Paranormal Society: http://www.vanisleparanormal.ca/ross-bay-cemetery/