Old cemeteries open gateway to Victoria history

Tours are held every Sunday at 2 p.m. and tell of many untold stories

The Old Cemeteries Society is opening the gates to the Victoria graveyards – bringing local history to life.

How Victoria and other communities came to exist is part of the many stories told about colonial fur traders, settlers and Aboriginal people at weekly tours conducted at 2 pm on Sundays.

Most tours begin in front of Oregano’s in the Fairfield Plaza, rain or shine. The tour schedule is online at oldcem.bc.ca.

The $5 fee for non-members and $2 fee for members of the OCS helps raise funds to restore and repair grave markers, record and document grave sites and maintain archives for research about families buried at old cemeteries in the community.

Information about Ross Bay Cemetery, Pioneer Square and more than 30 other cemeteries in the Greater Victoria region is continually gathered. Each tour emphasizes a different theme or topic.

Upcoming tours:

April 6 The Key to Mythic Victoria is the title of author Linda Foubister’s book about mythic tales of Victoria and Victorians. Foubister will discuss mythic tales of the city.

April 13St. Ann’s Academy. Sisters of St. Ann Graves. The grounds of St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site once contained two cemeteries dedicated to the sisters. Archivist Carey Pallister and site manager Shelley Myhres will visit the locations and discuss the sisters’ death and burial rituals.

April 20Symbolism. Victorian era cemeteries are filled with symbols that reflect the lives, beliefs, occupations and aspirations of those who lie buried beneath. Yvonne Van Ruskenveld’s tour will include some of the most interesting and unusual.


April 27 – Mapping Victoria. Surveyor and map historian Michael Layland’s recent book The Land of Heart’s Delight will be the basis for his tour to the graves of map-makers, surveyors and others connected with putting Victoria on the map from the days of Fort Victoria to the present.