Saanich archives offers virtual history lessons on significant areas

Members of the Saanich Fire Department stand with the first truck in 1919. (Courtesy District of Saanich archives)Members of the Saanich Fire Department stand with the first truck in 1919. (Courtesy District of Saanich archives)
Just before the beginning of the First World War, Saanich experienced a building boom that resulted in the subdivision known as Garden City. This photo was taken at a Garden City Women’s Institute Picnic in 1921. (Courtesy District of Saanich Archives)Just before the beginning of the First World War, Saanich experienced a building boom that resulted in the subdivision known as Garden City. This photo was taken at a Garden City Women’s Institute Picnic in 1921. (Courtesy District of Saanich Archives)
Saanich Const. Jim White with Rex and Const. G. Barr with Prince in 1967. (Courtesy District of Saanich Archives)Saanich Const. Jim White with Rex and Const. G. Barr with Prince in 1967. (Courtesy District of Saanich Archives)

Historical virtual exhibits showcasing the era of early settlement through to the end of the 20th century in Saanich are ready for intake.

Each virtual instalment assembled by archivists highlights historically significant areas such as Gordon Head, Carey and North Quadra to help residents learn the rich history of what is now Saanich – as well as acknowledging life before European colonization.

The North Quadra neighbourhood, known for its rich Garry oak forests, was an important area for local First Nations prior to colonization. In these forests, Indigenous people cultivated the edible camas bulb, an important part of their diet. They practised cultivation techniques such as prescribed burning to preserve habitats that helped the camas lily flourish. It is believed the area’s Garry oak ecosystems remain largely intact today because of these centuries-old methods.

Carey Road, another well-known area in the district, was named for Joseph Westrope Carey, who gained notoriety for planting 600 fruit trees in the area.

Archives show the area known today as Gordon Head was heavily forested before colonial settlement and became famous for its ample strawberries. In 1914 the value of the strawberry crops fell off, leading to the formation of the Saanich Fruit Growers Association.

Through one of the virtual exhibits, the archives also highlight the Saanich Fire Department, which has been in service for more than 100 years.

John G. ‘Jack’ Little was appointed chief in 1919 and in March that year, the Saanich fire hall was officially inaugurated in a rented building at the corner of Carey and Saanich roads, the current site of Uptown. The department received 25 calls for service that year.

To learn more, visit the Local Area virtual exhibits page at saanich.ca.

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