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Book showcases Victoria neighbourhoods

Anny Scoones and Robert Amos united to capture James Bay and a dozen other unique areas in Greater Victoria
Robert Amos and Anny Scoones

Culture shock led Anny Scoones to pen a book about Victoria’s neighbourhoods.

The culture shock of a farm girl becoming a city woman.

It doesn’t matter that Scoones’ previous residence, historic Glamorgan Farm in North Saanich, where she spent several years, is less than 30 minutes by car from her new home, a 1911 heritage house on Medana Street in James Bay.

“It’s an eight-acre farm with heritage buildings, as old a farm on the Peninsula as it gets,” Scoones said.

“A lot of what goes on here in James Bay was a shock to me. It’s all the little things. The tempo of life. And the fact people put free stuff out on the curb, and it’s taken away. And it’s some pretty nice stuff.”

Beach art and shrines made of various artifacts along the shore of Dallas Road also caught her fancy. So have the abundant crops produced by urban farmers.

It didn’t take long before Scoones and Robert Amos united to capture James Bay and a dozen other unique areas in Greater Victoria in a book called Hometown: Out and About in Victoria’s Neighbourhoods.

The book is available now in bookstores and at the library.

It’s Scoones’ fourth and Amos’ seventh book on Greater Victoria, but it’s their first collaboration. A well-known painter of Victoria landmarks and longtime arts writer for the Times Colonist, Amos previously wanted to remake two of Scoones’ earlier books, Home: Tales of a Heritage Farm,  and Home and Away: More Tales of a Heritage Farm. The non-fiction essays and stories are based on the farm community in North Saanich.

“I had an idea they should be remade with illustrations, they were perfect for it,” said Amos, the outgoing artist in residence for the Fairmont Empress.

But when the two presented the idea to Ruth Linka at Touchwood Editions, the publisher had another idea.

“(Linka) gets the credit on this one,” Scoones said. “She asked us, ‘Why don’t we do a book on Victoria?’ And we did.’”

Granted, the neighbourhoods idea had been seeded in Scoones and Amos, they just hadn’t put their fingers on it.

“It’s not a historical book for history’s sake. It’s a quirkier look at each area,” Scoones said.

“There are a lot of historical books on areas and such of Victoria, but they are very intensive. This will be more of a history of now. It will say what it’s like to live here today,” Amos said.

Readers who pick up the book will be tickled by the recognition factor, Amos added. It’s a connection you can only make when your everyday life is put into a book.

Eccentricities from all over the region are highlighted in Out and About.

There’s the former jam factory, which most people know as the odd-shaped building at the top of Sinclair Hill up from Cadboro Bay, the fact Oak Bay has far more non-English culture than people think, and the corner store phenomenon.

“Corner stores are a tradition. They’re part of the little things you don’t notice unless you stroll through each area,” Amos said.

Did you know?

The official launch for Hometown: Out and About in Victoria’s Neighbourhoods, is April 20, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Winchester Galleries Humboldt Valley, 796 Humboldt Street.