Once upon a time by the bay

McNeill Bay history being explored in exhibit at Oak Bay municipal hall

University of Victoria grad student Ben Clinton-Baker

University of Victoria grad student Ben Clinton-Baker

It’s part art exhibit, part history lesson.

Chikawich, a display being mounted at the Oak Bay municipal hall starting Monday (Aug. 22), looks at some of the earliest images of one of the community’s most scenic spots: McNeill Bay.

Sponsored by Heritage Oak Bay, the new exhibit uses photographs, artwork and maps to take viewers through the area’s early days.

The emphasis is on some of the area’s first inhabitants.

“What we’re really trying to pay attention to is the pre-colonial era,” said Ben Clinton-Baker, the University of Victoria history grad student who is curating the exhibit.

“That’s been difficult, because not a lot of photos and imagery existed at the time of the First Nations people who lived and traveled in the area.”

However, with a lot of help from the Oak Bay Archives and the Royal B.C. Museum, Clinton-Baker has been able to assemble a display that takes viewers on a trip into the past.

“I find I can stare at these photos for ages and I really get drawn into them,” he said. “It’s kind of unavoidable for me to place myself in the time that the photos were taken and to imagine what it was like.”

It’s point A on a journey which he hopes will eventually lead to a permanent home for Oak Bay’s history.

“We would like to have a permanent gallery or – I hesitate to use the word – museum in the Oak Bay Village,” Clinton-Baker said. “This is kind of a step in that direction. We’re using this temporary exhibit to gauge public interest in the project and hopefully stimulate it more.”

An Oak Bay museum or some form of historical gallery has been a popular topic of discussion for local heritage advocates for some time now.

Now that the exhibit is being mounted, it’s back at the forefront once again.

“This is a test, and we’ll see,” said Jean Sparks, who oversees the Oak Bay Archives on a volunteer basis. “(Establishing a museum) would depend on if we could find a sponsor. You can imagine how much a museum costs.”

At the very least, Clinton-Baker would like to see the municipality make its history more accessible.

“The Oak Bay Archives are understaffed. They do a great job and we would be lost without them. But I’m really hopeful that we will have a full-time paid archivist.”

Chikawich runs weekdays from Aug. 22 to Sept. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lower level of the Oak Bay municipal hall. Entry is by donation.

editor@oakbaynews.com

All things McNeill

• The bay was named after William Henry McNeill, a master mariner employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company

• McNeill captained the SS Beaver, which anchored in McNeill Bay — then known as Shoal Bay — in 1843.

• Also on the trip was James Douglas, who founded Fort Victoria.

• McNeill returned in 1850 and built a homestead in Oak Bay, one of the first five estate farms in the area.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department vehicle outside the headquarters building. VicPD (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after Victoria restaurant worker punched, thrown to the ground

Police say woman was found lying on the sidewalk with non-life threatening injuries

Victoria police are investigating after several vehicles were smashed and a basement was flooded along lower Cook Street March 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating smashed vehicles, flooded basement on Cook Street

Police seeking witnesses, footage of several ‘mischief’ incidents

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

Police, paramedics responded to a report of an unresponsive person early Wednesday

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

t
Province invests $2M in three Vancouver Island food hubs

Hub network provides shared-use processing facilities to small agri-businesses

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

Most Read