Ray Travers, chair of the Memorial Avenue Committee, stands near the memorial trees on Shelbourne Street commemorating Canadian war deaths during the First World War. His group wants to turn the street into a larger commemorative space that would add more memorial trees to the street.                                Black Press File

Ray Travers, chair of the Memorial Avenue Committee, stands near the memorial trees on Shelbourne Street commemorating Canadian war deaths during the First World War. His group wants to turn the street into a larger commemorative space that would add more memorial trees to the street. Black Press File

Saanich moves ahead with Shelbourne war memorial plans

Local group wants to complete work that started nearly a century ago

Plans to transform Shelbourne Street into a commemorative space in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War are gaining momentum.

Council Monday unanimously tasked staff to review plans by the Memorial Avenue Committee, a group of local volunteers, who want to complete work that nearly began a century ago, when Shelbourne Street became Canada’s first Road of Remembrance in Oct. 2, 1921.

These roads commemorated Canadian war deaths during the First World War by planting trees along major suburban roads like Shelbourne Street, and some 5,000 people, including then-premier John Oliver and Lieutenant-Governor Walter Nichol, attended the dedication, which also commemorated British Columbians, who died in Boer War (1899-1902).

Saanich built Shelbourne Street in 1916 as a major north-south road from Mount Douglas Park to Victoria. Plans to plant memorial trees on both sides of Shelbourne Street to honour British Columbian war deaths started around the same time. Proponents wanted to plant one tree for each killed soldier, a goal eventually rendered unfeasible by the number of British Columbian soldiers (6,000) killed.

Available space permitted 800 trees, and a total of 600 trees eventually appeared, running from Mount Douglas Park to Cedar Hill Cross Road in Saanich, and from Hillside to Bay Street in Victoria. Of those, 500 trees stood in Saanich.

However plans to plant trees along Shelbourne from Cedar Hill Cross Road to North Dairy never materialized, and as urban development intensified during the 1960s, Saanich cut down some 300 trees from Cedar Hill Cross Road to Torquay to widen Shelbourne to four from two lanes.

Saanich also contemplated but never completed re-naming Shelbourne Street to Memorial Avenue.

Plans proposed by the Memorial Avenue Committee call on Saanich to plant new London Plane deciduous trees along Shelbourne Street running from Pear Street to North Dairy, as part of the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan. The plan also calls on Saanich install interpretive panels in prominent locations along Shelbourne Street and include the phrase ‘Memorial Avenue’ in Shelbourne Street signage.

Council’s decision to send these plans to staff came after a presentation from Ray Travers, the committee’s chair.

“I think it will be a wonderful legacy to leave for future generations,” said Travers, who pegged the total budget of the plan at $139,000.

He said the project would attract tourist, raise property values, and increase historical awareness. Travers said it would remind people of the “enormous sacrifice” that the First World War demanded. Some 600 soldiers from the Greater Victoria area died.

Councillors praised the initiative, but also pumped the breaks.

“It really helps us understand our history and background,” said Coun. Karen Harper. But she — like others — also said that she looks forward to seeing the final details.

Coun. Colin Plant said it would be “premature” for Saanich to support this plan beyond “in principle” without having all of the facts. “I would like to know exactly what it costs,” he said.

Coun. Susan Brice said this project might unfold over multiple years.

Saanich’s decision to examine these plans came after the District had completed improvement to the Gore-Peace Memorial Park.

Dedicated in July 1919, the location hosted Remembrance Day services until about 1960. Three years earlier, Saanich placed a peace memorial made out of granite in the park. In 1970, it moved to Saanich Municipal Hall, the current location of Remembrance Day services.

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

Just Posted

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Funding boosts restoration efforts for Vancouver Island’s Garry oak ecosystems

Habitat Acquisition Trust will take on several Garry oak ecosystem restoration projects

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Most Read