With the Admirals Road corridor improvement project well underway, a look back at the history of this important thoroughfare shows it has a long history.
Admirals Road began as a trail linking the 900 acre Craigflower Farm to the “Admiral’s House,” a large house situated on Maplebank.
The house was built by Kenneth McKenzie, bailiff of Craigflower Farm. The trail was used to deliver bread, milk and produce from the farm to the residents of the house.
Later, the house was rented to admirals posted to Esquimalt. Eventually the trail was widened and lengthened and slowly became Admirals Road as we know it today.
The road has had a number of landmarks over the years.
Located just across from Maplebank Road was a sheep farm owned by the Fleisher family – the last farm zoning in the municipality. The family home still stands today now surrounded by many newer houses.
Just down the road, was the Schooner Garage and the Schooner Coffee Bar, located near the corner of Admirals and Colville. The latter was operated by Mary McMillan and had the distinction of having the first soft ice-cream machine in Esquimalt.
The café was a favourite spot for sailors and in light of this, Mary had lockers built where sailors could stow their uniforms when changing into their “civvies.”
Kitty corner to the garage and coffee bar was the E&N train station. Esquimalt residents, could purchase groceries in downtown Victoria in the morning and have them delivered to the station, where they could be retrieved later in the day.
At 649 Admirals Rds., close to the intersection with Esquimalt Road, sits Ervger, built in 1908 for Rev. William Bolten and his wife Agnes, the granddaughter of Sir James Douglas.
He founded the University School for Boys, now St. Michael’s University School. In 1976, local architect Peter Cotton saved the house from demolition. The house was designated heritage in 1996.
At the corner of Admirals Road and Lyall Street, stands the Esquimalt United Church. Designed by American architects Emanuel Bresseman and Eugene Durfee, it was completed in September 1913 and opened as the Esquimalt Naval and Military Methodist Church.
In 1925, the congregation joined the newly formed United Church of Canada. The congregation celebrated the church’s centenary two years ago.
Greg Evans is archivsit of the Esquimalt Municipal Archives.