In the Footsteps of the Pioneers

October 30th, 2013 by Martin Vernon

The pioneers of Victoria BC pop up in unlikely places. You’d expect that some fine houses of the politicians and leading townspeople of their day might still stand but what about the settling farmers? Even now we can walk in their footsteps.

My wife and I were walking through John Dean Park on the Saanich Peninsula Illahie - John Dean Parkwhen we unexpectedly encountered the remnants of the homestead of John Dean. The park, on the top of Mount Newton, has old-growth Douglas firs and an area of Garry oaks giving fine views over the Peninsula. In a rather dark, damp area of the forest we came across a sign about his home, Illahie (above), and could see where it had sat. John Dean came to Victoria in 1884 and became a dedicated conservationist, donating land for the park in 1921 to protect it from early urban growth.

Similarly, I was exploring Gowlland Tod Provincial Park Caleb Pike Housewith its wide variety of trails south of the Butchart Gardens, and saw Caleb Pike House. Caleb Pike sailed from England to Victoria in 1849 to work for the Hudson Bay Company along with his two brothers. He built the log house from 1883 in a remote setting almost a day’s ride from Victoria (now it is a 25 minute drive). You will also see two other buildings creating an interesting heritage setting to explore.

If the weather is fine, as it has been consistently this fall, then consider a pleasant stroll in the footsteps of our pioneers.

Closer to hand, downtown, is a source of information about the pioneers of Victoria BC which everyone will find fascinating: the superb Royal BC Museum. In the next post we’ll explore more of the early history of Victoria and the Pacific North West as discovered at this outstanding museum.

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