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A sightseeing observation car, built to run on the tram tracks of the B.C. Electric Company in 1909, brought sightseers from Victoria to the Gorge Park in Esquimalt.
(postcard printed in Great Britain)
The little wooden buildings along the paths of the Japanese Tea Gardens sold tea, toast and light refreshments, and ice cream for the children. Older children enjoyed the games house where they won beautiful vases, dolls, parasols and fans as prizes. Goldfish in the ponds, oriental lanterns and strings of lights turned the acre of evergreen woods into a magical place to visit.
Since the 1890s the Gorge Bridge (below) was a favourite viewing point for spectators at the 24th of May Gorge regattas. A 1920s account described the Indian war canoe races as the most popular events, with 11-man canoe races with one or two paddlers in smaller dugout canoes. There was always keen competition from the navy in whalers rowed by the tars of the day ... even keener when there was a visiting ship in Esquimalt at the time.
Trolley to Gorge Park in Esquimalt
This is a set of early postcards illustrating the many attractions of Esquimalt before the township was incorporated in 1912.
Crowds of Victorians came from all over Victoria for regattas on the Gorge waterway, and more when the B.C. Electric Company opened a park nearby for band concerts, fireworks, Sunday picnics and many more attractions. The wooded area on the south side of the inlet near the Gorge bridge was in its heyday when a delightful Japanese garden was designed within the park, one of the most popular attractions in greater Victoria for three decades.
Sadly the gardens were closed when the Japanese proprietors, the Takata family, were forced to leave when the federal government ordered all Japanese Canadians away from the B.C. coast for the duration of World War II. The buildings were torn down. Fortunately the town of Esquimalt has restored at least part of the ornamental streams and paths winding through the woods.
(Beyond the Blue Bridge, pp. 152-162)
More Esquimalt Stories
- The Bland family of Esquimalt
- British Columbia Nursing Sisters in WWI
- Cole Island Naval Magazine
- Esquimalt's Historic Halfway House
- Esquimalt's St. Paul's Church
- Miss Phillips Remembers the Dockyard
More Excerpts from Beyond the Blue Bridge
Excerpts from Battlefront Nurses in WW I
Esquimalt Turned 100 in 2012
See Esquimalt's Centennial page
Centennial Book page
Esquimalt Archives volunteer Sherri Robinson has written a Centennial Book, Esquimalt Centennial, 1912 to 2012. Sherri is also the great great granddaughter of James William and Elizabeth Bland who established the Halfway House in 1860.
Esquimalt Municipal Hall
1229 Esquimalt Road
Esquimalt Recreation Centre
527 Fraser Street
$20, including taxes.
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