Walk peruses history in proposed Heritage Conservation Area

Oak Bay Camp at Rattenbury’s Beach with the Hewitt home in background.   - Oak Bay Archives
Oak Bay Camp at Rattenbury’s Beach with the Hewitt home in background.
— image credit: Oak Bay Archives

The neighbourhood proposed as Oak Bay’s first Heritage Conservation Area hosts a historical walk this week.

To mark Heritage Week, professional heritage consultant Stuart Stark leads a walking tour exploring Beach Drive, Propsect Place and York Place on Feb. 18.

“He grew up on Prospect Place as a boy, so he has personal roots in the area but he’s also deeply committed to and very excited about our area becoming the first heritage conservation area in Oak Bay,” said resident Michael Prince, one of the organizers of the walk.

Prince lives on Prospect Place, a scenic road that winds from Oak Bay Avenue to Beach Drive, and is among those promoting the neighbourhood be designated an HCA. It was designed originally as the route home for architect Frances Rattenbury, who then lived where Glenlyon Norfolk School now holds classes.

Oak Bay has 28 houses designated heritage, 11 are in the neighbourhood.

Stark grew up in the neighbourhood and also draws on his mother’s memories of south Oak Bay, to share tidbits of history, such as a private observatory now gone.

“There are some things that are gone, some things that are still there,” Stark said, adding he’ll reveal some of Oak Bay’s history still in existence.

“That neighbourhood has the greatest concentration of architect-designed houses in the district,” he said.

Many were designed by Frances Rattenbury and John Gerhard Tiarks.

“They bought 15 acres of land and then developed that neighbourhood in 1898. So because they at that time were both the star architects in the city, they attracted other architects like (Samuel) Maclure to build houses in the neighbourhood as well. So we’ve got this lovely concentration of lovely houses.”

The walking, which requires mobility, is about 90 minutes on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the end of Heritage Week.

“It’s an exciting way to showcase the area,” Prince said.


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