The Olson Arena was completed in the early 1940s, but, like its predecessor, it was destroyed by fire in 1944. (Oak Bay Archives)

Five significant pieces of Oak Bay history that went up in smoke

A look at some of the iconic Oak Bay buildings leveled by fire

With expansive land, sweeping bays and spectacular views of Mount Baker, Oak Bay has always had significant draw for recreation-seekers, residents and visitors alike. Many of the grandest buildings erected in Oak Bay have been for the purpose of sport and to house those travelling to enjoy the sights. Sadly, many of the iconic structures are no longer standing today, having been leveled by fire.

Mount Baker Hotel

Built in 1893 by Canadian Settlers Co. of England, the Mount Baker Hotel was situated on 11 acres of waterfront near the current site of the Oak Bay Marina on the corner of Beach Drive and Orchard Ave. The five storey hotel with 57 rooms and 8 bathrooms was destroyed by fire in 1902.

The Mount Baker Hotel was built in 1893 and destroyed by fire in 1902. (Oak Bay Archives)

Exhibition Building

The Exhibition Building at Willows, known as the “Crystal Palace,” was built in 1891 (in a heroic 65 days) and tragically burned down in 1907.

The Exhibition Building at Willows Fairgrounds. Built in 1891, it was destroyed by fire in 1907. (Oak Bay Archives)

RELATED: Lost Victoria: Story of the Crystal Palace

Oak Bay Beach Hotel

The original Oak Bay Beach Hotel was built in 1927 by Major Merston. It was completely destroyed in a fire on Oct. 14, 1930. An exact replica was promptly rebuilt on its ashes. In 2006, the doors to the hotel were ceremoniously closed and removed to be re-installed in the new Oak Bay Beach Hotel (gracing the entrance to Kate’s Café) in December 2012.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel after the fire in 1930. (Oak Bay Archives)

RELATED: New Oak Bay archives, library partnership highlights pre-Prohibition hotpots

Patrick Arena

The Patrick Arena was built in 1911, officially opening on Christmas Day. It was the first artificial ice rink in Canada. The Victoria Cougars defeated the Montreal Canadiens at Patrick Arena to win the Stanley Cup in 1925. The arena was destroyed by fire in 1929.

The Patrick Arena was built in 1911 and was destroyed by fire in 1929. (Royal BC Museum, BC Archives | D-07151)

Olson Arena

After the Patrick Arena burned down in 1929, there ensued years of debate on where to build a new one. It was decided that the former Horse Show Pavilion at the Willows Fairgrounds would be converted into a rink. The Olson Arena was completed in the early 1940s, but, like its predecessor, it was destroyed by fire in 1944.

Olson Arena fire in 1944. (Oak Bay Archives)

RELATED: Oak Bay Heritage Day honours cultural history

To find out more about Oak Bay’s past, visit the Oak Bay Archives at 2167 Oak Bay Ave. on Tuesdays 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Thursdays 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. or online at

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