The Oak Bay Tea Party started as a one-off event in 1962 to mark the centennial of the City of Victoria. The two-day event included a tea party on the lawn of the municipal hall, water sports at the Oak Bay Marina, and a grand centennial ball at Club Tango on Oak Bay Avenue.
In 1963, Oak Bay decided to make it an annual event. Volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Oak Bay took over the planning and called themselves the “Oak Bay Bored of Trade”.
In the early years, water skiing events were a big hit, showcasing barefoot skiing demonstration and five-man human pyramids pulled behind a high-powered speedboat. Planes have featured as a tradition throughout the years whether they have been doing aerobatics, or having skydivers jump from them to land on the beach. A salmon derby in 1967 was won with a 17-pound Spring.
During the late 60s and early 70s Tea Parties, huge lengths of dark burlap were hung on either side of the Avenue from telephone poles. A new merchants group spearheaded a campaign to bring back these tweed curtains in 1997.
Newspaper clippers show that the Oak Bay Tea Party in 1976 boasted 28,000 people, more than 1,500 pounds of baron-of-beef, and more than 100 gallons of tea.
The mayor’s teacup race has always been a favourite with one of the most notable being in 2006, when then-mayor Christopher Causton took on Olympic Rower Silken Laumann in the teacup race.
- files from Caroline Duncan, Oak Bay Archives