Oak Bay: Then and Now Jan. 26

B.C. Electric streetcars

B.C. Electric streetcars

In the last decade of the 19th century, the sight of electric streetcars lined up along Newport Avenue was common, especially after sporting events at what was then known as Oak Bay Park.

In fact, the B.C. Electric Railway Co. built the popular facility – now Windsor Park – in South Oak Bay in 1890-91 to increase ridership of its streetcars. The park would host such events as professional baseball, high-level track and field meets and cycling races in the first half of the 20th century.

The extension of the rail line to the south end of Oak Bay Avenue and beyond, helped open up property in the area to the working class, where it was once a vacation and playground area accessible primarily to the rich.

The area in the old photo, circa 1892, was part of what was originally land owned by the Pemberton family. Joseph D. Pemberton, who arrived in Victoria in 1851 to work for the Hudson Bay Co., surveyed much of Oak Bay and bought 1,200 acres of land, including 200 in what is now Oak Bay.

The current photo shows passenger vehicles replacing the streetcars on the block, which includes a mish-mash of condominiums, an older apartment buildings, a single-story office building and a solitary character home.

– with thanks to Oak Bay Archives