Talk taps Oak Bay’s ‘egos and eccentrics’

Kate Humble offers a history talk Sept. 14 at Oak Bay's Windsor Pavilion

A planning map of Uplands Park treatment areas over the next three years.

No surprise there are a few colourful characters in Oak Bay’s past.

Tonight (Wednesday) at Windsor Pavilion, Oak Bay Heritage presents a discussion with historian Kate Humble exploring “Egos and Eccentrics.”

It’s the third Oak Bay Heritage talk for Humble, an Oak Bay High grad and operations and development manager at Craigdarroch Castle. She previously explored topics related to the First World War and Oak Bay and great love stories.

This time, “I wanted to do a little miscellany,” she says.

Individuals up for discussion range from James French, a naturalist who ran a menagerie down at Willows Beach at the end of the nineteenth century before moving to Swan Lake then to French Beach, to a TV evangelist from the 1980s.

Then there’s well-known painter Sophia Pemberton, whose family owned a large part of Oak Bay and part of what is now Victoria Golf Club, Humble says, suggesting the woman reflects the forging of the wild and refined, the old and the new of Oak Bay at the time.

A painter of a variety of styles, including portraits, still life and landscapes, Pemberton married twice, and was “a woman of her own mind,” Humble says, noting it’s interesting that she comes from quite a traditional family, yet one that is pioneering; she lives on the West Coast, yet is very upper-middle class.

Under the category of egos, in addition to a certain evangelist, “we have a couple of rumrunners who built homes in the Uplands in the 1920s,” Humble says.

“It’s going to be a fun little talk –  relatively light-hearted.”

Egos and Eccentrics is at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Park Pavilion.

Coming presentations include a Wednesday, Oct. 19 lecture by Jim Wolf, Heritage Planner for Burnaby, on the architecture of Samuel Maclure, and a Nov. 16 lecture by Larry McCann on his new book, Imagining Uplands: John Olmsted’s Masterpiece of Residential Design.

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