Historian Kate Humble

Historian Kate Humble

Walk reveals scandalous past

Take a peek into Oak Bay’s secret history with new tour

Oak Bay is known for being calm and genteel, but a checkered history of scandals, sensational deaths and the occult lurks behind the tweed curtain.

Those stories will be the subject of three upcoming Discover the Past’s Discovery Walking Tour of Oak Bay, led by historian Kate Humble. Humble grew up in Oak Bay and returned recently after spending 10 years in England and Toronto.

“I want to focus on the history in (Oak Bay) because it’s amazing,” she said. “There have been some incredibly interesting characters who used to live in Oak Bay.”

Francis Mawson Rattenbury, the architect behind the legislature building, the Empress and Vancouver Art Gallery, is one character Humble cited. Rattenbury, who also served on Oak Bay council, used to live in what is now Glenlyon Norfolk school on Beach Avenue. He designed the home and lived there with his wife and children until the late 1920s when he got involved with a younger woman. He would eventually meet a tragic end when his second wife took on an 18-year-old lover.

“It was a huge scandal,” Humble said. “He had to leave Victoria.”

Humble said Oak Bay also has a connection to the sinking of the Titanic and that in the late 19th Century, spiritualism was widely embraced by all and meeting for seances was all the rage.

“This was a huge thing in Victoria, absolutely enormous,” Humble said.

To prepare for the tour, Humble spent hours researching at the B.C. Museum and Oak Bay archives, reading old newspapers, going through microfiche and on the Internet.

The 1999 Oak Bay High school graduate has a PhD in history, specializing in medieval history. She worked at the Arms and Armoury Museum in England before returning home.

The Oak Bay walking tours are 90 minutes long and takes place on March 1 at 2 p.m., May 3 at 2 p.m. and May 18 at 10:30 a.m. Adults $15, students and seniors $13, cash only. Meet 15 minutes prior at Oak Bay Avenue and York Place.

Humble said if the walk proves popular, more will be added.

Find more about other walks, including one exploring the Uplands on March 15, go to discoverthepast.com.



Just Posted

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read