Oak Bay: Where history surrounds us

With the help of Oak Bay Heritage Foundation, we hope to satisfy your curiousity about your neighbourhood’s history.

  • Feb. 22, 2013 4:00 p.m.

One of Oak Bay’s most recognized pieces of history the War Memorial sends a message of peace.

Oak Bay’s neighbourhoods are filled with history and character, and as we celebrate Heritage Week the Oak Bay News looked for the stories behind a few of the area’s treasured buildings and homes.

With the help of Oak Bay Heritage Foundation, we hope to satisfy your curiousity about your neighbourhood’s history.

Patio Court (2390-2414 San Carlos Pl.)

Built in 1927, Patio Court continues to highlight a distinct phase of development and architecture in Oak Bay.

Patio Court was built during a housing boom which occurred during the second half of the ‘20s.

The expansion of the transportation system beyond the streetcar line resulted in new residential development, particularly in the areas of the municipality that had not been easily accessible before.

The homes are also important for their architectural style and rarity; Patio Court is one of only two examples of Storybook Style in Oak Bay.

With origins in the whimsical make-believe world of Southern California, particularly Hollywood, the architecture displays style characteristics including lancet windows, half-timbering and pepperpot turrets.

Patio Court’s heritage value also comes from its architects Karl Branwhite Spurgin and John Graham Johnson.

Before serving in the First World War, Spurgin went into partnership with Edmund O. Wilkins and the pair undertook a number of commissions in Qualicum and Victoria.

When Spurgin returned from the war, he was appointed superintendent of the Soldiers’ Housing Scheme in Saanich.

Johnson was the resident architect for the Canadian Pacific Railway and supervised the construction of the Banff Springs Hotel and parts of the Empress Hotel.

Spurgin and Johnson also designed Oak Bay’s Gibson’s Ladies’ Wear and the Mount Baker Block.

 

Mount Baker Court (1147 Newport Ave.)

Owned and designed by well-known area business owner Henry E. Munday, Mount Baker Court was built in 1926.

Munday – who owned Munday’s the British Boot Shop at 1203 Douglas Street – showed his artistry in the apartment block through the quality seen in the stained glass side lights at the front door, the tiled entrance porch and the classic columns.

His interest in footwear was also represented in the building through the boot-scrapers which flank the front entrance.

Mount Baker Court was built at a time when the area’s demographics were changing.

The Windsor Park area had been heavily promoted by the British Columbia Electric Railway Company, but in 1922 the municipality bought it as a civic amenity.

Following a building boom and the expansion of the transportation system, Mount Baker Court became a more desirable place to live.

The irregularly shaped Windsor Park was built in 1896 and was considered the finest athletic grounds on the Pacific Coast.

It continues to be a popular venue for cricket, tennis and rugby and is the starting point for the Oak Bay Tea Party parade.

 

Oak Bay War Memorial (Beach Dr.)

 

Standing nine feet tall the Mother Peace statue of the Oak Bay War Memorial holds the names of the 97 Oak Bay residents who lost their lives in World War II.

The memorial was built over a seven month period by James E. Saull – a former student of sculptor and coin designer Emanuel Hahn.

Saull, who was a noted Canadian sculptor and designer of many Canadian war memorials, was commissioned to build the cenotaph after winning a competition for the contract.

Saull and his wife – who was the model for the female figure – made Victoria their home after he returned from the war where he was an airman.

The cenotaph was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1948 by Lt. Gov. Charles Banks and Reave RA. Wootton.

The memorial is valued for its message of peace, rather than glorification of war.

In 2004, four commemorative bronze plaques were mounted on granite bounders below the historic cenotaph sculpture off Beach Drive in Uplands Park.

The plaques honour all the Canadian casualties of the First World War, the Canadian Merchant Navy, the Korean War and the Canadian UN Peace keepers.

The memorial is important to the community as the site of the Oak Bay Remembrance Day Services held annually.

 

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