Went to Victoria last week to visit friends. Had not been able to overnight away for about 5 years as I was taking care of my favourite girl. There have been a few one day runs to Victoria to rescue some meat pies from the Dutch Bakery and to pick up a new car. But it’s been a long time since I had a real look at the city.
My hosts, Alice & Mike, took me on a several hour tour through Esquimalt, Vic West, downtown, James Bay etc. We covered it all. How has Victoria changed. The residential development is extraordinary. Condos, Condos! And high rises. Two towers going up right now near the old Bay store between Blanchard & Douglas. Not sure how many stories but they already look like the tallest in town.
Some areas like Fairfield and Oak Bay are still more or less like the old days. In Oak Bay many of the homes I remembered, including the one I grew up in, look the same as they did in 1950.
My old home has a new garage door and 4 new windows on the basement level. The rest is the same. Same colour, same plants, same steps. Apparently the interior has been remodelled recently. After all it was built in 1939. Hopefully they replaced the oil stove and wood & coal furnace at some point.
The buildings at the Estevan shopping area look much the same as they did when I delivered groceries for McLures Food Market in 1952. The store is now a restaurant. A good one I am told. The little Fish & Chip joint is still on the corner.
We drove around the UVIC Campus which is big. When I graduated in 1965 there were only 3 or 4 buildings on the Gordon Head Site. Now there are many. Very impressive.
A drive along Shelbourne Street was a surprise. I remember that street as wide, straight and not very busy. Now it seems narrow and crowded and badly in need of new pavement. Quite a change since University days.
I also had time to look around the town of Sidney, now very built up and busy. Town homes, Condos everywhere on mostly narrow streets that can barely handle the traffic. Residents in North Saanich time their trips into Victoria to avoid the ferry traffic as Highway 17 is really busy now.
Heading out of Victoria on Friday afternoon used to be a nightmare but I transited the new McKenzie interchange with ease. It has really helped the traffic flow.
There has been enormous growth in the Langford area and new homes on both sides of Highway 1 cover the hillsides. And some are just plain ugly. The architect that designed some of these should have to look at them every day.
Anyway, that’s some of what I observed in Victoria last week. Too busy for me now. Was happy to get home to FRENCH CREEK.