Tag Archives: Fort Victoria

Historic Maps and Dioramas of Victoria and Environs

Detail of Capt. Vancouver's 1792 chart showing the "supposed strait of Juan de Fuca". Source: viHistory

vihistory is a web site designed to aid in historical research of Vancouver Island, at which it succeeds admirably.  You should poke around and have fun with their census data and the other worthy, if dreary, pursuits it affords the serious scholar.

One feature which is not immediately clear on first glance, perhaps deliberately as has entertainment potential, is a large selection of very high-resolution maps and images which you can download from this page. The file sizes are large, of course, but increasingly that is less of an obstacle in the past.  The maps are mostly of historic Victoria, but there are some regional maps such as telegraph and lighthouse maps of British Columbia, and a couple of maps of Nanaimo.  As usual, I have surfed through the maps so you don’t have to – and some of them are remarkably fun, and informative.

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Photos of Victoria and Esquimalt, 1859

Victoria 1859. Source: LOC

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty established the boundary between British and American territory west of the Rockies (and unintentionally established the benchmark date for whether archaeological sites are automatically protected under the Heritage Conservation Act, but that’s another story).  Vancouver Island was to remain in British hands in its entirety, but otherwise the 49th parallel was to be the boundary on land.  The ocean boundary through the Salish Sea was resolved later, after the armed standoff on San Juan Island known as the “Pig War“.   An International Boundary Commission was struck, with the mandate of surveying the 49th parallel and one of its base camp headquarters in 1858 and 1859 was Esquimalt.  At this time, a series of photographs of the young Fort Victoria and surrounding buildings were taken, some of the earliest photographs from British Columbia I know of – including some remarkable pictures of First Nations people.

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