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Appendix B: Beacon Hill Park Proposed Developments Not Implemented

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Each of the development proposals listed below was seriously discussed and involved a permanent installation. In most instances, the proposals were not implemented because individuals and groups came forward to defend the Park’s open spaces and/or non-commercial status under the Trust restrictions. During the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's, two groups were especially important: the Local Council of Women and the Native Sons of Canada. The Beacon Hill Park Association was a strong defender from 1971-1988. Since 1989, the Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society has worked to uphold the Trust and preserve Park ecosystems.

Structures proposed specifically for the top of Beacon Hill included the provincial museum, a replica of the Parthenon replica, the tree-house-office complex, and at least twelve restaurants or teahouses. Corners of the Park were preferred locations for many other proposals. The Southeast Wood was suggested for the Firehall. The Northwest corner was the proposed site for the observatory and the real estate development. The Northeast corner near Heywood Avenue was the desired location for both commercial golf business plans and the Theatre Under the Stars. See details of every proposal after the list below. A description of each proposal also appears in the History of Beacon Hill Park by year.

  • Royal Jubilee Hospital 1887
  • Real Estate Development 1906
  • Parthenon replica 1909
  • Observatory 1912
  • Indian Village Replica 1933
  • Maze 1939
  • Pitch and Putt 1942
  • Miniature Golf 1946
  • Tropical Bird Aviary 1947
  • Theatre Under the Stars 1947
  • Symphony Bowl 1947
  • Aquarium 1954
  • Auditorium 1956
  • Restaurant/tearoom 1946,1947,
  • Saltwater pool 1959, 1964
  • Royal B. C. Museum 1964
  • Space Age Tree-house 1966
  • Michigan Street extension 1967
  • Multi-use Recreational Facility 1969
  • Anscomb Fountain 1972
  • Firehall 1973
  • Pioneer Village 1974
  • Hoo Hoo Shelter 1976
  • Convention Centre 1982
  • Allotment gardens 1994

Royal Jubilee Hospital 1887

A committee was formed in February, 1887 to select a suitable site, raise funds and plan construction of a new, modern hospital for the City of Victoria. The committee favoured a twenty acre site on Richmond Avenue in July, 1887. Advocates for a hospital site closer to the city objected that Richmond Avenue was a “distant and inconvenient site” which would cost extra in transportation and was unhandy for Doctors. In August, 1888, a letter from Dr. J. C. Davis pointed out anyone hurt “must be conveyed two miles to reach the hospital.” Anyone without a horse wanting to visit a patient would have to walk four miles (there and back). (Colonist, August 24, 1888, p.2) Many residents were adamant the hospital should be located in the City. Beacon Hill Park was one possibility: the location was ideal and the land free. The Colonist backed the Richmond Avenue site, however, praising its rural atmosphere and views of Mt. Baker. (Colonist, June 17, 1888, p.1)

Real Estate Development 1906

An ambitious “scheme” was announced by Ald. Douglas, Chairman of the Parks Committee, to fund zoo and aviary improvements in Beacon Hill Park without using City funds or requiring new taxes. He proposed selling “a strip of land of a depth of 120 feet...of the uncultivated and rocky part of Beacon Hill Park...” Between 2-6 acres of the northwest corner would be removed from the Park.

With the agreement of the Park Committee, Ald. Douglas circulated a petition for signatures of property owners stating: “Your petitioners are informed that your park committee have recommended as being immediate and urgent the construction on Beacon Hill Park of proper housing accommodation for the zoological specimens owned by the city and also those improvements which will ...make the park more attractive...Your petitioners recommend that application be made to the government to release the strip to the city for sale to provide funds for park purposes.” Douglas proposed selling from 2 to 6 acres and stated that the land sale could raise $15,000. “Attractive homes and gardens” could be built on the lots. (Times, November 1, 1906, p. 6) On November 12, Council voted down the proposal to sell a portion of Beacon Hill Park, 7 to 3.

Replica of the Parthenon for Beacon Hill Park - 1909

An astonishing proposal to build a rustic replica of the Athens Parthenon on top of Beacon Hill caused a flurry of interest and argument in July, 1909. The structure was suggested by the Vancouver Island Development League and promoted by the Colonist. The Secretary of the League, Mr. E. McGaffey, anticipated it would become “one of the wonders of the world and people would be attracted from far and near to see it.” Made entirely of Island timber, its placement “on the elevated part of Beacon Hill would form a landmark visible for many miles out in the straits, just as the Greek Parthenon overlooks the Aegean Sea.” McGaffey said it would “form a great convention hall, capable of holding hundreds of hundreds of delegates. It might be turned into a museum, in which could be placed specimens of the island’s ores, animals, birds and fishes. Concerts could be held there.” (Colonist, July 6, 1909, p.6).

Replica of the Parthenon for Beacon Hill Park - 1909

A sketch of the building by John Wilson, Architect, with the dimensions of 114 feet by 51 feet (proportionately half of the Athens Parthenon) was spread across five columns on the front page of the July 11 Colonist. The newspaper followed with an editorial on July 14 noting a local hotel owner’s offer to donate the massive trees needed. The editorial agreed the building would be useful for conventions and “large assemblies” and anticipated “the fame of it would go abroad throughout all the world.” A powerful light was suggested for the top. One objection was noted in the editorial, “that the hill clad in broom is more beautiful than any edifice can make it,” but in reply the Colonist said “a broom-clad hill surmounted with a massive structure of the kind proposed, would be a majestic picture.” (Colonist, July 14, 1909, p. 4)

In a letter to the editor of the Times the following day, Arthur Davies called the building a “tumorous monstrosity in the shape of an asinine imitation of the Parthenon” which would “desecrate the beauties of Beacon Hill.” Davies pointed out the prototype for the building was the “white elephant” forestry building in Portland, Oregon. He thought throwing $75,000--the amount the structure would cost--into the streets would “do far more good”. (Times, July 15, 1904, p.4)

Dominion Seismological Observatory 1912

Representatives of the “meteorological department” met with Mayor Beckwith to ask the City for a site near South Park School opposite Toronto Street in Beacon Hill Park to construct a “seismological observatory.” The Dominion government granted $10,000 toward the project. It was mentioned that it could be an attraction for visitors and residents. The Times article noted “It is, of course, a frequent practice to have an observatory in public parks, as at Geneva and Toronto...” (Times, October 9, 1912)

On October 30, the Times reported the opinion of City solicitor Robertson: “The trust under which the city holds Beacon Hill Park will prevent the council from granting a lease of a portion of the area...for the purpose of an observatory...The only way to meet the difficulty would be for the city to apply for a special act to legalize the lease of the land for this express purpose.” F. Napier Denison, from the meteorological department, said: “...the northern end of the park was the best in the city for the purpose. It must be an isolated place and free from the disturbances of traffic” because of delicate instruments. The facility would be important for regulating accurate chronometers necessary for ships. (Times, Oct. 30, 1912) The Colonist restated the restrictions of The Trust of 1882 under which the City could not convey the land for such purposes. (Colonist, Oct. 30, 1912)

Indian Village Replica 1933

"Henry Whittaker, chief architect for the Province" suggested a "replica of an Indian village, in concrete, be erected at Beacon Hill Park, both as a permanent memorial to the early Indian dwellers of the land, and also as a work of museum value and tourist attraction." Whittaker said, "Such an exhibit could easily be erected in concrete and made so realistic that the materials of construction would deceive anyone at a casual glance...A tableau in concrete of the Indians, their homes and mode of life would give a realistic impression to visitors of the older forms of civilization on this continent, and would certainly be a unique exhibit." (Colonist, August 26, 1933, p. 1-2)

Maze 1939

A maze was proposed for Beacon Hill Park by W. T. Straith, M.P.P. Alderman Okell, chairman of the parks committee, announced the committee “received the proposal favorably” and would consider it. (Colonist, Aug. 17, 1939, p.16)

Pitch and Putt 1942

A proposal to lease part of Beacon Hill Park for five years (with option to renew) to build an 18 hole Pitch and Putt Course was sent to the City by C. N. High on January 9, 1942. High planned to spend $8,000 on the installation, which would include fences, floodlights, a clubhouse, refreshments and toilets. He planned to charge 25 cents for 18 holes of play. The Park Committee recommended to City Council that a lease of the grounds be granted to C. N. High for $50 a year. (CRS 106)

On January 16, 1942, the Native Sons of Canada, Victoria Assembly #1, wrote a letter to the Mayor stating a Pitch and Putt “would be a violation of the Trust deed under which Beacon Hill Park was conveyed to the City of Victoria.” (CRS 106)

Elizabeth Mackenzie, also opposing the Pitch and Putt, wrote the Mayor on January 27, 1942: “Beacon Hill Park is too small and too restricted an area to suffer any more encroachments...” She pointed to the value and beauty of oaks and camas near Heywood Avenue, the seven acre site High wanted to use for the Pitch and Putt. Elizabeth McKenzie (Mrs. Hugh Mackenzie,) a member of the Local Council of Women and a member of the Society for the Preservation of Native Plants, was an avid protector of native plants and natural areas. A brass plaque located behind the Cameron Bandshell was installed in March, 1950, in memory of Mrs. McKenzie.

City Council tossed the hot potato back to the Park Committee for more consideration on February 10, 1942.

On February 17, 1942, the Times reported: “Pitch and Putt golf plans for Beacon Hill Park’s Heywood grounds were buried under an avalanche of protests from the Local Council of Women and residents of the district,” at the City Council meeting. “Mrs. Hugh Mackenzie led the assault against ‘alienation of a part of a public park’ by commercial interests.” Council voted to refuse the lease application and the Park Committee apologized for their previous recommendation.

Miniature Golf 1946

The Local Council of Women wrote to the City Soliciter on February 11, 1946 in regards to the “application...for a Miniature Golf Course concession in Beacon Hill Park. The secretary, Mrs. H. I. Mackenzie, reminded the City “In 1942 there was an application for a lease of seven acres in the park for Pitch and Putt. This was refused owing to public protest on the ground such a concession was unlawful under the terms of the Trust.” The Council asked for a “definite ruling on the matter of the Beacon Hill Park Trust.” The letter stated other attempts to establish commercial enterprises were rebuffed on this premise“The City lacked the power to appropriate any part of the park premises for the use of any particular persons, or class of persons, to the exclusion of others of the Public.” [This sentence appears in Provincial Archivist Willard E. Ireland’s 1942 “Memorandum,” page 9.] The Park Committee refused the Pitch and Putt application at their meeting February 18, 1946.

Restaurant/ Tearoom 1946, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1984,1985, 2000, 2002

On November 1, 1946, Park Administrator Herb Warren reported to the Park Committee on his recent visit to Vancouver’s Stanley Park to assess commercial activities there which might be appropriate for Beacon Hill Park. Warren concluded that food and curios concessions would work well in the Park from May through August. He advocated “A first class tea room on the top of Beacon Hill emphasizing the English accent...” He envisioned the concessionaire would live in the building. He said it would involve “widening the road to the hill top and extending down the South-east face of the hill to Dallas Road, where it has already been roughly graded for this purpose.”

The Local Council of Women protested that the site on top of the Hill was not practical. In a December 10, 1946 letter, they said it would involve more parking space, traffic from delivery and garbage trucks, plus water, electricity and sewer arrangements. “The Women’s Council regrets the statement of the Parks Committee Chairman that the proposed building would be a good source of revenue to the Parks Department. The Park is held in trust for the use and benefit of the people and the idea of making money out of developments would seem to be at variance with the spirit of the Trust.”

Warren discussed details of the proposed tearoom pavilion on February 6, 1947. Plans included “accommodation for the operator to live on the premises.” The building would include toilet facilities inside and facilities accessible from the outside. As well, the building should allow for expansion in the future. (CRS 106)

By 1960, Warren had changed his mind. He said: “I am strongly of the opinion that the Park should be now kept essentially as it now stands with no additions in the form of swimming pools, restaurant or any other such structure...The open areas which are wild...should be preserved in their present condition.”

New proposals for a restaurants and tearooms on the Hill continued to reappear like clockwork every few years. Throughout 1954, 1956, and 1957, this was a hot topic. Each time promoters learned the conditions of the Trust precluded commercial ventures and each time some city official suggested approaching the Legislature to cancel the Trust.

In 1984, a businessman submitted a more detailed proposal than usual, including financial estimates, for a commercial tea room with a 100 table capacity open for 12 hours a day. In 1985, Ald. Janet Baird proposed a 100 seat tea room to replace the Checkers Pavilion with a new 1200 square foot building, at a cost of $350,000. She proposed City Council apply to the Province for a relaxation of the Trust. Council decided against this.

Tropical Bird Aviary 1947

Mr. E. H. Lewis, Animal and Bird Attendant in the Park, presented an ambitious plan for a major new Aviary in the Park to the Park Committee on March 7, 1947. It would include 50-60 pens, house up to 200 species, including tropical species requiring heated enclosures, for an estimated cost of $25,000. To be located in an imprecise area near Burns Monument, Douglas Street and the Hill, the location necessary was an open sunny space on “highlands”. The Local Council of Women and the Native Sons of British Columbia objected to this plan for an “Aviary for Tropical Birds.” (City of Victoria Archives, CRS 106)

Theatre Under the Stars 1947

An anonymous Victoria donor offered to finance an outdoor theatre in Beacon Hill Park. Because a charge would be made for admission to events at the theatre, the Park Committee recommended and the City endorsed a letter to the area MLA asking him to initiate Legislative action to set aside the 1882 Trust restrictions on concessions. The City hoped to see “the outdoor theatre developed similar to the ‘Theatre Under the Stars’ in Vancouver.” (Colonist, Nov. 25, 1947, p.1) By the December 1 City Council meeting, three protests were received. (Colonist, Dec. 2, 1947, p.21) By December 30, the Colonist reported “five musical organizations asked the City Council” to approve the outdoor theatre. The Royal Victorians, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, the Victorian Symphony Society, the Little Theatre and Local 247 American Federation of Musicians said the site in the Park facing Heywood Avenue was ideal, and the theatre would be a tourist attraction as well as an outlet for local talent. An Alderman pointed out “no action could be taken until a ruling was obtained from the Provincial Government on whether a charge could be made for entertainment”. (Colonist, December 30, p. 21) See January, 1948 for more arguments and maneuvering.

The Colonist reported on January 10, 1948, that the donor’s offer to pay for an outdoor theatre was conditional on getting a Beacon Hill Park site. On January 15, there was “No decision by the parks committee yet”. The next day, the “Native Sons of Canada said they were against any move to amend the Trust deed.” The Local Council of Women were “against any proposal to spoil the beauty of Beacon Hill Park and protested the erection of a bandshell.”

Symphony Bowl 1947-1948

The Theatre Under the Stars proved too contentious so the Parks Committee recommended City Council accept an offer to build a “symphony bowl” in Beacon Hill Park. “The anonymous donor wished the structure to be known as the Open Air Symphony Bowl rather than as a ‘theatre’." (Times, January 9, 1948, p. 15). The site was "south of Burns Memorial and west of the deer pens.” The area would not be fenced and there would be free access to the public, so council shelved “the idea of altering the trust deed” as requested earlier for the theatre near Heywood Avenue. Alderman Kent stated that the Parks Committee is “firmly against any commercialization of this project or any other part of the park” and that “a theatre under the doomed in Beacon Hill because of the cool evenings.” The “symphony bowl” would be paid for by an anonymous donor and the city need only connect water, light, sewer and surface drains. (Times, Jan. 17, 1948, p.18)

At last, City Council approved the outdoor “symphony bowl” in Beacon Hill Park “only to learn the offer by the anonymous donor to build the structure without cost to the City had been withdrawn...There was a report the donor might consider replacing the present bandshell.” The “bowl” was planned to “face southwest with an express provision that at no time was a fence or screen of any kind to be placed around the theatre which would prevent access by the general public." Speculation was the donor withdrew because there would be no charge for concerts. (Colonist, January 20, 1948, p.1)

The Cameron Pavilion bandshell was dedicated October 2, 1948. It was donated to the city in memory of James O. Cameron by his wife, Beatrix, the same donor who proposed the outdoor theatre and symphony bowl.

Aquarium 1954

A first class zoo and an aquarium were suggested for Beacon Hill Park by C. M. Neles, chairman of the tourist trade group of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Dr. Clifford Carl of the Provincial Museum and one of the mainstays of the Victoria Aquarium Society was one of those in favor of the aquarium: ...’we’re delighted that someone else has similar ideas. Anywhere along Dallas Road where an ample supply of cold pure water is available, would make a good site,” Dr. Carl said. Carl was also in favor of the zoo, though perhaps not in Beacon Hill Park. A former SPCA officer spoke against the zoo, saying “I’m opposed to any form of animal captivity at all,” but he was for the aquarium. Park Administrator Warren thought the aquarium idea merited consideration but not the zoo. "An aquarium would be a fine thing for the city," he said. (Times, Sept. 25, 1954)

Auditorium 1956

City Council agreed to ask for provincial legislation to wipe out Trust restrictions which stipulate there can be no establishment for profit in Beacon Hill Park. The intent was to make it possible “to construct an auditorium in the Park” as well as tearooms. The motion stated: “...the said corporation desires to use part of the said lands for a tearoom, an auditorium and concessions for use and enjoyment of the public and making a charge to cover expenses of maintenance of such structure and services.” Aldermen mentioned Vancouver has concessions in Stanley Park. (Times, January 27, 1956, p. 17)

Salt Water Pool 1959

From 1925 to 1955, salt water was pumped through wooden pipes from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Crystal Gardens pool. The intake was located near Douglas St. and Dallas Rd. A change from salt to fresh water in the Crystal Gardens pool in 1955 left advocates of the health benefits of salt water bathing without a pool. Proposals were then made to construct a salt water pool in Beacon Hill Park.

In November 1959, the City asked for a cost estimate for the proposed salt water pool in BHP. It was decided not to proceed.

In his January 1960 monthly report, Warren expressed concern about further development of the Park because of the previous years proposal for a salt water swimming pool and stated, “I am strongly of the opinion that the Park should be now kept essentially as it now stands with no additions in the form of swimming pools, restaurant or any other such structure...The open areas which are wild...should be preserved in their present condition.”

Citing “constant and intensive use” of Beacon Hill Park, Warren advocated “a policy should be adopted now to prevent any encroachment which would increase excessively the wear and tear in the park and the necessity for withdrawing additional land particularly for parking purposes.” He continued“The open areas...should be preserved...To some [they] appear as useless wastes, crying for so called development; but to those with a discerning eye, they give Beacon Hill the charm which characterizes this lovely park. We owe a debt to those in the past who fought for the preservation of the park in its natural state and who stood up against encroachment.”

Royal B. C. Museum 1964

A front page Colonist article reported: “Beacon Hill Park is the No. 1 choice as a site for the proposed new $3,000,000 provincial museum, Provincial Works Minister Chant told the Colonist yesterday. He will... recommend the new museum be built on the summit of Beacon Hill and not on a half-block of Crown land immediately east of the legislative buildings.”

A Works Department report described the alternate museum site downtown as too congested. The reporter listed the reasons Beacon Hill was an ideal location: “ is easily accessible, offers unlimited parking space, costs nothing, is in attractive surroundings, permits outward expansion, allows complete architectural freedom and is not beset by traffic flow problems.” The museum “could incorporate a lounge-tea room and thus supply one frequently debated park need.” (Colonist, Feb. 4, 1964, p.21)

The Works Department report added that excavation for the museum building would produce enough rock fill to turn nearby Horseshoe Bay into a saltwater swimming pool. “The three additions of a museum, a swimming pool and further picnic grounds would probably make very welcome amenities for a part of the park which, at the present time, offers not much more than a pleasant walk.” (Colonist, Feb. 4, 1964, p.21)

In the “Report of Parks Administrator for January and February 1964," Warren expressed “alarm” that government officials and many in the public thought it was acceptable to build the proposed Provincial Museum in Beacon Hill Park. He explained:

“Notwithstanding the fact that the government has decided to place the Museum on Belleville Street, I am alarmed that government official would try to justify placing it in the City’s chief park. I am also alarmed that notwithstanding the outcry from the press and many thinking citizens, it appears from radio polls that the public is favourable to it. All they see is an empty space that might be occupied by buildings. If Begbie had not made his ruling, the park would be full of buildings. Begbie’s ruling, though, did allow for buildings catering to the use, recreation, and enjoyment of the public... the Museum would fit in this category, but if it was built in the Park, where would things end? Soon we might have the archives, the library.... and so on. We have seen proposals for an auditorium, civic theatre, public riding stables, City Hall, ice arena and other buildings. Since the earliest times in Victoria the charm of Beacon Hill Park has been its unspoiled natural character. This is fast being modified due to public usage. Despite this we are doing our best to preserve its natural appearance.”

Salt Water Pool 1964

The B. C. Provincial Works Department report...”states that excavation for the museum building would produce enough rock fill to turn nearby Horseshoe Bay into a saltwater swimming pool...Creation of the Horseshoe Bay swimming pool could be undertaken in cooperation with the city, the report states, and would cost little due to the proximity of the fill material. ‘The three additions of a museum, a swimming pool and further picnic grounds would probably make very welcome amenities for a part of the park which, at the present time, offers not much more than a pleasant walk.’” (Colonist, Feb. 4, 1964, p.21)

Space Age Tree-house 1966

A private commercial proposal to build a "Space Age Tree House" on top of Beacon Hill was presented to the City in 1966. “The 75-foot (25 metre) 'tree house' would combine “tourist offices, a showcase for forest companies and a lookout." (Colonist, June 2, 1966)

Park Administrator Herb Warren opposed the plan in a letter to the Municipal Manager. He stated, "I am disposed to keep Beacon Hill Park pretty much as it is without any additional buildings...what I object to in this case is a suggestion that it should go on top of the hill." Parking would "sterilize an acre of valuable ground on the hilltop. The structure would probably be incompatible with the flagpole and the lookout." (Park Office, 100 Cook St.)

Columnist Tom Taylor wrote “...a tower would be as a thumb sticking up out of proportion...It has taken strict vigilance over the years to preserve the park solely as a park...It is probably the best civic asset we have." The Park Committee voted unanimously to reject the treehouse. (Colonist, June 2, 1966)

Michigan Street Extension 1967

The James Bay Land Use and Transportation Plan was proposed in 1967 to improve traffic flow in and out of the Legislature area as well as other parts of James Bay. (It was passed by City Council in 1968 but halted by a later Council.) The plan involved using park land to extend Michigan Street through Beacon Hill Park to meet Heywood at Rupert Street (now Quadra). This four lane road would not only be built on Park land, but it would isolate a large northern portion from the rest of the Park. The plan would also widen Dallas Road, Douglas Street and Heywood Street, all by using park land. Another part of the plan, described in 1970, included “closing Superior Street to traffic and constructing a pedestrian walkway over Michigan to link both sections of the park.” (Times, July 31, 1970, p. 1)

Park Administrator Warren expressed concern about the continuing pressure to extend Michigan street through Beacon Hill Park. He said, “Cross roads through the Park can never compensate for the loss that citizens will sustain in the fragmentation of the Park. Councils have withstood for eighty-five years successive appeals to place public and private utilitarian buildings and activities in this Park in violation of the Trust deed.” (Annual Report)

The Beacon Hill Park Association, formed on December 14, 1970, to protest the James Bay Land Use and Transportation Plan, began active advocacy on that and other issues. The Association successfully sought members with a handbill asking each citizen to “become a Greenspace Guardian.” The leaflet said:

“Warning: Beacon Hill Park is in Danger. 1862 --the Public Park about 200 acres; 1940 --Total Park area 188 acres; 1971 --Total Park area 154 acres. 1972 and the future: Proposed James Bay development passed by City Council in 1968 includes Michigan St to be extended through the Park. Dallas Road to be widened from park territory. Douglas Street to be widened from park territory. Heywood Street to be widened from park territory.”
The Association flyer stated, “People need GREENSPACE for mental and physical health.” (Files of the BHP Association, now in Friends of Beacon Hill Park files)

Columnist Arthur Mayse received the handout and agreed, “No further nibblings should take place...” once parkland is gone “it cannot be replaced.” (Times, Feb. 20, 1971) The Victorian headline read “Beacon Hill Park Association is fight off City Hall.” The story explained the Association wants to “encourage love of the park, work toward increasing all parkland in the area,” and against commercial development. (Victorian, Feb. 25, 1971, p.1)

This proposal was an issue in the City Council election. In 1973, newly elected Ald. Malcolm Anderson said he would vote against any attempt to push Michigan Street through Beacon Hill Park. (Colonist, April 3, 1973)

The cartoon below didn't exaggerate the City plan by much. John Bryant drew Los Angeles-style overpasses crossing Beacon Hill Park with the Stone Bridge visible below and the totem pole sticking up between two freeways.(Included with permission of John Bryant. First published in The Victorian, June 21, 1974.)

Beacon Hill Park Michigan Street Extension 1967, Freeway drawing by John Bryant

Multi-use Recreational Facility 1969

The Colonist, on May 30, 1969, reported “A one million dollar multi-use sports and recreational pavilion could be built in Beacon Hill Park” if property owners approve the city’s new plan on June 28. The pavilion would “replace the old bowling club hut erected in 1907.” It would include lounges, change rooms, showers “for cricketers, bowlers, grass hockey and tennis” players.

Anscomb Fountain 1972

A great deal of correspondence in park files in 1972-1973 concerned a bequest to the City to construct the Anscomb Memorial Fountain. The will stipulated the location of the fountain should be Mile Zero, but Park Staff thought that location was not only too expensive because no water was available but also that it was a cold, congested and inappropriate spot.

Firehall 1973

Alderman Tom Christie proposed relocating the Superior Street Firehall in the southeast corner of Beacon Hill Park. Fire Chief Eric Simmons said the Park would be an ideal location. The Firehall would serve both James Bay and Fairfield and he wanted to locate it between the two. “It’s quite possible to build a firehall that blends in with the parks surroundings,” Simmons said. The City Finance Committee had authorized spending $50,000 for an appropriate site. “I’m giving you a simple solution to save $50,000," Christie said. Cliff Bate, Parks Director, objected that Parks aren’t for firehalls. He also doubted that purpose was permissible under the Trust. Christie said that southeast corner “is no park to me...It’s a mugging area, a junkyard.” Bate said no, it was a part of the park left in its natural state. “I say it’s junk and not Park,” Christie retorted. Mayor Peter Pollen said too many attempts were being made to erode the park. The fire chief was asked to prepare a report on alternatives. (Colonist, March 2, 1973, p. 17)

Pioneer Village 1974

The Beacon Hill Park Association opposed building a “small pioneer village next to the animal pens.” (Times, Oct. 30, 1974) The City rejected the proposal, which included a log cabin, blacksmith shop and artifacts to be built next to the farmyard. Residents were reminded to visit and support the excellent pioneer village at the Saanich Artifacts Society instead.

Hoo Hoo Shelter 1976

The International Order of Hoo-Hoo proposed building a large picnic shelter for fifty people in the Park, to be called “Hoo-Hoo Shelter”. Beacon Hill Park Association opposed this construction and City Council did not approve it.

The Hoo-Hoo is an organization for men in the lumber industry. Their website explains that the “International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo” is one of the largest and oldest fraternal organizations in U.S. history. It was established in 1892 to unify all aspects of the lumber industry under one lumber fraternity. The Hoo-Hoo can be considered the "Public Relations Department of the Lumber Industry."

Convention Centre 1982

A future convention center built in Beacon Hill Park was proposed in a letter to the Times Colonist on August 12, 1982 by Clare Brynjolfson. David R. Williams responded with a letter printed August 20, 1982, citing Judge Begbie’s ruling of 1884, which limited use of the park to recreational and stated that the city had no right to transfer “one inch” of the property. Williams said Begbie would condemn the convention center proposal. “Sadly, there is no plaque or monument in Beacon Hill Park to mark Begbie’s role in preserving it,” Williams concluded, “Begbie was its savior.” Luckily, it was built at the Empress Hotel site in 1989.

Allotment Gardens 1994-1997

A Fairfield group petitioned to put allotment gardens in Beacon Hill Park. The Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society opposed this on two grounds: “1. The Park is not a local community park - it was given to the City of Victoria by the Provincial Government in 1882 under terms of a special trust. 2. Parts of the Park keep being apportioned out to special interest groups, making the area for the general public to ‘get away from it all’ smaller and smaller.” ("Friends of BHP Newsletter," October 1995, p. 3-4) By 1997, the Fairfield group, after an exchange of letters and discussions with the Friends, agreed to drop plans for allotment gardens. ("Friends of BHP Newsletter," Spring 1997)

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