13 July 2011

historical ramblings

We attended our neighborhood's semi-annual block party a few weeks back, which is always entertaining.  I feel so lucky to have great neighbors who we can get together with and party with like old friends!  Often, some of the previous homeowners are also invited to share in the festivities.  This year we met a lovely couple that used to live in our home about 10 years ago.  When we first heard that they were invited, we weren't really sure what to expect.  But they ended up being absolutely great people and they shared many stories with us about the fantastic times they had when living there.

Now, we have heard many rumors about the previous owners of our house at these block parties for the past 3 years; some of which appear below.

  • Our house was the first one built in the area, in the late 1920's
  • It was originally a farmhouse for a large berry farm
  • The original part of the house was built by a young guy (we've also heard "kid") using collected materials
  • It did not have a foundation until an owner in the 1980's had the house lifted and renovated
  • None of the owners paid for garbage disposal until the 1960's; all the waste was thrown over the cliff into the creek or buried underground in the back yard.
  • When the original owner/builder was living at a retirement home in the 1980's, he once escaped with his motorized scooter and drove 15km down the highway and showed up at "his house" (which was then occupied by new owners)
  • Our backyard used to stick out an additional 20 feet over the ravine.  About 20 years ago there was a heavy rainfall and a mudslide which reduced the size of of the useable yard space.
  • There has been approximately 4 different additions and renovations
  • The original house was only comprised of what is now the master bedroom, spare bedroom, and office; and the front entrance was where the spare bedroom closet is now. 

A lot of this information is probably viable because the majority of our neighbors have lived in their homes for more than 30 years and have known the previous owners.  We know that the house was built in the 20's because we have seen documents from the Municipality and we have found newspapers from the 30's used as insulation when we did the basement renovation. 

This particular one was from 1932, and one of the most interesting sections I thought was the "Society" article.  I think the editing itself gives such a great view as to how different it was for people living in the early 1900s...

  • "Dr. and Mrs. D. Donald, who have been spending a few days at the Forest Inn, Shawnigan Lake, have returned to Victoria."
  • "Miss Marie Danes left yesterday for Vancouver, where she will spend a week or so as the guest of her cousin, Mr. John Langlois."
  • "Katherine Roberts was hostess yesterday of an evening bridge party at their home on Young Street".

Hilarious!  Makes me wonder if our grandchildren will be looking at the Globe and Mail from the early 2000's and having a good laugh at our headlines.  

I framed this newspaper and it's now hanging in our kitchen:

Anyhow, what got me real excited at this particular block party was when these previous owners mentioned they had a file of all the original house documents, including plans, photos of the original house, and photos of the lot.  I almost couldn't sleep that night I was so excited to get my hands on them!

Long story short, they ended up contacting us a few days later and telling us that they had actually given the file to the people that moved in after them.  So sad!  But, my researching gene kicked in and I was busy online for the next week searching for any information I could find.

I haven't been able to locate any historical information about our house specifically yet, but I did find some pretty neat photos of the area in the early 1900's...

Island View Beach - 1946
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1989-002-002

Butler's Store at Keating Railroad Station - 191-?
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1985-006-051

McTavish Road - 1904
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1981-019-087

West Saanich Road mink ranch - 196-?
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1981-013-025

Stelly's Cross Road strawberry field - 1921
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1980-016-003

The Prairie Inn - 1893
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1985-006-023

West Saanich Road at Patricia Bay - 1904
Photo: Saanich Archives - No. 1981-019-097

I wish I could post current photos of the same locations but I am too lazy to drive around town like a crazy person taking photos of streets (but you know that's something I would do!).  Anyhow, most of us that live in the area know quite well what these locations look like now.  It is so cool to live in a place with so much history!

And, a mink farm?  Who knew?  I suppose those are ancestors of feral minks that are at the beach getting into weekly scraps with my parent's dog.

Oh and this is a random shovel that we found about 5 feet under our foundation when we were digging for the sump pump install.

Kinda creepy, right?

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