James Bay

James Bay is the oldest residential neighborhood in Victoria. And Heather Street is one of the oldest streets in James Bay. Some of these houses were built before indoor plumbing or electricity had arrived.

Sir James Douglas and the Raccoons
You may have heard about Sir James Douglas, the founder of of Victoria (1843) and later governor of British Columbia. Some time back in the mid-1800's Parliament passed a special law granting Sir James Douglas and all his descendants a "right of way" along a corridor leading from the Douglas property up to parliament. It so happens this corridor cuts directly through our back yard. We have on occasion seen a family of raccoons wander through, but nary a Douglas.

The Twins
Across Heather street from us you will see a pair of old twins. These two houses were built around the 1880's, before the days of indoor plumbing. On the south wall of the left-most twin are the drain pipes from when plumbing was added. Our plumber noticed these pipes one day and commented that they are located on the south wall for a reason. "The sun helps keep the pipes from freezing in winter." The right-hand twin also has an interesting story. It was in the same family between 1882 - 2007.

The "Oldest" Home in James Bay
Two doors down from the twins is 438 Heather. Technically this is the "oldest" home in James Bay. You don't have to look too close to see it's a new home. In 2006-07 it was completely renovated. It was originally a pioneer home from when this part of the city was Hudson's Bay farmland, circa 1850. During the renovation an archivist was allowed in to recover some of the wall paper. It was later reported they collected 22 layers. I can hardly imagine it.

A Narrow Street
Heather street started life in the days of the horse and carriage. In the late 1800's wooden sidewalks were installed. By the 1950's the arrival of the automobile could not longer be ignored. The sidewalks were removed to make room for cars. Or more precisely, a car. The road is only wide enough for one car. Horse traffic is still a common sight today. Indeed, our street was recently the site of a traffic jam. It all began when three horse carriages arrived at once. The horse carriages are wonderful. They help impress a slower pace of life on the street.

Who was Heather?
Our little street has been named five times. It was first called Beckley Farm Road, when it was part of the Hudson'a Bay Company farmland in 1855. The population of Victoria at that time was 262 people. Later in the late 1800's it was named Prince's street. Still later, due to the common practice of mis-spelling it was renamed Princess Street. Then in 1907, for reasons more political than practical, it was renamed Helmcken Street, after Sir James Douglas's son-in-law.
The Helmcken family didn't actually live here, they lived a couple of blocked over on Elliot Street. So in 1939 Helmcken Street was renamed to Heather Street. Heather? No one knows why. Heather is a nice name, but not ideal for a street. It seems that every time "Heather" gets a new boy friend, our street sign goes missing. Usually two or three times a year. But no one is complaining to City Hall. Mum's the word.

Our Address
Tele: (250)-294-9985
Victoria Harborwalk
427 Heather Street
Victoria, B.C., Canada
V8V 2K1 directions
A 100% smoke-free environment
Not suitable for children under 12
Nearby Attractions:
Beacon Hill Park for Nature
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