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Take a tour through historic Burnside Gorge

February 2013

There are more than 120 houses in Burnside Gorge that are at least a century old. Last year, using information from old census records and city directories, a team of volunteers researched the history of the people who lived in these houses 100 years ago. On September 8, 2012, we celebrated with a heritage day bbq and guided walking tours.

Now you can take a self-guided tour through the history of our neighbourhood. Pick up a walking tour map or take a virtual tour online and discover the 100+ year old homes in our neighbourhood and the stories of the people who lived in them. Walking tour maps for the Washington/Balfour area are available at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre at 471 Cecelia Road. Click here to visit the online map.

Looking back…

Wesley Mitchell and his brother William Mitchell built at least a half a dozen large houses on Washington Ave during the Edwardian real estate boom. In 1910 they were advertising “choice lots on Washington Avenue, close to the Gorge Road,” for $700. Half  acre lots on Washington, all cleared and fenced, sold for $1,500.

Today, at least four homes build by the Mitchell brothers still stand on Washington Ave. As you stroll down the street, you will see homes once occupied by motorneers (street car drivers), policemen, the Burnside School janitor, realtors, a tinsmith and store managers.

Washington Avenue was a convenient place for motorneers to live, as the corner of Burnside and Carroll was the turnaround for the No. 10 Burnside streetcar which ran until 1946. Motorneers were well-paid and were considered labour aristocracy. That’s why many of them could afford such nice homes, as evidenced by the homes still standing on Washington today.

As you tour other streets in the area, you will see the homes of jewellers, teachers, musicians, grocers, Victoria’s deputy chief of police, and many others who make up the history of our unique neighbourhood.

This project was made possible by a team of awesome volunteers and funding from the City of Victoria’s 150 People and Places grant program. Special thanks to project volunteers Patrick Dunae, Kathy Kirk, Sharon Relkey, Vickie Jackson, Shona Boisvert and Emmalee Brunt!