Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Ontario, but she lived in both North and West Vancouver, and wrote three of her most important books while living on Rockland Avenue in Victoria. She and Jim founded Munro’s Books in 1963. The following is an excerpt from Sensational Victoria.
In honour of International Women’s Day on Friday March 8, it seems fitting to feature Victoria print maker Pat Martin Bates. An excerpt from Sensational Victoria:
At 85, Pat Martin Bates is still strikingly beautiful. The day I visit her she has a scarf wrapped around her dark hair and she’s wearing a jacket full of blues, reds, and purples with chunky silver jewelry.
Some of my favourite pictures in Sensational Victoria are the then and now ones in James Bay. There’s a fabulous archival shot of Carr House on Government Street taken in 1869 and a current photo that doesn’t look all that much different—143 years later. Another find is of the Queen Anne house on South Turner Street built in 1889.
Ever stood in front of an old house and wondered what went on inside those walls? Who lived there, how they lived their lives and what events happened behind the front door? I admit it’s a weird kind of voyeurism, but I’ve spent a lot of the last decade skulking around in people’s hedgerows asking those questions.
This photograph of the three little boys in their cowboy suits that appears on the cover of Sensational Victoria is one of my favourite pictures in the book.
It’s not just because the little boy in the middle grew up to be David Foster, record producer, composer, songwriter and arranger—but because it’s such a great story of his childhood home on the outskirts of Victoria.
As a journalist it always fascinates me where my colleagues find their passions. For me it’s how people connect with their houses, for Tom Hawthorn it’s their deaths. And, while some of the people featured in Deadlines: obits of memorable British Columbians are well known, most often it’s the ordinary life that’s the quirkiest and most colourful.
On October 23, 1918– six years after the sinking of the Titanic—the SS Princess Sophia sailed out of Skagway, Alaska. Four hours later the ship slammed into a coastal reef killing all aboard. These men and women formed the backbone of the North and it was a devastating tragedy for the Pacific Northwest. More than 60 people are buried at Mountain View Cemetery.