234 Menzies St


About VHS Presentations

Presentations will take place on the fourth Thursday of each month (September – May). Entry is free for VHS members and $5 for non-members. Membership forms will be available for those that wish to join the Victoria Historical Society. 

January 25, 2024

The Heritage Detective: The hidden stories of ordinary Victorians who did extraordinary things

Helen Edwards
Location: James Bay New Horizons Centre, 7:30pm

The Heritage Detective, Volumes One and Two are based on articles Helen Edwards wrote on heritage buildings and the people who lived and worked in them.  Because, of course, it wasn’t just the mansions that had exciting histories. Learn about the electrocution on Fort Street, a pioneer who owned Wallace Island and the story of his nephew who lived in James Bay, the survival of tiny houses from around the turn of the twentieth century on upper Fort Street, early real estate speculation in Fairfield, and houses moved from their original location to new sites.

Helen Edwards was born in Victoria and has lived her entire life here. Active in heritage preservation for 47 years, she has used her experience to write articles about ordinary people and fascinating stories behind their buildings.

February 22, 2024

The Queen Alexandra Solarium for Crippled Children and its legacy

Norgrove Penny
Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

The Queen Alexandra Solarium for Crippled Children was Vancouver Island’s first children’s hospital treating its first patient in 1927. It then became the Queen Alexandra Hospital for Children and the G.R.Pearkes Center which continue to occupy the property on Arbutus Road and serve children with special needs.

Dr. Norgrove Penny is an orthopaedic surgeon who has practiced orthopaedic surgery in Victoria since 1978 apart from a six-year sojourn in midcareer in Africa. He has always been passionate about serving children with orthopaedic physical impairments and was Vancouver Island’s first subspecialist paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. He served as medical advisor to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in the 1980s, and currently is on the board of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, the organization who continues to own the property. 

March 28, 2024

Restoring Chinatown

Robert Fung
Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

Victoria Chinatown Museum Board Member and President or Real Estate Development Company, Salient Group, Robert Fung known for his award-winning heritage work in Vancouver and Victoria, will speak on his life and his career as a developer who rehabilitates historic buildings, including his recent heritage work in Victoria’s Chinatown. Come and learn about the careful conservation and thoughtful rehabilitation of the “Lee Mong Kow” building (ca. 1901-1902) on Fisgard Street as well as other heritage projects he has preserved and rehabilitated.

April 25, 2024

Cordova Bay Archeology

Brian Thom
Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

In early February of 1852, Governor Douglas arranged the South Saanich treaty covering an area of the Saanich peninsula between PKOLS (Mt Douglas) and Cowichan Head – essentially the treaty of Cordova Bay.  This treaty, made with W̱EȾÁM¸ELTW̱ (Whutsaymullet as it was written then) and numerous other families who attended, was nearly identical to the other Vancouver Island treaties, promising to set aside the village sites and enclosed fields as well guarantees around hunting and fishing rights.  While families were living in at least two longhouses in the village known as ȾEL¸IȽĆE (as it is written in SENĆOŦEN) / c̓əl̓íɫč (as it is written in lək̓ʷəŋən) in Cordova Bay in the 1850s, the lands that housed and sustained the community were never reserved, and indeed came to be privately owned in the decades that followed.  Today, the archaeological footprints of the original people of ȾEL ̧IȽĆE / c̓əl̓íɫč are found throughout Cordova Bay, but very few have been well documented.  In the summer of 2023, the University of Victoria’s Anthropology Department partnered with Tsawout First Nation to undertake archaeological mapping and excavations on all the Cordova Bay waterfront properties held by the District of Saanich, and in intertidal area.  This talk will share something what this archaeological work revealed, alongside oral histories and other records of the Cordova Bay area.

Brian Thom is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria.  He was named UVic’s Provost’s Engaged Scholar in 2021, received the Extending Reconciliation award from Leadership Victoria in 2022, and a Google Impact Award in 2023. He has worked with Coast Salish communities in Canada for over 30 years on projects related to Indigenous rights, title, and governance (https://www.brianthom.ca/indigenous-rights).  In 2010 he founded UVic’s Ethnographic Mapping Lab (http://ethnographicmapping.uvic.ca) to support Indigenous communities work on mapping their territories. He trained as an archaeologist at UBC in the 1990s and dusted off those skills to lead the 2023 field school excavations in Cordova Bay.

May 23, 2024

Canadian Folk Fiddle Traditions

Daniel Lapp
Location: James Bay New Horizons, 7:30pm

For over 150 years fiddlers have been playing dances and community events across British Columbia. In 1969 the most important event to date occurred in Prince George, BC when a handful of, mostly prairie born fiddlers, formed the BC Old-Time Fiddlers Association. The mandate was to ‘preserve the art of old-time Canadian fiddling’ with a commitment of a weekly jam, a monthly dance and an annual fiddle contest. Soon there were 14 branches of the society across BC and this has lead to a 50 year renaissance of western Canadian fiddling that has not only inspired generations to pick up the fiddle but also an outpouring of creativity in the form of original compositions. These tunes represent a unique fiddling style that could be called the newest fiddle tradition in the world.

Daniel Lapp grew up in the Cariboo, in Prince George, BC. Grandpa Dan taught Daniel his first tune at age 9 and 5 uncles taught him the fiddle music of the prairies.  In 2012 Daniel received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee ‘Service’ Award for his legendary work as a music teacher. Then in 2013, was the recipient of the Canadian Folk Music Association ‘Innovator’ Award and in 2019 received a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Association’ for his contribution to Canada’s fiddle culture. In 2014, Daniel was hired as the founding Artistic Director of the School of Contemporary Music at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. He continues to compose, teach, perform and tour internationally.