The short and eventful life of the first Royal Bust
The bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth II shown here was the second bust erected in Beacon Hill Park. It has been admired at the southeast corner of Queen’s Lake on Circle Drive since 1962. The first bust of the Queen, however, lasted less than a year. Its drama-filled short life included controversy, humour, kidnapping, and finally, decapitation.
Victoria sculptor Peggy Walton Packard was commissioned by the Greater Victoria Royal Visit Committee to create a bust of the Queen to commemorate her visit to Victoria in July, 1959.
Greater Victoria municipalities agreed to share all costs of the Royal Visit according to population. However, several factors discouraged Esquimalt and Oak Bay from paying their share of the statue. It was not completed for the “civic reception ceremonies” held on Dallas Road below Beacon Hill on July 17, the cost escalated from $350 to $1,000, including landscaping, and no agreement could be reach on a site. Some predicted the concrete statue would be easily damaged by vandals. Not everyone liked the way it looked; the 750 pound concrete statue was described as “a concrete head mounted on a seven-foot pedestal.”
When the statue was completed in January, 1960, the estimated cost of the statue was $1000, including “a $350 commission to Packard and landscaping an appropriate setting for the concrete bust.” (Times, January 18, 1960, p. 13) Packard informed the City the bust was ready “for removal to a permanent position” and sent an interim bill for $200. (Colonist, January 19, 1960, p. 13) A few days later, Ald. Austin Curtin, Chairman of the Greater Victoria Royal Visit Committee, recommended the bust be placed in Beacon Hill Park, despite lack of agreement with other municipalities on payment. Some Victoria City Council members, worried about possible vandalism of the statue in the Park, wanted the bust displayed in the Art Gallery or left at City Hall. No agreement was reached.
Victoria took delivery of the statue but did not pay Packard. Sam Lane, owner of the Olde England Inn, offered to buy the bust and place it at the entrance of the Anne Hathaway Cottage. Packard said she thought that “might be very suitable for it, but its ownership at the moment is a bit obscure.”
The City had possession of the statue, but it was not available for public viewing. The Colonist wrote: “Since the City received the bust...it has been stored ignominiously at the Garbally public works yard.” (Colonist, January 31, 1960, p. 19) Under pressure, City officials moved the statue from the “ignominious” maintenance yard to a temporary place of honour in the lobby of City Hall.
Packard, Warren and city architect Rod Clack examined possible statue locations in Beacon Hill Park and chose a site on the south side of Circle Drive opposite the Burns Memorial. The Times said the site “was in an area on which attractive beds could be laid out, with a pleasant, sloping background of natural pines.” Unmentioned was the fact the statue would be located in the Park’s main parking lot. (Times, February 16, 1960, p. 1) Worried about vandalism, some Council members wanted the bust in the Art Gallery or left at City Hall.
The Times launched a tongue-in-cheek “Pennies for Peggy” campaign to force the City to pay the sculptor. Headlined “If the City won’t pay her, let us do it” and “Make the Pennies Pour for Peggy,” the article stated:
While the Council bumbles and frets about a location for the bust (now in temporary headquarters at City Hall); about landscaping at Beacon Hill Park; about potential vandalism--Peggy’s modest bill goes ignored. The Times feels this nonsense has gone far enough. Accordingly, we are launching a campaign today: “Pennies for Peggy Packard.” (Times, February 16, 1960, p. 1)
The front page story included a photo of the wheelbarrow to be filled with pennies and pushed to City Hall “so that Peggy may be paid.” (Times, February 16, 1960, p. 1) Readers began sending in pennies, the sculptor was amused, City officials displeased.
Acting Mayor Mooney quickly announced he was handing Packard a cheque for $300 on Friday, February 19, in his office. The Times asked readers to continue sending pennies, however, to be used for landscaping the site. The headline was: “Peggy Bank Goes For Landscaping.” (Times, February 18, 1960, p. 1)
That night--about 8:40 p.m. Thursday, February 18--the 750 pound concrete sculpture was stolen from City Hall. In its place were nine pennies. The kidnapping was apparently a prank by University of Victoria students, who carried the one-piece bust and seven foot pedestal from the front hall, along the south corridor and out the unlocked Pandora Avenue door.
Friday morning, Acting Mayor Mooney told the press the statue would be erected in the Park as soon as it was recovered. Mooney blamed the Times: “This is the result of the continuous sniping by the Times...It is untrue that delay in putting up the statue was city council’s fault. It is untrue that we held up payment of the bill. It is untrue that we have been bickering.” (Times, February 19, 1960, p. 1,17)
Sculptor Packard and two friends visited City Hall to see for themselves the statue was missing. “This is the crowning touch,” Packard said, wiping tears of laughter from her face. “Now we’ll get the landscaping and no queen. I think it’s very funny.” (Times, February 19, 1960, p. 17)
The statue was found outside Anne Hathaway’s cottage on Sunday morning, February 21, uninjured except for a “shallow groove chipped out of one shoulder.” (Times, February 22, 1960, p. 1)
City officials, worried the statue’s high profile focus might encouraged future pranks and vandalism, tried to reduce publicity. Minutes after the bust was returned to the City Hall entrance area, Parks Chairman M. H. Mooney ordered the statue moved into “the closed private office of city clerk Frank Hunter.” He directed City Hall staff not to speak to reporters or allow photos of the statue. The Times wrote: “Special measures were taken...to prevent a second disappearance and further publicity by ringing down a curtain of silence around the bust.” (Times, February 22, 1960, p. 1) The Colonist reported:
The bust of Queen Elizabeth was under lock and key...surrounded by a cloak of security that would do credit to the wildest of TV spy thrillers...City hall staff members and police received orders not to talk to anyone about the bust--especially not to reporters. (Colonist, February 23, 1960, p. 1)
Acting Mayor Dowell said, “The less said about it the better.” The Colonist thought Mr. Dowell and Mr. Mooney were “blaming the press for the publicity” instead of “blaming the pranksters.” Keeping the story under wraps was impossible, the newspaper noted, since “the matter became of nation-wide interest when the bust was stolen.” (Colonist, February 23, 1960, p. 1)
City Council quickly provided funds for landscaping the Beacon Hill Park site and work began immediately. The Colonist reported: “Final work was done yesterday [March 17] on the masonry on the south side of the parking lot near the Burns Monument to commemorate last year’s royal visit.” (Colonist, March 18, 1960, p. 17) The foundation for the statue included a twenty-five foot low wall with stone facing, shaped in an arc. The photo on the left shows workmen installing the statue “quietly and without ceremony” on Monday, March 21. (Times, March 21, 1960, p. 1) The Queen and Robbie Burns faced each other across Circle Drive and the parking lot. The photo on the right (taken in June 2004) shows the white Burns Memorial pedestal in the distance.
In less than a month, a piece of the Queen’s nose was gone. “A piece of concrete about two inches long, one and a half inches wide was chipped out of the right nostril,” the Times reported. Sculptor Packard said it could be repaired, “but it would be quite a job.” Worried that pranks and vandalism would continue, Chief of Police Blackstock repeated the Mayor’s words: “The less said about it the better.” (Times, April 16, 1960, p. 1)
The tale of the concrete statue ended in December, when it was decapitated. The Colonist wrote: “The stormy life of the royal bust of Queen Elizabeth II may have ended last night with a final act of vandalism... Plagued by incidents, it was stolen once and chipped by vandals twice.” (Colonist, December 7, 1960, p. 1) The head was later recovered from the Inner Harbour and the statue removed from the Park.
Warren’s 1960 Annual Report stated: “In June [sic], an imitation stone bust of the Queen was erected to commemorate her visit the previous summer. It was injured by vandals twice during the summer and in December it was totally destroyed. It is hoped it may be replaced in bronze.”
A sturdier bust was erected on August 5, 1962 at a different location. No longer made of concrete and minus the seven foot pedestal, the vandal-resistant bronze bust was well anchored at the southeast corner of Queen’s Lake on Circle Drive. (See 1962 for details.)
In 2004, the foundation constructed for the statue remains. As shown in the photo on the left, it is now a neglected planter with sad looking vegetation; a large garbage container is often parked in front of it. Mounted on the front of the planter is an incongruously beautiful polished black stone plaque. The inscription reads: “Queen Elizabeth II. To Commemorate Royal Visit, July 17, 1959." There is no clue the plaque originally identified a bust of the Queen.
The wing of the demoiselle crane, Abdul, resident of the Park since 1934, was broken during a night attack by unknown persons. It appeared Abdul’s wing had been slashed with a heavy club. Abdul was probably 33 years old. A peacock was killed in the same attack, its head battered. (Colonist, January 27, 1960, p. 1) See more about Abdul in 1934.
The caption for a February photo in the Times stated:
"Partial drainage of Beacon Hill Park’s Goodacre Lake...is limiting cruising range of waterfowl. Water was released to expose rock and mortar shoring for a $800 repair job. The result is a rocky ‘beach’ on the north side of the lake and mud flats on the south...Water is drained from the lake by a gate valve." (Times, February 16, 1960, p. 13)
Down to one swan
The lone swan in Beacon Hill Park will be without a mate again in 1960, Warren told the Colonist. The swan’s mate was killed and carried away by someone in November, 1959. Only a few white feathers were left. W. H. Warren said he intended to catch another pinioned swan [at Elk Lake] during the winter but the weather was not cold enough. “They have to be almost starving before we have any hope of catching one,” he said. (Colonist, March 1, 1960, p. 13)
Easter Sunday Egg Hunt fiasco
In April, the Junior Chamber of Commerce sponsored an Easter Egg Hunt which attracted 12,000 to 15,000 people to Beacon Hill. Once begun, a flower picking spree became a frenzy. The Times reported “an estimated 4,000 daffodils were picked off the north and south slopes of Beacon Hill between the animal pens and the World’s Tallest Totem.” The newspaper described swarms of people trampling and picking flowers as well as egg fights and gulls scrambling for broken eggs. The Park was strewn with paper and bags afterward and “only half a dozen bedraggled daffodils were left in the hunt area.” Children looted a nest of five duck eggs. (Times, April 18, 1960, p. 1, 20)
Parks Administrator W. H. Warren said, “It was a disgusting display of bad taste.” Parks Committee Chairman Mooney said: “The parents acted disgracefully, the way they destroyed the flowers and let their children do it too.”
Jaycee President Peter Forward and Egg Hunt Chairman Pat Blewett claimed most of the damage happened after the hunt was over and thirty-five Jaycee supervisors left the scene. They declared the hunt a success, but indicated they would restrict any future Egg Hunt to six year-olds and under and admitted they had expected about 6,000 people and were swamped by 15,000.
The Times explained: “Officers at the scene took down names and confiscated armloads of picked daffodils. The blooms later were distributed among hospital wards by police.” Police Chief John Blackstock said he might summons a dozen people.
Mayor Scurrah said “There is no excuse for the parents who picked daffodils.” Warren said,“They just ran wild” and that not only daffodils were damaged. Thousands of wild bluebells were trampled as well. (Colonist, April 19, 1960, p. 13)
In May, two men and two women pled guilty to “cutting or breaking” flowers in Beacon Hill Park on Easter Sunday. Their names and addresses were printed in the newspaper and each was fined $15. When asked why he took a dozen daffodils, Michael Danchuk told the Court he had seen others doing it. (Times, May 10, 1960, p. 1)
Warren castigates professional and amateur “tree butchers”
An article by John Mika with a double headline--“Severe Pruning Snuffs Out Blooms” and “Parks Chief Barks at ‘Tree Butchery’”-- provided a forum for W. H. Warren to blast professional and amateur tree pruning in Victoria. Mika wrote:
Mr. Warren, a stalwart defender of the theory that trees should be allowed to grow into their natural shapes and sizes, blasted severe pruning as wasteful and unnecessary. “Butchery is a harsh word but its accurate,” he said angrily. “And there is a great deal of it here, both on public and private property. [The Hawthornes mangled at the Parliament Buildings, Government House and elsewhere] look ugly and they have practically no blooms right now during the trees’ flowering season...A tree that cannot be allowed to grow naturally should be replaced by a more suitable specimen...In almost all cases, butchery by amateurs can be traced to one of two reasons--planting too large a tree in a small area or a preconceived notion...that they know better than the tree itself how the tree should look... (Times, May 18, 1960, p. 19)
City Council established a Sunday afternoon Hyde Park-style Speakers Corner in Beacon Hill Park in 1960, despite opposition from the Police Department, the Parks Department and two Aldermen. Speakers Corner was located in the deer pen section of the Park, south of Circle Drive (east of the present Children’s Petting Farm).
Alderman Edgelow was in favor of the public speaking area. He thought it could be a tourist attraction and provide entertainment for older people: “They can listen to funny speeches,” he said. Ald. McEwen said people would feel free to leave an open-air meeting, whereas they feel more obligated to stay seated in a hall. (Times, October 16, 1960)
The Socialist Party of Canada members, strong advocates for a public speaking area in the Park, were pleased. C.M. Luff, 77 year-old Secretary-Treasurer of the Socialist Party, said the Beacon Hill Park Speakers Corner was the first designated public speaking area in a Canadian park, though “In England nearly all parks and commons have a speaker’s corner--not only Hyde Park as some people seem to think. We certainly won’t cause trouble. We are a law abiding organization.” In fact, Luff wanted to establish rules and regulations for the Corner. (Times, October 16, 1960)
Though no permission was needed to speak, City Hall received two requests to be the first speaker on opening day, October 23. One was from the Socialist Party, which had lobbied for the Corner. The second was from Bill Scott, identified by the Times as a “second-hand store operator and self-appointed champion of crack-pots.” The Socialists were displeased Scott wanted to be first. Mr. Luff declared: “What right has he to ask the city that he be the first speaker. We fought for it? He did not do a thing to establish Speakers Corner.” Park Administrator Warren’s answer was: “There’s plenty of room for all. The Speakers Corner area covers five acres.” (Times, October 18, 1960.)
Seven orators went into action on October 23 in front of 300 spectators, despite very heavy rain. Don Pourier spoke first from a special podium constructed by the Socialist Party.
Waiting his turn fifty yards away was Bill Scott, under a sign mounted on a tall post, saying “Dangerous Thoughts from a Lighthouse Philosopher.” The Times described him “pacing Napoleonically up and down, hands behind back, head bowed, waiting until the Socialist speakers had been heard.” Scott explained why he decided to allow a Socialist to speak first: “They worked to establish this corner so that democratic free speech could be heard...So I’m giving them first speak.” As soon as the first speaker finished, however, Scott rang a handbell and climbed on a stool. Half the crowd deserted the next Socialist speaker and moved close to Scott.
Both Scott and the Socialists were interrupted frequently by people in the crowd; there were loud arguments and people talking at the same time. Two men dressed in old-time cycling outfits smoked pipes and held signs saying “Keep B. C. White, Support Seagulls.” Nevertheless, the Times concluded the event was “too orderly by comparison with the Hyde Park classic” where listeners could choose between 30 or 35 speakers. (Times, October 24, 1960)
Warren commented in the Annual Report the Speakers Corner “received good support until the weather turned unfavorable in November.”
The following year, because of complaints that daffodils were being trampled by large crowds, City Council moved Speakers Corner closer to Dallas Road, near the totem pole. Larry Tickner and Christopher Luff protested the Dallas Road site was too cold and windy. Tickner said if the move was to protect daffodils, why not set aside one of the ten acres near the animal pen for orators and audience and the other nine for daffodils. (Times, March 10, 1961, p. 13) In June, after only three months in the Dallas Road location, Speakers Corner was moved back near the animal pen.
Speeches were given at that location through the 1960's, but use declined in the 1970's. Speakers Corner was revived in 1986, when a sign was erected at the site. That sign remains standing in the grass in 2004. It says: “Speaker's Corner (1960) Bring your own soapbox.” (See Chapter 16, 1986, for more.)
Wigeons perform a service
Warren issued a Press Release on December 5, 1960 in praise of wigeons. The Times version of the story appeared under a photo of wigeons and gulls on a Park lawn: “The wigeons spend the winter in the park in large numbers and are prized by the parks crew because they clip and fertilize the grass while feeding in their customary ‘V’ or straight line.” (Times, December 7, 1960) [Warren’s opinion of wigeons had changed. Nineteen years before, in the 1941 Annual Report, Warren blamed large numbers of wigeons wintering in the park for “destroying lawns in lower areas.”]
Warren was oddly precise about when the wigeons appeared every year. He said they “come every fall starting on September 9 and stay until mid May.” [Wigeons in 2004 do not keep such a strict schedule.]
Numbers and varieties of daffodils
Answering a written inquiry about daffodils in the Park, Warren wrote this response on December 12, 1960:
We have no record of the varieties of daffodils naturalized in Beacon Hill Park. They came from many sources...Most are King Alfred...We plant several thousand crocus each fall and the same applies to daffodils. Total daffodils is probably 150,000. Naturalizing started twenty five years ago but has been most effective during the past five years. (Park Files, Cook Street attic)
1960 Annual Report
Warren warned that “constant and intensive use” of Beacon Hill Park would “shrink” park values. He made an eloquent appeal to avoid excessive use and to preserve the Park’s more natural areas:
To safeguard against further loss in values, a policy should be adopted now to prevent any encroachment which would increase excessively the wear and tear in the park and the necessity for withdrawing additional land particularly for parking purposes.
I am strongly of the opinion that the park should be now kept essentially as it now stands with no additions in the form of swimming pools, restaurant, or any other such structure.
The open areas which are wild, or seemingly wild, for they actually take far more care to keep that way than meets the eye, should be preserved in their present condition. To some, such areas appear as useless wastes, crying for so called development; but to those with a discerning eye, they give Beacon Hill the charm which characterizes this lovely park. We owe a debt to those in the past who fought for the preservation of the park in its natural state and who stood up against encroachment.
[The Times quoted that portion of the Annual Report at length in April and followed with an editorial the next day supporting Warren’s concerns about over-development. (Times, April 11, 1961, p. 7; April 12, 1961, p. 4)]
In the next section of the Report, Warren itemized all available parking spaces in the Park. The main parking lot had been expanded to maximum size, with curbs along the south side incorporating the monument to the Queen. Parking bays were constructed beside the deer pen and on the park side of Douglas Street north of Simcoe. Additional parking was to be provided at the Comfort Station, Totem Pole and at Heywood Avenue.
There were: 159 car parking spaces available in the main lot, 19 at the deer pen, 54 at the playground, 27 at Douglas St. at Simcoe, and 6 at Douglas Street and Avalon, for a “total 265 in and around the park centre,” not including curb or roadside parking in the Park. On Dallas Road were another 138 parking spaces. Warren hoped to “hold the line against any further encroachment in the Park” at that amount [403 total parking spaces].
“A major repair job was conducted on Goodacre Lake Bridge, which was erected seventy years ago, and portions of the lake margin.” [Warren’s monthly Report for October, 1960, was more specific: “a major repair job was completed pointing the stonework in the bridge over Goodacre Lake.” (Park Department files, 100 Cook Street)] Curbs were completed along Douglas Street and the area was regraded and landscaped.
“A number of the beds north of Goodacre Lake were abandoned and planted to grass because of increased shade from trees. All the open natural areas were checked for rocks, most of which were buried or covered to eliminate injury to mowing equipment.”
[Annual Report items mentioned earlier in this chapter were the Royal bust and Speakers’ Corner.] (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 4, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1960)
When Parks Administrator Warren suggested “disposing” of Queenie because she cost $1 a day to feed and was only half as efficient as a truck, the S.P.C.A. organized a “Save Queenie” fund-raising campaign. The first donor said, “The loss of Queenie would break the hearts of hundreds of youngsters who visit the park.” (Colonist, May 3, 1961)
The Times doubted the Parks Committee would vote to replace the 10 year old horse with a truck. Many protest calls and $100 were received to support Queenie living in the Park during retirement. “A Park official” said destroying Queenie was never considered because there was a standing offer of a home with her original owner.
[Queenie and her wagon are shown in a Times Colonist photo on the left.]
Mr. Mowat, a sight-seeing bus driver said:
"Queenie pulling the rubber-tired dump wagon through the Park is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Park. After all, how many work horses do you see these days pulling an old two-wheel dump? And when she’s resting in the animal pen she gets more attention than all the peacocks...The idea of taking Queenie away from the Park just burns me. Instead of getting rid of her, they should keep her and get another horse when she’s gone and another one when that’s gone." (Times, May 3, 1961, p. 19)
Jack Baxter suggested cutting the Parks Administrator’s salary by $30 a month, just enough for the monthly feed bill for Queenie. “That would get a horse laugh,” he said. [For more on Queenie, see 1958, 1963 and 1970.]
Fire damages Park building
A fire gutted the Nursery/Park Administration building the morning of January 3, 1961. The interior of the two offices in the building--W. H. Warren’s and his assistant, Cliff Bate--were gutted. The storage loft where hanging baskets and lighting equipment were stored was also damaged. Firemen were able to move two trucks and a tractor from the building’s shed areas; other vehicles were already safe outside. Park operations were transferred to McDonald Park and Royal Athletic Park until the facilities could be repaired. (Times, January 3, 1961, p. 13)
Damage was estimated the following day at $15,000 to building and equipment. It was suspected that rainwear hanging too close to a radiator in the rear workshop started the blaze. The hanging baskets were described as “blistered and scorched by the flames.” (Colonist, January 4, 1961, p. 2)
Warren included this summary of the fire in the Annual Report:
A fire of unknown origin...burned a portion of the maintenance building at the nursery destroying tools, equipment and office records. Smoke seriously injured and stunted plant growth for months afterwards in the attached greenhouses. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1961, p. 8)
Near the end of January, the Parks Committee recommended to City Council that a new Nursery building, at a cost of $23,400, be constructed of concrete blocks. The City received a fire insurance settlement of $11,226, which would pay half the cost of the new building. (Times, January 26, 1961, p. 17) In April, the Parks Committee was authorized to contract for a new $26,000 Beacon Hill Park Nursery Building. (Colonist, April 8, 1961, p. 13) Warren noted in a monthly report that the new maintenance building opened on November 27. He planned to use the lunchroom for in-service training.
Guided tours of the Park
The City’s budget committee approved spending $400 on a pilot plan for guided tours of the Park. If the plan was a success, it would be expanded for the following centennial year. W. H. Warren said there was a need for such tours to teach visitors about area history and to identify flowers, trees and shrubs. When it was suggested signs could do the job, Warren answered, “Signs won’t do it all.” (Colonist, May 2, 1961, p. 20) Warren noted in his Annual Report that Mrs. H.W.S. Soulsby of the Victoria Natural History Association led tours of the Park after Sunday band concerts.
Sixteen Swans in the Park
“For the first time in several years, Beacon Hill Park now has a whole family of swans swimming in Goodacre Lake. Meanwhile on nearby Fountain Lake, five ‘orphan’ cygnets [shown in the photo on the right] have found new parents,” the Colonist reported.
The transfer of the cygnets was the result of a tragedy at Elk Lake:
The parks crew pinioned six cygnets and were working on the second swan family when an adult bird from a third group attacked one of the cygnets and killed it. When the adult swan killed another cygnet, this time of its own brood, it was decided that the surviving six cygnets couldn’t safely be left with the adults. The ‘orphans’ together with one complete family of two adults and five cygnets, were brought to Beacon Hill Park. At Fountain Lake, said Mr. Warren, a pair of swans had been sitting for a long period on sterile eggs. The five unattached young were placed in the nest and the female swan accepted them without demur. The operation has increased Beacon Hill’s swan population to five adults and 11 young swans. (Colonist, June 10, 1961)
[This disastrous pinioning event probably contributed to Warren’s subsequent decision to stop pinioning swans altogether. He had done most of the pinioning personally since 1930. Warren quit pinioning swans sometime after 1961 and before 1970. Later, he wrote: “When pinioning was discontinued [the swans] migrated to other areas around Victoria. By 1970, I saw them at Sooke Bay, Qualicum and Gulf Islands. In 1982, I noted about 60 in Quamichan Lake at Duncan." ("Notes from W. H. Warren." Undated, but written after 1982.]
In a letter to the Parks Committee, W. H. Warren discussed the “Raccoon Nuisance” in Beacon Hill Park:
They have completely destroyed a collection of eight varieties of ornamental pheasants and have prevented the reproduction of peafowl by destroying their eggs and young. They have killed bantams and chickens used for foster parents and regularly destroy a large percentage of the wild fowl and their young in Goodacre Lake. I personally had to raise a brood of orphan cygnets from Elk Lake for four weeks at home this year to avoid the risk of loss in Beacon Hill Park from raccoons... (July 31, 1961 letter, File: 304-1, Park Files, 100 Cook Street)
Warren noted a newspaper report in which a S.P.C.A. officer asked police to return a captured raccoon to Beacon Hill Park. Warren requested the Park Committee tell the S.P.C.A. why this would not be desirable.
Grassfire during air-show
A crowd of 10,000 gathered in Beacon Hill Park to watch the RCAF’s famed Golden Hawks perform. The 25 minute air-show was a spectacular display of loops and dives; two soloists flew so low people ducked.
A careless smoker started a grassfire at the base of Beacon Hill, below the Lookout, at the beginning of the show. “Scores of people suddenly saw the flames advancing on them and dashed for safety,” the Colonist reported. Firemen were called but the truck was delayed by the air-show traffic-jam leading to the Park. In the meantime, men beat down the flames with blankets and shirts. The crowd cheered when the firemen arrived, wielding extinguishers. The audience had a difficult time keeping track of the fire on the ground and the airplane action in the air going on at the same time. (Colonist, August 13, 1961, p. 15)
1961 Annual Report
“Mention was made last year of the ‘shrinkage’ in the apparent size and usefulness of the park as more and more people use it. This has been accentuated by the building of high-rise apartments on its perimeter.” [The high rise buildings he referred to were followed in 1964 by two more, the 12-story towers opposite Goodacre Lake, for a total of five. See 1964 for details and photo.]
Warren reiterated the point that “a considerable portion of the Park budget goes towards...athletic facilities.” He stated 347 league games were played in the Park in 1961. He was responding to “remarks from sports writers about there being plenty of money for flowers and none for recreation...”
During the warm, dry and sunny summer, “a number of fires” occurred in parks, including Beacon Hill. Watering was done at night “to combat the severe summer drought.”
“A leaflet was prepared on Beacon Hill Park...showing a plan of the park and detail regarding features and history.”
The “cost of park and recreation activities worked out at $4.40 per capita in 1961...”
“The moist, cool spring prolonged the growth of grass in the wild areas and this was not tidied up until after the wild flowers finished seeding in July.” [Warren noted in an earlier monthly report that when he waited to cut the grass so wild flowers could ripen and seed, “people complained it looked messy.” Later administrators heard the same complaints from people who thought tall grass looked messy. There were worries about grass fires, as well. After Warren’s term in office, meadows were mowed early for many years. It took public pressure in the 1990's from knowledgeable members of the public to delay mowing until wildflowers and grasses had a chance to seed again.]
“In 1908 public tennis courts were recommended for installation in Beacon Hill Park by the Superintendent of Parks. They have not yet been installed.” [Tennis courts were proposed but eliminated from many Park budgets. The courts were finally constructed in 1966, fifty-eight years after first proposed.]
Beacon Hill Staff: “Total 11-15 men.” Listed by name were 10 full time workers in addition to the Foreman A. Johnston and Caretaker H. W. Hayton. Park Administration staff included “Parks Administrator W. Herbert Warren, Superintendent of Maintenance Clifford J. Bate, Secretary Mrs. V. T. Coulter [located at City Hall], and Maintenance Yard Clerk James Morant.” Boulevards Foreman that year was A.I. Smith. [In the years 1962 through 1969, twelve full time gardeners and labourers were listed for Beacon Hill Park plus Foreman and Caretaker, compared to only five full time staff in 2003.]
[Annual Report items found earlier in this chapter are the Nursery building fire and Park tours.] (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1961, p. 8-9)
A second bust of the Queen unveiled
The planned “climax to Victoria’s big centennial week” in the summer of 1962 was the unveiling of a new bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth II in Beacon Hill Park. Ottawa resident Arnold Price, the only Canadian sculptor with experience in bronze, was commissioned to produce the bust by the Times newspaper as a centennial gift to the City. He used the mold created by Peggy Packard, sculptor of the bust destroyed by vandals. (Times, July 30, 1962, p. 13)
On Sunday, August 5, Times publisher Stuart Keate formally presented the second bust, draped in the Union Jack. Mayor Wilson pulled the cord unveiling the sculpture before a crowd of over 200. After Mr. Keate introduced both artists, he referred to the statue’s “somewhat chequered history” as “an intolerable indignity which must be rectified.” The new bronze statue commemorated the Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Victoria in July, 1959.
The Times article on the occasion reviewed the history of the first bust. After being argued over and kidnaped, the 750 pound concrete statue became “a regular target of vandals who chipped its nose, cheek and neck. Final mortification was the disappearance of the head, later recovered from the bottom of the Inner Harbour.” (Times, August 6, 1962, p. 3)
The newspaper described the new “gold-toned” bronze bust mounted on a “white stone plinth over a bed of Scottish heather and evergreen shrubs and clumps of fragrant lavender. Behind was a majestic weeping willow, an ornamental pond and a rich profusion of roses. In the vicinity are a cricket pitch and the World’s Tallest Totem Pole...” (Times, August 6, 1962, p. 3)
Ald. Mooney and city planning officer Roderick Clack chose the site for the second bust at the southeast corner of Queen’s Lake at Heywood and Circle Drive, with advice from Parks Administrator Warren and Assistant Administrator Bate. Mr. Keate approved of the location: “We think it is a fortunate one since it stands at the confluence of three roads where there is a great deal of traffic. Because of that choice, this area could be known as Queen’s Corner.” (Times, August 6, 1962, p. 3) Apparently, the name “Queen’s Corner” was never used. See 1965 for an attack on the bronze bust. [The June, 2004 photo on the right shows the Queen amidst encroaching vegetation.]
New entrance sign erected on 80th anniversary
1962 marked the 80th year Beacon Hill Park was under the jurisdiction of the City of Victoria. On February 21, 1882, the Province of British Columbia conveyed the land known as Beacon Hill Park to the City of Victoria “To be maintained and preserved by the Corporation and their successors for the use, recreation and enjoyment of the public.”
A carved log sign was placed at the north entrance of the Park, at Douglas Street and Southgate, to celebrate the anniversary. (The same log, now somewhat weathered, is shown here in a 2004 photo.) A similar sign is located at the southeast corner of the Park, at Dallas Road and Cook Street.
The 1962 Annual Report described the new log entrance sign and noted an old anchor--‘relic of the days of sail’--was placed nearby, a minor repositioning in relation to the new entrance sign. [The anchor predated the entrance sign by twenty years; it was a feature at the Park's northeast corner since 1942. See the anchor photo in Chapter 12.] In 1974, when the anchor interpretive sign was made, the 1962 Annual Report comment was apparently misinterpreted; it was assumed the anchor was a new addition. That error led to the incorrect donation date--1961--now seen on the anchor plaque.
The third feature currently at the northeast corner--the Crumpled Keel--was not mentioned in 1962. It is not clear when the Crumpled Keel was placed at Douglas and Southgate. The plaque for the Keel was erected December 6, 1974 along with the anchor plaque. (Park Office Files, 100 Cook St.)
Park lakes dragged for boy
Goodacre Lake and Fountain Lake were dragged looking for the body of a missing boy, but no body was found. There was speculation that he was either abducted or drowned in the ocean. (Times, June 1, 1962, p.17)
His parents said he had gone to Beacon Hill Park on May 26 and never returned home. A search was carried out in the Park and along Dallas Road. The eight year old boy was found June 14 floating in the Inner Harbour. He had been missing 19 days when his body was found. (Colonist, June 15, 1962, p. 21)
Political meetings rejected
The Cameron Bandshell could not be used for political meetings, the City Council decided. There was no discussion and the decision was reached in “two minutes flat,” according to the Colonist. The New Democratic Party asked Council for permission to use the Bandshell in the future for meetings. (Colonist, June 30, 1962, p. 11) Victoria City Councils have consistently upheld the policy of not allowing political meetings in the Park.
Warren changes policy on oaks after trip to England
In 1962, after a ten-week holiday trip to Europe, Warren said he had a “new appreciation of the old Garry oaks...in Beacon Hill Park.” He would no longer “write off” an oak beginning to die, but would cut it back in an attempt to save it. That procedure was often successful in Europe, he said, and “it’s worth a try” in Victoria. Warren pointed out the age of some Park oaks--400 to 500 years old--were “the same age as the oldest oaks I saw in Britain.” (Colonist, July 13, 1962, p. 13)
The most heated controversies of Warren’s career were about cutting large old oaks, particularly in 1941-1942, with F.B. Pemberton defending the trees against Warren’s cutting plans, and again in 1953-1954, when disagreements between Warren and Mayor Harrison on the same topic were intense and personal. In 1962, Warren changed his views to be more in line with past opponents.
Hanging baskets evaluated
After returning from Europe, Warren told the Colonist the floral designs and hanging baskets he observed did not surpass Victoria’s. (Colonist, July 13, 1962, p. 13)
By August, however, Warren had to admit Kelowna’s flower baskets might be prettier. Kelowna’s Mayor stated on August 21 that his city’s flower baskets looked better than Victoria’s. Warren said:
It might be so. This is the worst August I’ve ever seen and the spring weather was poor also. But he should have been here in June or July when our flower baskets put on an outstanding display of blooms-he would have felt differently then. (Times, August 22, 1962, p. 21)
Centennial bonfire and fireworks at Clover Point
The climax of the week-long City of Victoria 100th Anniversary celebrations was a massive bonfire at Clover Point the night of August 2, 1962. Despite heavy rains, “well over 3,000 people” flocked to the Centennial bonfire. Police estimated more than 600 cars attempted to park near Clover Point. At 10:30 p.m. the fire was ignited. “The large crowd sang, danced and steamed in front of the huge blaze while waiting for the fireworks to begin,” the Times reported. A corresponding bonfire planned in Port Angeles could not be seen. “The fireworks began at 11:50 with flares, salutes and rockets of every description, over 110 pounds in weight and costing $500.” (Times, August 3, 1962, p. 1, 13)
Burns Monument fountain long gone
On November 10, 1962, the 62nd anniversary of the erection of the Burns Monument, the Times printed an article titled “Immortal Bard’s Fountain Victim of Mortal Neglect.” The newspaper claimed the City had “broken its word to maintain forever a fountain erected in Beacon Hill Park 62 years ago.” An old document, dated November 10, 1900, had been recently located in a vault at City Hall in which the citizens gifting the monument stipulated the City must “forever maintain, keep and protect the monument and fountain...” (Times, November 10, 1962, p. 17) Water in the fountains of the Robert Burns Monument was turned off in 1932, thirty years before.
[Those donating the fountain wrote the document, called a “resolution,” but the City did not sign it or agree to those conditions. Mayor Hayward acknowledged the gift at a ceremony in 1900 and read out the conditions set by the donors, but he explained at the time that “municipal law forbade anticipating the future or placing burdens on those coming after us.” (Colonist, November 11, 1900) See 1900 for more details.]
The Times article did not include the information that in 1959, Park Administrator Herb Warren advised the Park Committee it was “impractical to modernize the two sprays in the Burns Monument without tearing it to pieces...He also advised that the present Fountain Heads did not comply with Health Regulations.” (CRS 107, Oct. 30, 1959)
The fountain’s possible “magic powers,” which could be “capable of bringing long life and happiness to young people” were described at length by the newspaper, however. (Times, November 10, 1962, p. 17)
1962 Annual Report
In November and December, winds up to 89 miles an hour damaged older oaks in Beacon Hill Park.
The Park received heavy use “due to Centennial events scheduled in 1962...Two events in particular drew large crowds to Beacon Hill Park during Centennial Celebrations: presentation of colours to the Canadian Scottish by Princess Royal on June 16th and Navy Week in August.”
"A start was made in constructing a pool near Goodacre Lake to improve an area which has always been wet." [This new lake was completed in 1963. It was on the site of a former bandstand, according to Warren. It was later named “Arbour Lake” and lined with concrete. It is very shallow, about 18 inches deep.]
“Conducted tours of the Park were again made after the band concerts.”
[Annual Report items mentioned earlier in this section include the new carved entrance log and a change in the anchor location.] (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1962)
Soccer field named Royal Square
“The Douglas Street soccer field in Beacon Hill Park will be formally named ‘Royal Square’ to commemorate presentation of military colors by three royal personages there,” the Times reported. (Times, January 15, 1963, p. 9) According to the Annual Report, however, “The playing field on Douglas Street was designated Royal Parade Square because of its association with ceremonial drills for royalty at this site.”
The year before, 5,000 people turned out to watch “Princess Mary the Princess Royal” present new colors to “her own Canadian Scottish Regiment” at the Douglas Street soccer field. (Colonist, June 17, 1962, p. 1)
[In 2004, the Parks Department and the public refer to the field as the “Douglas Street all-weather field” or the “Douglas Street soccer field.” The names Royal Square and Royal Parade Square are forgotten.]
Warren fights the WCB
Parks Administrator Warren succeeded in reversing a judgment by the Workmen’s Compensation Board on behalf of a Park employee. A compensation claim had been submitted by “a city parks employee who had been pecked on the face while rescuing an injured seagull,” the Times reported. The WCB initially refused the claim on the grounds that “rescuing injured birds was not in the line of duty.” Warren emphasized it certainly was part of the job for parks employees to help injured birds or animals in city parks. A Vancouver WCB official announced the claim will be paid after all and that it was rejected “in error.” (Times, February 4, 1963, p. 11)
Refurbished Mayors Grove sign
In February, a refurbished Mayors Grove sign was erected on steel posts northeast of Goodacre Lake. (Times, February 20, 1963, p. 17) In this newspaper photo, W. H. Warren points out the sign's features. Listed were twenty-five dignitaries, the tree species they planted--oak, maple, fir, ash, beech, copper beech, linden or hawthorn--and the dates. Identification numbers matched stone markers at the bases of the trees. The 1963 sign title--"Mayors Grove"--did not include an apostrophe and neither did the next sign erected about twenty years later; this history follows that pattern.
Mayors Grove was established in the Heywood meadow area east of Arbutus Way during a 1927 convention of western mayors in Victoria. Nine mayors planted trees to begin the grove. In following years, visiting dignitaries were invited to plant trees, among them Winston Churchill (a hawthorn in 1929), the King of Siam (an oak in 1931) and Lord Baden-Powell (an oak in 1935). [No trees were added in the years 1942 to 1983. The sign was later rebuilt and painted green, perhaps in 1984, when tree #26 was added or in 1985, with tree #27. In November, 2008, a new Mayors Grove sign was under construction further north to replace the old green sign.]
Increased Park Patrols
City Council voted an additional $3,000 for another Commissionaire to patrol the Park during summer daylight hours and $1,000 for purchase of walkie-talkies. Ald. Mooney said, “This is an emergency.” It was decided two Commissionaires should be on duty when the park was busy “to alert police when a suspicious character is spotted...or in the case of an actual molesting.” (Colonist, May 1, 1963, p. 1) Two incidents of “molestation” apparently triggered these decisions. A Colonist article in 1964, referred to “a series of molestings in the Park in 1963,” which resulted in additional patrols by commissionaires. [See 1964 and 1967 for more on patrols.]
Wild mallards not Park property
Parks Administrator W. H. Warren told the Times he receives many calls every spring from residents requesting that Park employees come and pick up “his ducks.” He said at nesting time, Mallards appear quite tame; they waddle through people’s gardens and stay in private pools, but none of them belong to the City. In fact, the City does not own the Mallards in Beacon Hill Park either. Warren explained:
Apparently, everyone thinks every stray duck around here belongs to us. It just isn’t so. The Mallard ducks are wild--they don’t belong to anyone and can fly away at will. People see them, associate them with the Mallards they see in Beacon Hill Park and then call us to take them back. We can’t--they’re not ours. They’re wild ducks, including those you see in Beacon Hill Park. We don’t feed those in the Park and in fact they go out every evening and spend the night at sea. (Times, May 15, 1963, p. 21)
[It is doubtful that Park Mallards flew to the sea every night in 1963. They do not fly to the ocean in 2004; they sleep on the grassy edges of the lakes and on the islands.]
Queenie retired but lives on
Queenie retired in September, 1963 along with her handler, Howard Honeyman. The Colonist reported:
Queenie is being replaced by a three-wheeled motorized truck, cheaper and quicker to operate...Queenie will continue to live in the animal pen but will no longer pull the rubber-wheeled cart on the familiar rounds of garbage can detail or the miscellaneous jobs that came her and Mr. Honeyman’s way. (Colonist, September 24, 1963, p. 13)
The Times added that City Council postponed a plan to retire Queenie in the spring in order to retire the horse and the only driver she has known, 65 year-old Mr. Honeyman, at the same time. The newspaper wrote: “Queenie will spend her retirement in Beacon Hill Park as the star attraction of the animal pen--a status she has always enjoyed with park visitors during her ‘off hours.’” (Times, September 23, 1963, p. 17)
Warren’s comment in a monthly report that year was: “Horse and driver both superannuated (retired) in September – ending the horse age in the park. Queenie has been returned to the deer pen for the rest of her years.” (See more on Queenie in 1958, 1961, 1966, 1969 and 1970.)
[Horses worked continuously in the Park for forty-five years, from 1908 until 1963. Four workhorses are named in the records: Jerry, who retired in 1931; Bud, who worked until 1945; Nellie, who probably worked from 1945 until 1953, when Queenie replaced her. Queenie, the last workhorse, worked ten years, from 1953 to 1963.]
Yet another monument to the 1959 Royal Visit
Beacon Hill Park accumulated an embarrassment of monuments commemorating the 1959 Royal Visit of Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to the bronze bust of 1962 and the planter-stone wall with plaque, a third monument was added in October, 1963. An etched granite boulder was placed on the east side of the Douglas all-weather field, site of the presenting of colours. Etched on the stone was the following:
On the site Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presented her colour and the regimental colour to the first battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry on the 17th of July, 1959. This memorial was unveiled on the 6th of October, 1963 by Major General C. D. Ware OSO CD, Colonel of the Regiment.
[Despite a warning from Warren that “a profusion of cairns might detract from the field’s appearance,” the Parks Committee allowed two more cairns to be erected in 1964 along the edge of the Douglas Street soccer field to commemorate the presentation of colors to the Canadian Scottish Regiment and the King’s Own Calgary Regiment. (Times, May 26, 1964, p. 13) In 2004, a total of four large cairns line the east side of the field.]
Insects and Garry oaks
An article by Canada Forestry researcher David Evans in The Victoria Naturalist newsletter reported the results of an insect study in the Victoria area during 1957-1961. Evans wrote: “Nearly 500 species of insects have been found in association with Garry oak...on southern Vancouver Island.” The hundreds of Garry oaks growing in Beacon Hill Park host many of these unnoticed and unappreciated insects.
Beetles, moths and wasps each represent one quarter of the total insect species. Many other species are included in the remaining one quarter, including at least 100 insects not yet identified.
The Garry oak’s abundant foliage provides shelter and food for insects. In the sunny, dry areas the Garry oak prefers, insects often have few other options; some “are completely dependent on Garry oak.” In turn, “The insect population on oaks is a year-round food supply that attracts many birds...”
Mortality among oak insects is due to “insect and spider predation; weather hazard; predation by larger animals, birds, rodents, reptiles, etc; parasitism; miscellaneous causes; and disease.” (The Victoria Naturalist, Vol. 20, 4, December, 1963)
[The Victoria Naturalist reprinted the article in 2004 with a note that since 1963, “many non-native insects have arrived...Gall wasps, Winter moths, Gypsy moths...” (The Victoria Naturalist, Vol. 60.6, 2004, p. 13)]
1963 Annual Report
The Report included only four short paragraphs on Beacon Hill Park.
“Construction was completed of a small lake at the site of a former bandstand.” [Arbour Lake was begun in 1962 and completed in 1963.]
“Sunday concerts ran from May 18 to Labour Day. A Film Festival was staged three nights a week during July and August. A conducted tour led by a member of the Natural History Society was held at the end of each band concert.” [This was the third straight year of conducted tours.]
Members of the Victoria Natural History Society identified one hundred and fifty-four species of birds in the Park. [This total is reached by including bird species found along the ocean.] (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1963, p. 9)
High-rise buildings dominate western Park boundary
Two 12 story rental apartment buildings--named Goodacre Towers because they overlook Beacon Hill Park’s Goodacre Lake--were constructed on Douglas Street in 1964. The North Tower, on the right in the photo, stands less than twenty-five feet from the Beacon Hill Park’s western boundary. (Busy Douglas Street is constructed entirely on Park land from Superior Street to Dallas Road.)
Just south of Goodacre Towers is a 13 story condo building, also on Douglas Street. Two taller condominiums--22 and 21 stories high--were built on adjacent streets close to the Park boundary. A total of five high-rises stand along the western perimeter of the Park.
Warren recognized the detrimental impact of high-rises on Beacon Hill Park in the 1961 Annual Report: “Mention was made last year of the ‘shrinkage’ in the apparent size and usefulness of the park as more and more people use it. This has been accentuated by the building of high-rise apartments on its perimeter.” In a 1963 monthly report, he wrote the Park was “fast losing its rural character due to the high rise apartments and increased usage including many more tourist picnickers in recent years.” Again, in the 1967 Annual Report: “The unique character of Beacon Hill Park deteriorates each time a high rise apartment goes up on its perimeter.” After retirement, in 1977, Warren commented further:
Certainly the construction of high rise apartments around the perimeter of the park has in effect shrunk the park. A fellow can no longer kiss his girl friend on a bench by Goodacre Lake without being spied upon by a hundred residents in the high rise towers. So much for progress. (Warren, “Beacon Hill Park--A Talk to the Beacon Hill Park Association,” November 7, 1977, Park Office files)
The magnificent sunset view looking west from Beacon Hill Park over Goodacre Lake described earlier in this history (see 1941) was wiped out completely in 1964. The Goodacre Towers loom high above the Lake and Park trees, blotting out the sky.
[After a high-rise building boom in the 1960's, limits were placed on building heights during the 1970's, halting high-rise construction in the James Bay area. In 2004, however, a 16 story high-rise rental apartment building was proposed for the northeast corner of the Goodacre Towers property. The developers hope to convince City Council to set aside current zoning rules.]
Provincial Museum proposed for the top of Beacon Hill
British Columbia Provincial Works Minister W. N. Chant proposed the new $3,000,000 Provincial Museum be built on the top of Beacon Hill. Mr. Chant’s surprise proposal came despite an announcement the year before by Premier W. A. C. Bennett that a combined archives-museum would be built at Government and Belleville, the site of a civil service parking lot. A page one story in the Times reported Chant preferred the museum on top of Beacon Hill and the archives in a different location. Chant said he would wait to see how the Works Department report was received before pushing it further in Cabinet and with civic officials. (Times, February 4, 1964, p. 1 and Colonist, Feb. 4, 1964, p. 21)
The Works Department report described the alternate museum site downtown as too congested and listed the reasons Beacon Hill was an ideal location:
It is away from downtown congestion, it is easily accessible, offers unlimited parking space, costs nothing, is in attractive surroundings, permits outward expansion, allows complete architectural freedom and is not beset by traffic flow problems...The museum could incorporate a lounge-tea room and thus supply one frequently debated park need.” (Colonist, Feb. 4, 1964, p. 21)
The Times described Mr. Chant’s “sweeteners.” The museum building would require at least two floors below ground and that excavation would provide enough rock to build the “much-desired Causeway promenade and also a seawall across Horseshoe Bay to create a natural salt water swimming pool.” More picnic grounds in the Park could be included as well as a tearoom-lounge. The Works Department Report concluded: “The three additions of a museum, a swimming pool and further picnic grounds would probably make very welcome amenities for a part of the park which, at the present time, offers not much more than a pleasant walk.”
A chorus of opposition greeted Chant’s plan. A “unidentified government official” said Mr. Chant’s plan was “nothing but kite-flying. The Premier said last year...where it would be built...and so far there is no change.” Willard Ireland, Provincial Archivist, said he was surprised by the suggestion: “I prefer the original site...a provincial museum and archives should not be a facility used primarily to promote the tourist industry...The archives are an active department of the government and should remain close at hand... (Times, February 4, 1964, p. 1)
George Mowat, a tourist industry businessman for 30 years, said locating the museum in the Park rather than close to the Inner Harbour would result in a reduction of tourists visiting the museum. He thought the parking lot at Belleville and Government was an ideal location; it would be transformed from an eyesore to a major attraction. He said too much had already detracted from Beacon Hill Park’s natural state and a big structure on the Hill would spoil a fine walking location. (Times, February 4, 1964, p. 21)
The executive of the Chamber of Commerce quickly issued a statement saying members were unanimously opposed to building the museum on the top of Beacon Hill. City Council Alderman Edgelow was flatly opposed, saying “It would be a grave mistake to put a museum at the Park as it would take away even more of the Park’s natural beauty.” (Times, February 5, 1964, p. 8) A strong editorial in the Times, titled “A Mad Proposal” thoroughly blasted the plan:
The proposal to build a large provincial museum on the summit of [Beacon Hill]...is one of the most destructive and retrograde suggestions to afflict this community in many decades. It should be killed immediately by the combined voice of outraged citizens...The building would destroy Beacon Hill and much of the charm of the surrounding Park. There would be almost no corner of the Park which would not be dominated and oppressed by the structure and almost no point from which the view would not be spoiled by it. To top the hill with a solid mass of Contemporary Governmental architecture would be an unforgivable act of destruction. To surround it with the bare parking area which would be the next project would be an act of intolerable desecration.
Mr. Chant sugars the proposal with thoughts of available rock for a swimming pool, for the Causeway promenade, and so on. What he proposes to do is take one of the park’s finest attractions and dump it into the Inner Harbour...Let’s have no more of this nonsense. Keep Beacon Hill Park inviolate. Do not despoil a century-old civic asset which could not be duplicated at any cost. (Times, February 5, 1964, p. 4)
It was decided the Royal British Columbia Museum and the British Columbia Archives would be constructed at Belleville and Government.
Writing a few weeks after that decision, however, Warren was still dismayed and alarmed that any government officials or members of the public considered it acceptable to erect such a building in Beacon Hill Park:
Notwithstanding the fact that the government has decided to place the Museum on Belleville Street, I am alarmed that a government official would try to justify placing it in the City’s chief park. I am also alarmed that notwithstanding the outcry from the press and many thinking citizens, it appears from radio polls that the public is favourable to it. All they see is an empty space that might be occupied by buildings. If Begbie had not made his ruling, the park would be full of buildings. Begbie’s ruling, though, did allow for buildings catering to the use, recreation, and enjoyment of the public... the Museum would fit in this category, but if it was built in the Park, where would things end? Soon we might have the archives, the library.... and so on. We have seen proposals for an auditorium, civic theatre, public riding stables, City Hall, ice arena and other buildings. Since the earliest times in Victoria the charm of Beacon Hill Park has been its unspoiled natural character. This is fast being modified due to public usage. Despite this we are doing our best to preserve its natural appearance. (W. H. Warren, “Report of Parks Administrator for January and February 1964," Park Files, Cook St.)
Daffodils planted in hanging baskets
Warren tried planting daffodils in the City’s hanging flower baskets for the first time in 1964. The Times reported:
This year’s hastily decided experiment with the daffodils required sudden purchase of 9,000 bulbs from a commercial grower specializing the in the cut-flower trade. “They were partly forced, but if we had had the time to grow the bulbs in the baskets I think we would have had a better show,” [Warren] said. (Times, March 26, 1964)
[From 1964 to 1968, daffodils were planted in hanging flower baskets and placed downtown in early March or the end of February. The daffodils were replaced with summer flowers after a few weeks. See 1967 and 1968 for more details.]
The Parks Committee recommended hiring Standard Security Service Ltd. instead of Commissionaires [retired military and police personnel working as security guards]. W. H. Warren suggested the private security firm because he thought the advanced age of commissionaires was a disadvantage in covering a large area like the Park.
The change added $1,200 a year to the $5,200 budgeted for park patrols for 1964 ($2.75 an hour per man for private guards compared to $1.85 for a Commissionaire). The private firm planned to use two men--one uniformed and one in plainclothes--a car, radio and dog.
Ald. Toone thought City Police, rather than private security guards, should patrol Beacon Hill Park and the matter should to be discussed with the police commission. Mayor Wilson said, “There is a need for action, judging from the two nasty incidents reported recently in the newspapers.” (Colonist, May 12, 1964, p. 21)
75th anniversary of tree donation
The Parks Committee, on the suggestion of W. H. Warren, asked City Council to honor the Victoria pioneers who donated 2,000 ornamental trees for Beacon Hill Park in 1889. Joseph Heywood donated 600 trees personally and convinced others to contribute another 1400. The Park was being developed in 1889 according to John Blair’s landscape design and the trees were planted that year. (See Chapter Six, 1889, for more details.)
On the 75th anniversary of the donation, Warren said the trees “...comprise the basic stand of mature trees around Goodacre Lake today.” (Park Files, 100 Cook Street)
Council passed a resolution honouring Joseph Heywood, Lady Douglas, Robert Dunsmuir, R. P. Rithet, Thomas Earle, J. H. Turner, J. D. Pemberton, W. P. Sayward and W. Macaulay. (Times, May 26, 1964, p. 13)
1964 Annual Report
There was no 1964 Annual Report. Warren presented a combined Annual Report for the years 1964, 1965 and 1966, dated March 15, 1967.
Monthly reports listed the following work accomplished in 1964: 13 fixed steel and wood benches of a new type were installed around Goodacre Lake. Drainage was improved or installed at the bandshell, the rose garden, Heywood Avenue football field and northeast of Goodacre Lake. Old broom patches were removed. The southeast woods was cleaned up south of the nursery; ivy had become established in the bush and covered several acres, killing wild flower and shrubs and “must be controlled.”
“Park Spring Cleaning” captioned a photo showing workers “scraping duck ponds, clearing them of mud and debris with help of a scraper attached to a tractor.” (Colonist March 19, 1965)
Michigan Street extension through the Park proposed
A proposal to extend Michigan Street through the north end of Beacon Hill Park sparked controversy in 1965. The intent was to provide better traffic flow to and from the Legislative buildings by building a second arterial road on Park land. A major city street, Southgate, was constructed through the north end of the Park in 1957.
Editorials in both newspapers appeared in March opposing the extension. The Times editorial suggested one-way traffic and other options to funnel cars away from the congested area instead, and wrote:
Nothing short of the most extreme emergency should cause such a step and the city engineer has not yet proved that the traffic problem...has reached that point. Only a hundred yards separates Superior and Michigan Streets where they meet Douglas. A section of the Park as already been sliced through... (Times, March 22, 1965, p. 4)
The Colonist commented on the plan to “lengthen Michigan Street...through a largely rocky area to join the Superior Street extension.” They acknowledged there was a traffic problem but concluded: “the further dissection of Beacon Hill Park must be the last thing most Victorians would want.” The writer suggested every other alternative be examined first. “Cutting through the Park should only be a desperate last resort.” (Colonist, March 24, 1965, p. 4)
On a March 23, 1965 CJVI New Commentary radio show, D. Batey said: “...for as long as we can remember...on and off..somebody pops up with a plan to slice a chunk off the scenic hide of the Capital City’s incomparable Beacon Hill Park.”
Columnist Art Stott wrote he felt a speech coming on which titled “No more traffic arteries through Beacon Hill Park.” He didn’t want “anyone to chisel away at or inside the boundaries of the place Herb Warren has made a joy forever.” Stott reviewed Chief Justice Begbie’s ruling in 1884 and said: “I have confidence enough in the City Council to believe it will reject any further nibbling at the park’s edges, any intrusion of commercial interests or any sacrifice of area to a traffic artery.” (Times, March 30, 1965, p. 5)
The Victoria Natural History Society added its protest in a letter to the Mayor. They opposed “any move to encroach on the area of Beacon Hill Park for road extension, or any other purpose. It is our understanding that it is illegal to do so.” (Times, April 12, 1965, p. 25)
The Parks Committee toured the northwestern corner of the Park at Michigan Street to view the area suggested for the extension by the Traffic Engineering Department. The Capital Region Transportation Survey envisioned connecting Michigan Street to a bridge across the Inner Harbour. Their grand plan was traffic flowing from Victoria West across a new bridge to Michigan, then eastbound into Fairfield and Oak Bay and northbound along Cook Street. (Times, April 12, 1965, p. 25)
[City Council voted against the Michigan Street extension in 1965, but it reappeared in 1967, was passed by Council in 1968, and finally halted by a new Council in 1973.]
Queen Elizabeth bust attacked
The bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth II lay “flat on its back, beaten about the face and chest with a hammer or other blunt instrument. The nose was smashed,” the Times reported. Broken beer bottles were strewn on the grass nearby and a half-empty beer bottle floated in Queen’s Lake. “Flowers and shrubs around the statue were trampled by the vandals.”
The steel bar which held the bust upright on a concrete base was bent at a 90 degree angle after the attack. Sculptor Peggy Packard said the bust could be repaired.
Other sections of the park were damaged as well. At the Cameron Bandshell, Caretaker H. W. Hayton found “many benches overturned and flower pots weighing 200 pounds dumped to the ground.” Hayton said the flowers in the pots could not be replaced this year. The attack on the bandstand was made sometime after midnight; Hayton checked the area at that time with his dog. Damage was estimated at $400. (Times, August 14, 1965, p. 21)
Parking restrictions relaxed
Until September, 1965, parking in Beacon Hill Park was limited to 15 minutes after 10 p.m. This was changed by Council to allow unlimited parking to midnight; after midnight, parking was restricted to 15 minutes. Mayor Wilson said since some sections of the Park were floodlit, it was appropriate to allow greater use of the Park at night. (Colonist, September 10, 1965, p. 17) Prohibition of night parking was tried in 1941 in an attempt to reduce vandalism but wasn’t successful.
1965 Annual Report
There was no Annual Report in 1965. Warren presented a combined Annual Report for the years 1964, 1965 and 1966, dated March 15, 1967.
Parks Administrator Warren told the Parks Committee that 18 to 20 cars owned by provincial civil servants were parking free in Beacon Hill Park every day. Ald. Cecil Parrott said the City should take a firm stand and protest to the Provincial Government. Ald. Baird agreed and a meeting was planned with the Deputy Minister of Public Works “from whose department the offenders come, asking him to take disciplinary action.” (Times, February 23, 1966, p. 23)
When the City informed the Public Works Department that too many civil servants were using Beacon Hill Park for free off-street parking, Public Works did their own investigation. The Times reported: “They discovered 34 cars in the Park, eight of them belonging to civil servants...Ten belonged to city employees.” James Garnett, City Engineer, said that was probably true, but the city employees were working in the immediate area. Mr. Garnett and Mr. Warren will prepare recommendations for the Parks Committee. One suggestion was “a two hour parking restriction be placed on the roads running through the Park, leaving unlimited parking on the various parking lots dotted through the area.” (Times, March 4, 1966, p. 18)
75 foot tree house proposed on Beacon Hill
A private commercial proposal to build a "Space Age Tree House" on top of Beacon Hill was presented to the City in 1966. The 75-foot (25 metre) 'tree house' would combine tourist offices, a showcase for forest companies and a lookout. The Times description was “a 35 foot tower topped by a four-story series of decks,” resembling the Bastion at Nanaimo. (Times, May 28, 1966, p. 19)
Park Administrator Herb Warren was quick to write the Municipal Manager stating his opposition to the plan:
I am disposed to keep Beacon Hill Park pretty much as it is without any additional buildings...what I object to in this case is a suggestion that it should go on top of the hill. Parking would sterilize an acre of valuable ground on the hilltop. The structure would probably be incompatible with the flagpole and the lookout. (Warren to D. A. Young, May 27, 1966, Park Office, 100 Cook St.)
The Parks Committee quickly rejected the proposal “to build a 75-foot three-deck edifice meant to symbolize the space age, advance the cause of the tourist industry and act as a showcase for the forest industry,” the Colonist reported. The newspaper provided more details on the proposal:
The tree house plan was submitted by Vancouver designed Milton A. Tisdale, who saw it being financed as a joint venture of federal, provincial and municipal governments, along with B. C. forest companies.
On the ground floor of the structure would be the office of the Victoria Visitors Bureau. The provincial government tourist and trade promotion bureau would be on the 35-foot level, and at 50 feet the federal tourist agency. The 60-foot level would tell the story of reforestation and contain a camera viewing deck. On top, visible for miles, would be a beacon. (Colonist, June 1, 1966, p. 13)
Columnist Tom Taylor wrote: “On top of Beacon Hill a tower would be as a thumb sticking up out of proportion...It has taken strict vigilance over the years to preserve the park solely as a park...It is probably the best civic asset we have.” (Colonist, June 2, 1966) The same day, a Colonist editorial reviewed “the long parade of rejected proposals for development within the Park...a golf course, a tea-room, an auditorium, a fee-charging children’s zoo, a museum...”(Colonist, June 2, 1966, p. 4)
Centennial Square’s Knot Garden
A one page description of Victoria’s “Centennial Square - Knot Garden,” written July 7, 1966, stated it was “A direct replica of one in Hampton Court gardens,” though the Victoria replica next to City Hall was “compressed slightly into a wedge shape to conform with the layout of the Square...This is probably the only garden of this kind in Canada.” The Knot Garden was created in 1962 for the City's celebration of its 100th year of incorporation.
The flowers, grown in the Beacon Hill Park Nursery and planted in the Knot Garden, included: Begonias, Alyssum, Tagetes, Marigold, Lebelia, English daisies, Dwarf wallflower, Viola, Pansy, Primrose, Forget-me-not and Dwarf bulbs. To conform with the Hampton Court model, “None of the flowers are over ten inches in height.” (July 7, 1966, Park Dept. Files, 100 Cook St.)
Though no name appears on the paper, W. H. Warren was almost certainly the author and the promoter of the knot garden. He had long advocated ornamental features such as a perfume garden, a Hampton Court maze, a Shakespearean Garden and a rock garden. His preferred location for those projects was Beacon Hill Park. (1948 Annual Report)
[The Knot Garden stood in the northwest corner of Centennial Square hidden behind a low wall for 47 years. It was demolished in April, 2009 when the square was redesigned. Few residents of Victoria were aware of the Knot Garden and its demise did not make the evening news.]
Old Park workhorse, Queenie, continued to make news, even in retirement. Just before her 17th Christmas she was found upside down and stuck. A rescue was desperately needed.
Colonist reporter Bert Binny explained: “The princess of the park peacock pens lost her balance while scratching her tail, toppled over and became wedged between two obstructions.” She was discovered in the morning by Park Caretaker Sandy Hayton, who called for help.
One side of a small chicken house was demolished with a sledge hammer to make the room necessary to hoist Queenie out with a block and tackle. She had “a nasty injury over one eye” and “was badly shaken.” As compensation, Queenie received a Christmas gift of a new halter and shank, but, the writer noted, she seemed more pleased with the bran mash treat provided during cold weather. (Colonist, December 25, 1966, p. 13)
Queenie was in the news again in 1967, when the rumour spread that the she had died. The Times wrote that reports of her death were apparently the result of a misunderstood radio news broadcast and “were highly exaggerated.” (Times, July 21, 1967, p. 31) (More on Queenie in 1958, 1961, 1963, 1969 and 1970.)
1966 Annual Report
Warren presented a combined Annual Report for the years 1964, 1965 and 1966 dated March 15, 1967. It was not specified in which years the following work was completed.
“In recent years considerable work has been done to construct asphalt curbs with parking bays in portions of the park, primarily for the purpose of protecting lawn areas. A 6" water main was placed in the park centre to connect with a new east-west City water main recently installed by the Public Works Department.”
“Three asphalt tennis courts were constructed south of the bowling green and have fulfilled a great need.” [Tennis courts were first suggested in 1908. Warren repeatedly included the tennis courts in his budgets, but they were cut. Fifty-eight years after first proposed, the courts were constructed.]
“There are 2.7 miles of roads in the interior of the Park and over 3.3 miles of asphalt and other hard surface paths.”
In 1966, twelve full time gardeners and labourers worked in Beacon Hill Park plus a Foreman and Caretaker. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1964-66)
Park Administrator Warren and Mayor Hugh Stephen “clashed on how Beacon Hill Park should be policed to keep rowdies in check,” the Times reported in March. “Mr. Warren had asked for $7,000 to hire auxiliary policemen or retired firemen to patrol the Park from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. to keep an eye on molesters or bullies who heckle elderly citizens.”
Mayor Stephen said that was unnecessary because he had been assured by the police chief “if there are complaints, patrols in the park area can be stepped up.” Mr. Warren responded: “What we want in the park is a man on foot patrol. It doesn’t do any good just to have a couple of men looking out of a patrol car window once in awhile.” (Times, March 22, 1967, p. 19)
In May, the Parks Committee approved a recommendation by C. J. Bate, acting Parks Administrator, to award the Park patrol contract-- estimated to be $7,000 a year--to the Three Cees Association, a break-away group from the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires. The Commissionaires were not able to supply the manpower for the extra service Bate requested. Rules set by the City for the new Three Cees were: all patrolmen must be cleared by the Police Chief, smartly uniformed, physically fit and trained in diplomatic public relations. The patrolmen would be paid $2.25 an hour and equipped with walkie-talkies to call police for help.
Two patrols were planned, according to the Times: “An outer patrol to protect school children against child-molesters and an inner patrol to keep an eye on happenings in the park proper.” Mr. Bate said: “ We have had quite a few complaints about child molesters. The idea for the outer patrol is to give school children some protection.” The newspaper noted there were also numerous complaints of older citizens bullied by young thugs during the late evening hours. (Times, May 30, 1967, p. 13)
Park Daffodils and hanging flower baskets
“Parks Administrator Herb Warren said the last time he counted there were 400,000 daffodils dancing in the Beacon Hill Park breezes,” the Times reported in April. Warren continued, “Now is the time to count them if anyone has the time. The display is pretty tremendous--although it isn’t as good as a few years ago.”
Many of the bulbs planted ten years before were deteriorating, he explained: “Each year we lose a few more. It’s a good display this year, but nothing like the showings we had a few years ago. Insects and age are taking their toll.” (Times, April 3, 1967, p. 17)
Warren told the newspaper in March that daffodil bulbs removed from hanging baskets were planted in the Park. “But that’s hardly enough to hold our own. We’re down to around 400,000, now I guess.” [From 1964 to 1968, daffodils were planted in baskets and placed downtown the end of February or early March, then replaced with summer flowers after a few weeks. See 1964 and 1968 for more.] Downtown flower baskets cost $12,465 in 1967. (Times, March 22, 1967, p. 19)
Ald. Robert Baird, Chairman of the Parks Committee, wanted to retain $4,000 in the 1967 parks budget for new “restrooms and change rooms in the Cameron Memorial Pavilion [Bandshell].” Baird said: “Every year I ask to have these toilets installed and every year I am refused. Why, bands have to run halfway across the park now when they want to find a toilet.” [The main restroom was close to the bandstand and is still the only one in the central area of the Park in 2004.]
Ald. Edgelow, who wanted to delete the restroom, said, “Well, if you had 75 children on the bandstand you couldn’t get them all in anyway.”
Ald. Clarkson wanted $5,000 put in the budget to improve the aviary, but Parks Administrator Warren said other jobs had a higher priority. Ald. Baird thought he might convince a woman who complained about the condition of the aviary to fund an improvement.
Warren budgeted for a “truckster,” a three-wheeled, bicycle-type vehicle, but Edgelow was against spending $2,700 on it. He complained: “They put old Queenie [the retired Park workhorse] away. This is the type of work she could have done.” (Colonist, April 26, 1967, p. 15)
2,000 people attended a “Love-in” in Beacon Hill Park on May 1. The Colonist wrote: “The love-in was like a modern day version of an old-fashioned band concert in the park....[but] the old brass band...had been replaced by the electric guitars and microphones...”
The newspaper claimed some people were shocked by “hippies...utter disregard for conformity and conventional appearance.” The article concluded that “It was probably one of the strangest gatherings Victoria has seen since quiet Sunday afternoons in the park for the masses were done away with by the advent of the automobile.” (Colonist, May 2, 1967, p. 21)
After the first “Love-in,” Park Administrator Warren presented five regulations to the organizer of the next Love-in, scheduled for May 14. The first regulation was: “No acts or talks will be allowed which might be construed as encouragement for others to break the law, e.g. in respect to LSD, etc.” John Hill, sponsor of the “Love-in” would not promise to comply. “This is a ridiculous rule,” he said. “I don’t think it could be enforced without violating one of man’s basic rights.”
In order to receive a permit for the event, organizers were required to promise to comply with all five rules. The other four regulations were: sales of booklets were prohibited; collections could be taken only with permission of the Parks Commission; there could be no amplified music; and no notices could be tacked onto trees.
Mr. Hill said: “I couldn’t agree to these conditions so I didn’t get a permit. There would be no point having a love-in without being able to talk or make music.” (Times, May 8, 1967, p. 2)
By August, another “Sunday Love-in” was scheduled in Beacon Hill Park, but acting Mayor Robert Baird canceled it on August 22 when he learned it would conflict with a symphony concert performance in the Park. According to the Colonist, a group of “60 hippies invaded City Hall” in an attempt to convince Baird to change his decision. He met with “the young people” in the morning and again in afternoon.
Baird said he had “no love to offer,” because he thought their conduct was not socially acceptable. “We have had two love-ins this year and that is enough,” Baird declared. The “hippies” had used Centennial Square during the summer and Baird admitted they had broken no laws, so “it was impossible to have policemen whip them out of the square or firemen flush them out with hoses.” (Colonist, Aug. 23, 1967, p. 1)
Two water diviners hired
In an August letter, Warren informed D. A. Young, Municipal Manager: “We had a water diviner in Beacon Hill Park recently who found a strong indication of water at a point fifty feet south of the Fountain Lake...Cost of drilling a well here is estimated at $1,000.” (Warren to Young, August 25, 1967, Park Office Files, 100 Cook Street)
A second water diviner was hired in October. A Times article discussed the “science” of divining and dowsing, concluding it was not witchcraft and, in fact, was as reliable as the “strange instruments” used by geologists. (Times October 17, 1967, p. 21)
A well was drilled in October on the spot selected by both diviners. The Times reported drilling had reached the depth of 110 feet and the crew planned to go to 150 feet, if necessary. “If they find the deep well they are looking for, the water will be used to supply Goodacre Lake and the other smaller ponds in the Beacon Hill chain.” (Times, October 16, 1967, p. 9)
In the 1967 Annual Report, Warren said “an unsuccessful attempt was made to locate water south of the small lake. Drilling stopped at a depth of 170 feet.” He lamented the high water cost for Beacon Hill Park, which was “in excess of $100 a day in midsummer here.”
In 1973, Parks Director Cliff Bate said drilling the well next to Fountain Lake in 1967 was done in the hope of halting the purchase of expensive city water. That well didn’t produce enough water, he said, despite the fact that “two water diviners...picked the same spot.” Bate estimated the cost of purchasing the water to run one way down the artificial “creek” had climbed to $1,500 in 1973. Instead of drilling another well, it was decided to install a pump in Goodacre Lake to return water to Fountain Lake, creating a recirculating system. City water was purchased only to replace water lost from the system due to evaporation. Water pumped from Goodacre continued to come out of the fountain at Fountain Lake. (Colonist, May 5, 1973, p.9) See 1973 for more details.
[In 2003, the City drilled at two locations for water. The first drilling site east of Burns Monument yielded nothing; the second drilling site east of Arbutus Road in Heywood Meadow produced a low volume flow of water at a depth of 550 feet. It was not yet decided if the well water would be used. See 2003.]
Park roads get signs
Park lanes were identified with signs at last, reported the Colonist on September 7, 1967. Cliff Bate, acting Parks Superintendent, said many of the road names in the Park “growed like Topsy.” A photo showed a green and white sign erected at the corner of Circle Drive and Chestnut Way. (Colonist, Sept. 7, 1967, p. 21) [That sign and most of the other internal road signs are gone in 2004. The sign at Park Way and Circle Drive remains in place, though Park Way is no longer a road. It was converted to a walking path in 1972.]
Rock garden created
“An alpine garden, located just northeast of Goodacre Lake, was created in 1967 and features over 200 different alpine plants,” Warren noted in the 1967 Annual Report.
The garden was a Canadian Centennial project of the Vancouver Island Rock and Alpine Garden Society. The Society continues to maintain the rock garden in 2004, with regular Saturday morning work sessions. According to the Society’s website, “The garden is designed around natural rock outcroppings and planted for year-round interest, though it is most colourful in spring with a succession of blooms from rock plants and small bulbs.”
James Bay Land Use and Transportation Plan
The James Bay Land Use and Transportation Plan was proposed in 1967 to improve traffic flow in and out of the Legislature area as well as other parts of James Bay. The Plan included widening three streets already on Beacon Hill Park land--Dallas Road, Douglas Street and Heywood Street. The most contentious part of the proposal was a four-lane Michigan Street extension through the north end of Beacon Hill Park to meet Heywood at Rupert Street (now Quadra). The arterial street would be built on Park land and isolate another large section of land from the rest of the Park.
In the 1967 Annual Report, Warren wrote:
Concern is expressed at the plans for future extension of Michigan Street through Beacon Hill Park to improve direct traffic flow...[Beacon Hill Park’s] refreshing appeal has been to permit people to feel that they can get away from the sights and sounds of the City. This is fast being eroded away. Cross roads through the Park can never compensate for the loss that citizens will sustain in the fragmentation of the Park. Councils have withstood for eighty-five years successive appeals to place public and private utilitarian buildings and activities in this Park in violation of the Trust deed. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1967)
[The Beacon Hill Park Association was formed in 1970 specifically to save Beacon Hill Park from the James Bay Land Use and Transportation Plan. It was voted down by a new Council in 1973. See Chapter Fifteen.]
1967 Annual Report
Only three short paragraphs on Beacon Hill Park appeared in the Report. Both topics covered--well drilling and the proposed Michigan Street extension--were included earlier in this section. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1967)
Darts shot into animals
When two darts were found in a Beacon Hill Park Zoo buck deer’s rump in 1968, the Victoria Daily Times labeled the culprit “a sadist” and printed this photo of the injured deer. Three darts missed their targets and were recovered from the ground of the animal pen and a sixth dart was found embedded in a rabbit. The darts were made from sharpened two-inch nails inserted into conical shapes made of paper and bound with black electrical tape. There was no clue about how the darts were fired. Police asked for help finding the culprit. (Victoria Daily Times, February 8. 1968, p. 17)
Daffodils last appearance in hanging baskets
300 daffodil-filled hanging baskets were placed in downtown Victoria the end of February, 1968, one of the earliest dates on record. Parks Administrator Warren explained why the daffodils would not be used again:
Spring flowers have always been a bit of a gamble. Not only do they have to be raised and handled, but in the event of a cold spell there is a good chance that they all will be lost. And considering the short time they bloom, they are much more expensive than the summer baskets. (Colonist, February 28, 1968, p. 13)
Beginning in 1969, the City returned to the practice of using only summer flowers in the hanging baskets and placing them downtown later in the year. (For five years--1964 to 1968--daffodils were planted in early hanging flower baskets and replaced with summer flowers after a few weeks. See 1964 and 1967 for more details. )
A Beacon Hill Park “Love-in,” sponsored by the Victoria Youth Council, attracted fewer than expected. According to the Colonist, “Only about 1500 of an expected 4,000 of the love generation turned out.” Several people called the event “dull and unorganized.” Charles Barber, an organizer of the Love-in, admitted “Things are a bit slow. But it only cost us $8!”
Five bands and a folk-singer performed and the weather was good. Those attending included teens, adult observers and some “black leather-jacketed members of motorcycle clubs.”(Colonist, June 30, 1968, p. 28)
Wading pool warning
The Greater Victoria Board of Health wrote Warren on November 27, 1968, regarding the Beacon Hill Park wading pool. The letter reported chlorine levels varied and the pool needed an automatic filtration and chlorinating installation or the “pool must be discontinued.” (Park Files, 100 Cook St.)
1968 Annual Report
The 1968 Annual Report consisted almost entirely of lists. There were lists of facilities, parks in and outside the city, expenditures, staff and programs. In 1968, twelve full time gardeners and labourers worked in Beacon Hill Park plus a Foreman and Caretaker. A potting shed was completed at east end of the two new green houses at the Nursery. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1968)
Queenie gets exercise
Nineteen year old Queenie exercised with Park Caretaker Sandy Hayton in the photo on the left. Except for short exercise sessions, Queenie, a much-loved former Park workhorse, remained in the animal pen at Beacon Hill Park from her retirement in 1963 until her death in 1970. (See more on Queenie in 1958, 1961, 1963, 1966 and 1970.)
Sports pavilion proposed
A million dollar “multi-use sports and recreation pavilion” was suggested for Beacon Hill Park as part of the City’s proposed five-year capital improvement budget of $8.5 million. Mayor Hugh Stephen, who presented details at the McPherson Theatre, described the pavilion as the “most important parks development.”
The Times reported the pavilion would include “a 1,500 square foot assembly hall plus kitchen facilities, office space for organizations, furnished lounges, change rooms, viewing areas, showers and storage rooms for cricketers, bowlers, grass hockey and tennis players.” The building would be constructed between the bowling greens and the cricket pitch, on the east side of the Park. A new Parks Headquarters Building in Beacon Hill Park was also planned to “eliminate the scattering of small huts now used,” at a cost of $134,000. (Times, May 30, 1969, p. 23)
1969 Annual Report
W. H. (Herb) Warren wrote his last Park Report in 1969. In a letter of farewell to City Hall, he stated he was submitting his “39th Report.” [The correct count is 37 Reports. Warren did not write one in 1930 because he began work in December and the years 1964-1966 were combined into one report. 37 is still an amazing record.) Warren retired in July, 1970 after 39 l/2 years as Park Administrator.
Warren began his last Report with a general statement:
As population grows in Victoria and high rise apartments spring up around Beacon Hill Park, it becomes increasingly important to preserve this park in its entirety for the recreation and enjoyment of its citizens...The responsibility is ours to keep the wild sections intact in Beacon Hill Park so far as possible, to give citizens an impression of what this area looked like a century ago. Any effort to pretty wild waterfront areas would cost out of all proportion to the end results because of the impoverished soil and exposure.
Work accomplished during the year: “Installation of change rooms was completed in the Cameron Memorial Shell...some 6,000 persons attended the Summer Cinema program... Some improvement to the drainage at Heywood Ave. Playing field was completed. Asphalt curbs bordering park roads were extended as funds permitted to protect lawns from damage by cars.”
“There are 22 park benches south of Dallas Road (including Clover Point and Holland Point) and 126 elsewhere in Beacon Hill Park.”
In 1969, twelve full time staff worked in Beacon Hill Park plus a Supervisor (formerly called a Foreman) and Caretaker. The City of Victoria still owned three parks outside the City. Durrance Lake, 254 acres (including a 25 acre lake), Mount Douglas, 365 acres and Thetis Lake, 1,106.92 acres. There were nineteen parks in the City, covering 293.17 acres. (CRS 108, 12 F 5, file 5, “Report of the Park Administrator, 1969)
[After Warren’s retirement, no annual park reports were written one exception. The “Annual Report 2002 of Beacon Hill Park” was published by the City in 2003 to fulfil one of the recommendations of the Round Table, Phase 1 of the Management Plan. No report was issued in 2003 or 2004.]