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1901::The Inner Harbour of Victoria, British Columbia and the Last of the James Bay Bridge

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

One of the last panoramic views of Victoria's Inner Harbour with the James Bay Bridge.

1901::One of the last panoramic views of the harbour with the James Bay Bridge.

"1901::Panoramic View of Victoria's Famous Harbour"

Photo: (tbd)

At the turn of the 20th century, this photo was featured in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Victoria's famous harbour of the west represented beauty and function and held up well against the eastern harbours of Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. But to take a closer look at this 1901 photo, it represented a young city on the cusp of significant change.

After weathering yet another gold rush fever in the 1890s, the city of Victoria was falling back into quieter times. But with a new island rail line in place, a new post office and the magnificent new Parliament Buildings now properly representing the capital city, it was time to fix what was broken and build on the city's strengths. A plan was put in place. It began with dredging the harbour and reclaiming the mudflats on the east side of the James Bay Bridge. In fact, replacing the 'old rickety bridge' (which had been a bone of contention since 1859) was part of the plan, too.

1903::CP purchases reclaimed mud flats to build Empress Hotel.

"A New Causeway"

Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1903)

A causeway was to be built on top of the reclaimed mudflats, and new businesses would be set up as roadside features of the newly extended Government Street. But the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) arrived just on time and claimed the reclaimed land for themselves. CP had come around a decade earlier and considered purchasing the ground that the new Parliament Buildings now sat on. But now, a decade later, with the reclamation of the mudflats, there was no question of where they wanted their hotel to be. The new CP Empress Hotel was built adjacent to the Parliament Buildings as a grand keeper of Victoria's Inner Harbour, all overtop of the reclaimed mudflats of James Bay. It was the finishing touch to Victoria's new Inner Harbour of the 20th century.

Photo features:

Right of Photo: James Bay Bridge (built/rebuilt since 1859)

Bottom Centre: Douglas Obelisk (1881)

Bottom Left: James Bay Athletic Association Clubhouse/Boathouse (1891)

Far end of bridge: New Canada Post Office (1898- corner of Government and Wharf Street) with new Customs location tucked in behind.

Left Off-Centre: Old Customs Building (1875)

Right Far-side of Bridge: Pendrays Paint & Soapworks

Distant Left of Photo: Dunsmuir's Swing 'Rail' Bridge: 1888

1906::A new causeway on Victoria's Inner Harbour.

"1906::A New Causeway"

Photo: BC Archives (F-09642)

Within a few short years, Victoria's Inner Harbour looked very different from the first photo above, making it one of the last panoramic photos that included the old James Bay 'rickety' Bridge.

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