Our Newsletter is published every two months and is currently produced and edited by Shannon Johnson
January/ February 2022
P.O. Box 50004, RPO Fairfield Plaza, Victoria, B.C. V8S 5L8
Telephone: (250) 598-8870
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site: http//www.oldcem. bc.ca
Tours -Gerry Buydens
We will start up again in mid-February with in person tours which will be contingent on
the status of COVID. Check our website, our Facebook page or email for 2022 tour
information. Tour schedule for February to April listed below.
We would like to thank everyone for making this past year a success. In particular I
would like to thank the tour organizers for their efforts in adjusting to the pandemic
laden year and still deliver the weekly tours. Thank you to everyone who attended the
Old Cemeteries Society 2022 Tour Schedule — February to the end of April
Charge: $5 for non-members; $2 for members. No reservations needed.
Tours are every Sunday at 2 pm.
Tours at Ross Bay Cemetery are signified RBC and start at the cemetery entrance on
Fairfield Road, opposite the south end of Stannard Street. Other tours start where noted.
NOTE: The tour on Sunday, March 20, Victoria’s Multicultural Firsts, will be on
Zoom only. The Zoom link will be sent out to members.
Feb. 20. RBC. City of the Dead. Find out why RBC was founded in 1872 and how it was
designed based on 19th century ideals of cemetery layout that originated with Napoleon.
The winding carriageways lined with trees had symbolic significance; the styles of
monuments and their epitaphs evoked Victorian values; the sloping site overlooking the
ocean and the division by religious denomination reflected divisions in 19th century class
Feb. 27. RBC. Black History. Each year in February, the OCS joins with the BC Black
History Awareness Society to mark Black History Month by touring some of the many
graves of Victoria’s Black pioneers buried at RBC. Escaping increasing discrimination in
California, about 600 came here at the invitation of Gov. James Douglas. Douglas is
included on the tour because of Black ancestry on his mother’s side.
March 6. RBC. Monuments and Their Makers. Victorian cemeteries such as RBC were often intended to be outdoor sculpture gardens. Several master stone sculptors practised in Victoria and have superb works in many different styles on display at RBC. Who carved these angels, elaborate crosses, Gothic tablets and classical pillars? John Adams has chosen some fascinating examples for today’s tour and will visit the graves of some of the carvers to tell their stories.
March 13. RBC. Murder Most Foul – Part 1. Always a popular topic in our annual tour
program. Join Michael Halleran as he visits graves of the victims of murder and even a
few of the convicted murderers themselves. For murder mystery aficionados who want
more, the theme will continue later this year with a selection of different stories.
March 20. Zoom only. Victoria’s Multicultural Firsts. May Q. Wong is the author of
the recent book City in Colour about Victoria’s multicultural past with a focus on people
of colour. The author will highlight the many firsts among this diversity of people buried
at RBC. Hear about Victoria’s Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, First Nations, Metis and
others of colour who were pioneers, trailblazers and community leaders.
March 27. RBC. Emily Carr Tour – Part 1. Emily Carr’s grave is one of the most
visited at RBC. Every year a team of OCS guides visits the graves of many people Emily
knew. Emily herself (a.k.a. Molly Raher Newman) will delight us with readings about
these people from Emily’s prolific writings. A second, different Emily Carr tour is
scheduled later this year.
April 3. RBC. Gulf Islands Connections. Today the Gulf Islands are easily accessible by
regular ferry service but even in the earliest days of settlement when travel was more
difficult, there were strong connections between Victoria and the islands. Join Yvonne
Van Ruskenveld to hear stories of those with connections to the many different islands
that attract visitors from near and far.
April 10. The Jewish Cemetery. In October 1859, within a year of the first Jews arriving
in the city, the Hebrew Benevolent Society purchased 1.7 acres from the Hudson Bay
Company for a cemetery. Officially established in February 1860, it was the first Jewish
cemetery in western Canada and is B.C.’s oldest non-indigenous cemetery still in
continuous use today. Our tour will offer an overview of the influences of Jewish
customs and beliefs on the creation of a cemetery landscape as well as how the site
reflects the community’s history, its present and its future. Meet at the main gates on
Fernwood Rd. at corner of Cedar Hill Rd. Men, please wear a hat.
April 17. RBC. Grave Messages. While the permanent residents of Ross Bay Cemetery
can no longer speak to us directly, the words and symbols on their grave markers give us
glimpses of who they were and how they were loved. Join long-time OCS member
Yvonne Van Ruskenveld as she explores the meaning behind a new set of some of RBC’s
most interesting epitaphs and symbols and the stories they can reveal. This tour will
include some of the newest stones in the cemetery.
April 24. RBC. Re-thinking Point Ellice House. Kelly Black, historian and manager of
Point Ellice House National Historic Site, examines the stories of the O’Reilly family,
their neighbours, friends and business associates. Peter O’Reilly, often portrayed as a
pillar of the community in Victorian society, can also be seen in a different light that will
be discussed today.
Annual General Meeting– Gerry Buydens
Due to the pandemic, we will not be able to have indoor gathering for the foreseeable
future, so do not expect an AGM in February. We are allowed to delay the AGM by 6
months under normal conditions but due to COVID, we have a 12-month window from
the end of our season.
It is my hope that things start to lighten up & we get the virus under control, so that we
might be able to hold an outdoor AGM in May or early June when the weather will be
favorable. The current executive will remain in place until the AGM, whenever that may
be. We will continue to operate as per whatever Health regulations are in place. Keep
Painting of Ross Bay Cemetery by the late Anne Meggitt
-Donated by her daughters to the Old Cemetery Society
George Russell (Russ) Stewart,
Russ was born July 15, 1931, the second of thirteen children of George Watson Stewart and Mabel Stewart (nee Taylor), in Kinistino, Saskatchewan, which is just west of Melfort. He attended Norden School beginning in 1937. Poverty, the Depression, and then wartime labour
shortages taught Russ habits of long hours and hard work which he kept up throughout his life.
As a teenager he began to see a bigger world when he visited Ontario to help with a grain
harvest, and then British Columbia as a member of the naval reserve. Russ earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan, paying for it by working on pipeline construction, at the smelter in Trail, BC, and as an apprentice pharmacist.
In 1954, after graduating and while working at a pharmacy in Prince Albert, he met and
married Lucy Row, who had graduated from Prince Albert Collegiate Institute and
worked in the film room of the public library.
They were married in the chapel of St Albans Cathedral on November 7, 1954, beginning
more than 67 years of married life together.
Russ soon joined the Canadian Forces as a medical officer, and in 1966-67 he earned a
Master’s in Health Administration degree from Baylor University. He spent his career in
the health care field, serving in Ontario, Manitoba, Germany, Texas and Nova Scotia.
Russ and Lucy became adventurous and well-organized travellers, taking many long trips
across Canada to visit family members, wherever they were based, and occasionally to
see other parts of the world. Russ was a lifelong Christian and a constant contributor to
his community, wherever he lived, and above all through the United Churches where he
was always active.
In the late 1970s Russ began building a cottage on a lot on Centennial Lake, between
Calabogie and Griffith. The cottage became his hobby, and Russ and Lucy’s second
home, for the next twenty years, as their primary base moved to Nepean, Ontario and
later to Victoria, BC, where they retired. Russ continued to contribute through
organizations including the Salvation Army Grace General Hospital in Ottawa, Victoria’s Fairfield United Church, the Cook Street Village Activity Centre, Craigdarroch Castle and the Old Cemeteries Society for the rest of his life.
Russ passed away in Victoria on November 28, 2021. He is survived by his loving wife
of 67 years, Lucy (nee Row), children Ken (Rose), John (Nadia), Tom (Christina) and
Maggie (Ken Frasch), and eight grandchildren. He was predeceased by daughter Lucy
(1957), son James (1971-99) and granddaughter Maeve (1993-99). Russ is remembered
by his friends at Fairfield United Church, the Cook Street Village Activity Centre, and
the Old Cemeteries Society, by his surviving brothers and sisters, and by friends and
neighbours far and wide.
The Old Cemetery Society would like to thank Russ for all of his years of service and our
thoughts are with his loved ones.
December 5, 2021 Tour: Old Burying Ground Christmas Tour
– An engaged group listening to John Adams
The Old Cemetery Society’s year runs from January 1 to December 31st. We would like
to remind everyone that annual membership fees are due on January 1st. Thank you to
all members who are up to date with their membership dues. For those of you who
haven’t submitted your dues, it is not too late. Please submit as soon as possible. Please
use the membership renewal form attached. Dues will also be accepted in person at our
Membership Renewal Form:
It’s time to renew your OCS membership for 2022 and for the board to thank you for
your past support of our activities. Please circle type of membership: Individual $30
Family $45 Student $20 Donations are greatly appreciated. $_____________
Please make cheques payable to The Old Cemeteries Society and mail to P.O. Box
50004, RPO Fairfield Plaza, Victoria BC, V8S 5L8
Membership cards are issued only if requested.