Ross Bay Cemetery is located on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen People. The Songhees and Esquimalt Nations are part of the Coast Salish family and are descendants of the Lekwungen family group. Lekwungen is the original language of this land. The Lekwungen people hunted and gathered here for thousands of years before European exploration.
Ross Bay Cemetery has the oldest surviving formal landscape design in BC and is a superb example of a Victorian-era burial ground. Its profusion of unusual trees and plantings, winding carriageways, graves with intriguing marble, sandstone and granite monuments, all bear witness to the people buried here. The City of Victoria Archives has an online burial database for Ross Bay Cemetery. Visit our Links page.
Experience the charm of one of Victoria’s most historic places and enjoy a quiet stroll along tree-lined avenues with ocean vistas. It is like a visit to an outdoor sculpture garden, a walking park and a page from history rolled into one.
Many famous Canadians and Americans are buried here, including Sir James Douglas (BC’s first governor), many subsequent premiers, coal baron Robert Dunsmuir (who built Craigdarroch Castle), Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, Emily Carr (world-famous artist), Billy Barker (discoverer of gold at Barkerville) and Nellie Cashman (the “Miners’ Angel” who was featured on a US postage stamp).
Look for the grave of John Dean, the disgruntled politician whose tombstone was erected many years before he died. Find the unique fire hat marker, the giant South Seas shell on the grave of a seafaring artist, the rocketship that is a pun on the Rockett family name, the tombstone with the poem written by a black pioneer, the Japanese memorial and the Cross of Sacrifice. Read about some prominent people buried in RBC.
Stroll on your own or join one the the Guided history tours offered regularly by the Old Cemeteries Society.
Enquiries from genealogists, contacts with families having plots in these cemeteries, offers of assistance, or tax deductable donations toward cemetery preservation are welcome and appreciated.