2023 Tours and Excursions

Tours at Ross Bay Cemetery are signified RBC and start at 2pm at the cemetery entrance on Fairfield Road, opposite the south end of Stannard Street. Others start where noted. No reservations needed. Charge: $5 for non-members; $2 for members.

Feb. 19. RBC. Ross Bay Cemetery: A Heritage Treasure. Ross Bay Cemetery was founded 150 years ago. It is one of the most outstanding Victorian-era cemeteries in western Canada and is a designated heritage site. John Adams, author of the Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery, will trace its history and why it was designed based on 19th-century principles of cemetery planning that originated with Napoleon. He will explain the significance of the winding carriageways lined with trees, the styles of monuments, their epitaphs and symbolism that evoke Victorian values, and how the cemetery’s layout reflected contemporary class and religious distinctions.

Feb. 26. 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. This year’s tour will also include some recently “rediscovered” Black pioneers whose stories have not been told on past tours.

More tour dates to follow

OCS members get a discount on the weekly tours and receive six copies per year of the newsletter “Stone Cuttings” plus advance notification of tours and other activities. Part of each membership and all donations assist many worthwhile projects undertaken by the OCS at RBC and other Greater Victoria heritage cemeteries each year.

Please visit our membership page to join the Old Cemeteries Society.

The Old Cemeteries Society has created a YouTube channel, in order to provide members and others the opportunity to view some of the video recordings from our recent Sunday Tours.

The following is a list of the videos available, to date — with a few more to be uploaded in the near future:

March 28th:   Stories Behind Our Street Names — John Adams and Yvonne Van Ruskenveld

April 4th:  More Than Angels and Obelisks — Yvonne Van Ruskenveld

April 11th:   Victoria’s Militia Goes To War — John Azar

April 25th:  Pioneer Square Gold Rush Tales —  John Adams

May 30th:  Civil War Stories:  Yvonne Van Ruskenveld

U.S. Annexationists at Ross Bay Cemetery–John Adams

Multicultural Firsts In Victoria–May Q Wong

Murder Most Foul, part 1–Michael Halleran

Empire Connections-– Michael Halleran

Annie Harper Christmas Wreath–John Adams

Emily Carr Christmas Wreath–John Adans

Christmas Tour at Ross Bay Cemetery–John Adams

Here is the link to the Old Cemeteries Society YouTube channel:


Christmas tour 2022— John Adams https://youtu.be/Zt2ZoiSDLeo


Cemeteries provide exciting educational opportunities for all grade levels and for many subjects. Consider a visit to Ross Bay Cemetery or the Veterans’ Cemetery this year. Note some tours are available at set dates, while others may be booked at any time. Cost $45 per class.

October 1–31 Ghost tours at RBC

November 1–8 Tours on the topic of Remembrance Day at RBC or the Veterans’ Cemetery.

Other topics to choose from at any time:

• BC History • Gold Rush • Women’s History • Emily Carr • General Tour • Burial Traditions

Call 250.598.8870 to inquire about custom tours or to book.

Groups and school tours a specialty any time.

Ross Bay Cemetery and the Old Burying Ground (Pioneer Square) are open daily year-round during daylight hours. Stop by for a stroll on your own and chat with the OCS volunteers who are often at RBC. Self-guiding maps of both cemeteries are available from the OCS.

Submit this form for more information: