School Tours and Programs

Attention Teachers – The OCS offers a unique way to learn about history, folklore and culture through guided walking history tours at Ross Bay Cemetery. Our guides weave the threads of individual lives into a broad tapestry of the history and culture represented in this beautiful heritage site.

Our tours are a great way for everyone, whether new to Victoria or not, to appreciate the city and province. We welcome adult groups and children in school classes or other groups. Suitable for Grade 4 and up, our school group tours can provide information, inspiration, and enrichment for classes in Art, Drama, and English Language Arts as well as Social Studies. Below is a partial list of our prepared tours. We are always pleased to consult with individual teachers and group leaders who wish to have a tour customized to suit their particular requirements.

Guided Tours Available at Ross Bay Cemetery include:

  • Ross Bay Cemetery General Tour – This tour offers a balanced overview of the cemetery as an historical resource. Learn the stories of some of British Columbia’s most prominent people, as well as the lore, symbolism, and customs associated with cemeteries.
  • BC History Tour – Ross Bay Cemetery has become the final resting place of many famous people, including Sir James Douglas, Amor de Cosmos, Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, and the Dunsmuirs. Also included are the stories of people who are perhaps not as well known, but who played their own parts in the development of our province.
  • Gold Rush Tour – The various discoveries of gold meant huge influxes of people from around the world, all drawn by the lure of the yellow metal. Billy Barker is the most famous; but there are many stories besides his.
  • Emily Carr Tour – Emily Carr is noted both as painter and writer. Many of the people she wrote about are buried at Ross Bay Cemetery. Hear about them in her words.
  • Women’s History Tour – From the fur traders’ wives to the suffragists of the early 20th century, this tour reviews the lives of some of the women who helped develop Victoria from fur-trade fort to the capital city of a province.

To book a Walking History Tour or for more details, leave a message on our voice mail at 250.598.8870 with your school and home telephone numbers. Please indicate topic, preferred date and time, grade level (Grade 4 and up), the size of the group. Our Tour Coordinator will return your call as soon as possible. Cost for each tour: $45. Or
Email: Please use the form below.

Professional Development Opportunity: Tours are available for groups of teachers who want to learn more about using heritage cemeteries as teaching tools.

For teachers who wish to bring a class to Ross Bay Cemetery on their own:

  • Our Teacher’s Kit is available from school district resource centres, and at the University of Victoria Curriculum Library.
  • Our Website offers material on various topics, plus a virtual tour and links to other websites.
  • Our Self Guided Walking Tour with Map – PDF (download or print) highlights 33 interesting and popular grave sites.

Beginning in February, and every Sunday until the middle of December, The Old Cemeteries Society offers Theme Walking Tours for the general public, starting at 2:00 pm, and lasting about one hour. Topics are different each week. Most of the tours are at Ross Bay Cemetery, but other historic sites are used as well. Cost is $2 for OCS members, $5 for non-members; no reservations are necessary.

To book at tour or Contact the Tour Coordinator: