Citizens' efforts reveal historic roots in suburbs west of Victoria

Local residents' initiative to share old images and records from Greater Victoria's Westshore have struck a chord in the fast-growing community.

Historic scenes from Westshore's past strike chord for residents of Greater Victoria suburbs

The 1912 "Battle of Colwood" training exercise with officers and civilians is among the historic images on a popular Facebook page that features historic images of the Westshore area of Greater Victoria. (Vancouver Archives)

As rapid population growth transforms the Westshore communities of Greater Victoria, an online collaboration by some longtime residents is helping to preserve memories of vanished landmarks and local hangouts. 

Gone are favourite Boomer-era haunts such as Bob's Burgers, while historic traditions such as the "Battle of Colwood" military exercises are lost to living memory. 

Lori Krogel returned to Westshore, where she grew up, after a 32-year absence. She started posting old photos of the area to Facebook as she tried to reorient herself to the dramatic changes that had occurred. 

Her Facebook group, called The Changing Westshore, Old and New, grew into a community hub for sharing photos, documents and memories of the area. It now has more than 2,000 members.

"It's been very exciting because it's what we remember when we were growing up," Krogel said. 

Members of the Facebook group collaborate to come up with missing names and details for historical images, and reminisce about favourite haunts such as Bob's Burgers.

Another Westshore resident with deep roots in the community was inspired by the old family stories to pursue a career in the provincial archives.

Nine generations in Langford

Genevieve Weber told On the Island host Gregor Craigie her family's Langford connection goes back nine generations to the mid-1850s. That's when ancestors from two branches of her family tree arrived in Canada and went to work for the Hudson's Bay Company.

Donald McKenzie operated a mill at Parsons Bridge for the Hudson's Bay Company, while William Wale worked on one of the HBC farms.

As a child, Weber was fascinated by her grandfather's stories and the family's deep connection to the local geography.

The original building housing Ma Miller's pub, established in the 1920s, was destroyed by fire and replaced by its current building in the 1930s. (postcard)

"We would walk around Langford together and he would point out locations where people had lived," she said.

"For example, he grew up for some time in his grandmother's house, which is right where Westbrook Mall is now (on Goldstream Avenue)."

While two streets in Langford — Wale Road and Scafe Road — still bear her ancestors' surnames, the community's physical appearance has changed drastically in her lifetime.

"The streets I grew up on, some of the streets the houses are completely gone and replaced," Weber said. "It's a complete makeover."

With files from CBC Radio One's On the Island and All Points West.