Walking Tours

3038 Albany

About Burnside Gorge

Burnside Gorge is a residential area located in the north-west portion of the City of Victoria.

In the late 19th century properties along the Gorge waterway were fashionable. In 1894 architect W. Ridgway-Wilson designed a Queen Anne style residence for industrialist Charles Spratt. Premier Richard McBride acquired it in 1908 and called it “Glenelg.” Unfortunately only one residence from this period –“The Dingle” (1885) – still stands. However Edwardian-era houses are still prevalent. Many were built after the Lohbrunner Estate was subdivided in 1908. New streets – Irma, Balfour, Albany, and Carroll – were laid out at this time. Wesley Mitchell, an entrepreneur from Manitoba, developed several nearby properties. In 1910 he was advertising “choice lots on Washington Avenue, close to the Gorge Road” for $700. Half-acre lots, “all cleared and fenced,” sold for $1,500. Some of these large residential lots still remain on Washington Avenue.

Residential development was facilitated by new infrastructure. In 1912, Gorge Rd East was paved and a new bridge over Cecelia Ravine was built. A new streetcar line, route № 10, opened that year: It traversed Burnside Rd East to Carroll Street. In 1912-13, an elementary school was built on Cecelia Rd. A striking number of “motorneers” [street car operators] lived in this neighbourhood. It also attracted middle-class school teachers, store managers, and professionals.

In 1916 the Canadian Northern Railway (an antecedent of the CNR) completed its line through the ravine, which is now parkland and part of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. It crossed the trestle bridge over the Selkirk Water to rail yards in Victoria West. In the other direction, the railway went to Patricia Bay. Until the 1920s, there was a passenger service to Pat Bay.

Despite the Depression in the 1930s, several new homes were built. Residential construction accelerated towards the end of the 2nd World War. In the 1950s, motels sprouted along the Gorge Road, which extended past Harriet Rd. and connected to the “old” Island Highway at Craigflower Bridge. This was the main route to the Western Communities and the Malahat until the Trans-Canada Highway was completed in the late 1960s. Most of the motels have now been converted into apartments or social housing. But visitors can still find accommodation at a few places, including a motel (279 Gorge Rd. E) that occupies the site of Sir Richard McBride’s residence, “Glenelg.”

Burnside map

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