Market Square

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Artist's Description

Taken in Old Town, Victoria, BC

Market Square’s buildings date from the prosperous 1880’s and early 1890’s and were built at a time when Victoria was enjoying unprecedented growth and prosperity. World demand for the Island’s lumber, coal, sealskins and salmon catapulted Victoria in the global economy. Victoria was finally beginning to evolve from a frontier backwater into a modern metropolis and by the end of the century would be viewed by many as a sophisticated outpost of English culture. Already, the splendid Druid Hotel was hosting royalty and other luminaries and Victoria’s reputation as a premier tourist city was rapidly spreading both in the United States and throughout the colonial network. It was time to modernize and beautify Victoria and thus began the architectural facelift of the city which in some thirty years saw the erection of the Parliament Buildings, the Empress Hotel, the Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal, cathedrals, banks, office buildings and a multitude of mansions, most of which did evoke “olde England”.

The area now known as Old Town began to rebound from the horrifying recession of the late 1860’s and 70’s. The sealing fleets, ships and chandleries, foundries, manufacturers, and the newly opened E & N railway terminus on Store Street, and the lucrative opium manufacturing houses in Chinatown, firmly entrenched this part of town as the commercial centre. It too began to sprout new buildings in which to house the offices, shops, saloons and hotels needed to accommodate the burgeoning marketplace and the growing number of both residents and visitors. The Market Square complex holds the earliest examples of masonry buildings in the city and also several buildings very representative of the Italianate Victoria style. The architects remain unknown to us except for Thomas Hooper, who designed the Milne Building which today is designated as a Heritage building. Market Square also consist of structures which were built for the Chinese commercial community and are of a completely different style. (See addendum on the origins of the buildings of Market Square). Market Square encompasses the lower block of Johnson, Store and Pandora Streets and the courtyard in the centre now covers the ravine which ran East to West between Johnson and Pandora (then Cormorant) which both symbolically and physically separated the Oriental community from the Occidental one. The history of Market Square thus encompasses the two very different historical realities experienced by the white ethnic immigrant on Johnson Street and the “Chinaman” who lived on Cormorant, both of which differ markedly from the perception of Victoria as a little slice of “olde England”.

Featured in:
Beautiful BC, February 2013
Pacific Northwest Group, March 2013

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Samyang 14mm
Manual Exposure
1/250 sec
ISO 400

Single RAW file converted

Artwork Comments

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