Royal Oak Burial Park
Royal Oak Burial Park Crematorium Chapel
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Royal Oak Burial Park is a picturesque landscaped site with gently rolling hills that comprise the cemetery, nestled discreetly in a suburban area, adjacent to the Patricia Bay Highway in the Royal Oak area of Saanich. Located on the site is a masonry Crematorium Chapel and Retort.
The heritage value of the Royal Oak Burial Park is found in the history that it has within Greater Victoria as a public institution. As the largest municipal cemetery in B.C., the Royal Oak Burial Park is one of the most historic and picturesque burial parks in Western Canada, and the only burial park on Vancouver Island with a crematorium. Jointly founded in 1923 by the City of Victoria and the District of Saanich, the Burial Park is a not for profit organization dedicated to the provision of affordable cemetery, cremation and mausoleum services for Victoria and neighbouring communities. This is the oldest operating crematorium in Greater Victoria.
The Royal Oak Burial Park is valued for its picturesque landscape, with rolling hills, varied topography and many mature landscape specimens. The design enhances the natural features of the site. The location of the Crematorium Chapel and Retort provides a dramatic visual focus upon entry to the site. Designed in the Art Deco style, it is a striking design and the purest example of this style in Saanich. Built in 1937, its reinforced concrete construction and smooth stucco wall surfaces represent the functional institutional architecture of the era.
The Crematorium Chapel and Retort is also valued as a surviving example of the work of architect C. Elwood Watkins (1875-1942), who was one of the most successful architects of the region. He began his practice as an apprentice to, and later partner of, Thomas Hooper, and established his own practice prior to the First World War. Watkins designed many local residences and commercial buildings, and for many years was the official architect for the Victoria School Board.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Key elements of the heritage character of the Royal Oak Burial Park include its:
- setting of the Garden Chapel, nestled in the open, rolling landscape with a backdrop of coniferous forest
- well-maintained and manicured landscape with mature coniferous shrubs throughout
- deciduous trees, providing a changing, seasonal landscape
- mixture of internment services, giving the memorial landscape a variety of textures
- the chapel's smooth stucco wall surfaces, vertical roof projections, ziggurat forms over the entrance doors and incised geometric lines, all typical of Art Deco style
- original pews, woodwork, light fixtures, leaded glass windows and plaster relief features of the interior of the Chapel
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
C. Elwood Watkins
Luney Bros. Ltd.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Cross-Reference to Collection