Ross Bay Cemetery
1495 Fairfield Road, Victoria, British Columbia, V8S, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Ross Bay Cemetery is a 27.5 acre graveyard located between Fairfield and Dallas Roads, bounded by Memorial Crescent on the west and the properties on St. Charles Street on the east.
Ross Bay Cemetery is the most important heritage cemetery in British Columbia; its value lies in its historic monuments and largely intact historic landscape.
The over 20,000 graves of Ross Bay Cemetery - many of which are marked with magnificent locally carved head stones - provide a physical record of local, regional, and provincial culture and history. This cemetery is a museum of over one hundred years of the province's most historical figures, such as Sir James Douglas, Matthew Baillie Begbie, and Emily Carr.
The cemetery remains largely true to its 1872 layout; the curving carriageways radiating from a central axis, variety of historic plantings, and arboreal landscape survive as physical reminders of the nineteenth century planning which intended the cemetery to be a romantic and peaceful oasis, well suited to quiet reflection and contemplation. Division of the cemetery into sections by religious denominations demonstrates the influence of local churches on the planning of the cemetery. The evolution of this landscape, as illustrated by such additions as the seawall (1911), plantings (1920s and 1930s), and the trees along Dallas Road represent later concerns to maintain the peaceful state of the environment in a growing residential suburb.
The location of the cemetery in Fairfield close to the Dallas Road shoreline is significant; originally considered to be well outside of the city, this once rural place was chosen after the citizens of James Bay had rejected the plan for it to be built in their neighbourhood. Notably, the land which comprises Ross Bay Cemetery was originally the farm of Isabella Ross, the widow of Charles Ross, a Fort Victoria founder. Surrounded by main transportation routes, local businesses, and a number of historic houses, Ross Bay Cemetery is a 19th century oasis in an area of modern suburban development.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department
The character-defining elements of the Ross Bay Cemetery include:
- the boundaries of the 27.5 acre site, in particular the seawall on Dallas Road, Fairfield Road, and Memorial Crescent;
- the views of the ocean from the cemetery through the Dallas Road plantings;
- elements of the historic landscape relevant to its 1872 design, such as curving carriageways and surviving plantings;
- plantings and carriageways from the 1930s and 1940s;
- all marked and unmarked graves;
- the variety of carved headstones and grave markers, attributable to a number of historic local monument makers, and which distinguish graves of various religious denominations, ethnic groups, social classes, and occupations.
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Philosophy and Spirituality
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning and Development Department
Cross-Reference to Collection