Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oak Bay ~ memories

I grew up in the area of Victoria known as Oak Bay.
It was and still is a lovely quiet neighbourhood.
Oak trees are prolific, a living green canopy providing dappled shade.

I feel very much at home in Oak Bay.

The Avenue is on my weekly rounds and I remember how quaint and small it used to be...
basically a couple of short blocks of retail shops, the butcher, bakery, banks, grocery store, cafe, real estate agent and one cannot forget The Oak Bay Theatre.
(where I sat to watch Romeo and Juliet ~ 5 times!)

Today The Avenue spans from Monterey to Foul Bay Road
there are some who like to think it creeps a little further nudging towards Richmond Road.
(I think not) The Tweed curtain officially starts at Foul Bay!

The street where I grew up is a humble block named Guernsey.
We had no sidewalks, today it is the same...
the houses are the same although they have been tarted up with fresh paint and some of the gardens have changed, including ours...
Mother had a green thumb and we had lots of flowers and beds in front of our home.
Today many of the beds have been filled in...although it has similar bones to the design.

I drive Mother by often and we stop to stare.

It is a modest 2 story home covered in pebbledash stucco, which as a child used to fascinate me.
You could see shells and broken bits of coloured glass which I tried to pry off on occasion.

Our family home transports me back to a time of innocence and freedom.
I can almost hear myself giggling as a girl...

I wonder what Mother feels and thinks as we sit silently in the car.
A few moments in time where we almost hold our breaths and listen to the echoes of dialogue from the past...
in the distance...
the voice of my Father as he flips burgers on the BBQ
two little girls playing with dolls and staking out our territory in our shared bedroom
Mother singing with abandon as she washes dishes...
her habit was to circle the rims of the crystal goblets with her fingers to make them sing with her.

It seems like such a long ago and yet like almost yesterday.

A week or so ago we stumbled upon this sign...

one block from Guernsey
we stopped for a plant sale

Gardener and author Lynn Milnes has a stand outside her home.
My sister studies the plants tags before choosing several marionberry bushes.

I couldn't resist sneaking a few pics.
Lynne's garden is a gem snuggly tucked away on a block long byway, 
like Guernsey it too has no sidewalks!

Can you see that the telephone pole has been painted a bright blue with some flowers?

I'll be back in Oak Bay every week for as long as I am able...

My 40th High school reunion is this summer
Oak Bay High
 will be demolished 
to build a new school very soon.
~ ~ ~
It will be rather strange perhaps surreal going back...
for one last time.

Where did you grow up and do you go back and visit often?


  1. A thought provoking blog. We lived in two different houses growing up. The first was a bungelow in a westside suburb with small lots and kind neighbors. When I as ten we moved to a more rural area on Cleveland's eastside. We had a two story Colonial on a 2 acre wooded lot, but the neighbors were not very friendly.

  2. Until the end of Grade 3 I grew up in the Dunbar area of Vancouver. Two years ago the house we lived was demolished for a new one to be built. I was sad to see it go with the playhouse my Dad had built for me in the backyard. My grandparents lived a block down and a block over from us and their backyard was wonderful. I have driven down their lane and stopped and looked in the backyard over the years-the owners even let me come into the yard and sit for awhile. It is good to have memories.

  3. I have spent some time in Oak Bay. It's a lovely area...charming and quaint.
    I grew up in Las Vegas. Not charming and quaint at all!
    While I do visit every couple of years, I don't have many enjoyable trips down memory lane. The houses I grew up in, which were in nice neighborhoods decades ago, have deteriorated and many, many buildings (casinos and hotels) that I used to love to see have been demolished. It's like the city I grew up in has disappeared.

  4. What an absolutely lovely post. You have me a lump in my throat!

    I grew up in southern NB and it is like going in a time machine each time I go back...

  5. I live in Oak Bay. But on the opposite end of the country; Oak Bay, New Brunswick. It too is a beautiful area, just off Passamaquoddy Bay, near St. Andrew's-by-the-Sea, but much more rural, where laneways are often named after the family who settled there. We live beside the water, where the incoming and outgoing of the tide marks the passage of time.
    I visited your Oak Bay years ago, and found it as lovely as you say.
    The home of my childhood is a quaint town east of Toronto. I have memories of my childhood, and we took our daughter there to see where I grew up, but after 44 years in Oak Bay, this is my home, and I rarely go back. Everything and everyone I love is here. Here is where my heart is.
    L. - in Oak Bay

  6. I grew up in Richmond when it was mostly farmland and houses that returning soldiers bought on 3/4 acre lots.
    My grandparents lived next-door when I was young and my grandfather grew everything. My Nana canned and preserved all of the harvest. We had no sidewalks and we had ditches. In the spring, we made frog-catchers and to our parents' despair played near the ditches. All of the families in our neighbourhood knew each other and we played scrub baseball or badminton every summer evening. My family home was torn down years ago. Today,few children live in detached houses, play outside very much or speak English as a first language. My high-school was torn down several years ago but when I visit I can find my picture from 1970 and my aunt's from 1957. I taught night school in my old high school ( original building) for a while.

  7. I never feel the urge to return to spots I used to live. Once I leave that's it, it belongs to someone else. My childhood home has changed so much; it lives on in my memory but has no emotional connection to me as it is now. It was out in the country, now it's surrounded by subdivision and paved roads. I wouldn't go out of my way to drive past it; in fact I avoid it.

    Funny thought, I was coming up Yonge Street tonight and I saw the very old apartment building I lived in when I was in university. I was surprised to see the building hadn't been torn down and replaced by high priced condos!

  8. I grew up all over the US (and Newfoundland) since my father was USAF. The only roots I had were my grandmother's house in Troy, NY. It is now long gone. My childhood wanderings and no hometown made me determined to give my sons a stable childhood and a home to return to as often as they wished. That is what I did and have never regretted the decision.

  9. I grew up in Tyler, Texas (100 miles East of Dallas) which was a town of about 40,000 during most of the years of my childhood. Some say that Tyler is one of the most beautiful cities in our state. Many of the streets in the downtown area are red brick. Because the climate is moist and humid in East Texas, yards are lovely and have many large trees. Tyler is known for its roses (with a Rose Festival in the fall. It is also situated close to the oil fields of the 1920s and 30s and 40s when much wealth came into the small town of Tyler. Things are different there now and it has become a medical center.

    Do I go back often? Yes and no. We have a farm 15 miles outside of Tyler which has been in my family since 1871. We purchased it from my father about 15 years ago. We built a weekend stone cottage there and also have a restored 19th century log house there. We spend as much time as possible at the farm, but only go into Tyler to visit my mother who still lives there. The town has changed--urban sprall, some poor urban planning. Except for the central area of town, it is not quite as charming as it used to be.