This is the third part of our Route in Review – exploring the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon course, and enjoying the history and scenery as we run along. We are at the 10-kilometre mark of the Marathon on Dallas Road and on our left is Ross Bay Cemetery. Dating from 1873, this 27.5 acre site is the burial site for many of BC Premiers as well as notable Victorians. Rummage around this impressive cemetery and you will find amongst many others Premiers Robert Beaven (1836-1920), James Dunsmuir (1851-1920) and Sir Richard McBride (1870-1917), as well as BC’s first Governor General St James Douglas (1803-1877) and the painter Emily Carr (1871-1945).
Up the hill we go reaching Hollywood Crescent running between some quaint, heritage style homes with glimpses of the ocean to our right. At the Ross/Robertson/Crescent intersection we have Gonzalez Bay on our right. Originally called Foul Bay, the area was named after the Spanish explorer Gonzalo Lopez de Haro ﬁrst mate of the Spanish ship Princesa Real, who helped chart the waters around Vancouver Island in 1790.
Turning right on Crescent, left on Irving we reach Fairfield. If we were to turn right up Fairfield, beyond the Foul Bay intersection we would see Abkhazi Garden, the heritage home and garden founded by the Georgian Prince and Princess Abkhazi, and now owned by the Land Conservancy. But we won’t be visiting today. Instead we turn left on to Fairfield, right on Richmond and right again on to Richardson. Some famous residences abound in this area – Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and Craigdarroch Castle, former home of the Dunsmuir family, and now a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
We are now approaching where the Half Marathon splits from the Marathon route at Cowichan and Richardson at 13-kilometres. Crossing Foul Bay to McNeill and we ‘enter’ Oak Bay. Known for its charming neighbourhoods with a British atmosphere, the area contains some pleasant walking trails, like the Centennial Trail we pass on Hampshire and Brighton, and some very prestigious properties in Uplands, which we will see later on in our journey. Oak Bay Village is on our route and as we turn right into the avenue we see an eclectic mix of coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and shops. Oak Bay Avenue has retained its character and is a popular destination for Victorians and visitors.
Turning off the avenue on to Monterey we head south, reaching Dallas at McNeill Bay at approximately 16.5 kilometres. Named after Captain William Henry McNeill, master of the Hudson’s Bay steamer, SS Beaver, a plaque marks the date that Sir James Douglas anchored here on March 14, 1843 while scouting out Fort Victoria. This seems a suitable point to take a break on our marathon journey.