#1000Cemeteries: Ross Bay & Chinese Cemetery – Victoria, British Columbia

In keeping with my quest to visit 1000 cemeteries (before I find my final resting place in one) I decided to hit up two of Victoria’s cemeteries.  I’ve visited Ross Bay Cemetery before but this time I was able to spend a bit more time strolling through the headstones. One of Canada’s oldest Victorian-era burial grounds, Ross Bay opened in 1873 and spans over 27 acres along the pacific coast. Many famous British Columbians are buried among the blooming trees and rolling landscape that overlooks an amazing ocean view. It’s so peaceful and quiet that I was completely taken off guard when I turned to find two deer nibbling on the grass a row over from us. They couldn’t care less that we were around. They looked up from their meal as if to say Yeah, we know you’re here and we’re cool with it.

The headstones are unique and you could quite literally spend hours, if not days, roaming the rows looking at each one. I snapped a few photos of some that really stood out to me.

But one of the main reasons I returned to Ross Bay was to search out the grave of famous Canadian artist Emily Carr. If you call yourself a Canadian then you are at least a little bit familir with the woman. Especially if you live in BC where it seems that everything is named after her: A University of Art and Design in Vancouver, a library in Victoria, several elementary and secondary schools across Canada and even an inlet on the north coast of BC. You can learn more about Emily Carr and her work here.

It was Brandon who first spotted it. A plot dedicated to the Carr family with separate headstones for Emily and another for a poem she wrote.

This is one of my favourite pieces of her art.

emily carr

The Chinese Cemetery – #18 on the Quest to 1000

As the rain began to fall a bit harder, we decided to continue our journey on to the next cemetery, number 18 on my quest. Named simply as Chinese Cemetery, this graveyard lies on Harling Point and was designated a National Historic Site by the government of Canada in 1996. Many of the first Chinese settlers were relocated to Harling Point between 1903 and 1908. You can learn more about the Chinese Cemetery and Harling Point here.

The cemetery was closed for restoration but that didn’t stop us. We walked along the fence until we hit the coast and slipped in to get a better view. Although the locked gates didn’t stop us, the flock of geese did. They had taken up residence and were not nearly as friendly as the deer at Ross Bay. I’m not sure if you’ve ever witness an angry goose, but I quickly decided to make a pact with them – we leave them alone and in turn they do the same for us. With that said I wasn’t able to get a close look at the headstones but I did notice that they weren’t in English anyway so reading them was out of the questions.

But the view! Now that was worth sneaking in and making a pact with the geese. We spent most of our time just staring off into the ocean, rain pattering on our hats and hoods, watching the waves roll in. When I say it was breathtaking, I’m not exaggerating. I do believe on a warmer day we’ll be going back to have a picnic. I could spend hours there!

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