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Mount St Angela

When walking around the Christ Church Cathedral, shown in the episode before this one, I came across an old building that clearly had seen better days. The Mount St Angela building was built in the second half of the nineteenth century and added on to in 1911. It was built as part of the Christ Church establishment, sold to the sister’s of St Ann for a sister retirement home in the fifties, and this century sees it in the eye of the developer. However, Mount St. Angela is a designated heritage building, an important one in the historic architectural fabric of Victoria and it has not been pushed over yet. Its architect designed many of the Victoria houses and buildings, the Richard (Emily) Carr house is one of them. It was designed by John Wright and George Sanders. Personally I believe that the right way of preservation is maintaining certain areas or neighbourhoods rather than individual buildings. It may be a little late for this approach in Victoria and the future may show us buildings such as this one surviving in the midst of 4, 6, or 20 story square boxes made out of concrete and glass. I’m by no means down on modern architecture (the most beautiful buildings worldwide definitely have a share of modern ones with them), but I don’t think that the designs that tend to show up in Victoria particularly beautify the city. At any rate let’s hope the building does not go derelict but gets restored. I think of seismic upgrading and realise there will be a struggle between history and money over the fate of this building.

Mount St Angela [BL]

Mount St Angela [BL] (2)

The future may see this building erased, partly preserved, or restored in its entirety including two houses that are on this property. At least that is what I came up with in my research. However the most recent news items about this place that I could find go back to 2008.

Here is some info on the architects. John Wright did a lot of building in Victoria during the middle part of the 1800s, later on joined by his brother in law, George Sanders, who had met up with him a few years before the Mount St Angela project.


About Joseph de Lange

Before retirement worked in art galleries, a photo studio, offices, and the trades. Don't travel much anymore but still photograph. For the past 5 years 95% of my photography is done with the phone. My prediction for big cameras: DSLRs and their beautiful lenses and even the smaller mirrorless cameras will be mostly a historical footnote in the not too distant future.

6 responses to “Mount St Angela

  1. ehpem

    Hi Joseph – this is a very nice pair of shots – I like the treatment, they give the photos an old-time feel that goes well with the building. I am enjoying your walking tour of some of the finest old buildings in Victoria. I would have commented on the older ones since I was behind a couple of months, but I think you must have comments closing after a few days. I especially liked your black and white shots of Christ Church Cathedral.

    I too am not thrilled by most of the modern architecture that lands up in Victoria even though I agree that modern architecture has produced some wonderful buildings. I think there is not enough money in this town to support top end design, and governments are always wary of appearing to spend money, so tend for the very low key. I remember when they were restoring St. Ann’s just down the hill from this building I was invited to the ribbon cutting. One of the ministerial aides told me that they had thought up a euphemism for Gold (which I now forget) if any reporter asked did they put gold on the restored and (and yes, gold-coated or gilded) cross. They were afraid of the headline overtaking the good job of restoration. And that was for a 100 year old feature returned to its original! You can imagine how that thinking affects the buildings they commission.

    • You know ehpem, I’ve had a few problems changing the email address on WP and during this rather frustrating process where the emails kept on going to the old address I found this setting for stopping comments. I selected 3 weeks, but there are a few posts only in the last three weeks and so it goes. Spamming on a few particular posts (I think the titles may be interpreted as somewhat suggestive, a good lesson for me) is ongoing, hence the reason for curtailing the time for comments. I thought it was a godsend until I saw your comment. The challenge of thinking things through properly, lol.
      I’ve heard about a trend or desire to de-englishfy Victoria especially its architecture. To my mind (perhaps I’m wrong) the attraction of this city to tourists has very much to do with its visible history and therefore dollars going to preservation of an old style city appearance linked with the most modern conveniences should be money well spend. The problem lies perhaps with the developers who have not totally figured out how to cash in on preservation rather than renewal? I like your anecdote. It shows a bit of the challenge that planners have to deal with. Victoria in its spectacular setting is meticulously maintained, it is always clean and the maintenance of its parks and gardens make the city sparkle. The challenge is to preserve and beautify its facade as well.

      • ehpem

        Hi Joseph – I have so few problems with spam in WP that I am surprised to hear that you are having trouble – akismet almost never misses one (in fact it has missed 14 out of 25,000 and marked 2 as spam that are not, according to the stats on my dashboard link). That is very annoying. I can get quite far behind on reading blogs and tend to read them in clusters – when I get into one that I behind on I try to catch up. Sometimes that can be a month or two, which is a bit embarrassing but things are quite busy for me right now and keeping a daily blog going is sometimes all I have time for.

        I really like your thinking about heritage preservation and agree also with your thoughts about preserving districts so that the buildings are in context and not squeezed into a new one by surrounding modern structures (and often not very nice modern structures). I too think that the attraction to tourists is the olde Englishy town feel of parts of Victoria. There needs to be more thought put into that since the slow erosion of that aesthetic is unlikely to be good for tourism, which is so much a part of the local economy. I can’t see the attraction for visitors if Victoria were to looks like everywhere else. Thankfully the natural marine edge setting and backdrop views are pretty stunning and hard to undo (though blocking the views of the Olympic Mountains appears to be some planner’s personal secret project).

        • You are right about Akismet ehpem, I’d give it a 99.8% success rate (deleted my very first blog on early blogger -pre Akismet- because of uncontrollable spamming). I do check through the spam before eliminating it, though, and A view of Lily is the most spammed post on my blog (thanks Akismet for taking care of business). I may have to change that “comments closed” setting again.

          Thinking about your final comment I recall my first time in Victoria and then living there, mid 60s. With my experience of big cities Victoria’s openness and low buildings was totally enchanting. In as much as a person can fall in love with a city I fell in (a still ongoing) love with Victoria. Meanwhile its skyline has changed -progress and adapting to a population’s need cannot be denied- and the city normalized to a large degree. This in turn makes me wonder whether societies such as Hallmark and Victoria Heritage should have their own city planning departments that can provide input and ideas to Victoria’s (and other towns in the vicinity) planning departments and governments. I have no idea for example how much networking goes on among heritage societies, or whether their mission statements are too narrow for this day and age. That is my 2 bits worth ehpem, happy new year.

  2. ehpem

    I don’t know how those societies communicate with planners. I know that the provincial heritage authorities have very little authority when it comes down to it, and that municipal ones are very much constrained by potential costs of compensation to property owners if they change a heritage designation as happened a few years ago with the Roger’s Chocolates building – very expensive for the city when they refused changes to the interior and upgraded the protections. Even so, things like heights of buildings are more easily regulated through community planning bylaws and carry less risk for court challenges than do the heritage protection statutes. So there is a lot that can be done to keep the aesthetic alive without a big cost to the taxpayer.

    Happy New Year to you as well. Perhaps one day we will run into each other, cameras in hand near one of these old buildings.

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