Let's get together.

Let's get together.

Those were the days....In writing from the kids who went to school around and at Royal Oak.

A bit more information is added to Enid Bull's Oral History.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Monday, October 3, 2016
To: Enid Bull
Subject: video

Hello Enid,

I've just watched your splendid account on the ROHA website about your
early life on Wilkinson Road and I want to congratulate you for your
long and valuable contribution to the association. I often think of all
the people I knew back in the day when Wilkinson Road was such a lovely
quiet, rural road. I haven't been along there since the bridge
replacement closed the road and I shudder to think of the 92 trees that
had to be removed. I've just heard the two 125 year old Sequoia trees
Richard Layritz, my great uncle, planted from seedlings will be saved
and worked around. A group of residents on Miller Ave. and Mann Ave.
worked very hard for many months to save those trees. They had me
involved, too.
I had no idea you lived as a child on a big farm. I always knew where
you lived, but as your house sat back from the road I never realized the
size of your parent's home including all the out buildings. You spoke of
your neighbour Donna Butchart - I always thought her name was Pamela
Yes, the Mathews did have two children Betty and Leslie who spent WW 2,
overseas. The Mathews bought the property back in 1919. Were you aware
there was a small, log cabin on the Mathew's property built by George
Lindsay following his marriage. They had 10 children and in 1870 George
Lindsay was a school trustee for the Lake School (Royal Oak School).
School classes were actually held, for a short time, in that log cabin.
By 1893 the Lindsays needed to build a two story house. Of course,
Lindsay Road was named after them. The log cabin became a shed and it as
far as I know still sits on the property.
Another house, on Wilkinson Rd., opposite the Mathews, had a rather
gruesome history. It was originally a two story house lived in by a man,
who due to hard times, hung himself in an upstairs room. The house stood
empty for months on end and finally the upper story had to be removed
before anyone would purchase that house. All of this happened before my
Miller Ave. had a number of interesting people living there. Several
examples were old, one armed Colonel Woodward who raised mink in tiny
sheds alongside the Colquitz Creek. As a child I often used to wade
along the creek with friends past those sheds. Now and then a mink would
escape and head straight to a neighborhood chicken house. Then there 

were the Gonnasons just down Miller Ave. Their primitive house had no 
plumbing and when the Saanich Health Dept. found out ordered them 
to get a bath tub and install plumbing. That tub was never unwrapped. 
I know this because Peter Gonnason worked at the nursery for 50 years 
as the ploughman. He looked after the three horses and loved those 
animals so much he often slept with them in the barn. He came from 
the Shetland Islands and it was difficult to understand his speech. His 
wife was known to keep over a dozen cats in that house. She often 
went to town with an old card board suitcase to fill up with the scraps 
of food she found at the back of restaurants. On the way home the 
bus driver had to open up the windows and sometimes the back 
door of the bus, the odour from the scraps filled the air. I remember 
being on the bus when this happened.
Maureen Scott was a dear friend of mine and we shared many happy hours
together while growing up. The only bad memory I have of my younger day
was when I would meet this annoying woman while walking home from
Maureen's house. As I was very tall for my age she would tease me by
saying, "When is your mother going to put a brick on your head" or "Did
you have your yeast cake today?" Maureen and I called her tennis racket
feet because of her unusual looking feet.

Best wishes from,

Liesel Jakeman.
From: Enid Sent: Monday, October 3, 2016
To: 'jejakeman'
Subject: RE: video

Dear Leisel,

How very kind of you to take the time to write to me and add to my
presentation.  I enjoyed hearing about the George Lindsay story and the
Mathews two children which I never knew.
Donna Butcher whom I mentioned was my age and lived directly across the
street from me.  Her house would have been built in 1948 by her father
Ernest Butcher.  Pam Butcher lived at the top of the hill on our side of the
street.  The house has now been made into more than one living area.  They
were not related even though they shared the same last name.
I certainly remember the Gonnasons. No one wanted to get on the bus when
Mrs. Gonnason got on the bus. I did know but had forgotten that 

Mr. Gonnason worked for your great uncle and looked after the horses.  
The neighbourhood called her the "Cat Lady"  I know the house 
was burned when they were done with it.
I'd never heard of Colonel Woodward.  Maybe Morgan and Shelagh
will remember that name with their father being a colonel as well.
Also I don't remember the story of the suicide.  Understandably it was
very tough times for a lot of people.
Hopefully we might see you at one of our meetings in the future Leisel.
Thanks again for taking the time.

Sent: Monday, October 3, 2016
To: Enid
Subject: Re: video

Hi Enid,

Thanks for straightening me out about the two Butcher families. One thing I
forgot to say I too remember the earthquake from 1946. It was a Sunday
morning, because I was sitting in Wilkinson Road United Church when it
occurred. Suddenly the very long, overhead chains holding the ornamental
lamps began to swing back and forth. Immediately the minister asked the
whole congregation to leave the church and wait outdoors.


Bea  Johnson       July 2016

Nearly 50 years ago (actually 1968)my family moved to the Royal Oak area. We were a blended family so there were youngsters in the nursery school off Quadra and a daughter in Clarement. The place was a working berry farm, which had been owned by the McIntyres. My husband very much wanted a small farm, thinking that his wife being a farm girl from the prairies would know all about what to do.. Talk about a sharp learning curve. It was  1.6 acres of  various kinds of fruit which was sold to private customers or to a couple of Chinese stores on Fort Street.
I met Shirley Lee early in this new adventure as I took the younger children to the Church by the Lake. From her I learned that our small acreage was part of the Josiah Bull property and the pears paralleling the driveway had likely been planted by him. Some of those are still standing.
Close neighbours were the Martins, Ells, Cheery Bend Motel just having been sold by Mr. Lum to the Schneiders, the old Fraser Biscoe house, up a long curved drive to the Blinkos and at the very end in a tiny house were the Viponds.


Strawberry Fields Forever       May 2016

 In 2009 I made myself a special pieced, quilted jacket. Written on it, front and back, were the words: Strawberry fields forever. People always assume that I’m referring to the Beatles’ song, but they are wrong. The words have a much deeper, more personal meaning for me.

I grew up on fifty-two acre Innisfail Farm at 5375 Old West Road in Saanich. (It’s now Doyle Road.) There were just the three of us: my Dad, my grandmother and me. We produced our own meat, milk and eggs, and our own vegetables and fruit, plus hay and grain for the animals. Our main sales crops were tulips and daffs in the spring, followed by strawberries, then cherries, in the summer, and finally bulbs in the fall. There was much work to be done and only three of us to do it, so from an early age I learned to pull my weight and take on responsibilities. When I was in elementary school my chores included cutting kindling and filling the wood box beside the stove. I fed the chickens and collected the eggs. I learned how best to carry heavy sacks of chicken feed up the path to the chicken shed. And, with Aunt Joy [Oldfield, nee Doyle], I learned how to reshingle that chicken shed. I was never responsible for milking the cows (although I did learn how), but I did have to go out into the bush and bring them home if they failed to show up at milking time. I delivered quarts of milk to the neighbors, and I learned to make butter from rich Jersey cream. But the hardest job for me was probably one of the simplest: I had to cut the strawberry runners and blooms.

Growing strawberries commercially follows a cycle. New plants are set out in either the fall or the spring. In their first growing year, we cut off the blooms so that all of the strength goes into the developing plant. For the next three to five years, the plants produce fruit. And in their final year, they are allowed to put out runners, each with a new baby strawberry plant at the end. Once the baby plants have established their own root systems, we cut the runners so that the new plants develop on their own. Finally, the new plants are set out into rows in a new field and the old plants are plowed under. The cycle is complete.

But it does not just happen on its own. The hand of man, or in this case, the hand of girl, is necessary at each step. But there were only three pairs of hands on our farm. So when I came home after school I had to take a pair of scissors and head out into the strawberry fields to cut off blooms or cut runners. One small girl. One small pair of scissors. And strawberry fields going on forever.

At first I just cried. I kept cutting while I was crying, but I was doing more crying than cutting. Quitting was not an option. This was our farm, our livelihood. Someone had to do the work; this was my job. But I could see no way that I would ever get to the end of that field. Those strawberry fields went on forever.

And then I came up with a plan. I counted the number of rows in the field. I figured out how many rows I could cut in a day. And how many I could cut if I worked a bit faster or a bit longer. I could see on the calendar the date when the field would be done. And it was eventually done. Without tears. But with the satisfaction that comes from completing a job, a job well done.

I can’t tell you how many times over the next fifty-some-odd years I have felt as though I am just one small person, alone in a very large field of responsibility. But I can tell you that each time I find myself in a situation like that, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel the courage and tenacity and pride of that little girl and the lessons that she learned in Strawberry Fields Forever.

Susan Doyle Lawrence, 2011


January 2016
Shirley (Shillington) Vick
“Just found your web and find it most interesting. I was in Miss Adamson's 1942/43 class, (at Royal Oak School) I am #10 of the unknown students and my pre marriage name was Shirley Shillington. My father was in the RCAF and I lived in Cordova Bay so had to take a school bus to get to Royal Oak. Because the schools were so crowded, I was sent to Craigflower in grade 2 and Keating in grade 3 and for part of grade 4. Then the war ended and my family returned to Saskatoon.
I have a picture from Craigflower but don't know about Keating. I do have a memory of some interesting events for example: In Grade one Royal Oak #OROS-42-43-Gr 1 & 2 I was the first one in the class to get the chicken pox but didn't realize that is what I had for a couple of days. Finally, I was off school and when I returned everyone in the class was done with chicken pox except one girl, the class had all caught the chicken pox from me. At Christmas in Royal Oak we had a concert and I seem to have some recollection of us wearing white, maybe we were angels or whatever. Anyway, an older girl then started singing White Christmas and after a few lines she turned to the rest of us and said, Now, everyone join in." Keating was an interesting experience, the school bus would be waiting for us at the bottom of the long hill so I remember that hill quite well. The amazing memory though was that we had foxholes around the perimeter of the school ground. Nowadays children have fire drills, we had air raids and had to run out and hide in the fox holes. I notice in the minutes of your meeting that a lot of members will turn 80 this year, I am also one of those coming up to 80. I live in Edmonton.”
April 7, 2016
                                                Panama Flats

A memoir by  Mrs._Doris_Clarke    1909--1988 of 4060 Grange Road. Saanich BC
“Panama Flats was the name of the dairy farm that belonged to Mr. John Edge and his son T.W. Bill Edge.
The farm roughly situated between Carey Road and Roy Road, Colquitz Creek and Marigold Road.  About 70 acres.  Has about 1 ½ feet top soil  -  6” to 8” clay and undetermined depth of peat.
Very fertile land – crops of oats and hay.  In winter the flats are covered by water to depth of 5 feet.
History – Farm was originally two separate farms.  Northern part known as Carey farm owned by Joe Carey.  Southern part owned by Captain Warren. The latter used farm to supply milk and food stuffs for his ship.  Later George Jones took over both farms for many years.  Between 1912 + 1914 a German bought both farms for $1000 per acre.  He sub divided and sold lots.  Some houses were built on the flats but were flooded out.  War came – all Van Alven Slabens*  property was seized by the Government.  During the Depression John Edge bought the farm (1924) at $60 an acre (soldiers settlement price).  Balance from Saanich for $125 to $175 per acre.
Mr. Edge had purebred Ayrshire (65 cows) 35 of which produced 7u0 to 100 gals. of mile a day.
Crops that Edge grew – oats – flax and canary grass.
 A Saanich history lesson by Mom.”
Generously provided by her son C.R. Bob Clarke.
Her original hand written letter follows. I typed this out as the original did not copy well.   DRF
*Gustav Constantin Alvo von Alvensleben. Note:-Very interesting story about this fellow.

This is the original of the first page.
PDF Version is at this link.
Tony Oostenbrink has left a new comment on your post "Class photos of other Saanich Schools. Claremont, ...":

My mother Maria (nee) Van Egmond emigrated with her family from Holland to Victoria in November 1948 and then attended Keating School with her younger brother Bill. Here is an excerpt from my Mom's family history.
 "Bill and I had to go to school. That was a very scary experience not speaking a word of English. We had to walk about 2 miles on the long Martindale Road. Sometimes we got lucky and hitched a ride with the neighbours (1948 Chevy). It was close to Christmas when we first went to Keating School which was situated on top of a knoll/hill along the highway. It was a 2-room school. Bill was in grade 1 and had Mrs. Sinclair and I was in grade 3 and my teacher was Mrs. McCormick. Everyone was so friendly. We were a novelty! The only Dutch kids in the school. We didn't know a word of English. Scary! We soon had friends who taught us how to say Christmas Tree (one of the first words we learned). Cathy walked part of the way home with us and then waved us with "bye bye William! bye bye Maria!" There were some fun things I remember. I was invited to come with Cathy to see a show. I told my mom. Mom asked "what is a show?" Oh, I don't know! Well I went and saw "Little Women" and "The Boy with the Green Hair". Never saw a show in my life before. Another time I was invited to a birthday party of twin friends. 10 year olds Gloria & Judy Baker. They were filthy rich, lived in a mansion and a beautiful large property. The girls each got a pony as their gift. The party was something else! Never seen anything like it! In the evening they had fireworks. There were 20 kids at that party!...My dad insisted we find a church. It was close to Christmas. So we went to United Church. halfway through the service the back doors flew open and Santa came running in with his big bag of toys with his "Ho Ho Ho". You should have seen Oma's face! The people were very friendly, although we couldn't understand a word they were saying (except for my dad). We met a family there by the name of Brown, who invited us for Christmas Dinner which was a real treat. We didn't have to spend it with the Speks. We were there yet at Christmas 1949. I was even chosen for the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant at school. My little boyfriend was Joseph. His real name was Joseph." (Tony Oostenbrink - cpfi@shaw.ca, 780-439-8535)
Cordova Bay Bombed Homes Damaged

This is a  copy of a letter received from Tanya (Knight) Cochran.
                                                                                     Sept. 12, 2014
Hello Enid:
What a surprise to receive your card and notes asking me for my story about the years I attended Royal Oak (one room school house). I also was so happy to learn it was Bruce McMorran who had given you my address. I was wondering if Bruce had become ill or something because last year I didn’t receive a Christmas card from Bruce. Also, during the year, I wrote him a note just to keep in touch and he never answered. So I thought ‘maybe he isn’t well’. It made me glad he’s just fine and spoke to your club members. Is your club a historical club? Enid, did you live in Cordova Bay? If so, where was your home? I can not get a mental picture of you and remember your family. Please remember you and your family to me. My husband and I have been married 60 years next Jan. 20, 2015 – so many years have passed by.
Regarding Royal Oak school – I began in the years 1941-42 – grade 1, there were 3 grades taught in the one room school house – 1-3. My teacher’s name for first, second and third grades was Miss Whales. (We believe this was Miss Jessie Swales) I liked her so much. I was very shy, always afraid to do anything wrong, always wanted to do the best I could. She would write remarks on my report cards like –‘Tanya is a delight to have in my classroom’!
The playground, standing looking at the school house, I remember the swings and the bars were at the right of the building. Going down towards W. Saanich Rd., again on the right there was a garage looking building there. (I believe they used it for storage.) It was on down from that building there were the ‘see saws’. The basement of the school house was used for activities like spatter painting, square dancing and other games when the weather was bad.
When you walked up the stairs to the front door you entered the cloak room. The boys went into the classroom through a door on one side and the girls on the other side. In the back of the class room was a big pot belly stove. On snowy wet days any piece of clothing that was wet was put around that stove to dry – mittens, scarves, etc. Miss Whales also had a big tin square planter on a table back by the stove. It was filled with earth and we planted seeds – carrots, etc., watched them grow and cared for them.
I believe the other big school building on the property went through 8th grade? I remember, I think, I attended 4th grade in that building, maybe 5th. Cordova Bay’s new school was finished and I think I may have started there for 5th grade. Can’t remember the year Cordova Bay opened. I do remember standing in line in the other school building at Royal Oak to get polio shots (and being nervous).
I rode the bus each day to Royal Oak. My friend down the road from my home was bussed to Keating. We lived in Cordova Bay about 3 blocks from each other – but went to different schools.
Thinking about McMorrans – What a community minded family they were! When we would have a snowy winter Eric would have this big sled made with tree trunks, boards across the top. He’d hook it to what I call a panel wagon truck and tow it up and down Cordova Bay Rd. Anyone who wanted a sled rid could get on.
Then there was McMorran’s basketball team. Again, Eric would take the team to play games. Usually it was at Royal Oak hall. Do you remember Royal Oak hall across W. Saanich Rd. down a little from Royal Oak school? That hall was used for all kinds of events. Enid, do you know anything about David McMorran? He was nearest to my age. I can’t remember him being in my class. I think he went through college. I just have not heard about his family, or where he works or lives. Richard McMorran I believe lived in Cordova Bay. Would he be retired now? I know Eric and Helen live in Cordova Bay near McMorran’s.
I think it’s interesting to hear what former acquaintances and friends are doing and where they live.
I hope this will answer your request Enid. It’s like a small book!
Hope all is well with your and yours,
Most Sincerely,
Tanya Knight Cochran
PS My husband and I have 4 sons, all grown. Oldest will be 59 in Dec., 2nd is 57 in Oct., third is 52, and 4th will be 43 in Dec. All live within an hour from us or less.

PDF version at-

                Memories of Elk Lake and Royal Oak. 

                 Shirley (Robinson) Lee                2014

My mother took me to school on the first day of Grade One.  I don’t know how we got there because Mum didn’t drive.

As we walked across the school yard there was a teacher sitting on the steps with children sitting beside her.  I believe her name was Miss O’Connell but I’m not sure.  She was only there for a few days and then our Grade One & Two teacher arrived and her name was Miss Laura Adamson.  Every morning as she entered the class room we were to sit at our desks with our hands behind our backs and say “Good morning Miss Adamson” and then we would stand to recite the Lord’s Prayer.  I’m not sure if we sang “God Save the King” or if that was saved for Red Cross Day which was every Friday afternoon. 

I came home from school one day when I was in grade one, Mum was down in the orchard with a little boy and his dog called Dynamite. Ronnie Crocker had just moved next door and he had climbed our filbert nut tree and was shaking the branches so that mum could gather the nuts. Ronnie was cussing and Mum was giggling. Mum had a soft spot for little boys. Ronnie started grade one the next day and we became life-long friends.

The next day Ronnie went to school with me and we spent many days playing together. When we were about thirteen he said to me, “I am taller than you,” and I replied, “But I’m older than you!”

I also have happy memories of my friendships with Enid Cuthbert, Pat Bosher, Yateve Swift and Carolyn Sinkinson.

In grade one, we had a substitute teacher. She was a lovely, kind lady and her name was Mrs. Sally Elwell. Mrs. Elwell was a Saanich Pioneer and she knew a lot of the children in grades one and two. I always loved the days when she came in to teach us.

Mrs. Jackson was the custodian for Royal Oak School. She worked very hard and was always cheerful and friendly.
Peter Goddard was in his pumpkin costume when we could wear our Halloween costumes to school. I was a black cat in a costume my Auntie Beth had made me.

A special occasion was when I was invited to Muriel Biddle’s birthday party when she lived on Piedmont Avenue.

If you wished you could learn to knit washcloths for the soldiers overseas.  (Mine, I’m sure was ripped out and done over again).  We had War Saving Stamp books and when you had saved 25 cents you could receive a stamp to put in your book.  That was a lot of money so it took a lot of time to buy a stamp.

When I was in grade 2, I remember standing on the steps looking over at the bars that were under the Oak trees which were fun to swing from.  In those days girls had to wear dresses to school and thankfully I had a kind aunt who made bloomers to match my dresses!  Standing beside me on the porch was my friend Daryl Foster.

It was a sunny February day and Daryl’s birthday is February 12th and mine is February 18th.  Daryl asked me if I would give him a birthday present and then he would give me one on my birthday.  I thought that would be a great idea.  I saved my pennies and bought a plane kit for him as my brother enjoyed making them.  On February 18th I was excited to see what Daryl was going to give me.  The 18th came and went and he had forgotten!  Needless to say I was not very pleased!  The year passed and we went into the big school into Grade 3 with a new teacher named Miss Bell.  When February rolled around, I let February 12th pass by and what should appear on February 18th was a lovely little china Dutch shoe from Daryl.  From then on he was a special friend for the next nine years and still is today.

In 2004 I was able to pass the little Dutch shoe onto Daryl’s granddaughter.  She was in grade 3 at that time. 

In grades 4 & 5 we had Miss Helen Phillips for our teacher.  Her family owned the little store across the road.  Her sister was the secretary at the police station.

We still had Red Cross Day on Friday afternoons.  If you wished to entertain the class you could participate.  I loved to sing and my brother was always paying cowboy records and I would sing along with them.  One Red Cross afternoon I decided to make my debut and had Mum sew a red patch on my corduroy “trousers” which I took to school and changed into before my performance.  I proceeded to sing “The little red patch on the seat of my pants”.  I don’t remember the rest of the song, but every time I sang that line I would turn around and bend over!

In the spring we would walk along Pipeline Road to Beaver Lake where we had races and games and a picnic.

Mum would row across Elk Lake from Brookleigh Road to Beaver Lake to see the races.

Mr. & Mrs. Porter had a lovely home on Brookleigh Road and a dock and a rowboat which Mum could borrow.  She would row my brother and I home and sometimes she would fish on the way back.  At that time we lived on Brookleigh Road.

I loved school and all of my teachers and only have good memories. 

The Christmas concerts at the Woman’s Institute Hall and the Spring Fair the Ladies W.I. put on with competitions for the children to enter.  Hard to believe I won prizes for my writing. Look at it now!

In grade 6, the girls could go over to the basement of the W.I. and learn to embroider.  Mrs. Joy Oldfield and Mrs. Houle taught us.  It was always a lovely afternoon.

The beauty of attending a small country school is the relationships you may hold onto for the rest of your life.

I always loved flowers and I would make large corsages for my teachers and they always wore them.  Poor dears!

I remember the first day of grade 2 when Lorraine Luney and Renee Heal were entering grade one Lorraine had lovely big curls and Renee had beautiful long hair.  Another memory from my grade one days was that Clifford Campbell would always tell my Mum how many times I cried at school.  The Campbell family were life-long friends and Cliff was my very first friend as was his brother Ted, my brother’s first friend.

My friend Carolyn Sinkinson who grew up in Cordova Bay received the strap in grade one from Miss Adamson.  I just learned about that a few years ago. Naturally, Carolyn doesn’t have fond memories of Miss Adamson!

In 2003 we celebrated our 50th Graduation of Royal Oak High School.  There were 13 of us in the Grad Class.  We were the first Grad Class from the new high school which was built in 1952. Daryl and I were the only two in the grad class to have attended school together for the 12 years.



A Report Card from 1945



My great grandfather, John Heal was born in Devonshire England in 1814. He moved to San Francisco in the late 1840’s to establish a business supplying provisions to the miners during the 1849 gold rush in California. There was more money to be made outfitting the miners than prospecting. By the late 1850’s the California gold rush was pretty much over so he moved his business to Victoria.

British Columbia had two big gold rushes. The first in 1858 was on the Fraser River. The second was in 1862 in the Cariboo District. In each case tens of thousands of men and a few women sailed north to land in the Esquimalt Harbor on Vancouver Island. The miners were required to go to Fort Victoria to obtain a valid "Mining License". The license was necessary to prospect for gold.

In 1858 Fort Victoria had a population of less than 500. It became a tent city as miners camped while waiting for their licenses. 25,000 prospectors passed through between April and July 1858. They bought all their required supplies and provisions before leaving for the Fraser River gold fields. Providing those supplies and provisions undoubtedly added to John Heal’s fortunes.
The dreamers continued to believe that the streets of Victoria were paved with gold, and the economy flourished.

John Heal was one of the earliest settlers in Royal Oak. He married Julia Ann Thompson. Julia was born in 1837 in County Tyrone, Ireland. Together in 1860 they bought 135 acres in Royal Oak. They named it Mount Pleasant Farm. They built a house at what is now 813 Royal Woods Place. At that point in time the area was mostly virgin forest.

Julia and John Heal had four sons:

Frederick George Heal born in 1864.
Walter Edward Heal [my grandfather] born in 1867.
Henry [Harry] William Heal born in 1870.
Charles Asdale Heal born in 1873.

They rode horses to Boy’s Central School in Victoria. Getting an education in those days was bit difficult. It must have been a miserable ride in the rain.

On the first of October 1884 Julia was driving her horse and carriage near the Royal Oak Hotel. [currently the Fireside Grill at 4509 West Saanich Rd.] The day was windy. A piece of paper blew up in front of the horse. The horse bolted and the carriage flipped over landing on Julia. She died a few hours later. Julia was buried in the Ross Bay Cemetery. She was only 47 years old. John continued to live at Mount Pleasant Farm with his sons. He lived there until his death in 1896.

The Heal family helped to build St. Michael’s church on West Saanich road [4733] and attended services there. The church lacked an organist. A volunteer organist, Isabel King drove her horse and carriage there on Sundays from Cedar Hill. That’s where she met Walter Heal. They married in 1888. [Isabel and Walter were my grandparents.] They lived with John Heal at the Mount Pleasant Farm.

Isabel’s parents were also early settlers. Her father Henry King was born in 1840 in Somersetshire, England. He arrived in Victoria in 1862 with a group to build St. Luke’s Church on Cedar Hill Cross Road. Her mother, Elizabeth Simes was born in 1830 in Kent England. She arrived aboard the "Brother Jonathan" in 1863. She was the first school teacher in the Cedar Hill district. She taught neighborhood children in her kitchen for two hours a day!

Elizabeth and Henry married in 1865.

Isabel and Walter Heal had two daughters and four sons:

Walter Alfred Heal born 1889. [died 1912.]
Edith Elizabeth Heal born 1890. [died 1976] She married John Peter Merriman in 1910.
Gladys Roberta Heal. born 1892. [died 1967] She married Jesse Mycock in 1915.
Gilbert Edward Heal. born 1893. [died 1958]
Earle Clifford Heal. born 1895. [died 1957]
Eldon Roberts [Bob] Heal. born 1900. [died 1985] [he was my dear father]

There was a one room school with grades one to eight at Royal Oak that the children in the area attended.

When John Heal died in 1896 the 135 acre farm was divided. 50 acres went to Walter. The other 85 acres went to Harry. This 85 acre parcel was sold to Rachel and Henry Mycock. Some time later they sold it to the Board of Cemetery Trustees of Greater Victoria. It became the Royal Oak Burial Park.

Isabel and Walter Heal started the first Post Office in Royal Oak. The family picked up the Royal Mail every morning from the Victoria & Sidney Railway’s Royal Oak Station. They took it home and sorted it. In the 1890’s and early1900’s locals picked up their mail from the old family home [813 Royal Woods Place]. After that period the mail was delivered on horseback.

Isabel and Walter demolished the old farm house in 1914. In the same place they built a fine classical Edwardian home. [I was born there in 1936.] It has dominant features. There are large gabled dormers. The one in the front is an open sleeping porch. [I enjoyed sleeping there as a child.] Both this dormer and the veranda below have classical columns complete with bases and capitals. There is a cantilevered bay on the left side of the front fa├žade and a jettied bay on the side of the house. The house has narrow exterior siding with fish scale shingles on the gable ends. They are complemented by cedar shingle roofing. There are also some stained glass windows. The foundation is of rustic ashlar-style concrete blocks which were fashionable in North America in pre-First World War days. They were manufactured locally.

Walter’s brother, Charlie ran his "Hospital Farm," a name acquired because he supplied vegetables and dairy products to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Charlie sold his 526 acres of land in 1910. That land became Heals Rifle Range. By 1915, Charlie was running the Brunswick News Stand, on Douglas Street.

Another brother, Fred, sold his land and moved to the B.C. Interior.

The youngest son Bob Heal operated the farm for his father Walter. He belonged to the Saanich Fruit Growers Association on Keating X-Rd. For many years he took his strawberries and loganberries there. A lot of people still remember picking berries on our farm. Bob did a lot of work in the Royal Oak Burial Park with his team of horses during its construction. He had a great love of horses. To him it didn’t matter if they pulled a plow, pulled a carriage, were ridden or were raced at the track.

Bob Heal married Helena Taylor in 1923. Helena was born in Blackpool, England in 1901. She immigrated to Victoria with her parents in 1912. She attended Victoria High School. I remember her enjoying the Royal Oak Women’s Institute.

They had three daughters:

Joyce Helena Heal born 1925. Married Bill Stothers. Died in 2004.
Barbara Lily Heal born 1927. Married Bob Amos Died in 2009.
Renee Isabel Heal born 1936. I’m still alive and married to Warren Sweeney.
Walter Heal died in 1934. Bob continued to manage the farm for his mother Isabel for fourteen more years. Bob and Helena purchased property across the street from the old farm. They built a new family home there in 1948.

Isabel Heal died in 1958 at the age of 91. At that time she was the oldest pioneer woman in Saanich. The remaining 50 acres of Mount Pleasant Farm was sold soon after to the Veteran’s Land Association. It was used to build houses for soldiers returning from World War Two. As a tribute to the veterans, the streets were named after wartime battles.

The property that Bob and Helena purchased in 1948 was sold in 1964 when they retired. This was the last of the Heal properties. A church and the Centennial Pool were built there.

The house that Walter and Isabel built in 1914 has been restored and designated as a "Heritage Property". If you wish to see the house, the address is 813 Royal Woods Place.

I have wonderful memories of my childhood at Mount Pleasant Farm. Many of those memories are of my grandmother Isabel. She had a very large and beautiful flower garden.

She had a model T Ford. She was fun! We went everywhere in it: -for "Afternoon Tea" with her friends. -to visit her sister Alice. -to deliver flowers for sale in Victoria and to her stand at the Royal Oak Burial Park. -to town for movies and the occasional Circus.

My mother Helena took such good care of me. She made me beautiful clothes. Braided my hair each morning and added freshly ironed ribbons. A favorite expression of hers was "You might be a farmer but you don’t have to look like one."

My father Bob was very special to me. I followed him around the farm as soon as I could walk. He made me feel that no job could be done without my help. At five I learned to add and count playing crib with him. In season we loved to go to the horse races at Willows track. I was about six when he taught me how to handicap a horse race. I was nine when he bought a tractor and sold his treasured team of horses. I learned to drive it! The fifty acres was too small for me. I heard the call of the open road and headed up East Saanich road to visit friends! My mother was a little upset; she told me that nine year olds shouldn’t do that! Dad just laughed!

I still think of myself as a farm child and love gardening. I still live in Saanich [Ten Mile Point] with my husband Warren.

Renee [Heal] Sweeney.                                                                 August 2012.


Goyette, Cheeseman family history.




  1. I remember your Dad really well. He was a nice man who would chat with us kids. We got our first driving lesson on his tractor when we were way too young to drive.

    1. Hi there,

      The Heal's are my family. Edith Elizabeth Heal and Peter Merriman were my great grandparents.. Do you have any Heal family information??


  2. I'm trying to contact you, would you please email gaudio@shaw.ca

  3. I enjoyed your article very much. My grandmother was Edith Elizabeth Heal who married John Peter Merriman.

    1. Hi,
      My great grandparents were Edith Heal and Peter Merriman. There son Alan Merriman was my grandfather, I have been doing family tree for about 4 years now and would love any information or photos you have .Interested too on the property or farmland that the Heal's lived on?
      my email address is loreena_maureenb@hotmail.com


    2. Loreena, I have emailed a reply. Daryl.

  4. I am a gr granddaughter of Fred Heal who moved north. Would very much like to get in touch with you. barbhurstfield@gmail.com

  5. Wow!!! I am doing an ancestry poster for my nephew Kyle Jesse Mycock from Victoria, and stumbled upon this while researching. It would be amazing and quite a surprise if I could gather any photos of his ancestors. He is getting married in June and I am presenting an ancestry poster. Please contact me at jmwsmith09@gmail.com I would love to hear from you. What a wonderful and interesting story. Julie

    1. Julie, I have sent you an email. Daryl.