Beacon Hill

Feature Type:Hill - Elevation of terrain rising prominently above the surrounding land.
Status:
Name Authority: BC Geographical Names Office
Relative Location: Between Fairfield and James Bay (communities) in City of Victoria, Victoria Land District
Latitude-Longitude: 48°24'38''N, 123°21'54''W at the approximate centre of this feature.
Datum: NAD83
NTS Map: 92B/6

Origin Notes and History:

Adopted 1 May 1934 on National Defence sheet, Victoria, as labelled on British Admiralty Chart 576, published in 1864 et seq, and on early plans of Victoria.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Had been labelled "Mount Beacon" on Admiralty Chart #1897, published in 1847.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

Named by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, after two beacons were installed, one on the hill and the other on the bank just to the southwest; when the beacons were lined up, mariners could nagivate past Brotchy Ledge [sic] into Victoria Harbour. The public park here was reserved in 1858 by Governor James Douglas and given to the City of Victoria 24 years later; development work began in 1888. Trans Canada Highway "Mile Zero" is located at the SW side of Beacon Hill.

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office

"BEACON HILL: Death, life and happiness are in the story of Beacon Hill. On these headlands, where an ancient race once buried their dead, early settlers erected beacons to guide marines past dangerous Brotchie Ledge. Here, too, ever since Victoria was founded in 1843, people have gathered to enjoy sports and a vista a timeless appeal." (Interpretive plaque, installed in Beacon Hill Park near the waterfront by [BC] Department of Recreation and Conservation.) "Beacon Hill was so named by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company as the result of two beacons being placed on the hill to mark Brotchie Ledge. The westerly beacon bore a triangle design, the other a square target or drum. These, when observed from various angles one through the other, enabled mariners to ascertain their position. Indian legend has it that the two dozen mounds visible on the hill until about 1890 were the burial places of the inhabitants of a fortified village on Finlayson Point, slain by an evil spirit several centuries ago. Historians, however, believe that the mounds .which were indeed found to contain human remains, pre-date the village and the evil spirit they identify was some form of plague. The hill was popular with the early residents of Fort Victoria as a setting for outings and picnics. As the town grew, horse racing and cricket matches were added to the amusements to be found there.First marked out for a park in 1858, it wasn't until 1882 that the British Columbia government donated the present one hundred and fifty-four acres to the city and it was another seven years before development of the area got under way. As befits a place whose beginnings are legendary and whose purpose is amusement, the park was the scene of some droll undertakings. Between the years 1878 and 1892 a twogun battery stood guard on Finlayson Point against the possibility of a Russian invasion. A few years later an unknown American "sold" parts of the park to various citizens claiming to have purchased the site for the sake of the gold he had discovered there. He was never caught. Over the years many strenuous efforts by the citizens have been necessary to prevent private organizations and concessions from encroaching on this public refuge. The only organization which has succeeded in establishing more or less exclusive use of a section of the park is the lawn bowling club. To make it plain, however, that the place is public property, once a year while the games are in progress, a man walks across the greens." (125 Stops of Interest in Beautiful British Columbia, by David E. Gill; an interpretive guide to the "Stop of Interest" plaques installed by the Historic Parks and Sites Division of the Provincial Parks Branch; Frontier Publishing Company, Aldergrove, 1979.)

Source: included with note

The traditional name is Mee-a-can (meaning "belly") as it looked like a fat man lying on his back; this was a burial site of the Missteemoch or Island people, who pre-date the Songhees and who lived at two villages along the waterfront - today's Finlayson and Clover Points (1991 advice from Songhees Band). Compare this with information compiled by anthropologist Wilson Duff, where the open meadow below Beacon Hill was called Meeqan, meaning "warmed by the sun". It was here that "people sat to have their bellies warmed in summer." (The Fort Victoria Treaties, BC Studies, Fall 1969.)

Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office