Signs of The Times
If advertising is culture, then significant pieces of Victoria’s cultural history are under threat. Although heritage rules protect many downtown buildings, they don’t apply to the vintage signs attached to them. Consequently, several bits of the city’s postwar neon have vanished over the past couple of years. Ballantyne’s Flowers and Cross’s Meats removed their long-standing signs (and businesses) from Douglas Street, and the gorgeous 1950 neon over the Sally Café on Cormorant mysteriously went missing after the restaurant was resold. (A neighbour says it was last seen on a truck headed for the dump.) The lovely day-glo sign for the Cowichan Trading Company on Government had to be junked recently after it was damaged during renovations. Not even the faded ads on the old town’s brick walls are safe: though city heritage planner Steve Barber says the ads could be considered part of the building, there are no actual rules preventing owners from painting over them – which one did to part of a tobacco sign in the 500-block of Fisgard (above right) after it was tagged with graffiti.