Unknown Victoria

Victoria: The Unknown City is a guidebook to an eccentric town on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This is the author's blog. Look here for Victoria lore, updates and additions to the book, and hate mail.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Harbeck's 1907 Film, Complete

At last, here is the entire film that William Harbeck shot in Victoria in 1907.

For background on Harbeck's fascinating life, see my previous post here. As I mentioned at the time, it's possible to see part of this film in the downtown Hudson's Bay Company store. But that version is incomplete, and confusingly intercut with footage from Vancouver. This is everything Harbeck shot in Victoria, including footage taken from a streetcar travelling through downtown. And it's certainly easier to watch the film on the web instead of navigating the Bay's furniture department.

Some notes accompanying the Library and Archives Canada DVD:

[This was a] panorama or panoramic, a very popular attraction in nickelodeons in the early days of film exhibition, in which scenes were filmed from the front of a moving vehicle, often a railway train. The film comprises street scenes filmed from the front of moving streetcars and harbour scenes filmed from moving watercraft. The streets travelled by streetcar are Douglas (heading south), west on to Yates, and south again on Government. Seen are the Empress Hotel, where construction is nearing completion, the Parliament Buildings, the CPR piers and sheds, and Laurel Point. Automobiles, bicycles, horse-drawn vehicles, and other streetcars are in evidence. [The vehicles are travelling on the left side of the street because British Columbia didn't switch to right-hand drive until 1921.]

Seen from the water are Victoria's inner harbour with the ships of the sealing fleet tied side by side, the Point Ellice Bridge, the Gorge, and the Tillicum Bridge over the "Reversing Falls" (with a prominent view of a rock which has since been blasted away), Selkirk Water and Halkett Island (also known as Island of the Dead), the Johnson Street Bridge with a steam-hauled passenger train of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway crossing it, the factories of the British America Paint Company and the B.C. Soap Works at Laurel Point, the Pendray House, CPR ferries, and more views of the Parliament Buildings, the Empress Hotel, and the Customs House.
UPDATE (April 10, 2009): There's been quite a bit of interest in Harbeck's work lately. The University of Victoria's history department has created an entire website about the film, with an annotated version online indicating the various landmarks. As well, the Hallmark Society has prepared its own interactive website dedicated to the film. The society will officially launch the site to celebrate their 35th birthday on Saturday, April 18, at 2pm, in their offices at #18 Centennial Square.


At 5:55 PM, Blogger jonquille said...

wow! this is some amazing footage. the inner harbour sure looked a lot different then. this is about the time that the house i live in was built. thanks for posting!

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The website done by UVic was done in cooperation with the Hallmark Society. We wanted to do the whole project with UVic but got bogged down in funding issues. I promise the finished project will be very interesting. It will be officially launched on the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Hallmark Society - April 18, 2009.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger ross said...

Thanks, Momsie. If you have an exact time and place for the launch event – or an advance press conference – please let us know!

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Vickie J said...

Thanks for this, Ross. My great, great-granfather was one of the principals of the Victoria Sealing Company so I have seen some photos before, but this really brings the harbour to life

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful 1907 view of Victoria. In my genealogy research I learned that Honora Ornstein (AKA Diamond Tooth Lil" and Carl Herman Bean were married 15 April 1907 on Victoria. stapleton@mindspring.com

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Karen Soro said...

Thanks Ross! Amazing!- and I LOVE your book!

At 9:07 AM, Blogger VictoriaSpirit said...

Love your book, Ross. Any thoughts on doing a revised version for the 150th Anniversary? AB

At 10:07 AM, Blogger ross said...

Thanks for the kind words. Coincidentally, I am meeting with the publisher this afternoon ... but I don't think there's enough time for a whole new book by August 2, 2012. I do plan to hold a few Unknown-related events around the anniversary, though!


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