Wayfaring Signs Installed!
Our small group, Alison, Carolyn, Dorothy, Paul and Rowena, began meeting in 2016 to discuss the idea of daylighting Rock Bay Creek. We consulted Esquimalt and Songhees Nations, but its original name has been lost. We could have called it Harris Creek since it rose out of Harris Pond, named for an early Victoria mayor, but we didn't want another colonial name. Instead, we began calling it Rock Bay Creek since it flows into Rock Bay.
Early on, we consulted with Leigh Campbell of Victoria Parks and Recreation for her input on how to begin the daylighting process. She suggested we design and erect wayfaring signs at the former Harris Pond, Alexander Park, and Blackwood Park to alert the neighbourhoods to the existence of the creek, long culverted, beneath our feet. From there, we began to research the history and ecology of each location. Since the land has long been developed to accommodate roads and housing, this wasn't easy. The few spots where daylighting could occur were not developed because they were too wet and 1890s technology had no way around this.
Over the next three years, we hosted opportunities for community engagement at Quadra Village Days, Fern Fest, and at Wark Street Commons, inviting children and adults to make art about water. We provided a range of art materials and gentle guidance. The art produced became an integral part of the signs. As well, we asked the Intercultural Association how the words for “water” would be written in the many languages spoken by the new immigrants they serve. These words and the children's art were layered into the design.
The land along current Government Street around Rock Bay and the sediment bottom underwent extensive remediation to clean up the toxic residue left by Victoria's gasification plant. We knew that once this process was complete, the land would be turned over to the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. With that in mind, we met numerous times with Esquimalt and Songhees to determine what kind of imagery they hoped to see on the signs: what plants, what animals, what Lekwungen words of welcome.
Finally, with the professional help of artist/designer Joan Cahill, we put it all together. Cahill's expertise builds layers of photos and art to create a kind of tapestry. The final signs drew on the varied talents of our group and our neighbourhoods to tell the Rock Bay Creek story as richly as we knew how.
You can see larger images of each sign on the Signs page.
In September 2019, we hosted a celebration for the newly installed signs. The great cloth whales were there near Bill Goers' large paper sculptures. Krystal Cook and Lina de Guevara led story telling exercises. Numerous musicians performed. Patisserie Daniel fed us all on a fabulous cake. Stage one of the project was completed.
Rock Bay Creek - A Story of Urban Watershed Revival
by Lindsay Kathrens and Ian Flock
Rock Bay Creek Revival gratefully thanks and recognizes the guidance of Esquimalt and Songhees Nations on whose unceded land we live, learn and work. We acknowledge their generosity in helping us imagine this land before settlers changed it so drastically.