Cormorant Point, Gordon Head

Cormorant Point, Gordon Head

by | May 5, 2019

Cormorant Point is a headland located between Cordova Bay and Margaret Bay, in the Gordon Head neighborhood of Saanich and 5.5 miles (8.9 km) north-northeast of Victoria, British Columbia. The neighborhood of Gordon Head is named after Admiral John Gordon, who in 1845 commanded HMS America in the North Pacific. Margaret Bay was named by Dr. John Ash for Margaret Pollock whose family had lived in the area since 1874.

For over 4,000 years the Songhees people inhabited the Saanich Peninsula including the area of Gordon Head. In 1852, a series of agreements called the Douglas Treaties were signed between some indigenous groups and the British Colony of Vancouver Island. That same year, James Tod was the first pioneer in the Gordon Head area where he established Spring Farm and made a living by selling cordwood cleared from the land. By 1860, thirteen men, including Charles Dodd, Michael Finnerty and John Work, owned all of the land identified as Gordon Head. In 1890, William Charles Grant planted the first strawberries and this became a very successful commodity. The first strawberry pickers on Grant’s farm were First Nations, some Songhees and some Kiksilah from up-Island. Each June a dozen or more canoes might be seen drawn up on the beach at Margaret Bay. Grant was a Saanich councilor in 1906 and 1907 and built a house on the property overlooking Cormorant Point called “Craigellachie” meaning “hill of rock”. This house burned down in 1918 and was rebuilt as the “Strangewood” house starting in 1921. The name refers to a collection of petrified wood on the property.

The Gordon Head School was built on land near Cormorant Point donated by William Dean and opened in 1891. In addition to operating a successful farm, William Grant was also one of the first school trustees of Gordon Head School, holding the office for 13 years. William Travelick Edwards became the first commercial grower of daffodils at Gordon Head and he also taught swimming lessons at Margaret Bay, possibly for the Gordon Head School children. Local lore attributes the construction of a saltwater swimming pool at Cormorant Point to this time. The pool was created by a concrete dam with holes near the bottom that allowed saltwater to flush the enclosure with every tide. A trail still exists from the historical location of the school, past Strangewood house, to Cormorant Point. The pool also still exists but has fallen into disrepair. Read more here and here. Explore more of Cormorant Point here:

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