It’s been a rough winter for many folks in the US and Canada this year. We’ve thankfully somehow avoided all this out here on the west coast, having had a relatively mild winter with almost no snow on Vancouver Island (south) that I can recall. With March in full swing now, the flowers are beginning to bloom and the tourists are beginning to show up to take in all this beautiful city has to offer during this time of year. One of the best landmarks in the city is the British Columbia Parliament Buildings of Victoria, a must-see spot in the heart of the city. The building itself is absolutely grand, and amazing to see in person, but it also has a very interesting history… with a dash of scandal to add that special interesting touch.
Francis Rattenbury was born in 1867 in England, and as a young man he made his was to the newly formed Vancouver Island where he went on to become a famous architect. He designed several of our key landmarks that still remain in the city today, including the Empress Hotel, which we will cover in a future post.
After having won the contest for the design of the Parliament Buildings of Victoria, he went on to have a very storied life. The buildings seen here opened in 1898 officially, and today remain an active part of our government.
In the shot above, we can see locals and tourists alike enjoying the beautiful grounds underneath the watchful gaze of the dramatic architecture. The strong influence of British architectural styling cues from the era are quite evident in this building, as they are in many others in the city.
On the day I visited the city, the light was slightly muted from the thin layer of grey clouds that lingered overhead. This certainly didn’t detract from the vibrant colors of the flowerbeds and the iconic totem pole that serves to act as a bit of a frame for this image.
As we step back to take in further details of the downtown core of Victoria and the inner harbor that is world-renown, the grand buildings take on a strong presence amongst the context of the city itself.
This story would be completely bereft of the best part of it if we didn’t mention the back story to Francis Rattenbury. Even today, all these years after his death, his name is well-known locally for the reasons discussed above. What is lesser known is how his death came to be. What started out as the story of a young successful architect, happily married with a family, soon became something else entirely after he divorced his wife in favor of spending time with his lover. Thus began his downfall in society, and he them returned to England to live out his life. This, of course, was until his lover’s lover accosted him one morning in his manor, and set to work on bludgeoning Francis about the head. The injuries were very serious, indeed, and he succumbed to them four days later.
You’ve just got to wonder if he still wanders the hallways of the Parliament Buildings of Victoria today.
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