Mark it on the calendar everyone, I have stepped out of my comfort zone of mossy forests and misty old bogs. I actually was downtown at dawn (to catch a coach to the mainland) and snapped some architectural delights including all two of Victoria’s sky scrapers! (wink). It’s true we don’t have many but we do have the grand old lady “The Empress” which I present for Leanne Cole’s MM.
The Sad End of Lord Rattenbury
The Empress opened in 1908 and was designed and built by architect, Lord Francis Rattenbury. Sir Francis was from England but his most impressive work was done when he lived in the colonial town of Victoria. BC . He also designed the beautiful Parliament buildings and the famous Crystal Gardens.
The Empress has many stories one of which is a tale of love, money and lust. Back in England, Lord Francis was murdered by his beautiful and much younger wife’s lover, -you guessed it- the chauffeur! The chauffeur was sentenced to hang but was given a reprieve due to his young age and the petition signed by people who believed that the teen aged boy had been manipulated by the more mature and exotic, Alma Rattenbury. Alma, grief stricken and mad, later stabbed and drowned herself in the river. There have been those who say that Rattenbury can sometimes be seen gazing out of the upper windows of his beloved masterpiece, the stately Empress Hotel. Certainly, local historian, John Adams includes this tale on his popular Victoria Ghost Tour walkabouts.
The Empress Hotel is still host to the the grand high tea tradition in the afternoons and to the Queen when she comes to the island.
On a more somber note, we have been suffering from an unusual and persistent heat wave on the north west coast and throughout BC (25-40C) which has created a multitude of devastating forest fires. Many people are evacuating their homes! I woke up yesterday morning to a slight overcast and haze which reflected an eerie amber light. It was very strange and I felt as though I was on an alien planet. The sun shone copper through the ecru coloured clouds and the air quality was poor. I don’t like to pray for rain as we usually get a lot of it, but the reservoir is down and we have been dry for a month.