In the beginning...
A framed scroll, created by artist Edith Jones, a long-time member of the Shady Creek family, and her granddaughter, Kristen Jones, was created and placed in the church in 1987 to mark the 125th anniversary of the congregation: Honouring those who came to serve is the dedication at the top. There follows a list of all the ministers who served the congregation from 1862 to 1987. The first names on the scroll are those of Mr. Charles Alexander (see picture of the Alexanders below) and Mr. Shakespeare, lay preachers, and Dr. Ephraim Evans, minister of the Methodist church in Victoria. Just a list of names, but names that represent lives of dedication to God, their families and their communities that have affected us all in one way or another ever since.
This story begins in 1858 when a group of settlers arrived in Victoria aboard the steamer “Oregon” from what was then the bustling mining town of San Francisco, California. Significantly, the new settlers included a number of black families, a part of the immigration of about 700 black settlers who came to western Canada around that time at the invitation of Governor Douglas. (See story of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs, one of the other immigrants.)
One of the black families on board was that of Charles Alexander. He was originally from St. Louis, Missouri, where he had been born in 1824. His wife, Nancy, also from St. Louis, was ten years younger than Charles. They had been married in Springfield, Illinois, on December 14, 1849, and had subsequently journeyed by covered wagon to California. On arrival in Victoria, a number of the families decided to settle on the Saanich Peninsula and, in 1858, the Alexander family was one of that group. They moved out to what was later to become “Shady Creek” in 1861.
The new settlers soon decided that a church was needed. By 1862 it was determined that a building for that purpose would be constructed near the Old East Saanich Road on Jesse McMillan’s farm, later the Jack Patterson farm. Jesse McMillan had arrived in the Victoria area in 1863 and is listed on the South Saanich voters list from 1875 – 82. He grew tobacco on his farm from seeds brought from the southern USA. His South Saanich farm also became the location for popular Dominion Day picnics. He is buried in Shady Creek Cemetery.
Those with an interest in REALLY old churches might enjoy a browse on the site below: