Charles and Nancy Alexander founded Shady Creek United Church

Charles and Nancy Alexander founded Shady Creek United Church

Concert marks pair of celebrations at Shady Creek

Church’s 150th, Black History Month feted with Louise Rose production

One of the Island’s oldest churches will celebrate two landmark events with a special concert, courtesy of Louise Rose, this Sunday.

“It’s almost a no brainer,” Rose said of her involvement. “I’m one of the people who has benefitted from the work of the Alexanders – those were the founders of Shady Creek.”

Shady Creek United Church in Central Saanich was founded in 1862 by Charles and Nancy Alexander, a pair of black settlers and farmers who arrived in 1858 aboard the steam ship Oregon, from San Francisco.

With no United church in the area, farmers asked Charles Alexander to build one. Being a “busy body,” as his great-granddaughter says, he obliged.

“Charles, he was a go-getter,” said Karen Alexander Hoshal. “If anything needed doing, he was there to get it done.”

Like many of the early black settlers, the Alexanders “came at the invitation of Sir James Douglas, who was half black himself. He needed more settlers to come down to the [Island],” Alexander Hoshal said.

Nancy, for her part, initiated the Lakehill Women’s Institute.

Those early black settlers were encouragement to Rose, who immigrated to Canada from Norristown, Penn. 38 years ago.

“Had they not been there, I might not be here either,” she said. “There have been many many incidents of whose shoulders I stand on.  It’s those who come before me. They had some kind of vision. What kind of person decides to settle in Saanich in 1850, really? That’s absolutely incredible.”

Rose’s concert on Sunday not only celebrates the church’s 150th anniversary, but also Black History Month, which falls in February.

Its intent is to entertain, but also to educate. Alexander Hoshal said many people aren’t aware of the black influence in the Peninsula’s history.

“No kidding – I spent my entire year trying to talk to organizations and schools, trying to teach them about it. The British wanted to dominate. They eradicated any other culture. The Chinese had a huge influence on this area and they are being ignored as well.”

The concert, which borrows the talent of about 60 students from Spectrum community school who will perform Hairspray including an orchestra. Rose plays Motor Mouth Maybelle in the production.

The Victoria Children’s Choir will perform “Hymn to Freedom” by Oscar Peterson, and the Victoria Good News Choir, Shady Mountain and the Louise Rose Trio will also perform.

It starts at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at the church, 7820 Central Saanich Rd. Tickets, $15, are available at Cadboro Bay Book Company, Ivy’s Book Shop, Larsen Music, Long and McQuade, Tanner’s Books and at the door.

For more information, call 250-658-1946 or email


Did you know?

• The original Shady Creek church burned down and was rebuilt in 1895 at its present site.

• It isn’t known where the original church stood – there are 16 different suggestions.