Cordova Bay steeped in history

Nominations close March 31 for awards that recognize community leaders in Cordova Bay

Residents gather at McMorran’s Tea Rooms in Cordova Bay

Residents gather at McMorran’s Tea Rooms in Cordova Bay

It’s a vibrant, urban neighbourhood with businesses, schools and services.

Cordova Bay has come a long way from its roots as a vacation destination for the region, a place that once drew visitors from as far as California and Oregon.

And no person was as instrumental to the establishment of the community in Cordova Bay as George McMorran.

“Cordova Bay was a destination in Saanich,” says Caroline Duncan, archivist at Saanich Archives. “During the summer months families in Greater Victoria would load everything in the car and spend the summer vacation at Cordova Bay. McMorran’s tea room was there, ice cream, the motel, boat rentals and of course, the wonderful stretch of sandy beach.”

As integral as the McMorran’s tea room and then 1950s dance hall are to Cordova Bay’s history, the area was already a vacation, hunting and farming area when George and Ida moved there. Before that the First Nations of the area held clam bakes and used the area as a hunting and fishing ground.

If he were still around, George McMorran would certainly be a candidate for recognition by the Cordova Bay Community Leadership Awards.

George started the McMorran Tea Room in 1919, and by the 1930s his motel and auto camp were the backbone of what was known as Cordova Bay.

It is said that George McMorran Junior was just two years old when his family, which was new to Victoria, made the trek to Cordova Bay in the summer of 1893. They slept on the beach on a bed of hay, under a tent. They spent the day roasting corn and potatoes on the fire.

By 1909, at just 22 years of age, George entered the real estate game and helped subdivide a section of Cordova Bay, establishing Doumac Avenue. Following his service in the First World War, McMorran opened a store with an ice cream parlour and tea room in 1919 above Cordova Bay beach, next door to the Beach House that continues to this day.

Tourists visited by horse and buggy, via Cordova Bay Road, or by train on the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway line (later run by Canadian National), or by automobile.

In 1947, the McMorran sons Eric and Bruce also became driving members of the community, as they helped introduce and organize the legendary Saturday night dances at McMorran’s tea room.

Later, the McMorrans were once again influential in the opening of the Cordova Bay Plaza in 1960. It now  houses Tru Value foods, the Mason Jar Eatery, Scotia Bank, the Super Duper Dollar Store and Calico Cupboard quilting shop.

Of course, there are other influential members who shaped Cordova Bay. Bill Mattick, in particular, employed many on his farm, which reached a heyday when it shipped daffodils by plane to eastern Canada.

Today the centre at Mattick’s Farm boasts more than a dozen local businesses including Cordova Bay Leadership Award sponsors Red Barn, Adrienne’s Restaurant and Tea Garden, and the Gallery at Mattick’s Farm.

To this day the ownership at The Beach House is proud to provide a place for the community to gather and to continue the role started by the McMorrans nearly 100 years ago, says Patrick Simpson, Beach House operations manager.

To commemorate the community members who are carrying the torch as Cordova Bay leaders, the Saanich News joined forces with local businesses and the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs to launch the Cordova Bay Community Leadership Awards.

The 2016 awards are open for nominations in four areas, Youth Volunteer, Adult Volunteer, Mentor/Coach of the Year and the Local Employee of the Year.

Nominations are currently being accepted by email at cdla@blackpress.ca until March 31, or in person at Tru Value Foods (5124 Cordova Bay Rd.). Feel free to include an explanation up to 250 words.

 

Just Posted

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

(Black Press Media file photo)
Copper piping missing, as suspect found with tools in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read