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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Campus View Elementary undergoes $4.2 million in seismic upgrades

Campus View Elementary undergoes significant seismic upgrades

Claremont Spartans win the inaugural Senior Girls’ AAAA Basketball Island Championship

Claremont Spartans win their Feb. 15 game agains the Royal Bay Ravens 71 - 64

Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

Cascadia Seaweed is experiencing rapid growth after launching six months ago

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read