Historic Walking Tours of Jewish Victoria

Following California's gold rush came British Columbia discoveries in 1857 and 1862, and some 35,000 people arrived looking for the proverbial pot of gold. Among the first were Jews from England and Australia, gold-seekers and Californians looking for business opportunities. Many early arrivals had Polish, Prussian or German roots.
In December 1858, the Philadelphia Jewish Occident reported that it had learned that many Jews had settled there and predicted a "prosperous congregation would soon spring up." Victoria's community first met on August 2, 1858, held Rosh Hashanah services in a private home, founded a Benevolent Society in May 1859, consecrated a cemetery (still in use) in February 1860 and formed a congregation in August 1862.
L.00109Photo: Victoria's Jewish community got together for a sightseeing tour and picnic organized by the B'nai B'rith Victoria Lodge 191. Julius B. Jaffe at wheel. Date: 1917. Jewish Museum & Archives of BC; L.00109
At the peak of the gold rush, some 119 Jewish families lived in multi-cultural Victoria. A Romanian Jewish traveller - I.J. Benjamin - arrived in February 1861, and reported that while others came and went, the Jews "held their ground, set up tents for residence and booths for shops," and saw the commercial future.
A tour guide from the Jewish Museum and Archives of BC will provide insight into the landmarks, architecture, events and evolution of downtown Victoria, while sharing anecdotes of Jewish daily life in the area. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is 1.6 kilometers in distance.
Tours are offered by appointment only for groups of 8 or more people. To schedule a tour, contact info@jewishmuseum.ca.
Tours begin at the entrance to Bastion Square (intersection of View St. and Government St.)
$15 per person & includes a copy of the booklet, In the Footsteps of Jewish Victoria – 1858 to 2011. Tickets can be arranged in advance by calling (604)257-5199 or paid for at the start of the tour (cash only). Group Rates- $75 for parties of 8 to 10 people.
This program is made possible through the support of:
The City of Victoria and the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island.

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