Your Country, Your Story: Grace Nickels has lived in her Saanich neighbourhood for 93 years


Grace Nickels has lived in her neighbourhood for 93 years and shared her story.

“This is where McKenzie Avenue was put through, from Burnside past the Interurban…”

Grace Nickels is looking a photographs she took, at huge trucks working across the street from her home, back in the 1970’s – when roads were built through land her father once owned.

“I’ve never lived anywhere else. Two places in my whole life, and why would I want to move?”

Why indeed! At ninety-three, Grace has lived her whole life in the Marigold neighbourhood of Saanich.

“My grandparents came from England in 1862. His trade was shipbuilding.”

Her grandfather came to Victoria, and bought land in Saanich.

“My grandparents farmhouse was situated where McKenzie Avenue is now, and I still live on a piece of the property.”

And there’s a lot of memories.

“This was the house on Snowdrop where I grew up…and it’s still standing!

“The streetlights were far and few between. There was one at Marigold, which was put on by a fellow at night, on his bicycle…

“There was a dairy farm, a large dairy farm, from Grange Road, to, now, McKenzie…then in later years, the Catholic Church bought it and built the church, and then the school.”

Grace’s mother went to Craigflower School in the late 1880’s.

“She also went to Central Middle School, which is in town, and they would have to go by horse and wagon.”

A generation later, Grace crossed through the dairy farm to walk to her school.

“And we climbed over three different fences, or stiles, as they were called, and you just hoped you didn’t step in something you shouldn’t have” Grace remembers, with a smile.

“In the wintertime” she adds, about her trek to and from school, “you would come home and find that Colquitz Creek had flooded over, and you would have to wait for someone to come and pack you across, which my dad and several other dads did.”

Grace has many more fascinating memories, of a life well-lived, in a Saanich neighbourhood.

“I guess that’s the way it is. I’m happy where I am.”

Grace’s mother went to Craigflower school

Grace’s mother

Nickel family home

Nickel family home

Nickel farm greenhouses

Grace’s father on the farm

Grace’s father

Grace’s mother and father

Church being built

McKenzie Rd construction

McKenzie Rd construction

McKenzie Rd construction

McKenzie Rd construction

Nickel family home as it stands today

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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