Victoria Coal Gas Company on Rock Bay. Image courtesy of BC Archives A-01588
The Victoria Gas Company (VCG) provided fuel for Victoria’s heat and light from the gold-rush era through into the early twentieth century. VCG was the first incorporated company in the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. 1VCH’s location set the scene for rapid industrial growth on the Upper Harbour.
The gasifcation equipment was fabricated in Scotland and shipped around Cape Horn aboard three sailing ships, Pruth, Salamander, and Prince of the Seas. After much political maneuvering, construction of the gasworks, one of the oldest coal gasification plants in North America, began in 1861.
The initial pipe laying for the distribution of VGC gas began the following spring. On September 29, 1862 J.D. Carroll’s liquor store, VGC’s first customer, became the first building to be lit and heated with the company’s coal gas. VCG operations ceased in 1952. The company went on to become the British Columbia Electric Company, which eventually became B.C. Hydro.