Victoria from the Legislative Buildings, looking northeast towards Church Hill over the James Bay mud flats. Courtesy BC Archives A-00252
In Victoria’s natural harbour, a shallow tidal inlet once extended from today’s Inner Harbour eastward almost to Blanshard Street. To the Songhees Nation it was known as Whosaykum or “muddy place”. It served as an important food source, providing the people with crab and shellfish.
As British settlement radiated south from Fort Victoria the bay was named in honour of James Douglas and residential and industrial development soon populated the north shore of “James Bay”. Noteably, Victoria’s first soap-works, owned by William Pendray, had its first home on the “mudflats”. In 1906 Pendray and others sold their properties to the Canadian Pacific Railroad who filled the bay to construct their Empress Hotel.