Beacon Hill
Beacon Hill Park is located along the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between the Fairfield and James Bay communities in the City of Victoria.1 This area gets its name from two beacons, one on the hill and the other on the southwest bank, that early settlers installed to guide mariners.2
The Indigenous name for the area, Mee-a-can, means belly and refers to the hill's resemblance to a fat man laying on his back.3 There is also anthropological evidence that the meadow below Beacon Hill was known as Meeqan or warmed by the sun.4 Together these terms suggest this is where people sat to have their bellies warmed in summer.5
The area held significance for the Indigenous groups of the area, which has been disregarded by the settler population after the area was redeveloped by the Hudson Bay Company and later the City of Victoria.6 A dozen no-longer visible mounds along the hill were said to be the burial ground of Missteemoch or Island people, who were slain by an evil spirit.7 Human remains were found in the park, and historians believe these belonged to victims of a kind of plague.8
The area was also home to a large camas crop that the Lekwungen people harvested as an essential food staple, but these crops were largely eradicated as the park was developed for settler use and enjoyment of the land.9 The Lekwungen women managed these crops and today largely lead the effort to regain sovereignty over their Nation's territory and use of the camas species.10 Colonial policies complicate the Lekwungen and Songhees protection of the species, as those who harvest in the municipal park often face judgement from the community.11 However, renewed use and education around the plant is seen by the Songhees as a solution to the high rates of diabetes that inflict a disproportionate amount of reserve members.12 There has been continuous public support to resist privatization encroachment on the use of the public park.13 Today, Beacon Hill Park remains a sprawling 200-acre urban park, almost entirely reserved and maintained for public use.14 The Lekwungen will continue to harvest camas as ecological and cultural restoration with growing support from the academic community.15
Mentions of this place in the documents
Places in this document

James Bay

Juan de Fuca Strait

Victoria

The Colonial Despatches Team. Beacon Hill. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/beacon_hill.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)