Nancy Oke, a research volunteer at the Royal B.C. Museum, and Robert Griffin, manager of its history section for 30 years, along with Greg Evans, have gathered more than 200 photos for their extensive look at 100 years of food and drink in Victoria, Feeding the Family (RBCM 2011) $29.95) 978-0-7726-6343-6
Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Feeding the Family: 100 Years of Food and Drink in Victoria
Feeding the Family
Publisher's Promo (2012)
In the last half of the 19th century, Victoria was the commercial powerhouse of British Columbia. The largest city in the province was also the largest market. Businesses that thrived here brought prosperity to the rest of BC.
Nancy Oke and Robert Griffin present a colourful history of the bakers, butchers, grocers, coffee makers and other suppliers of food and drink in Victoria’s prosperous early days. The story begins with the building of Fort Victoria in 1843. Oke and Griffin show how the urban landscape changed as the city grew and how it stabilized in the shadow of Vancouver’s rising prominence.
This richly illustrated book shows how the shifting population, economic factors and technology all contributed to changes in delivering food and beverages to the people of Victoria. Local biscuit makers disappeared as cheaper imports arrived. On supermarket shelves, seasonal fresh peas gave way to canned and then frozen peas available year round. Small shops yielded to larger shops. Specialty shops flourished in Victoria – and still do – though general food stores eventually dominated the market.
In the early days, a customer handed the grocery list to the clerk who gathered all the goods from shelves behind the counter. A new era of self-service stores arrived in the 1920s: now customers could stroll among the goods offered for sale, make their selections and take them to a cashier. With self-service came the large chain supermarkets, like Piggly Wiggly and Safeway.