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Children Loved "Dr. Heal-My-Skin"
By Danda Humphreys If you're a newcomer to the View Royal area, you'll have crossed over or driven along Helmcken Road, where Victoria General Hospital is today.

Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken was one of 80 immigrants who were sent to Vancouver Island by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1850.

Helmcken's first impression of James Douglas, Chief Factor at Fort Victoria, was that he "was of very grave disposition . . . cold and unimpassioned." But Douglas's daughters were more agreeable, and one -- 17-year-old Cecilia -- caught his eye.

They were married at the fort on December 27, 1852, and set up house on a parcel of land given to them by Cecilia's parents, who lived next door on the site of today's Royal British Columbia Museum. Sadly, Cecilia died of a chill at the age of 30, soon after giving birth. The baby died three weeks later. They were buried in the Old Burying Ground on Quadra Street (next to Christ Church Cathedral). Her husband and four children lived to mourn her.

Always true to the memory of his wife, Dr. Helmcken never re-married. He died, at the age of 96, in 1920. By that time, the Quadra Street Burying Ground had been closed for almost 50 years, but special permission was given for Cecilia's vault to be opened and his ashes were placed inside it.

Next time you're downtown, take a self-guided tour of Helmcken House. Its history, told on cassette by the ghosts who live in the walls, provides a truly fascinating glimpse of the Victoria of days gone by.

"On The Street Where You Live: Pioneer Pathways of Early Victoria."
By Danda Humphreys

"Step Back in Time" Heritage Walks and Talks.
(250) 382-8029
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