Double-Dog Dare and Annie’s Letter Home

As soon as my Hubby and I entered the cemetery, we felt its hush. It was as if a ghostly gatekeeper whispered, “Shhhh, there are people sleeping here,” and it all became still. The usual city noises disappeared, the winds died down and the only sounds were the rustling of the leaves beneath my feet.

We were at the Ross Bay Cemetery; Victoria’s oldest surviving Victorian-era burial grounds.

Many of these grave sites were for people who had lived in this city – just like I do now. These people had loved and grieved – just like me.  They had overcome struggles, endured hardships; they had found moments of joy and happiness – just like me. What connects us is having lived here. What binds us is our humanity.

We saw our share of elaborate mausoleums, stately pillars and simple stone markers. There were numerous sites – much like where the buck in the picture is resting – grass covered with a poured curb. The names have eroded to the point of illegibility on a countless number of them. I wondered who these early settlers were.

Fort Victoria began as a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC).   In 1849, the crown Colony of Vancouver Island was established and the HBC was granted exclusive proprietary rights over Vancouver Island. They were given five years to establish a settlement, or see their grant revoked. By 1853 the population had grown to 50.

HBC used agents to recruit laborers and settlers from as far away as Scotland. They were promised their own 25 acres of land in exchange for five years of service with the company and its new operation, Craigflower farm.

Many came and settled and no doubt their graves were among the ones I stopped by that day.


Charli Mills’ October 21st Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction challenge double-dog dared us to join her with our own cemetery day. We went last Sunday when the Victoria’s Old Cemetery’s Society hosted a Ghost Walk. There was quite a crowd, but our time was limited, so my Hubby and I decided to explore the place on our own.

The writing assignment was: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a final resting place. You can take any perspective that appeals to you from the historic to the horrific. Just don’t scare me too greatly. You can also choose to write about those buried before they came to their final rest. An extra challenge is to discover a story or character from a local cemetery.

As I strolled through the grounds, I came across at least two markers with the name Annie on them. So my story is about someone named Annie, who responded to the HBC call in 1853, five or more years prior to the British Columbia gold rushes.

fort victoria 1858 500

This photo is of a painting depicting Fort Victoria in 1858.

Annie’s Letter Home: January 1853

We have landed in Fort Victoria, Vancouver Island. Last night we were huddled into a dirty store house. John made us beds from boards that were lying around. I kept my spirits up til everyone was asleep and then quietly gave way with a flood of tears.  

This morning John was taken away to work at the Craigflower farm. I am living at the fort with a Mrs. Edwards and will help her sew for the ladies here. 

Be comforted my dearest sister. Tonight I feel a renewed determination to work hard and help John earn our promised land.

15 thoughts on “Double-Dog Dare and Annie’s Letter Home

Add yours

  1. What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed the three distinct parts. They made it particularly interesting. Admittedly, as a previous manager at HBC I was particularly caught by your reference to the activities of the frontier men.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is amazing how HBC, founded in 1670 is still surviving today! What I thought was interesting is that even thought HBC was known for fur trading, in Victoria, back in 1850’s, it was also the ‘retail store’ in town from where people had to buy their goods. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the history of HBC is interesting. Although I’m not in favour of wearing fur, HBC was always known for it. I remember quite distinctly when they finally announced that they would no longer be selling it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the way you have provided the historical background to your work of fiction. You have interpreted the situation well. An enjoyable post and flash fiction. Annie’s hope for a prosperous future is not much different from our hopes now. As you say, we are connected by our humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Norah for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the story. I did not have time to go to the BC archives where they have microfilmed copies of letters written by someone living in Fort Victoria in the 1850’s. These would be interesting to read and hopefully I will do that someday. So far the well known book about Canadian settlers in a fiction format is ‘Roughing it in the Bush’ by Susanna Moodie. Her book is based on letters written by her when she arrived in the eastern part of Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Almost as if Annie’s letter is a message those who lived before us send — take heart. We do connect over time through place, especially in areas where communities were created around vocation. Your flash evokes that feeling.

    So! You took the double-dog dare and turned up a buck! Ha! Nice resting place he found. Some of those larger cemeteries from the Victorian era were actually designed to be parks, and meant for us to stroll and picnic. Perhaps we understood better the connection between the living and the departed back then. Even these tiny pioneer cemeteries in Idaho have incredible views.

    Interesting how your place and mine is connected through the HBC and the BC gold rushes. David Thompson of the HBC thoroughly explored this area and I live on what was called the Wild Horse Trail during the gold rushes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “We connect over time through place” – and who would have ever guessed HBC and the gold rushes from the 1860’s would become our connection beyond our writing. Hah! See what happens when you ‘Double-Dog Dare’! As always, thanks Charli for your inspiring support.

      Liked by 3 people

Let's Chat Connect and Share

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: