UVic Torch Autumn 2003
Autumn 2003,
Volume 25, Number 1

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Strawberry Era
Photo courtesy of UVIC ARCHIVES


STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER? MAYBE NOT. But there was a time when the campus lands turned out some of the sweetest heart-shaped berries.

The heritage water tower atop Sinclair Road, near the entrance to Alumni House, was once the headquarters of Hamsterley Farm Jam Factory.

Owned by Algernon and Letitia Pease, Hamsterley Farm strawberries recorded a bumper crop in 1914. The couple decided to market strawberry jam, then candy and plum wine. The jam business was a success until a supplier sent beet sugar instead of cane sugar (beet sugar needs to be heated at a higher temperature). The mistake wasn't discovered until too late and the loss of a thousand crates killed the business.

The promotional material featured here includes music and lyrics to the Hamsterley Farm Jam Song: "These are the berries from Gordon Head,/Driven direct from the grower's shed;/ Picked last night at the sun's decline,/Made into strawberry jam by nine." The photo of the berry picker was taken around 1915 when workers would travel from Vancouver, before Fraser Valley farms were developed.

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