Header image  
Dance Halls of Early Victoria,
Dance Hall Facts

Dance Halls or "Squaw dance halls," as they were often called in contemporary newspaper articles, were entertainment facilities established during the gold rush to keep miners in Victoria during the winter. Behind the dancing front, the real amusement was prostitution. Their popularity ended when the gold rush moved into the Cariboo and the opposition from the religious community overpowered dance house supporters. Explore the power forces involved in dance halls with a microhistorical approach to Victoria's history.


  • Question to consider: Who had the most influence in the dance hall operations?

  • Dance Hall Origins:
    • California gold rush of 1849
  • Distinctions:           
    • In San Francisco the majority of women employed at the Dance Halls were white but in Victoria the majority of women involved were Native.
  • Time Frame :          
    • Approximately 1859-1866.
    • Most active between 1860 and 1865.
  • People Involved:

    • Miners- came from California gold rush, Cariboo, England, other parts of British North America for gold rush.
    • Businessmen- moved North from San Francisco to open shops.
    • Aboriginal People- thousands from Ts'msyen (Tsimshian), Haida and other tribes came to sell furs, carved goods and labour to influx of white men.




    A Civilized Song of the Solomons