Victoria's Victoria: The Theatre Royal in the 1860s

|Look Inside| Charles and Ellen Kean| Politics and Theatre| Local Theatre| Bibliography|

View of the Victoria Theatre with red arrow.  B.C. Archives,	Looking North Along Government Street from Fort St., Victoria,	Call # A-0321
The Victoria Theatre (later the Theatre Royal), located on the Southwest corner of Government and View Streets, 1868.
photo courtesy British Columbia Archives

The Victoria Theatre, known as the Theatre Royal after 1867, was converted in 1861 by J.B. Robinson. It was located in an old Hudson's Bay Company storehouse on Government Street in downtown Victoria, which was situated at the southern tip of the then-British colony of Vancouver Island.

The wooden theatre opened on January 3rd, 1861. The land upon which the theatre sat was purchased by Matthew Baillie Begbie on January 24th of the same year, and following a dispute between Robinson (who still owned the theatre itself) and Begbie regarding the value of the building's interior fittings, it was gutted. Begbie then refitted the theatre, which reopened on June 19th, 1861. Gas lighting, an innovation which had revolutionized British theatre decades earlier, was added in 1862.

Programme for a concert at the Theatre Royal, 1873.
image courtesy British Columbia Archives

Map of Victoria with Theatre indicated in red -	 width=
Map of Victoria with the Theatre location indicated in red, 1885.
maps courtesy Victoria City Archives (New York, NY: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co. Limited, 1885)

Click Here for a closer look at the location of the Theatre Royal

In 1867 the building was renovated by R.G. Marsh, and on October 10th of that year the theatre was officially reopened as the Theatre Royal. Begbie sold the theatre to D.W. Higgins, and it was subsequently bought by the Colonist newspaper company in August 1882, when it was demolished to make room for the Colonist building.  The Victoria Theatre/Theatre Royal was a major centre for culture and society in Victoria, and in many ways reflected the British colonial ideals that prevailed at the time.  This site will focus on the role of this theatre in Victoria during the 1860s.

Click on the links below to enter the site:

A Look Inside Victoria's Theatre Royal

Charles and Ellen Kean : British Fame Visits Victoria

Colonial Politics and the Theatre

Local Theatre in the 1860s


Return to Victoria's Victoria : Main

Nancy Hintz
Jean Lomas
This site ©2002 Nancy Hintz and Jean Lomas, as part of the Victoria's Victoria Website, University of Victoria, British Columbia