Skip to Main Content
askus Ask us

Colonial Placenames in Victoria, B.C.

An examination of colonial placenames in and around Victoria, B.C., and the colonial figures for whom they are named.

Princess Patricia

Princess Patricia’s life and legacy exemplify the way that empire is created and upheld. The granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Patricia was born in 1886 to the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. She spent her childhood and adolescence in various parts in the British Empire, including three years in India, an extended tour of Mediterranean Europe and North Africa, and South Africa (Harris, para. 2). When she was first learning to talk, she reportedly spoke a “mixture of English, German and Hindustani” (Harris, para. 2). Connaught Place in New Delhi bears the name of Princess Patricia’s family to this day as an example of the enduring influence of British imperialism even after India achieved independence. 

Princess Patricia spent five years in Canada while her father was governor general between 1911 and 1916, visiting most provinces and becoming a popular public figure among settler Canadians (Harris, para. 5-6). Strengthening British ties to Canada, officials renamed Union Bay in North Saanich, B.C. to Patricia Bay, and established the District of Patricia north of the Albany River in Ontario (Harris, para. 6). These placenames erase any Indigenous connections to the land and tie them to a British woman who only spent a fraction of her life in Canada. She was such a powerful figure of Canada’s colonial position in the British Empire, that her portrait appeared on the Canadian $1 bill for years (Treble, para. 4). 

One of Princess Patricia’s most prominent legacies in Canada is in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, one of the last privately funded regiments in the British Empire, created by Montreal businessman Andrew Hamilton Gault in 1914 (Treble, para. 13). She was reportedly very involved with the regiment, thinking of the troops as “her boys” (para. 14). She wrote them letters, visited them in the hospital, and designed the regiment’s original Colour, the “Ric-a-Dam-Doo" (para. 13-14). She held the position of honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment from 1918 until her death in 1974 (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, para. 5). 

Princess Patricia’s contributions to the Canadian military and, by extension, British imperialism are commemorated in the North American campfire song “Princess Pat” (Ogden). This echo song, still sung today by Scout and Guide groups, speaks to how children learn early on to identify themselves as members of a colonial nation shaped by European ties and military might. Princess Patricia spent a limited amount of time in Canada, but her legacy remains as a symbol of Canada’s colonial identity. 

Locations named after Princess Patricia

  • Patricia Bay, North Saanich, B.C.

  • Connaught Wing of the Legislative Library, Victoria, BC 

  • Connaught Place, New Delhi (named for her father) 

  • Patricia Lake, Alberta 

  • Regina Pats junior ice hockey team (Regina, Saskatchewan) 

  • Patricia Heights, Edmonton, Alberta 

  • Patricia Portion, Kenora District, Ontario 

Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.