Rockland has Craigdarroch Castle, Government House and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria all within a ten minute walk from one another. Rockland is a very mature neighbourhood with wide streets, large tree canopy, and castle like homes. You’ll be hard pressed to find a neighbourhood that is so quiet and grandiose, yet just a few minutes from the bustling downtown core.
Long before it was named, it was identified as a desirable place to live by Joseph Despard Pemberton, the first colonial land surveyor. Pemberton owned most of the easterly portion of what is now Rockland (Section 74), while the westerly section was subdivided from lands owned by Governor James Douglas (Fairfield Farm Estate). The open landscape offered spectacular views over Fairfield, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Mountains, Mt. Baker and the growing city centre. Oak trees and the rich blue of camas flowers characterized the area, which was rocky and steep in places.
Victoria City Council recognized that both Rockland and Fairfield had significant heritage value and should therefore be exempt from “any sort of apartment development.” A 1943 bylaw restricted Rockland to “single family, no exceptions, development” but despite these edicts, that era saw significant changes to the neighbourhood as many of the large homes were broken up into apartments, boarding houses and nursing homes.
Today some of the large homes previously broken up into suites have been returned to single-family dwellings, and many more have been lovingly restored and have opened their doors as bed & breakfast accommodation. To this day Rockland remains one of the most visited and desirable residential neighbourhoods in the city.