One Painting, One Story: The Shelbourne Street Time Vortex

by Suzanne Heron.

I love the rows of plane trees along Shelbourne – meant at one time to be renamed Memorial Ave, with the trees planted for the soldiers who fell in WWI. Now, just in time for Halloween, I’ve discovered another Shelbourne story, on the “Old Victoria” Facebook page. People report that when driving on the road near Hillside Mall, around 2 a.m. in October, the city street may suddenly turn into a dark and deserted country road for a few minutes . . .

“. . . I recall it like it was yesterday . . . the street lights disappeared, the sides of the road were grass and there was a dirt road with a grass strip up the middle. My headlights were the only light . . . as fast as that happened, it disappeared.”

“ . . . I never heard of this but it actually happened to me, just for a blink, in broad daylight. I thought it was just my imagination . . .”

“. . .  blinked a couple of times and I was out of the trees . . .”

“ . . . I was driving down Shelbourne in the middle of the day directly behind a bus. All of a sudden the bus wasn’t there and it was dark. There were no other cars around and the road was gravel.”

Someone wondered if this is a “thin place,” as the Scots say – a place where the barrier between our physical world and the spiritual world is thin, where, the old tales tell, people can pass back and forth. Then there are the “ley lines,” particularly strong in Victoria – straight line connections between landmarks both natural and man-made. Some speculate they are lines of spiritual or magnetic energy and account for Victoria’s abundance of hauntings and spiritual places.

I like the idea of this thin place connecting us to the time of those soldiers, the ones who returned and the ones who didn’t, and the beautiful rows of trees honouring them.

Happy Hallowe’en!

2 Responses to One Painting, One Story: The Shelbourne Street Time Vortex

  1. Hello, Suzanne,
    I loved your notes about Shelbourne.
    There actually was a dedication ceremony recently – I think around the end of September – at which time Shelbourne was alternately named Memorial Avenue. Post-top signs have been erected; a red maple leaf in a circle…above the leaf reads “Memorial Avenue” and below the leaf it says “Lest we forget”.
    I live very close to Shelbourne, and have always loved that section, so beautifully depicted in your painting, with all the trees planted along the meridian.
    I’ve lived in Victoria since 1977, and have always loved approaching that particular piece of the Avenue.
    Thank you!
    Suzanne Creighton

    October 27, 2018 at 5:20 pm
  2. Hi Suzanne,
    I really appreciate receiving your art with the history. I was born & still live in Victoria. This recent story brings back memories of driving down Shelbourne in the late 40’s &50’s to visit my Grandparents on Wallema Road. Shelbourne from Cedar Hill Crossroad to Mt Doug Park was mostly greenhouses & farmland. The road was potholes & very rough spots. No streetlights & very few houses. All the ingredients of some of the descriptions in your stories, especially on a bad weather day or moonlit night. We had been told the story of the trees as my Dad & relatives were in the Service.
    – Robert Wall

    October 29, 2018 at 2:57 am