by Monica Hammond
There were about 200 settlers living in Victoria when Edward and Mary Cridge arrived in 1855, and about 600 settlers on Vancouver Island. The Cridges lived in Fort Victoria for their first year, while their parsonage was being built.
Very early in their lives in this new community, they became aware of the needs of their fellow Victorians. A seriously ill man was found on a mattress in their garden; someone had brought him there knowing that he would receive the care he needed because of the generous nature of the Cridges. Another time, a naval officer in ill health stayed with them while he grieved for his father. Yet another time, Edward Cridge visited a shooting victim who had been brought to the Fort. It did not take long for the community to appreciate the impact of Mary and Edward Cridge on the lives of the disadvantaged.
The gold rush of 1858 brought a rush of people to Victoria. 20,000 people came through, and Victoria’s population grew from a few hundred to between 3,000 and 6,000 over a period of five years. Reverend Cridge immediately began to address the needs of these new Victorians, many of whom would become his parishioners. His ministerial work extended beyond Victoria to Colwood, Esquimalt, and other areas. The impact of his and Mary’s social work was felt by people near and far.
This piece is based on the work of Vernon Storey, Terry Worobetz and Henry Kennedy in their book The Home: Orphans’ Home to Family Centre: 1873 to 1998. Copies of the book are available for purchase at The Cridge Centre for the Family.