The Falaise community was started in the spring of 1957, when the first housing lots were offered for sale. Buyers were told that the subdivision was located between Royal Oak Burial Park and the Rithet Estate.
The federal government sponsored the development, which made land available under the Veterans’ Land Act (VLA). The Act, which was passed in 1942, made property available to veterans so they could re-establish themselves after their service. They could qualify for a loan, and if they remained in the home for at least 10 years, they qualified for an additional grant. Lots were awarded based on points accumulated for war service, financial status, and length of time here.
The Victoria office that administered the Veterans’ Land Act was run by George Chatterton, who went on to become Saanich’s Reeve and then a Member of Parliament. Today, his name is on Chatterton Way, and a plaque paying tribute to him is found at the corner of Royal Oak Drive and Chatterton Way.
Falaise was one of several subdivisions in Greater Victoria, and followed VLA projects in the Braefoot area of Saanich as well as in Sidney.
A century and a half ago, the area we call Falaise was mainly rocks and trees, but was home to First Nations who had been here for generations. The first land grant covering what became Falaise was awarded in 1859 to Paul Medana, a pioneer in Victoria. Within a year he turned it over to the Heal family, and their descendants lived on the property until 1955.
The old Heal house on Royal Wood Place is a century old. The original house on that property was used as the Royal Oak post office. Before 1900 the Heals sold the upper part of their property to the Mycock family, who in turn sold it in 1922 so it could become the site of the new cemetery.
The southern part of the Heal land, which became the original Falaise neighbourhood, was made up of about 50 acres. The subdivision in 1957 created 35 lots, with 12 being half-acre lots and 23 being more than an acre. The large lot size was needed because these houses were on septic tanks, not the sewer system.
The street through the subdivision was called Falaise Crescent, with the name coming from the Falaise Gap, a major Canadian battle area soon after D-Day in 1944. From an intersection with the Pat Bay Highway, close to where today’s Falaise Drive bends north to become a frontage road, the crescent went east, up the hill and around, where it came to a dead end.
In 1957, the Pat Bay Highway was much quieter than it is today, and had been given formal highway status only a few years earlier. Before it was opened, traffic to the peninsula would go up Quadra to East Saanich, then turn right. That part of Quadra is called West Saanich today, and that part of East Saanich is known as Viewmont.
In 1971, the highway was widened, Royal Oak Drive was opened, and Falaise Crescent lost its direct connection to the Pat Bay. The new entry was Falaise Drive, which was opened between Royal Oak and Falaise Crescent. The western part of the crescent became known as Falaise Drive, and the road was extended north as a frontage road for the burial park and for houses which had lost their highway access.
The Falaise community was expanded in the 1980s and 1990s. A major subdivision in 1989 resulted in the creation of Royalwood Place and Court. In 1989 and 1990, there were subdivisions along the northern part of Falaise Drive, allowing for the houses there and on Adeline Place.
The community has also grown through infill, with new houses going in beside or behind the original 1957 homes. That was made possible because of the arrival of a sewage system.
Today, Falaise might be best known as the location of a cemetery and two funeral homes. But our history reveals that this community pays tribute to Canadian veterans. After all, Falaise came into being because of the sacrifices made by local soldiers on D-Day and beyond.