In 1883 the government granted land to St. John’s for a park in the west end of the city. The land was originally home to Newfoundland’s first civilian hospital and long-term care facility. Upon closure of the hospital in 1888, development of the park began. On June 5th of 1896, the Riverhead neighborhood gathered for an instrumental concert to celebrate the grand opening of Victoria Park.

From Our Campaign Chair


 
 

Like you, I have fond memories of Victoria Park from my childhood but the memories that I cherish most come from being a father. When I would take my kids to Victoria Park I found myself telling them what it used to be like. I didn’t have a good answer for them when they asked, ‘why isn’t it like that anymore?’ So I’m asking you that question. When I walk through Victoria Park I can hear the echoes of children playing in the water, the cheer of the crowd and the crack of the bat as a team wins a softball game, families sliding in winter and even the crunch of the leaves as couples take a quiet autumn walk. Join us as we bring these sounds and more back to an urban oasis that has gotten far too quiet. Help us to bring the neighbors back to the neighborhood so that one day my kids can ask theirs, ‘Can you believe none of this was here when I was a kid?”

Please consider donating today, I’ll meet you in the park!


 
 

Bringing the beauty to life


The planned improvements for Victoria Park will ensure that our beautiful grounds will be cherished and enjoyed by people of all ages for years to come. As we Renew the Heart of Old St. John’s, here are a few of the features you can expect to see:

» Multi-function building
» Performance pavilion
» Bubbler fountain
» Upgraded playground
» Inclusive and accessible pathways
» Improved pedestrian circulation

» Off-leash dog park
» Community garden
» Victorian-style benches and lamps
» Story boards
» Sliding Hill illumination
» New Pedestrian Bridge

 

Phase 1 – The North End


Revitalization of the Park began in the Fall of 2016. Phase 1 will include an Entrance Plaza on Hamilton Avenue, Sliding Hill Lookout, new Pedestrian Bridge, Meandering Pathway, Off_Leash Dog Park, and illumination of the Sliding Hill. A Bubbler Fountain is also being constructed in this area of the Park and will open in 2018.

Let’s play ball


Since the early days, children would come to Victoria Park to play soccer, basketball, and softball in teams organized by community leaders. Over time, softball became the primary sport for people of all ages to play. To this day, the diamond remains the park’s main attraction during the warmer months of the year. In the winter, it’s the sliding hill that draws the most attention.

Music through the years


From special occasions to Sunday afternoons, music played an important role in the history of Victoria Park. As bands performed, their music would ring through the streets, drawing families from their homes, and filling the park to capacity. Smiling faces would be aglow as musicians took to the stage once a week during the summer months for a free concert in the park.

Where once they stood


When the call came out for volunteers to fight in the First World War more than a thousand young men from the Riverhead neighbourhood responded. Where once they played as children, they returned as veterans to remember friends and relatives who gave the ultimate sacrafice. To honour these brave men and women, a German artillery piece now stands in Victoria Park.

Newfoundland’s Rhur Valley


The history of Victoria Park dates back to the early nineteenth century, when the neighbourhoods were filled with labourers employed by the various industries that had been established in the area. Sharing a border with the Park, businesses included the island’s first commercial bakery, earliest car dealership, and the Parker and Monroe Boot and Shoe Factory that was in operation as early as 1827.

Originally located on Alexander Street, the Parker and Monroe Boot and Shoe Factory was the primary manufacturer of footwear on the island from 1880 until the last retail store closed in 1988. During its prime, the Factory produced over 100,000 pairs of footwear every year.

Follow the river bed


From filling pools to powering factories, the water that flows through Victoria Park has played a significant role in its history. The river that once carved its way through the park’s grounds, now runs through culverts underground. It starts at Mundy Pond and travels through Bennett’s Creek before joining Waterford River.

Community Centre


Victoria Park will receive a variety of upgrades to make it the ideal place for groups to gather. A new multi-use centre will replace the pool house, giving people a modern venue for hosting programs and community events.

Illuminating the park


For safer park access, entrances and walkways will be upgraded to make the grounds more accessible for everyone.

Throughout the park, Victorian-style benches and lamps will be installed to improve visibility and comfort for visitors.

Welcoming families


After a long day of work, there’s nothing better than escaping to the neighbourhood park with the family. That’s why we’ve added a number of modern, family-friendly features into our plan, including a new playground and an off-leash dog park. In addition, we’re adding area lighting to the popular sliding hill area, allowing for longer days in the park during the winter season.

Celebrating the past


Our Community Renewal plan includes several features that will pay tribute to the park’s rich history. The plan includes a new performance pavilion that will help bring music and theatre back to the park, a fountain featuring ten illuminated bubblers, and storyboards that will be placed through the park sharing memories and moments in history with our visitors.

Explore Victoria Parks Past


  • 1814

    On May 7th, Newfoundland’s first civilian hospital – the Riverhead Hospital – opened on the grounds of what is now known as Victoria Park.

  • 1827

    The first industries to set up shop in the Riverhead neighbourhood included a brewery, sawmill, foundry, forge, flour mill, and whisky distillery operated by Charles Fox Bennett as early as 1827.

  • 1846

    The Great Fire of 1846 destroyed almost three-quarters of the City of St. John’s from Riverhead to the Battery. After that significant fire, The Marine Parade or the Promenade (predecessor to Victoria Park) was created along the shore of the river mouth from Hutchings Street to the Parsley Garden, opposite Alexander Street by Governor John Gaspard LeMarchant.
    The remnants of the Promenade are a line of trees along Water Street West from the old Railway Station to Patrick Street.

  • 1850

    In the early 1850s, R. Vail Bread became the first commercial bakery in NL.

  • 1861

    NL’s first long term care facility was built, originally titled the Poor Asylum and later referred to as the Home for the Aged and Infirm.

  • 1870

    After inheriting the business from their father, James and John Jr. Angel renamed the company ‘St. John’s Iron Foundry’ and went on to produce the first steam engine, steam boiler, and iron hulled steamship ever manufactured in Newfoundland

  • 1881

    St. Patrick’s church opened on the edge of Victoria Park, serving the Catholic population of the neighbourhood.

  • 1883

    Park land was given to the City of St. John’s from government.

  • 1888

    Riverhead Hospital, which stood on the lower half of what is now Victoria Park, was demolished.

  • 1889

    Victoria Park received its name honouring Queen Victoria and development began on the grounds.

  • 1896

    On June 5th, the grand opening of Victoria Park was celebrated with an instrumental outdoor concert.

  • 1897

    A monument was installed in Victoria Park to honour a prestigious business man and politician, Moses Monroe.

  • 1908

    June 26 marked the opening of the Wesley Street United Church.

  • 1916

    Bennett’s Distillery began producing ‘near beer’ – a beer that contained no more than 2% alcohol – until the end of the prohibition in 1924.

  • 1919

    On August 4th, a concert was held in the park as a celebration of peace, welcoming soldiers home from the First World War.

  • 1921

    Philip Edmund Outerbridge was elected to St. John’s City council. Throughout his career, he played an instrumental role in the development of parks and recreation facilities in the city.

  • 1925

    Sergeant Furlong was appointed as policeman of Victoria Park with a salary of $15/week.

  • 1928

    On July 28th, the Rotary Club opened a swimming pool along Rennie’s River, on land donated by Cyril Duley, brother of the local novelist Margaret Duley. There was already in existence a natural swimming pool in Victoria Park.  The Rotary Club Rennie’s River Pool remained open until 1954.

  • 1938

    In 1938, through his association with the Rotary, Anthony Tooton pledged $3000 towards a pool for Victoria Park in memory of his son Frank. In that year the pool at the upper end of the park was improved.  A shallower paddling pool was opened next to the existing pool in Victoria Park, as requested by Phillip Outerbridge at a cost of $750.

  • 1954

    January 1953, Council approval was given to an application of the Playgrounds and Recreation association of St. John’s to rebuild the Tooton Pool. . The new Tooton Pool was opened in July 1954. According to Rotary records Mr. Anthony Tooton again put substantial moneys into the pool.  Grading was also laid for a sliding hill on the upper portion of Victoria Park extending from Hamilton Avenue.

  • 1963

    In August 1963 a new swimming pool was opened in Victoria Park in proximity to the existing paddling pool and extending onto property on the north side of Angel place.

  • 1996

    In 1996, due to the high cost of repairs and maintenance, the swimming pool in Victoria Park is permanently closed and removed and the site reverts to open space.

  • 2015

    With extensive public engagement, a master revitalization plan is developed for Victoria Park by Tract Consulting and presented to City Council for approval.

  • 2016

    The VP Foundation Inc. convenes its first Board meeting on May 16th. The Victoria Park Community Renewal project is launched and Phase 1 construction begins with funding of $1 million from the City/Province Multi-Year Capital Works Program.

Thanks to our sponsors


We’re proud to partner with a diverse group of dedicated sponsors. With their generous support, we can renew the cornerstone of the Water Street West community and give future generations a place to safely enjoy for years to come.

Sponsorship Opportunities


With your help, Victoria Park can be renewed as the heart of old St. John’s –
a gathering place for generations to come together.