By Penny Pitcher

Have I got a walk for you!

I moved to James Bay four years ago, and in my first explorations of the ‘hood, came upon a mirror – Holding a Mirror - attached to a wall in the lower causeway.  Beside it was a map. Curious, I looked into things – only took me four years!

The Hands of Time, by British Columbia-based artist Crystal Przybille, was the winning submission to the City of Victoria's national, juried, public art competition to create artwork that celebrated the 150th Anniversary – sesquicentennial - of the City of Victoria in 2012.  The Hands of Time consists of 12 bronze sculptures that depict life-size hands, varying in age, culture and gender, but engaged in activities symbolic of Victoria’s past. They were installed in the spring of 2013.

The 12 sculptures represent the 12 numbers of a clock face, 12 months in a year, and Victoria's sesquicentennial in 2012. All of them are located around the Inner Harbour, at City Hall, The Hudson building, along the Songhees Walkway, and at the top of Beacon Hill at Beacon Hill Park. The artworks can be found on buildings, lamp posts, rocks, and walls – up high, down low, even in bedrock. Come on – who doesn’t like a challenge!?

So, I made it a personal mission to find and photograph all 12 sculptures and, while I often looked up instead of down, and to the right instead of the left, I could finally say, “Mission Accomplished.”


#1  Carving a Canoe Paddle  The paddle element in this sculpture was designed by Clarence Dick of the Songhees Nation and recalls Lekwungen culture, past and present.


#2  Holding a Railway Spike  This sculpture references the island railroad in the 1880s which connected Victoria to the railway system of Canada.  


#3  Performing with a Fan  This sculpture symbolizes the significance of Chinese culture and the performing arts in Victoria’s identity. 


#4  Carrying Point Blankets  This sculpture represents the historical significance of the Hudson’s Bay Company to Victoria’s identity. The Hudson’s Bay Company traded wool point blankets during the years of the North American Fur Trade.


#5  Carrying Books  The books symbolize education and governance in the Capital City of British Columbia.


#6  Holding Binoculars  This sculpture faces out to the ocean Victoria’s geography and the foundation of its tourism and sightseeing industries.


#7  Tying a Rope to a Mooring Ring  This sculpture calls to mind the arrival of the first tall ships and Victoria’s nautical identity. 


#8  Panning for Gold  This sculpture recalls the Gold Rush of 1858 that brought many people to Fort Victoria


#9  Raising a Tea Cup  This sculpture reinforces Victoria’s traditional, customary, and historical connections to Britain.


#10 Holding a Mirror  This sculpture reflects the Inner Harbour, key to Victoria’s history and identity. The reflection and text in the mirror reminds us that the present is a result of all that has gone before and that which is yet to come.


#11 Cupping Dogwood Blossoms  Pacific Dogwood is British Columbia’s floral emblem. This sculpture symbolizes Victoria as British Columbia’s Capital City.  


#12 Digging Camas Bulbs  The gathering basket element of this sculpture was designed by Carolyn Memnook of the T’souke Nation. Gathering baskets and digging sticks were used by the Lekwungen people to gather Camas bulbs for food.



The individual sculptures were cast in bronze and finished with a dark patina. A surface patina of green verdigris was also applied. This patina naturally occurs in copper and bronze in seaside environments.

I suggest that you download the map from the following link The Hands of Time Walking Tour Brochure [PDF - 426 KB] or stop at the Tourist Bureau to pick one up.  You will enjoy the walk, the sights, AND the sense of achievement when you finally check off #12.