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The History of Layritz Park

Layritz Park’s Formation

Richard Layritz was born on April 27, 1867 in Ernstthal near Dresden in Germany. His parents were well-to-do middle class citizens and he was the youngest of eight children. Richard first moved to Kelowna and managed a nursery over the winter of 1886/87 and decided to move to Victoria in the spring of 1887 thinking that the climate was so mild that he could grow all year round. Unfortunately he guessed wrong and his entire stock was frozen during the winter of 1887/88 and he lost both his business and his property. In 1898 Richard went to the Klondike to earn more money. By 1900 he had raised enough money so that he could come back to Saanich and really get his nursery going. He bought 14 acres on Wilkinson Road just north of the jail and later increased his property holdings to 99 acres. In 1906 he returned to Germany and married Eliese Vetter, a niece, on June 21, 1906. Eliese was born on Nov. 30, 1885 and tragically died in Saanich on October 4, 1916. He married his second wife in 1919, an English girl 14 years his junior.

Richard gradually expanded his nursery holdings to two ten acre plots of land in Gordon Head. One of them was at Ash and Barry. He had a summer house on that land and grew orchard seedlings. The second property was closer to Mount Douglas and both acreages had sea frontage.

In 1953 Richard Layritz donated 15 1/2 acres to the Municipality of Saanich with the stipulation that they be fenced in and used as a park for children. The original plaque was erected in 1963 and the road once called Sandra Lane was renamed Layritz Avenue. A new plaque was placed in 1995 on a rock near the park buildings.

Since Layritz Nurseries Ltd. was the only major nursery in British Columbia in the early days, most of the trees and shrubs on Victoria city streets and parks came from Richard’s nursery. Richard died on September 10, 1954 and his ashes were placed, at his request, beneath a Redwood tree on Wilkinson Road near his house.

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