Heritage Register

612 David Street/645-51 Gorge Road East
Centennial Methodist Church, now Centennial United Church

Built: 1885; 1891
Heritage-Designated 1979

For: Victoria Methodist Congregation

Architects: Thomas Hooper (1891)
Builders: Maurice Humber (1885);
Thomas H. Matthew (1891)



This picturesque brick church sits on the prominent intersection of Gorge Rd and David St. The style is varied with both Gothic and Romanesque elements, reflecting the two stages of design and construction.
The gable to the right of the square tower is the original 1885 building (photo below), with its date stone in the gable above three Gothic windows which echo the lower ones.


The main roof on the later 1891 building has an octagonal lantern with a row of arched windows to light the interior. The square tower has a denticulated cornice and elaborate parapet with an obelisk at each corner. The main entrance on Gorge Rd, with its triple arches in heavily rusticated sandstone, is Romanesque; a low curved tower with conical roof is located to the left and a higher square tower to the right. There are many arched windows, often in groups of three, some two storeys high. The gables of the main façade have geometric decoration in the upper areas. The David St façade has more gables, one of which is above the conical roof of the semi-circular apse. On the far left, the wings of the modernist addition shelter the David St entrance, obscuring the lower portions of two brick gables. The design is somewhat reminiscent of H.H. Richardson’s Trinity Church (1877) in Boston.


A new Methodist community began in the early 1860s with Sunday School and prayer meetings in a building on Kings Rd. The Victoria North Methodist congregation grew rapidly and their first church was named Gorge Road Methodist Church. Just six year later, in 1891 a larger building was commissioned from Thomas Hooper (Metropolitan Methodist, 1411 Quadra St, Harris Green), to incorporate the old one. Inside, the nave is very similar to that of the Metropolitan Methodist Church (now Victoria Conservatory of Music) that Hooper designed around the same time. A $14,940 contract was awarded to Thomas Henry Matthew (1460 Gladstone Av, Fernwood). Newly arrived from Britain, William Currier Holt of 408 Alpha Tce, a member of the congregation and a building contractor, volunteered as project construction manager.

The cornerstone for the addition was laid September 1891 and the new section opened June 5, 1892. The name was changed to Centennial Methodist, to honour John Wesley, Methodism’s founder, who died in 1791. Total cost was $26,000. The original building was left intact although the entrance was removed and later a second floor was inserted to convert it into a hall and Sunday School.

Centennial Methodist became well known in the early 1920s under pastor Dr Clem Davies. Davies was born in Wales and had been involved in a radio ministry in the United States. He organized the first church service broadcast in Western Canada, on April 1, 1923, Easter Sunday. Radio station CFCL (Centennial First, Centennial Last) continued broadcasting from the church until Dr. Davies left in 1924. Religious broadcasting continued from other locations but the station was later sold to Island Broadcasting Co and given the new call letters CJVI.

Despite removal of the tall steeple from the 1885 square tower in 1931 for safety reasons, the church continues to be a landmark in the Gorge area. In 2001 a major interior restoration costing $120,000 was funded with assistance from the Canada Millennium Partnership Programme, BC Heritage Trust, Victoria Civic Heritage Trust and Victoria Foundation. Also restored was the 750-watt beacon on the cupola, formerly used as a navigational aid by ships coming into harbour.


• Map of Victoria Heritage Register Properties

• Burnside History

• Burnside Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Three: Rockland, Burnside, Harris Green,
Hillside-Quadra, North Park & Oaklands

House GrantsHeritage HousesResources & PublicationsNews & EventsBuilding CommunityAbout