Heritage Register

714 Discovery Street

Built: 1910
Heritage-Designated 1996

For: James & Helen Baker

Architect: C. Elwood Watkins
Builders: Baker Brothers

714 Discovery


This Edwardian Classical Revival two-storey brick residence is one of the few surviving residential buildings on the northern edge of Downtown. The multi-hipped slate roof has multiple modillions in the eaves. Both sides of the house have two-storey angled bays under hipped roofs. The rear has a generous porch with spindle balusters and three chamfered posts. The front façade has a hip-roofed, two-storey angled bay to the left; to the right is a deep open porch with solid balustrade and Tuscan columns supporting a large hipped roof. The entrance has a glazed panel in the door and leaded sidelights and transom. The front corners are emphasized by painted quoins. Many windows are one-over-one double-hung sashes in combination with larger single-pane windows and leaded art glass transoms. The original concrete block garden wall imitates rusticated stone blocks.

The use of brick was considered somewhat unusual for a Victoria residence but is explained by the owner’s ties to the Baker Brick Co. James Baker (1854-1929) built this house as a retirement home (said to be built with the last bricks that he made), and furnished it exclusively with products from Weiler’s furniture store. He also built 968 Balmoral Rd (North Park) although he never lived in it. The Bakers were well-known contractors and brick manufacturers, and established the Baker Brick and Tile Co on Douglas St in 1891. James was born in London, ON, to Richard, a grain merchant, and Mary (Jennings). The family came to Victoria in 1867 by way of New York, Jamaica, the Isthmus of Panama and San Francisco, then to Victoria on the SS Active. James worked on the HBC Uplands farm on Lansdowne Rd with his father until he was 18. In 1878 he went into the teaming business, left Victoria for the gold fields, and came back to return to teaming, eventually having 40 teams. In 1891 he started the brick business. James engaged in a variety of other business ventures, including the Victoria Ice Co, which he established in 1898, and continued operating until 1910. He served as City Alderman in 1891-93. James retired in 1910, but returned to the brick business in 1920 before finally retiring in 1927, when former Baker Brick & Tile Co manager Walter Luney took over the company. Evans, Coleman and Evans acquired Baker Brick & Tile Co after WWII.


In 1887 James married the widow of his brother, George Henry Baker (1844-1886). Clara Helen Wagner, born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1848, died of diabetes in 1902. In 1904 James remarried, to Helen Clara Marrion (1876-1972), born in Surrey, England. They met when Helen worked as a bookkeeper at the Victoria Ice Co. Helen lived in this house until at least 1940. She was an active member in the Nightingale Chapter of IODE, and was instrumental in raising funds to build a sunroom at Royal Jubilee Hospital.


Andrew (1891-1980) and Grace (Michie, 1893-1976) Paton rented this house from 1933 until at least 1943. Andrew was a provincial civil servant, born in Scotland. Grace was born in Wellington near Nanaimo, BC. He was an Exalted Ruler of the Victoria Elks Lodge, and she was a member of the Royal Purple Elks Club of BC and of the IODE. Henry (1888-1969) and Viola (Rusk) Huntley owned this house in the mid-1940s. Henry was a painter and decorator born in England who came to Canada in 1903 and BC in 1941. Owners Hilmar Olai (1886-1976) and Margaret Lucy (Robbins, 1885-1969) Hovind lived here in the early-1950s. Hilmar was born in Olso, Norway, Margaret in London, England. They came to Victoria in 1939. Hilmar was a janitor at the YMCA.

The house is now used as a base for Discovery Sports Club and as an office. In the 1990s it was restored to its former grandeur, under the direction of Nigel Banks of Banks Design, and won a Hallmark Society Award.


• 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

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