Heritage Register

1023 Oliphant Avenue

Built 1912
Heritage-Designated 2001

For: Helen & William Oliphant

Builder: William Oliphant

1023 Oliphant


This 1½-storey Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts bungalow has most of the standard features of the type. The steeply pitched roof is front-gabled with closed eaves, flared “whalebone” bargeboards, and two gabled side-dormers; all gables have finials. There are shallow cantilevered box bays with tripartite windows with stained-glass transoms on the right front and right side, and another box bay on brackets with a string of four double-sash windows (plain glass below, stained glass above) in the front gable. A broad cornice under the side eaves continues under a pent roof on the front gable; a belt course separates the foundation level from the first floor. The foundation and gable peaks are shingled, while the rest of the house has double-bevel cladding. There is an inset entry porch with a side-facing door on the left front, with a glassed-in, hipped-roof extension added later. The house was raised at some point, and an uncharacteristic basement garage added on the right front side. The front yard wire fence and the fireplace on the interior are also designated.


William Oliphant (1850-1929) was born in Peterhead, Scotland, and went to sea at an early age, acquiring both captain’s and engineer’s papers. He and Helen were married in 1875 and six years later immigrated to Ontario to farm. They soon gave that up and moved to New York, where William worked in the silk manufacturing industry as a consulting engineer. They returned to Scotland in 1895, but immigrated again in 1906, this time to Victoria. For 10 years William was a speculative house builder, particularly in this area of Fairfield. He served on City Council and is credited as the founder in 1909 of the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club. Their son William Oliphant had a very early car dealership at the corner of View and Vancouver Sts.

In 1916 they moved to Alberta were William managed several coal mines, then in 1920 moved to Los Angeles, where he ran a silk mill. Helen died in 1926, when William was managing director of The Los Angeles News, which was founded by Cornelius Vanderbilt, and which William had saved from bankruptcy. William later moved to Mill Bay and then back to Victoria to the home of his daughter, Mrs. E.E. Corbett, where he died in 1929.

A number of lots in this area were in the name of Helen Oliphant or their daughter Elizabeth. The Oliphants lived at 1000 Park Blvd.

The first inhabitants of 1023 Oliphant were Alvah Ernest and Josephine Beatrice Foreman. Alvah was a City of Victoria assistant engineer. He was a consulting engineer when he died in West Vancouver at the age of 65.


The Wright family bought the house in 1930, and retained it until the death of Muriel E. Wright in the late 1990s.


• Statement of Significance (Canadian Register of Historic Places)

• GIS Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Fairfield History

• Fairfield Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Four: Fairfield, Gonzales & Jubilee

House GrantsHeritage HousesResources & PublicationsNews & EventsBuilding CommunityAbout