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Heritage Register
Fairfield

601 Trutch Street (ex-23, 73 Fairfield Rd)
Fairfield, Dulce Domum

Built 1861
Heritage-Designated 1982

For: Joseph & Julia Trutch

Architects: John Wright & George Sanders

601 Trutch

ARCHITECTURE:

The historic focus of Fairfield must be the Trutch family home which still dominates the vista eastward from Cook St along Collinson, which was originally the carriageway to the residence. Fairfield was one of the first commissions of the new architectural firm of Wright & Sanders. It was built on a low rock outcropping on a sloping site in the middle of a ten-acre estate, originally part of James Douglas’s large Fairfield holdings. The subdivision of the Trutch Estate in 1906 spearheaded the development of Fairfield as a major residential community.

Fairfield is another of Wright & Sanders’s Italianate villa-style houses, designed the same year as Woodlands (140 Government St, James Bay) and two years before Carr House (255 Government St). The central portion is two storeys high with a front-facing gable flanked on each side by slightly lower gabled extensions. Each is set behind hip-roofed open porches, somewhat deeper than the original ones. The design is balanced, although the wing to the right is longer. Gables have tall turned finials. The front façade has a box bay below and a pair of windows above. The c.1870 photos show balconies above both front and side bays; they are now gone. Windows are double-hung with multi-pane over single-pane. Shingles on the lower level and stucco above, cover the original drop siding. There are huge roof overhangs supported by large brackets, often in pairs set off handsomely against the stucco. The porch on the left has a deck with a simple spindled balustrade giving access to a narrow front path. Each porch roof is supported by a heavy square wooden post on a large tapered river rock pier. The right porch shelters the front-facing entrance door which has sidelights and transom, all elegantly framed with cornerblock trim. The south gable has an angled bay on the main level. The house is set off by a pair of old Garry oaks and the curving path is outlined by box hedges. On either side of the path is an old group of rhododendrons, originally red, but now overgrown by the violet rootstock.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

The Hon. Sir Joseph William Trutch (1826-1904), a civil engineer, arrived in San Francisco, CA, in 1849 from England. He practised civil engineering there and in Oregon, where he married Julia Elizabeth Hyde (c.1827-1895) in 1855. They moved to Michigan briefly and came to Victoria in 1859. Trutch was elected to the Vancouver Island Legislative Assembly in 1862, soon after completing this villa. He was appointed Surveyor-General for BC in 1864 and in the same year loaned the house to Governor A.E. Kennedy as Government House while Cary Castle was being remodeled. At 45, Trutch was appointed the first Lieutenant-Governor of the province in 1871 and in 1889 was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.

Trutch lived with Julia, his mother Charlotte Hannah Trutch (c.1801-1877), and his sister Caroline (c.1831-1899), who married Peter O’Reilly in 1863 (2616 Pleasant St, Burnside). Julia died of stomach cancer in 1895 and Trutch remained in this house until about 1900 when he returned to England. They had no children. Trutch was seriously injured when thrown from a dog cart, and he succumbed to those injuries in 1904.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

Benjamin and Jennie W. Gordon lived here with their children from about 1900 until Benjamin died in 1902. He was a commission merchant. The house was then vacant from 1903-09. In 1910, plumber Robert Haddow (1870-1918) moved in with his wife Jane Anne (Colvin, 1875-1961) and their children and lived here until 1912-13. Robert was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and Jane in Blyth, Northumberland, England. They came to Canada in 1910.

The Fatt family bought the house in 1914 after moving here from Medicine Hat, AB. They presumably renamed it Dulce Domum. Francis Frederick Fatt (1862-1938) was born in England and came to Canada in 1892. He was secretary of the Victoria Fire Underwriters’ Association for 25 years. He was a Freemason, and a past master of Vancouver and Quadra Lodge, AF & AM. His wife was Winifred Katherine Stuart (Chochran, 1874-1946), a native of Nova Scotia. The house was sold after she died.

Several of their children resided here for a number of years, even after they married. Mary Winifred Helen Fatt married Philip Ernest Brethour in 1926. Edward John Fatt married Lillian Mary Pritchett in 1928. Lewis Samuel Francis Fatt married Ukrainian-born Sophie Bany in 1929. Sydney Fatt, a registered nurse, married William Leal in 1936, and George Frederick Osmond Fatt (1908-1954) married Nora Louise Kelpin in 1938. He worked as a bookkeeper for Duncan Storage for a number of years and remained at home until his mother died. He and Nora eventually moved to an apartment at 1249 Rockland Av (Rockland). Daughter Katherine Elizabeth Anson “Peggy” Fatt (1903-1952) was a dental assistant for 30 years before she retired in 1951. She never married and lived here until her mother died.

Carl Max (1893-1964) and Eleanor Wild (Schutte) Walter turned the house into the Villa Eleanor Guest House in the late 1940s. Born in Germany, Carl and Eleanor came to Canada in 1929 and Victoria in 1946. Carl was a butcher by trade, and they lived in the house at least until Carl’s death in 1964. In 1984 owner Peter Walton won a Hallmark Society Award for his restoration of the house.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:

• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties


• Fairfield History

• Fairfield Heritage Register

• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives

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


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