Heritage Register

1284-98 Gladstone Avenue/
2000-04 Fernwood Road

Built 1911-12; 1919; 1941
Heritage-Designated 2014/Commercial

For: William Rennie & John Taylor

Builders: Parfitt Brothers

1284 Gladstone


This Fernwood/Gladstone landmark is a two-storey, flat-roofed complex consisting of three brick buildings. The corner building of grey brick has paired and single windows. The upper floor windows have multi-lights-over-one, the lower have transoms. There is an inset bay on the far end of the Fernwood façade above a bricked-up larger segmental arched entrance, formerly to the stables. There is an inset bay on either side of the diagonal corner entrance. All windows and doors have flat brick lintels. Above the windows on the second floor is a corbelled brick frieze. The Fernwood façade has four bays, the Gladstone has three, all separated by pilasters which are topped by capitals above the parapet. There are traces of the pressed metal stringcourse and cornice which were removed from above the first and second floor levels. The second building on Gladstone, of red brick, has four bays separated by brick pilasters on concrete footings. The windows and doors have all been altered, except for the four segmental arches on the rear. The third building on the rear is a one-storey, plain red brick structure.


William James Rennie (b. Omemee, ON, 1869-1940) and John Terrace Taylor (b. Dysart, Fyfeshire, SCT, 1865-1934) had their neighbours, the Parfitt Brothers (1921-23 Fernwood Rd), construct this two-storey brick block for them and their expanded bakery business. They added more ovens on the ground floor, and installed an elevator to connect the baking floor with the mixing room. Rennie and Taylor lived in apartment 1294 above the bakery, Rennie with his family and Taylor as a quiet bachelor; the number was changed to 1286 in 1925. From 1926-28 Taylor lived on his own in 1298, then moved to 2004 Fernwood.

Rennie and Taylor formed their partnership c.1895 and opened a store and bakeshop at 20 Chambers St. They purchased this property at the NW corner of Fernwood and Gladstone in 1903. There were at that time about six houses on the land in which they worked and lived. Their Imperial Bakery was the first in the City to establish a bread delivery system by automobile. By 1907 they had four Ford autos to assist their four horsedrawn wagons in delivering their famous Butternut bread, and their cakes, pastries, pies, buns and rolls.

Rennie, president of the firm, came to BC in 1890. In 1905 he married Emily Henrietta Cox (b. Victoria, 1882-1956). [Note: Her father John Cox arrived in 1859 on the Thames City as a sapper with the Royal Engineers; her mother Minnie Gillan arrived in 1862 on the bride ship Tynemouth.] Rennie was well known in Canada for his champion pacing and trotting horses, and the Imperial Bakery’s delivery wagons and teams were a familiar sight on City streets and in May 24th parades.

Taylor, the firm’s secretary, came to Victoria in 1891, working first for M.R. Smith’s Biscuit Factory in James Bay. He was a prominent member of First Presbyterian, then First United Church, and sponsored a number of sports teams. He was also a member of the Hundred Per Cent Club, later the Capital City Commercial Club. Rennie’s daughter Victoria became secretary of the company after Taylor’s death in 1934.


1940-50: After Rennie’s death in 1940 the bakery was sold to Weston’s Bread & Cake. Weston Bakeries Ltd remained in the building until 1950.


• Fernwood History

• Fernwood Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume One: Fernwood & Victoria West

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