Heritage Register
Harris Green

1007 Johnson Street

Built 1884-85
Heritage-Designated 2006

For: Giacomo & Rosa Bossi

1007 Johnson


This handsome two-storey Italianate brick house has a very shallow, flat-topped, hipped roof with paired brackets in the eaves. The façade is symmetrical, with two-storey box bays either side of the centrally-located Classical entrance porch and balcony. The concrete string course below the upper bays, which matches the freize design, separates the two floors. The paired, narrow sash windows have shallow segmental brick arches. Concrete steps lead to the porch which has two Corinthian columns and two pilasters on a solid balustrade. The balcony on the porch roof has square corner posts and a solid balustrade. A door with round-arched transom gives entry to the balcony. The foundation is random-rubble, with brick casings on the basement windows. Four corbelled chimneys remain. Decorative plaster mouldings have survived on the interior arches of the bay windows. In the late 20th Century it was converted into light housekeeping suites. In 2007-10 it was rehabilitated and the porch, balcony and widow's walk, which had been removed prior to the 1970s, were restored.> It has been made into offices, and the rear property was developed as a new, three-storey apartment block, The Bossi.

Listed in the Colonist as being built in 1885 for $5000, the house was plumbed in 1898. The two-storey brick extension at rear shows on the 1895 Fire Map with a porch, so is probably original. The Colonist listed further alterations for the house in 1895, at $3,000.


Giacomo Bossi (1831-1893), a prominent landowner in early Victoria, typified the Italian merchants and suppliers who arrived in Victoria in the late 19th century, with hopes of prosperity from the impending arrival of the transcontinental railway in Vancouver. Giacomo left Italy for New York with his older brother Carlo (1826-1895) to avoid conscription in the Austrian army, as Austria ruled Italy during this period. They arrived in New York in 1850, and Carlo eventually moved to San Francisco. He came to Victoria in 1859, and after working as a marble cutter, left for the Cariboo to seek his fortune in gold. He returned to Victoria in 1861, and eventually opened several stores and also supplied a small network of Italian merchants and shopkeepers in the Interior of BC. Giacomo joined him in Victoria in 1865. Giacomo started working with his brother, but became a hotel and saloon keeper in his later years at the Grand Pacific Hotel, which still stands at the corner of 530-40 Johnson St/1405-13 Store St and as part of the Market Square complex.

Giacomo’s wife Rosa (Stent, c.1827-1896) was born in Baden Baden, Germany. They were married in New York, where their children, Americo (c.1861-1891), Angelica Petronilla (1860-1925) and Emma Catherine were born. Americo married widow Wilhelmina McDonald (Ragazzoni) in 1888, but he died in California in 1891 of liver cirrhosis. Emma married Frederic William Wald in Victoria in 1877 and they moved to Seattle. Angelica inherited this house after her parents’ deaths. She did not marry, but adopted a daughter, Alice Olive Petronilla Ewings, who became a nurse, then married John Jones in 1918. Angelica had several different tenants while she lived here, including widows Mrs. C. Tidbury in 1897 and Mrs J. Sabiston in 1899.


Joseph William MacKay (b. Manitoba 1829-1900) and his wife Helen (née Holmes, b. Liverpool, ENG 1839-1914) married in 1860. They rented this house from 1900-02. Joseph came west with the HBC in the early 1840s. He served at Fort Vancouver and at posts in California and other parts of the Pacific Northwest before being transferred to Fort Victoria shortly after its establishment. Joseph was transferred by the HBC to the Nanaimo area in 1849 upon discovery of coal. He was an amateur geologist and purported to be fluent in the aboriginal languages of the area. Mackay founded Nanaimo, and oversaw the building of the Bastion in 1853. In 1856 he was elected to the first legislature of the colony of Vancouver Island. He was then transferred to Kamloops, where he served as factor until 1873, when he joined the Government Indian Department. He retired to Victoria in the mid-1890s (1261-63 Richardson St, Fairfield). Helen came to Victoria in 1858 and married Joseph in 1860. She travelled with Joseph throughout BC.

This house was converted to the Alvin Apartments after Angelica’s death in 1925, and owned by the Easthams for the next 20 years. Joseph Ernest Eastham (1883-1953) was born in Preston, England and came to Canada in 1899. He came to BC with his wife in the mid-1910s. Joseph was an electrician and retired in the 1940s. His wife, Gunhild Hedvig (Turnwall, 1885-1962) was born in Sweden, and came to Canada in 1912.

Stanley W. and Ada Spaven owned this house from the mid-1940s until at least the mid-1970s. He was a driver with Vancouver Island Coach Lines. This was still known as Alvin Apartments in 1982.


• Map of Victoria Heritage Register Properties

• Harris Green History

• Harris Green Heritage Register

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

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