Heritage Register
James Bay

634 Battery Street

Built 1909
Heritage-Designated 1986

For: Clara & James Pottinger

Designer/Builder: Robert Hetherington

634 Battery


This 1½ storey, front-gabled Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts residence has a wide gabled dormer on either side. The shingled, symmetrical front gable sits on a pent roof. A shallow box bay in the gable, also on the pent roof, is headed by a wide, denticulated string course. There is a cantilevered angled bay on the right side of the house. On the left side is a small shed-roofed enclosed entry porch.The asymmetrical main floor has a wide angled bay to the right of the recessed and extended front porch. Edwardian Classical Revival details are evident in the Tuscan columns and sawn balusters inserted into the solid balustrade. The dormers are shingled above the string course, with double-bevelled siding below. The main floor and basement are clad in double-bevelled siding. There are paired modillions in the eaves and two corbelled brick chimneys. The house was first assessed at $2,500.


James Pottinger arrived in Victoria at 15 on Christmas Eve, 1864 on the Knight Bruce from Papa Westray, Orkney Islands, Scotland, with his parents George and Isabella. In ten days James was an apprentice in the printing trade on The Colonist for Amor de Cosmos, and then worked on The Cariboo Sentinel in Barkerville from 1868 to 1870. From 1871, when BC entered confederation with Canada, James spent several years with a survey team, seeking a rail link through the BC Interior. In 1875 he surveyed the east coast of Vancouver Island for the proposed last link of the continental railway. He moved to Oregon in 1878 and worked for The Portland Oregonian, then became a partner in The Herald at Albany, Oregon. He returned to Victoria in 1884. From then until retiring in 1923 he was with the Government Printing Bureau, from 1901 as foreman of the composing room of the King’s Printers.

In 1886 James married Clara Cameron, who had come at 16 from Truro, NS, in 1876 with her parents Daniel and Catherine Cameron. James and Clara Pottinger had seven children before purchasing this property in 1907 and building their home in 1909. James died in 1932 at 82, Clara in 1942 at 81. James was a 44-year member of Columbia Lodge No.2, IOOF, and for 47 years, a member of Victoria Typographical Union 201. They were long-time members of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

Their youngest son, James McNaughton Pottinger, was killed in action at 21 in France on 1st Nov 1918, but news of his death didn’t reach them until after the end of the war. Their son George married Anna Victoria Morry (1215 Pembroke St, Fernwood). Daughters Alice, a bookkeeper for Johnston & Co, Real Estate and Insurance, and Muriel, a stenographer with the Provincial Normal School, lived in the house after their parents’ deaths. Alice died in 1974 at 81, and Muriel lived here until her death at 90 in 1995. Their sister Myrtle married Morgan Hirst and lived at 112 Clarence St (James Bay) from 1952-86. Sister Kate married Rev. R.M. “Roy” Thompson in 1910 and their wedding photos were taken on 634’s front porch; Kate was in the first graduating class of Victoria College (1050 Joan Cr, Rockland).


Second owners Donna and John Adams bought it in 1996, having owned 628 Battery St next door for 16 years. John worked for many years for the BC Government’s heritage program. He has now, with the assistance of his family, turned a long-time fascination with researching, writing and publishing Victoria’s history into a successful business. He gives lectures, heritage tours and Ghostly Walks through his company, Discover the Past.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Two: James Bay

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