Heritage Register
James Bay

645 Battery Street (ex-18)

Built 1896
Heritage-Designated 1992

For: Frances R. Thane

Architect: attributed to John Gerhard Tiarks

645 Battery


This 1½ storey Victorian cottage has a wide, front-gabled roof and a shallow-hip-roofed, wrap-around verandah across the front and halfway along the right side. A decorative wood truss supported on brackets in the gable has been removed, and the three small, multi-light windows have been replaced by a Palladian window to allow more light into the attic suite; the windows have multi-light transoms. The verandah retains its square, chamfered posts separated by flat arches; the many original turned balusters have been replaced with fewer square ones. The house, which is clad in drop siding, had been severely altered over the years, but was considerably rehabilitated in the 2000s.


Frances Thane was a widow from Nova Scotia. In 1891 she was living in James Bay in a boarding house run by architect Sam Maclure’s brothers, Fred and John. Architect John Tiarks was a fellow resident. That fact and the style of the building make it possible that Tiarks designed this house. It was assessed at $1,600 in 1897.

1896-1904: By late 1896 Mrs. Thane was living here with her daughter Alice and son-in-law, Clement E. Renouf. Renouf, born on Jersey in the Channel Islands, came to BC via Cape Horn in 1879. He worked for four years with Hastings Mill Co at Burrard Inlet, then from 1883-85 in Victoria with R.P. Rithet & Co. In 1885 he and Major John Nicholles (he married Clara Carr, Emily’s sister, 207 Government St, James Bay) founded Nicholles & Renouf, dealing in wholesale and retail iron and hardware, agricultural implements, mining and mill machinery, and fire insurance, with premises from 1887 in the Surrey Building at Broad and Yates Sts. Renouf was a city alderman in 1891 and Chair of the Finance Committee, and long-time honorary secretary of the BC Agricultural Society. He promoted the society’s Agricultural Hall in Willows Fairgrounds, in what became Oak Bay. Renouf was also a member of the Masons and AOUW.

Renouf was just vice-president of Nicholles & Renouf, and by 1900 he left the firm to join HM customs service in Dawson City, Yukon, a major centre of the Klondike and Yukon gold rush. Until 1904-05, his residence continued to be listed on Battery. It is believed that the Renoufs and Mrs. Thane moved to Dawson, then San Francisco. Clement died in Oakland, CA in 1929 at 67; Alice, who was born in BC, died in California in 1940. They were brought back to Victoria to be buried in Ross Bay Cemetery with their daughter Alice Marguerite, who died at 11 in 1898.


Owners 1906: Thomas Shanks McPherson of McPherson & Fullerton Bros, real estate agents.
1908-13: Owners Maud G. Whiting, and her husband C. Scott Whiting, investment and stock broker. Maud was born in Montreal, Quebec, Scott in Kensington, London, ENG; they came here c.1906. They were living in an apartment at 906 McClure St, Fairfield, when Maud died in 1956 at 84. Scott worked until a year before his death at 86 in 1963.
Tenants 1911: John Wilson (b.1884) and Minnie Osbourne (née Laing, c.1889-1936). John, an architect, designed Emily Carr’s House of All Sorts (642-46 Simcoe St, James Bay). The Wilsons lived at 136, now 140 St. Andrews St, James Bay from 1911-17, then moved to Seattle, where John was the chief inspector for Boeing Airplane Co.*

Owners: 1913-38: Charles Robert Crawford “Charlie” Swayne (b. Kilkenny, IRL 1880-1943) and Daisy Roskell (née Bayne, b. Victoria 1890-1962) married in 1910. Editor of the Daily Colonist for 27 years and one of BC’s outstanding journalists, Charlie was educated at Foyle College, Londonderry, and joined the Bank of Ireland in Dublin. At 18 he went into journalism, gaining distinction as a reporter for the London Daily Mail. He came to Victoria in 1906 in search of a healthier climate. He worked first for the Victoria Daily Times on sports, then joined the Colonist in 1909 at the invitation of publisher J.S.H. Matson. He was city editor, assistant editorial writer, and finally editor-in-chief until his death. Charlie was a member of the Empire Press Union, several times a director of the Canadian Press, and a director of the Colonist Printing & Publishing Co. He was a ranked tennis player in his youth, president of the Kingston St Tennis Club, and a member of Armadale Tennis Club - there was a tennis court at the back of 241 Niagara St. He was a golfer and a fan of rugby, rowing and cricket. The Swaynes moved to Admirals Rd in Esquimalt in 1938.

1938-69: Dudley and Caroline Edwards until their deaths. Dudley (b. Cardiff, Wales, 1888-1960) emigrated to Canada in 1905. In 1915, as a bank clerk in Vancouver, he married Caroline Waters (b. Guelph, ON 1885-1969). They lived in Toronto, then in 1938 moved to Victoria and this house. Dudley was an accountant with the civil service.

*With research by Leona Taylor


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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