Heritage Register
James Bay

670 Battery Street (ex-3 Battery St)
Sydney House

Built 1898
Heritage-Designated 1985

For: Edward H.H. Taylour

670 Battery


Sydney House, a 2½-storey, symmetrical house, has a steeply-pitched hipped roof, a widow’s walk and pedimented, gabled dormers on all four sides. A large, square, flat-roofed dormer has been added beyond the dormer on the left side. Multiple sandwich brackets are found in the frieze on the dormers and around the house. A deep, full-width, front balcony on the second floor was orignally accessed by a door which has been replaced by a window. The central entrance is accessed through a full-width verandah below the balcony. It was probably always enclosed with glass, with multi-light transom windows, multi-paned glass panels separated by posts and a solid balustrade. The balusters on the balcony and the window’s walk are Eastlake style. The house is clad in drop siding with fishscale shingles on the dormers. A corbelled brick chimney sits on the roof of the left dormer.

This is an interesting example of a transition in styles. There are Italianate and Queen Anne details, but on a Foursquare body with the emphasis on horizontal rather than vertical lines (see also 130 Government St, James Bay, built in 1905).


In 1892 Englishman E.H.H. Taylour, son of Maj.-Gen. Lord John Taylour and grandson of the Marquis of Headfort of Kells, County Meath, Ireland, stopped in Victoria on his way to China and Australia. He met musician George Jennings Burnett, who took him on bicycle expeditions around James Bay waterfront, to Jordan River and Port Alberni. Five years later Taylour returned for a visit, bringing many exotic parrots he was studying as an amateur ornithologist. After boarding with mine operator Everett Ward on Craigflower Rd in Victoria West, he decided to stay and in 1898 built this house with an aviary in the back garden. From what he called the “deck roof,” Taylour flew the Union Jack, and sometimes the Red Ensign and flags of Australia and China. He rode his bicycle around town with his favourite cockatoo perched on the handlebars.

The 1901 Census records Jennings Burnett, his wife, two brothers and a sister, and Everett Ward, his wife and baby daughter all living with Taylour, as well two other boarders and a Chinese servant. In 1903 Taylour married Burnett’s eldest sister, Ada, in New Westminster. The Burnetts built 606 Niagara St around the corner in 1905. Ada’s father, George Thorne Burnett, and her brother Hina, a gardener and janitor at St Barnabas Church, lived in Sydney House for the rest of their lives. George died in 1916 at 84. Ada, who was born in Devon, England, and had come to BC with her family in 1890, died in 1933 at 70. After Taylour died in 1934 at 73, Hina Burnett lived here until his death at 61 in 1936.


From 1938-69 the owners were the Williams family. Evinda (Schonberg, 1895-1942) was born in Norway and came to Victoria in 1932. Frank, born in Preston, Lancashire, ENG, was a CPR fireman for 20 years, retiring in 1953. Their son Frank lived c.1956 in 617 Battery St. Their daughter Rose Ann married Terry Davidge in 1951. They lived at 670 B for about a year, then went to Gimli, MN, with the Air Force. When Terry retired, the family moved back to 670 B to look after Frank, Sr. He died in 1969 at 81, but lived his last few months in a seniors’ home. The house was then sold, and Rose and family had to move out.

From 1970-c.2002 this was the Battery Guest House, owned and managed by Pamela Verduyn. It is still a B&B, now called Ashcroft House B&B.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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