Heritage Register
James Bay

327-29 Belleville Street (ex-82)
Belleville Lodge

Built 1877
Heritage Covenant

For: Alexander B. & Emma Gray

Architect: James Syme

327 Belleville


This house was built 17 years after Fernwood (demolished 1969), the stone house that initiated the Italianate style in Victoria, and 15 years after Fairfield (601 Trutch St, Fairfield), the country mansion that transcribed the Italianate Villa style into wood frame construction. 327-329 is a fusion of the two styles that inspired so many modest middle-class residences in the mid-1880s and 1890s (619 Avalon Rd, 146 Clarence St, 221 Quebec St, and many on South Turner St, all in James Bay). It is a symmetrical, two-storey, shallow hip-roofed, cubical-shaped building with pedimented gables on the front and left side, highly-decorated on the front. The eaves have paired sandwich brackets on the corners and singles above each window casing, on all sides of the house. A shallow, two-storey bay under the front gable has an inverted Palladian window on the second floor above the recessed main entrance. Transom window, sidelights, and niches in the porch walls surround the front door. A deep, two-storey square bay beneath the gable on the left side has moulded capitals and bases on all the window casings; the windows on the main floor are round-arched with keystones. All the windows on the house are paired one-over-ones under bracketed hoods. A gabled two-storey wing at the rear has a small pedimented hood over the windows under the gable. The house is clad in wide drop siding with wooden quoins on all corners; there is a beltcourse between the two floors and a watertable above the rubble stone foundation which also has quoins on the corners. One of the original two panelled, corbelled chimneys still remains. The widow’s walk, which was evident in 2015, has been removed for the moment. A modern addition on the right front connects the building to 321 next door; another houses a restaurant on the left side towards the rear.


This house was assessed at $3,000 in 1877. Both this lot and that of 321 Belleville St were originally owned by the Society for Promoting Propagation of the Gospel.

A.B. Gray was born in Scotland in 1841 and apprenticed in the drygoods business in Dublin from age 15. He came to BC in 1862, drawn here by tales of the Cariboo gold rush. After a couple of years in the Interior, he came to Victoria and worked for John Wilkie & Co, then set up his own business in New Westminster. When the capital removed to Victoria, Gray returned and bought a drygoods business. In 1871 he established a successful wholesale import and commission business in drygoods, and added wines, liquor and tobacco in 1881. Gray was active in provincial politics and an advocate of confederation with Canada. In 1876 he was appointed Justice of the Peace.

Gray was bankrupted by the 1893 depression. He was soon working as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Labour Statistics. He then went to Nelson to manage the R.P. Rithet & Co branch, and died suddenly in 1902 at 60.

In 1871 Gray had returned to Edinburgh and married Emma Blair. The Grays moved into this fine residence in 1877, but were forced to sell the house in 1893. Emma remained in Victoria and ran a boarding house on Pandora Av with daughter Mabel. Emma died in 1920 at 71 in New Westminster, where she had lived for 3 years.


From 1893-98 the owners were Robina and George Robert Jackson, who married in Victoria in 1892. Robina Stephen, a music teacher and organist for First Presbyterian Church, was born in Victoria, the daughter of Jessie and David Stephen, a marine engineer. George was born in Spencerville, ON, came here c.1889 and by 1892 was running his own tailoring establishment. After 13 years in business, he took the advice of Dr. Ernest Hall and went to Philadelphia to study medicine. At about 50, Robert’s health broke down and he was given four months to live. He moved to Tacoma, WA, to seek medical care, and began an extensive study of the value of exercise and diet, particularly that of the Roman legions, which were said to have been fed two pounds of wheat or rye a day per soldier. At a time when breakfast cereals and the healthy lifestyle had been made popular by Corn Flakes and the Kelloggs, Jackson developed a breakfast cereal of whole grain wheat, rye, bran and flaxseed, called it Dr. Jackson’s Roman Health Meal, and made himself a millionaire. He sold his Tacoma factory in 1927, and was last reported visiting Victoria in 1936, a hale and hearty 70-something.

Robina, who continued to teach after her marriage, was visiting a daughter in Conneticut when she died in 1933 at about 65.

Gordon and Ida Hunter bought this house in 1899. Hunter was born in Beamsville, ON, educated at Brantford College and the University of Toronto, and was called to the bar in 1888. He moved to BC in 1891 and boarded at 321 Belleville St. He became the first official reporter to the BC Supreme Court, and then Crown Solicitor. He later practised law with Theodore Davie. In 1902 Hunter was appointed Chief Justice for the BC Supreme Court, a position he held until his death in 1929.

Hunter married twice, first to Ida Nelson of Portland, OR, in 1896. She died in 1928, and he married Eleanore Morden, a nurse, in 1929. However, Hunter died just two months later. Eleanore kept both the house and the Rockvale estate at Shawnigan Lake, which the Hunters had established in the late 1890s. When Eleanore died in 1942 at 64, both properties passed to her brother Capt. Harty Morden, who sold Rockvale in 1947 and the Belleville house in 1948. It became known as Belleville Lodge and was run by the Missionary Sisters of Notre Dame Des Anges, who had previously acquired the Pendray home at 309 Belleville St. They housed retired elderly people, married couples and young women in both facilities.

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