Heritage Register
James Bay

28 Douglas Street

Built 1912

For: William J. & Ida P. Hanna

Architect: Samuel Maclure
Builder: William J. Hanna


This is a two-storey house with a hipped roof and a projecting bay on the front making for a box bay above and an angled bay below. This same form is repeated on the end where it now joins 24 Douglas St. Across the front the pergola has a cut granite base with stairs at the NE corner. The pergola continues along the driveway ending at a hip-roofed porch. The pergola has panels of plain square vertical balusters below and pairs of brackets above. Some few original leaded-lights remain near the front corner. The exterior has been stuccoed and the house is now part of a seniors complex.


William James Hanna was a speculative builder who built this and dozens of other houses in this city. He and wife Ida Preston lived here until early 1915. William and Ida were born in Manvers, Durham County, ON, in 1854, and 1861. They came here c.1892.

William was a graduate of the U.S. College of Embalming, in New York. He and partner Richard Taylor purchased an undertaking establishment on Broad St, later moving the business to the Pierre Block at 102 Douglas St. By the mid-1890s, William had resumed his building career, and in 1905, he commissioned architect Thomas Hooper (243 Kingston St, James Bay) to design a new undertaking parlour at 740 Yates St. In 1911, William made Frank Thompson a partner, forming Hanna & Thompson.

William suffered financially during the real estate crash of 1912, forcing him to sell his half of the undertaking business to his partner. William moved his family to Vernon, and then to Innisfail, AB, where he engaged in farming briefly. He returned to BC c.1934, and took up berry farming on Lulu Island. He eventually returned to Victoria, and died in 1941. Ida was visiting her daughter in Smithers, BC, when she died in 1943. Their youngest child, Lieut. Donald Hanna, 2nd C.M.R., was killed in September, 1918 at Amiens, France.


From 1917-20, the residents were William and Margaret Lewthwaite. Born in Broughton-on-Furness, Cumberland, England, William came to Canada in the mid-1880s, settling in Indian Head, SK, then moved to Vancouver in the early 1890s. William was engaged in the wholesale agricultural produce business during this period. In 1896, he married Margaret Armstrong, born in Ontario who came to BC in 1891. William became an agricultural land broker specializing in establishing colonies and moved to Victoria to acquire 11,000 acres for agricultural settlers. He held a contract with the CPR from 1894-1902, and by 1906 was managing director of the Nechako Valley Land Co. He built a home in Uplands with a view to the Olympic Mountains. William died in 1944 at 76. Margaret died in Vancouver in 1928 at 55.

Duncan Douglas and Emilie (Emily) McTavish lived here in the late 1930s. Duncan was born in North Saanich in 1882 to George Archibald McTavish and Catherine Amelia Helmcken, the daughter of Dr. John and Cecilia Helmcken (638 Elliot St, James Bay) and granddaughter of Sir James and Lady Amelia Douglas. From 1898-1908 Duncan worked for E.G. Prior & Co (729 Pemberton Rd & 620 St. Charles St, Rockland). For several years he lived and worked in Spokane, then Prince Rupert, where he married Emilie Craig in 1911. After returning to Victoria, he established a customs brokering and shipping business with his brother John which continued until 1939. Duncan also had interests in real estate. He was an alderman on Victoria City Council for 14 years. He eventually moved out to View Royal, where he was a police commissioner, then View Royal fire protection district trustee. Duncan was a member of IOOF and the Native Sons of BC. He was an avid photographer and gardener, serving as president and secretary of the Victoria Horticultural Society. Duncan died in 1967 at 84.

Emilie was born in Omaha, NE, to Morte and Ellen Craig. In 1898, she and her family went to the Yukon; she is said to have been the first white girl to go through the Chilkoot Pass during the Gold Rush. The family settled in Dawson, and when Emily was 11, she was sent to a boarding school in Kansas City. In 1909 she moved with her family to Prince Rupert. Emilie established herself in musical and horticultural circles in Victoria. The McTavishes hosted young service people in this house during WWII. Emilie died in 1984 at 95.

By the mid-1940s, the house was converted to apartments by Georgina (Patton) and Charles Neale. Georgina, born in Forfar, Scotland, came to Canada in 1913. The Neales lived in Edmonton for many years before coming here in 1943. Georgina died in 1947 at 59. Charles moved out soon after, and died in 1955 at 66. Their son and daughter-in-law, John and Dorothea Neale owned this house until the early-1960s.

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