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Heritage Register
James Bay

501 Government Street
Corner Store Confectionery/Corner Confectionery/
Birdcage Confectionery


Built 1915
Heritage-Registered/Commercial

For: Kleanthes & Orsa Metro

501 Government

ARCHITECTURE:

This landmark corner store was built by the Metros in 1915 for $400, and a building permit fee of $2. They lived next door at 503 Government St, but rented out the store from the beginning. It is now called Birdcage Confectionery, after the early name for this part of Government St. This simple, flat-roofed structure retains the original parapet with its stepped false front, and the string course above the clerestory windows, which are obscured by the modern fixed awning. There is one window on either side of the building, also original. The large storefront windows on either side of the central entrance door are now modern multi-lights with wooden muntins. The wide bulletin board on the right side may have originally been a delivery entrance. The store is clad in bevelled siding, with a concrete foundation below the low water table.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

Owners: Kleanthes “Pete” Metro was born in Kymi, Greece. As a boy he moved to Alexandria, Egypt, and led a seafaring life with his brother. Pete came to the Americas, spending time at various ports on the coast of South America before making his way up to Panama and San Francisco. There he learned the restaurant business, and met his long-time friend and father of his future bride, Demeterie K. Chungranes, who encouraged him to move to Victoria. Demeterie, also Greek, had a store on the corner of Toronto and Douglas Sts. Pete came here in 1892, and established the Maryland Café at 1225 Government St in 1894. He married Orsa Chungranes in 1903, and operated the family restaurant until just before his death in 1927 at 59. Orsa lived at 503 Government with her children until her death in 1964 at 79.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

Tenants: 1917-20: Confectioners Allen and Florence Burrowes managed the store. Allen Beresford Burrowes (1882-1920) was born in Esquimalt, Emma Florence Pollard (1883-1956) in Victoria. They married in 1912.

1921-29: Nathaniel Holden managed the store; he came to BC in 1912 from Belfast, IRE. By 1940 he lived in Vancouver, and died in 1952 at 67.

1933-37: Store manager Margaret Cecilia Clarke was born in St. Louis, MO, and came to Victoria with her family in 1899. She never married, and worked for some time as a bookkeeper in a lumber office. Margaret died in 1952 at 55.

1938-43: Arthur and Margaret (née Adams) Cutforth operated the Corner Store Confectionery. This was Arthur’s last post in his career as a confectioner, and he retired in 1943. Both born in England in 1878, they came to Victoria in 1925. Margaret died in 1950, Arthur in 1957.

1946-49: James and Nora Finlayson lived at 102 South Turner St, James Bay, and managed the confectionery. Nora Perry was born in Auckland, NZ, James in Edinburgh. They came to Victoria in 1943 and moved to Sidney in 1949. Nora died in 1962 at 69, James in 1975 at 87.

1950-c.60: Alice Woodbury was the next manager of the Corner Store Confectionery. She and husband Harold Woodbury lived at 239 St. Andrews, James Bay. Harold came here from England in 1920. Victoria-born Alice Hunter was his second wife. Harold, a CPR storekeeper for 25 years, died in 1955 at 60. Alice died in 1977 at 72.

Owner: 1961-80:
Myrtle Elsie “Merle” Fraser (née Halliday, b. Gananoque, ON 1913-1985) married William Johnstone Fraser (b.Ladysmith, BC 1909-1997) in Toronto, ON in 1939. William was a podiatrist with the RCAMC stationed in England during WWII. The Frasers brought their young family out to Victoria c.1945. As a veteran’s family, they were first housed in the Balmoral House Hotel at 1109 Douglas St. Each family had a room and they shared a common kitchen, until the government could provide veterans’ homes. Merle worked at the Jubilee Hospital in the diet kitchen until her divorce, then left the Jubilee to buy and run this store. Calling it Corner Confectionery, Merle loved the little store and her customers, especially the school children. Because she had trouble with candy disappearing, she made the children line up outside and enter the shop in pairs. Every Sunday she would bring her grandchildren and their friends in, and they were each allowed to pick out a treat for themselves. She also sold sandwiches from the Beacon Drive Inn to workers and tourists. She and the owners of the BDI became good friends and helped each other out. When Canada changed to metric weights, the government sent inspectors around to make sure that the new scales were being used. She would have to quickly hide her old scales, which she was still using. In 1980 due to illness, Merle sold the shop to one of her customers.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:

• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives

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


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