Heritage Register
James Bay

507 Government Street (ex-61, 544 Superior St; relocated to 516 Michigan St in 1910; relocated to 507 Government St 9n 1996)

Built 1885; 1895; 1910-11; 1996

Heritage-Designated 2001

For: William & Jane Dorman; Joseph Bridgman; Abbeyfield Houses Society of Canada

Architect: William Ridgway Wilson (1911)

507 Government


This two-storey, hip-roofed, Italianate house was built in 1885 on the north side of Superior St, and in 1891 the Colonist listed a $1,000 addition to the house by W.H. Dorman. The Dormans sold the house in 1909 to the BC Government and in 1910 it was moved to Michigan St, at which time the section to the right of the entrance was added. In the 1940s-50s its decorative elements were removed and the house was clad in asphalt shingles. It was used as government offices from 1958, then sold and moved to its present location in 1996, purchased by Abbeyfield and converted to independent seniors’ housing. This resulted in the removal of the asphalt siding and restoration of much of the decorative detailing. The façade is dominated by a pair of full-height angled bays. The missing pairs of sandwich brackets in the upper eaves were replaced and the scrollsawn decoration above the window casings was uncovered with the removal of the asphalt shinges. The porch reconstruction and the brackets under the pent roofs of the lower bays have been simplified. There is a two-storey wing on the left side of the house with a full-height box bay; on the right side of the house towards the rear is a side entrance with a balcony. A full-height, full-width, flat-roofed addition was built at the rear of the building. It is clad in drop siding as it was originally, but it now has a concrete foundation.


Owners: 1885-1909:
William Henry Dorman (b. San Francisco, USA c.1859-1904) and Jane Hamilton (née Dickson, b. Bridge-of-Allan, SCT 1858-1943) married in Victoria in 1885. William was an assistant in the Post Office Inspector’s Office. By 1900 they were living in Vancouver and William was Post Office Inspector there.


Tenant: 1900-04: Francis “Frank” Ignatius Clarke (b. Montreal, 1849-1913) and Frances Josephine (née Cougle, b. NB 1853-1944); Frank was a barrister. From at least 1875-92, the Clarkes lived in Manitoba where six of their children were born. These six were still living with them at the time of the 1901 census, as was Frances’s widowed mother, Agnes Cougle (b. St John, NB 1827-1907). Frank Clarke fought in the 1st Red River Expedition of 1870, and was a Capt. in the Winnipeg Light Infantry in the NW Rebellion of 1885.

Owner: 1910-1950: Joseph Charles Bridgman (b. Chester, ENG 1874-1951) bought the lot at 516 Michigan St. On the 26th of May 1910 he purchased from the BC government auction for $675 the house at 544 Superior St. He then moved it to Michigan St. On August 8, 1911, he took out a building permit for a two-storey, nine-room frame addition at a cost of $3,300. The addition doubled the width of the house to the right. It was designed by architect Ridgway-Wilson, who copied the design of the original left half of the building. Although he owned it for many years, Joseph never lived here, but used it as a rental property. It became a rooming house in the 1940s.

Joseph Bridgman came to Vancouver Island in 1888. By 1891, he was working in the Cowichan Valley as a grocery store clerk. Shortly after, he moved to Victoria. Some time after 1901, he married Agnes May “Marion” (b. England 1880-1980), daughter of Dr. Charles and Margaret Newcombe of 138 Dallas Rd, James Bay. Marion’s family moved to the USA in 1882, and to Victoria in 1889. During WWI, Joseph served overseas with the 88th Battalion, Victoria Fusiliers. He was the half-brother of Arthur J.W. Bridgman, who took over the realty business of Lowenberg, Harris & Co in 1904. Joseph later ran the company until retiring in the mid-1930s.

Tenants: 1912-15: James and Margaret Coats; James, an engineer and later manager of Provident Investment, was born in Glasgow and came here with Margaret in 1908. He died in 1920 at 66 and Margaret left Victoria in the early 1940s.

1917-27: Several widows lived here and took in boarders.
1928-34: Arthur and Mary (née Dobie) Buckmaster lived here. Arthur worked at Joe Foster’s Garage in the late 1920s, and is listed as retired in the early 1930s, although his death registration stated that he retired from Nanaimo Public Works Department in 1959. He died in 1979 at 93, Mary in 1984 at 98.

1944-47: Hannah (née Scholfield), widow of Arthur Chamberlin, ran a rooming house here. She was born in Arnprior, ON, he in Old Chelsea, QC. Arthur lived in Ottawa for 40 years and married Hannah. They came here in 1916. Arthur was a carpenter, then a confectionery store clerk. He died in 1937 at 70, Hannah in 1958 at 77.

Owners: 1949-56:
The rooming house was operated by Frederick and Mabel Banks. They lived at 524 Michigan St, and ran another rooming house at 526 Michigan St.

1958-96: The BC Government bought the property and converted the house to office use.

1996-2015: Abbeyfield Houses Society of Canada bought the house from the BC Government and moved it to Government St. It was converted for use as a seniors’ home. It is now an independent-living seniors’ residence.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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