Heritage Register
James Bay

50 Lewis Street

Built 1912
Heritage-Designated 2014

For: George W. Cramer

50 Lewis


This is a 1½-storey, front-gabled Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts house with gabled dormers on both sides. It has a symmetrical upper storey over an asymmetrical lower on the front; an angled bay on the left front balances a recessed porch with one corner post on the right. Side-facing steps lead to the porch which has a solid balustrade. The apices in the gables are clad in shingles with double-bevelled siding below; the body of the house has double-bevelled siding with shingles below the water table. Art-glass is in the transom of the front bay, a porch window, and a piano window on the left side. Main-floor windows are one-over-one double-hung sashes, but the upper windows are casements. The cost was $2,500 for the six-room house. This house is the oldest survivor of the Playfair, Playfair and Cramer subdivision (see 43 Lewis St). The c.1920s garage is of simple construction, with a very shallow gabled roof and wider bevelled siding. The barn-style doors are of vertical siding.


George William Cramer (b. ON, 1858-1939) was the cousin of brothers John (see 43 Lewis St) and George (60 Menzies St) Playfair. They all arrived in Victoria around 1911 and were responsible for building more than 20 houses from about 1910-29. The Playfairs and Cramer were descendants of a large, prominent family that founded the village of Playfair Mills, not far from Perth, ON c.1817. In 1880 a branch of the family settled in Baldur, MB where they were farmers and house builders. By 1895 Cramer and George Playfair had established a cattle ranch in the Mcleod District of Alberta, although they continued to live in Manitoba. George Cramer married Martha Orilla (née Card, Uxbridge, ON, 1864-1944). Around 1910 they moved, with their daughters Pearl and Mary, to Victoria where they lived in a house they built on Wark St. Although George called himself a retired farmer, he was involved in building several more houses including 53 Lewis St.


1912-17: George Wallace (b. Middlesex, ENG, 1860-1917) and Adah Florence (née Winnall, London, ENG, 1857-1935) Anthony and their four adult children. They arrived in Victoria c.1910. George was an accountant employed by the Brackman-Ker Milling Co. Son John Cuthbert (b. ENG, 1894-1954) was timekeeper at the Empress Hotel. The others siblings worked for the BC Electric Railway (later BC Hydro). Son Ralph (b. ENG, 1887-1931) was paymaster. He married Isobel Irene Smith of Lytton in 1917 in Vancouver. Ralph committed suicide at the age of 52. Daughters Constance Mary (b. Middlesex, ENG, 1889-1981) and Winifred (b. Middlesex, ENG, 1890-1981) both worked as office clerks. The sisters died of pneumonia in 1981 within a week of each other when they were living together in Saanichton.

1917-38: George William Brown (b. Gillingham, Kent, ENG, 1869-1959) and Ada Marcella (née Copp, Liverpool, ENG, 1880-1943) married in Vancouver in 1909. George lived in Victoria from 1894, and was chief engineer for the federal government’s dredge Ajax, retiring in 1938. He was also secretary of the National Assoc. of Marine Engineers. Their son William Robert (b. Victoria 1910-1987) apprenticed at Victoria Machinery Depot (VMD) and was later employed by BC Coast Steamship Service (BCCSS). He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. In 1938 the Browns moved across the street to 53 Lewis St where they remained until George’s death in 1959.

1939-67: Retired schoolteacher and widow Emily Maud Smith (née Godwin, b. ENG, 1883-1974). Her husband, telephone operator Cecil Trice Smith (b. Upton Grey, ENG, 1884-1917), enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in Montreal in 1915. He was killed in 1917 at the age of 32 and was buried at the Zouave Valley Cemetery, Souchez, France. They had two daughters, Phyllis Maud and Dorothy Alice.

1968-72: Charles R. and Arlene Gray. Charles was a salesman at the Bay department store. The current owner has retained the house since 1973.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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