Heritage Register
James Bay

106 Medana Street

Built 1909
Heritage-Designated 1979

For: Erna & Frederick Landsberg

Architect: Henry S. Griffith
Contractor: Balfour

106 Medana


Outstanding stained glass is prevalent in many of the windows of this 1½-storey, side-gabled Edwardian Arts & Crafts house. On the left side of the house, on Niagara St, at the apex of the gable is a denticulated string course below half-timbering and diamond-shaped shingles. There are triple windows between the string course and the beltcourse, below which is a cantilevered and bracketed bow window. On the rear are two gabled dormers separated by a shed-roofed dormer. Below the shed-roofed dormer is a half-round oriel bay under the eaves, and a box bay beyond the oriel. On the right side of the house is an original porch with a balcony above, although the balustrades have been changed. On the front is a wide, centred, shed-roofed dormer; on the left of the shed roof is a gable over a now-enclosed sleeping porch. Directly below the gabled dormer is a curved portico. The roof of the portico is also curved, and is interrupted by a gable situated over the main entry stairs. There are modillions in the eaves of the gable. The portico leads to an inset porch on the left. Tuscan columns with entasis on battered river rock piers support the roofs of the portico and the porch. The balusters have cutouts in the shape of three-leaf clovers. Classical elements include curved bays, portico and windows with keystones. The house is clad in bevelled siding on the main floor and shingled on the upper level, with half-timbering and diamond-shaped shingles above the string courses in the gables. The foundation is of clinker brick. The plain brick chimneys are corbelled. The very old concrete block retaining wall, cast in imitation of stone blocks, survives on the street sides, with its wrought-iron railing on the front.


The Landsbergs built at least one other house designed by H.S. Griffith, 2708 Prior St, as investment property.

Frederick and Erna Landsberg were the first owners and residents of this house. Erna Marymont came to Canada from Russia in 1894 to visit her brother and stayed to marry Frederick here in 1895. Keenly interested in social welfare, she was involved in many organizations, including the Royal Jubilee Hospital Ladies’ Auxiliary, Old Ladies’ home and various orphanages. She frequently returned to Russia, but became ill after returning to Victoria in 1912. After travelling to Europe to consult a specialist, and seeking treatment in a California sanatorium, Erna succumbed in 1915 at 39.

Frederick and daughter Beatrice continued to live in the house. Frederick was born in Poland in 1857, and was sent away to school at 11. He witnessed the horrors of the religious persecution of Jewish people, but escaped the massacres. He arrived in Ontario with 40 cents in his pocket in 1881, came to Victoria in 1886 and established a pawnbroker shop on Johnson St with S. Kirschberg. Frederick also started in his shop Landsberg’s Free Museum displaying “the largest collection of BC and Alaska curios on the continent”. Like his wife, Frederick was involved with organizations dedicated to social and cultural enhancement, including the BC Red Cross and CNIB, as an organizer of the Sunshine Camp for underprivileged mothers and the Citizen’s Relief Fund, which assisted people during depressions. He became internationally known as a collector of Indian curios and was given “Best Citizen Award” in 1930 for his work with the Red Cross and CNIB. Frederick was also involved with the SPCA, BC Historical Association, Real Estate Board, City Zoning Board, IOOF and various Jewish organizations. On Christmas Days Frederick sent for prisoners from the city jail, gave them gifts of new underwear and clothing, and celebrated the holiday with them in his home. Frederick lived in this house until he died in 1935 at 77. Shortly before, he signed his business and other interests over to his partner of 28 years, William H. Davis.


John and Susan Ann (Toole) Copithorne lived here from 1912-15`. The Irish-born cattle rancher came to Alberta in 1883 and was a veteran of the Riel Rebellion. They lived at 1907 Belmont when John died in 1933 at 71, and Susan in 1958 at 96.

During WWII and the 1940s, Albert and May (Pollard) Davies rented this house, renting rooms to local militia on shore patrol, and after the war to local shipyard workers. They operated a successful costume jewelry studio in the basement, called ALMAY, which was derived from their first names. May had attended South Park School and later became a teacher there specializing in teaching students with learning disabilities.

In 1981 Janet Moore and Nicholas Poushinsky won a Hallmark Society Award for their maintenance of the house.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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