Heritage Register
James Bay

331 Michigan Street
(ex-1 Alma Pl)

Built 1911
Heritage-Designated 1995

For: Thomas & Johanna Perkins

Designer/Builder: James Fairall

331 Michigan


This house is a mixture of Shingle and Arts & Crafts styles. The 2½-storey, symmetrical front gable actually faces Alma Pl. A large gable on the Michigan St façade on the left caps a through-the-roof wall dormer. Below this dormer is an offset, curved, two-storey, cantilevered bay. The upper halves of the street front gables are jettied and supported on modillions. The front and rear eaves have Arts & Crafts knee brackets. The small porch of the recessed main entrance on Alma Pl has a gabled roof supported on brackets above plain square posts on shingled balustrades. The right side has a shed-roofed extension at the roofline, and an open, hip-roofed porch on the main floor. There is a recessed sleeping porch above the side porch on the right front corner. A two-storey extension on the rear has a through-the-roof wall-dormer. All ground floor windows have leaded glass transoms above casement sashes. The same art glass is repeated in the entrance door and side lights. The upper gables and the body of the house between the string course and the water table are clad in asbestos shingles over the original siding. The rest of the house is clad in original cedar shingles, and the porch gable is finished in stucco and half timbering. The foundation is concrete and an early concrete retaining wall survives.


Thomas and Johanna Margaret Perkins, and John and Clarissa Niblock purchased the property at 329 Michigan St in 1906 on which this and seven other houses on Alma Pl were built. Thomas had at least four of the houses built, while John had 8 Alma Pl built for his family in 1911. The first house was designed by architect L.W. Hargreaves, the rest were designed and built by James Fairall (505 Springfield St, Vic West).

John died in 1914, Clarissa left Victoria and was living in San Francisco by the mid 1930s. Thomas was born in Hardingstone, ENG, in 1848. Before coming to Victoria c.1905 he lived in Winnipeg for over 35 years, where he likely met and married Johanna Attwood. Thomas, a gardener by trade and a seed merchant, died in 1925 at 76. Johanna, the sister of Clarissa Niblock, was born in Ontario and died in 1938 at 85.


Edmund and Catherine (Johnson) Fredette came to Victoria from Ontario in 1886. They lived at 916 Pandora Av, North Park, from 1897-99. They bought 331 Michigan in 1912. Catherine died in 1928 at 66. Edmund continued to live here with his sons and owned several apartment buildings in James Bay. Earlier he was a night engineer at the rice mill on Store St, and served with the navy during WWI. Later he co-owned the Royal Arms Hotel and worked as a bartender. He died in 1956 at 95.

Edmund and Catherine’s three sons, Roy, John and Frank Fredette, all resided here at various times. John was born in Olympia, WA, in 1892, and married Esther Graham in 1926. He left Victoria during the 1930s, likely to find work, but returned again by the early 1940s. John worked as a general labourer for a variety of employers. He died in 1975. Roy was born in Victoria in 1888 and never married. He apprenticed at Robertson Iron Works as a blacksmith in the early 1900s. He also worked as an oiler in the 1930s-40s, and then as a fireman for Island Tug & Barge. He retired in 1961, still living at this residence, but died in New Westminster in 1967.

Frank was born in Victoria in 1894. He trained as a carpenter and shipwright, and served his apprenticeship in Alex Watson’s shipyard, where later the Bapco Paint Factory was situated. During the 1910s-1920s, Frank worked at sea on various ships. He married Irene Moses in the late 1920s and they lived in this house by 1931. Frank became well-known for designing and building ships. Primarily self-taught, he based his designs on seafaring experiences and his work as a shipwright. His work is best known in the commercial fishing industry, where his ships have a reputation for being durable and reliable. In 1974, Frank was made a life member of the Thermopylae Club, dedicated to preserving Victoria’s seafaring heritage. He was a commodore and judge of the Classic Boat Festival, and a lecturer at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Frank died in 1986.

Irene was born in North Saanich in 1904. She worked as a teacher, and encouraged her husband to design boats, assisting with the necessary mathematical calculations. Like her husband, Irene was a member of the Thermopylae Club, and the Lady Laurier Club and Saanich Pioneer Society. She died in 1974 at 69. Descendants of the family still own the house.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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