Heritage Register
James Bay

511 Michigan Street
(ex-4, 255 Menzies St)
James Bay Methodist Church, James Bay United

Built 1891-92
Heritage-Designated 1979/Institutional

For: Trustees of James Bay Methodist Church

Architect: Thomas Hooper
Contractor: W.S. Marsh

511 Michigan


This wooden church, one of the few unaltered in Victoria, is the only church left on the James Bay peninsula. It has a T-shaped, gabled roof with a full-width, hip-roofed rear office extension. Its symmetrical front façade has two small, hip-roofed, enclosed porches on either side of a wide projecting bay. The porches have round-headed windows on the front. Two front-facing staircases, located on the outsides of the porches, lead to double panelled doors with transom windows. The jettied front gable has returns on its ends which join a segmental arch. Beneath that is a recessed arch which forms the header of a three-windowed bay: the stained-glass windows are tall, narrow, round-headed and multi-paned, separated by pilasters and rosettes. The side gables are similar to the front, but each has four windows under the arches. On the Menzies St side, the glass has been replaced with leaded glass panels showing a variety of symbols. All the gables have wheeled vents in their apices. The gables and the area above the string course are shingled, the main body is clad in drop siding and the basement in vertical drop-siding. The foundation is concrete. For several decades, the entire house was covered in asphalt shingles. Stuart Stark did original colour microscopic analysis for the current colour scheme. .


James Bay Methodist congregation was established in 1890 with the formation of a Sunday School and first met at Kingston St school. The church was built for $2260 on land which retailer David Spencer (527 Michigan St) purchased for $2600 and donated to the Church Trust. Spencer and 11 of his 13 children sang in the choir. It was designed to be a temporary facility to accommodate 300 people.

Rev. Ebenezer Robson, brother of BC’s 9th premier, John Robson, dedicated the church on August 29, 1892. The congregation was in debt by $4600, but after the dedication, donations by members reduced it to $2500.


Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist churches formed the United Church of Canada in June 1925; this became James Bay United Church. Unfortunately, economic hardships of the Great Depression forced the sale of the westerly lot. The church survived this period of difficulty thanks largely to the efforts of women’s groups. The church’s centennial brought about extensive repairs and renovations designed by architect Doran Musgrave.

Church members are credited with the formation of James Bay New Horizons Society, which was active in establishing the James Bay Community Project and developing Beckley Farm Lodge for seniors.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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