Heritage Register
James Bay

554 Niagara Street
(ex-75 Niagara St)

Built 1900

For: Mary & Albert Pike

Builder: Albert Pike

554 Niagara


This is an early version of the Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts. It is a 1½-storey, front-gabled house with gable ends which overhang the top of the main floor walls. The upper level of the front façade is symmetrical while the main floor is asymmetrical. Arts & Crafts features include a deeply-inset sleeping porch beneath the jettied upper portion of the gable, and a shallow box bay on the right front. There is just one dormer, a shallow shed-roofed dormer on the left side. An unusual feature is the main entrance located on the right side of the house; now there is also an entrance on the left side, as it was duplexed in 1975. The upper part of the gable is shingled above a row of spaced vertical one x ones. The brick main floor is unusual, but the owner-builder was a bricklayer. The foundation is of three-course rough stone. At some point the sleeping porch was enclosed with a bank of windows above the balustrade, but it was later restored to an open porch.


Albert Pike lived at 53 David St while building this house. It was plumbed by Andrew Sheret in 1900, who in 1905 lived in 113 Clarence St, James Bay, which Albert owned and built. Among other houses, he also built 123 Cambridge St, Fairfield, and 116 Cambridge, which was designed by Maclure. Albert was born in England in 1855. He came to Canada in 1887 and spent several years in Ontario. His wife, Mary, was born in Guelph, ON, in 1856 and likely married Albert before coming to Victoria in the late 1880s. The Pikes owned this house until 1915, but only lived here until 1912. They moved to Milne’s Landing in Sooke c.1920, and died there months apart in 1943.


By 1923 the residents were William Thomas and Belle McDonald. William, born in Teeswater, ON, graduated from Guelph Agricultural College in 1912. He came to Victoria as Provincial Livestock Commissioner for the Department of Agriculture. He was also a professor of Animal Husbandry at Washington State College. He died suddenly in 1924 at 43.

Capt. Montague and Elizabeth Harbord lived here in the early 1930s. Elizabeth Holden was born in Cape Town, SA, and came to Victoria with her husband c.1920. Interested in linguistics, art, music, and needlecrafts, Elizabeth died in 1939 at 74. Montague (1856-1941) was born in England. He was a master mariner for over 40 years, but by 1931 worked for the liquor control board.

By 1937, the residents were James and Janet Terris (Scott) Blyth. They arrived here from Scotland in the early 1930s. Janet died at 74 while visiting Vancouver in 1958. James was a refrigeration engineer until he retired in 1953; he died in 1962 at 79.

Ernest and Anne (Forsythe) Mottishaw lived here from c.1943-67. Ernest was an Island-born carpenter-contractor, and a machinist, completing an apprenticeship under Norman Yarrow of Yarrow’s Shipyard. He was very involved with the community, particularly children’s causes. By 1948, he was chairman of the Eagles’ youth guidance committee, raising funds for sports teams and other programs for youth and disadvantaged groups.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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