Heritage Register
James Bay

629 Niagara Street

Built 1911
Heritage-Designated 1995

For: William Dunford & Son

Designer: George V. Bishop
Builder: William Dunford & Son

629 Niagara


The well-known Victoria building firm of William Dunford & Son (527 Trutch St, Fairfield) specialized in the construction of the “Dunford Bungalow”. This is the first in a row of three Dunford Bungalows, all built in 1911, this and 637 Niagara St as speculative housing. 633, for realtor Joseph W. Taylor, is a mirror image to 629 and has its original siding and windows but is not on the City’s Heritage Register. The 1½-storey 629 has a double gable roof, the smaller over a cantilevered angled bay, with a single gabled dormer on the left side and a hipped roof over the front porch, which was enclosed prior to 1929. The central upper panel of the front and side bay windows, and side piano window and front door display geometric stained and leaded art glass. The main floor siding is beaded and double-bevelled; cedar shingles cover the foundation, gables, porch and stepped front stair balustrades, and the battered piers at the corners of the porch. The house was covered in 1940s asbestos siding, removed in 2000 by owners Paul & Elke Brown, who restored the woodwork and front steps, which had been concrete and metal. In 2001 the Browns won a Hallmark Society Award for their work.


1911-36: Douglas Blamey McConnan (b. St. John’s, NL 1870-1940) and Emily Mary (née Locke, b. Belgium 1883-1974). Douglas came to Victoria in the 1880s. He was a clerk in the Dominion Post Office, the Dominion Savings Bank by 1892, and Assistant Receiver General of Victoria when he married in 1908. An avid gardener, he specialized in roses. Douglas raced sculls with James Bay Athletic Association (JBAA), and was secretary of Victoria Riding Club for years. During WWI, he was a drill leader for a Fifth Regiment, Canadian Artillery home guard unit, retiring with the rank of major.

Emily came to Canada in 1892. Her father was Capt. Leonard Pye Locke (1005 Cook St, Fairfield) of the CPR SS Princess Sophia. It sank Oct. 25, 1918 at Vanderbilt Reef in the Lynn Canal near Juneau, Alaska, killing all 278 passengers and 65 crew, including Capt. Locke; it remains the Pacific NW’s worst maritime disaster. Emily was involved in music and drama, starring in many Red Cross charity concerts during WWI, and later helping to organize the Victoria Operatic Society. Her obituary stated that she sang professionally for years in Seattle, by 1935 was studying in London, ENG. After Douglas’s death she went to Hollywood to pursue a stage and film career, then moved to Toronto several years before her death.


1939-82: William Cyril Graves (b. Cheshire, ENG 1900-75) and Mary Elizabeth Evaline (née Davis, b. Revelstoke, BC 1908-85) married in Victoria in 1934. William was a marine engineer with CPR’s BCCSS. Mary, a well-known local pianist, played at Royal and MacPherson Theatres and had a dance band, the Davis Combo, which played at the Officer’s Mess. Her parents Mary “Elizabeth” (née Jones, b. Birmingham, ENG 1877-1952) and CPR railway conductor Gilbert Oliver Perry Davis (b. Palisade, SD 1874-1963) married in Revelstoke, BC, in 1899 and lived next door at 633 Niagara St from 1940 until their deaths.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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