Heritage Register
James Bay

27 Olympia Avenue
(ex-Olympian Av until 1920s)

Built 1911-12
Heritage-Designated 2004

For: William Bownass

Architect: Jud Yoho Craftsman Bungalow Company, Plan 327
Builder: William & John Bownass

27 Olympia


This is a 1½-storey, side-gabled Craftsman Arts & Crafts Bungalow with a gabled dormer on the right front. There is a wide-front-gabled porch on the left front. On the right side of the house is a cantilevered, hip-roofed, angled bay beyond an exterior, through-the-roof brick chimney with a concrete base. A gabled dormer on the rear has been widened to accommodate a door to upper suites; on the main floor of the rear is a cantilevered, shed-roofed, box bay. The roof, dormers, bays and porch have wide eaves with exposed raftertails. The main gables and the rear dormer have projecting beam-ends, the front dormer and porch gable have knee brackets. All the bargeboard ends are pointed and notched. The porch has a Tudor arch with a keystone supported on heavy granite posts; the solid balustrade is also of random granite. The main and porch gables are stuccoed and half-timbered in their apices, with double-coursed shingles below. A string course separates the shingles from the bevelled siding of the main floor. The basement level is concrete. The house has many panels of handsome Arts & Crafts stained glass. There are two corbelled brick chimneys with chimney pots.


In 1911-12 William Bownass (24 Douglas St, James Bay) built two almost-identical houses from the same set of plans from Jud Yoho, but reversed the plan for this house. Jud Yoho practised in Seattle and is regarded as a major influence of the period partially because of his publication Bungalow Magazine which had building plans. The houses still stand almost back-to-back on Olympia and Douglas Sts. Bownass stated on the sewer permit that he would be pipe layer and plumber, and his son Jack was a contractor, so it is very likely that they built the houses. This house was completed December 1912. The Bownasses lived on Douglas until 1930, and sold this house.


From c.1914-18, the residents were Augusta and Charles MacPherson, farmers who retired to BC in 1914. Charles (1843-1934) was born in Ontario and died in Comox, where he and Augusta moved in 1918. In 1920 the house was purchased by Samuel and Mary Greer, retired farmers from Moose Jaw, SK. Samuel died in 1922; Mary lived in the house till 1930.

By 1931 the owners were Harry and Thelma Johns. Harry, son of Albion and Eliza Johns who came to Victoria from Ontario in the early 1890s, was born in 1903. Thelma, the daughter of Metropolitan United Church pastor Rev. Dr. W.J. Sipprell, who married them in 1929, was born in New Westminster in 1902. Thelma graduated with honours in Arts in 1925 from the University of Toronto, then worked three years as dietician at Victoria High School. Harry graduated in 1925 as McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry gold medalist, then practised in Victoria nearly 50 years. Active in church, service and musical organizations, they both died in 1978.

By the late 1930s the owners were Frank and Anna Doherty, who married in Victoria in 1913. Anna was born in Victoria in 1890, the year her parents Frederick and Annie Nolte arrived here from Germany and the US. Frank was born in Toronto in 1888 and came to Victoria in 1910. In 1912 he went into the men’s clothing business with Darrell Spence. When they closed the Toggery Shop in 1966, it was said to be the oldest partnership in the clothing business in Canada.

In the 1940s, the property was purchased by Rainbow Christian Fellowship and run as a home for wayward girls, funded partially by Big Sisters. In 1982 it was converted to suites for retired members of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly China Inland Mission). Since the mid-1990s, it has been private rental suites.


• Statement of Significance (Canadian Register of Historic Places)

• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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