Heritage Register
James Bay

101 Oswego Street (ex-120 Oswego St)

Built 1888
Heritage-Designated 1977

For: Patrick & Minnie Dempster

101 Oswego


This Queen Anne cottage, similar to 2221 Fernwood Rd, Fernwood, 1889, and 601 Toronto St, James Bay, 1891, is a delight both for the amount of decoration on such a small house, and for the integrity of its detail. A segmented arch with drop-finial, in the front-facing gable, draws the eye down to the ornate octagonal bay. Numerous sandwich brackets in turn lead to the facets of the windows. Fish-scale shingles in the gable (behind heavy whale-bone bargeboards) draw the eye to the matching shingles in the roof over the front porch. Miniature versions of the bay brackets on the porch provide transition to cutout brackets running into “capitals” on the chamfered columns.

The house has a T-form footprint, and the interest is maintained on the Niagara St façade with decorative elements over another gable. All dominant windows have applied half-round details, and windows facing Niagara St have delicate hoods. A corbelled chimney, wooden eavestroughs and drop siding complete the ensemble.


Patrick and Minnie (Taylor) Dempster, married in Ontario in 1881, bought the lot in 1888 and immediately built. Patrick was a blacksmith with Victoria Transfer and a member of IOOF Columbia Lodge No.2, Colfax Rebekah Lodge No.1, Camosun Lodge AF&AM, and OES. He died in 1933 at 74. Minnie, a charter member of Colfax Rebekah Lodge and OES, died in 1944 at 83.


BDollie and George Moss owned the house from 1892-1901, then left for the USA. Dollie Smith was born in Wisconsin and came here in 1885. She married Victoria-born George Moss in 1891. Dollie died in Seattle, WA, in 1921 at 49. George was a clerk, a railway tracklayer, then a fireman. He died in Seattle in 1948 at 79. William and Naomi Erskine rented this property from 1900-02. William was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1827 and Naomi in Cornwall, England, in 1835. William worked as a gardener. They both died of stomach cancer, Naomi in 1902 and William in 1906.

From 1912 to at least 1916, the owners were Robert and Alice Knott, and Harry and Mabel Jones. Robert and Mabel were siblings of Victoria contractors Herbert and Horace Knott (1466 Gladstone Av, Fernwood). Robert Knott and Harry Jones were masonry contractors. Alice was the sister of Ernest Whittington of contractors Moore & Whittington (1433 Vining St & 1834 Stanley Av, Fernwood).

Tommy and Elizabeth (Bennett) Davies were the first long-time residents, from c.1920-40. They married in Liverpool, England, in 1905 and came here in 1912. In 1914, Thomas joined the First Canadian Pioneers and endured three years in the trenches at Ypres and the Somme during WWI. He then worked as a ship painter at the CPR boatyard on Belleville St for 28 years. The Davies celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at the Optimist Hall at 106 Superior St, James Bay. They were both members of Pro Patria Branch, Canadian Legion. Elizabeth died in 1974 at 89, Thomas in 1977 at 101.

Alexander and Clara (Fisher) Maedel, retired farmers from Ontario, lived in this house from c.1945-62, then moved to Burnaby. Alexander was a lifetime member of the Canadian Order of Foresters. He died in 1968 at 89. Clara predeceased him in 1965 at 85.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives

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

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