Heritage Register
James Bay

221 Quebec Street (ex-84 Quebec St)

Built 1889
Heritage-Designated 1977

For: Ralph & Phoebe Borthwick

Architect: John Teague

221 Quebec


The Borthwicks built two matching houses in 1889 for $2,000 each. The twin house at 219 Quebec was demolished. This two-storey Italianate house has the typical shallow hipped roof with unpaired cornice brackets. The cuboid effect is relieved on the front by a small rectangular porch beside an octagonal bay, both with pent roofs. The porch has slim, turned columns and pilasters. The original design of the porch balustrade has been repeated in the stair balustrade. The house, raised on timbers for several years, was eventually lowered onto a brick foundation and sympathetically rehabilitated. An extension was added at the rear. This house is part of a 2-house heritage grouping with 225 Quebec St, and is reminiscent of several Italianate homes of the same era on South Turner St in James Bay.


1889-92: Ralph and Phoebe Borthwick lived in this house three years before moving next door to 225 Quebec St. They then used this property for rental revenue.

Ralph, born in Manchester in 1838, came to New York in 1842, California in 1856 and to Victoria on the steamer Orizaba in 1858 to seek his fortune in gold. He met Isabella Kier, daughter of a wealthy Cowichan farmer, and married her in 1863 after striking it rich in the Cariboo. He was a saloonkeeper at Pritchard House on Yates St in the 1870s and early 1890s, a gold miner in the early 1880s, and an iron moulder by 1901. Isabella died of TB in 1880 at 31. Ralph’s second wife, Phoebe Weller, was born in Kent in 1840 and arrived here in 1877. Her first husband, Charles Caldwell, died in 1885 and she married Ralph in 1887. Phoebe died in 1907 at 67, Ralph in 1921 at 84.


Residents of this house in 1897 were Ontario-born jeweller Thomas Challoner and his wife Anna. They left Victoria by 1912. Archibald and Laura Lees, daughter of Ralph and Isabella Borthwick, lived here by 1902. Archibald, a Scottish-born engineer, came to Victoria in the early 1890s. A member of Columbia Lodge No 2, IOOF, he died in 1943 at 84. Laura died in 1938 at 64.

Capt. Robert and Emma (Robson) Hunter lived here from 1912-c.1914. They lived at 243 Kingston St, James Bay, 1917-20. Emma, daughter of William and Ann (Munro) Robson, was born in Kent and came here from Mayne Island, BC, when she married Robert in 1896. She died in 1941 at 67. Robert was born in the Shetland Islands in 1866. He came to Victoria in 1889 and began working for the Pacific Navigation Co as a quartermaster. He earned his master mariner papers in 1901, and captained the SS Transfer, a sternwheeler on the Fraser River, and the SS Charmer. In 1909, Robert began working for the CPR’s BCCSS fleet, and commanded the Princess Adelaide between Victoria and Vancouver for 18 years, then the Princess Marguerite until retiring in 1934. A member of AF&AM, Robert died in the Lebanon Nursing Home (1270 Yates St, Fernwood) in 1949.

Albert and Winnifred Abbott lived here 1930-32. Albert was born in England and came to BC in 1910, married New Brunswick-native Winnifred Wright in Chilliwack in 1911, and moved to Victoria by 1920. First a labourer, from the late 1940s he was a supervisor and car washer for Wilson Motors, until several months before his death in 1955 at 68.

1941-74: Scottish farmers Alexander and Isabella (Parley) Davidson retired to Victoria from their native Aberdeenshire in 1939. Alexander died in 1967 aged 83, Isabella in 1974 aged 87.


• 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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