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Heritage Register
James Bay

106 Superior Street

Built 1914
Heritage-Designated 2005

For: Connaught Seaman's Institute

Architect: J.C.M. Keith

106 Superior

ARCHITECTURE:

This plain red brick, one-storey, flat-roofed institutional building has a double-arched entrance and heavy rolled metal cornice. The window headers and sills are of sandstone as are the twin arches of the entrance.

The choice of John Charles Malcolm Keith as the architect for the Institute reflects his strong Anglican leanings, and his interest in architectural commissions that elevated humanity, including schools, parish churches and Victoria’s Anglican Cathedral. The sombre, robust architecture of the Seamen’s Institute manifests its former earnest, gritty role. No longer a seamen’s institute, the surviving building reminds us of the busy port that Victoria once was.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

Built in 1914 during a period of steady growth of maritime trade associated with the BC lumber industry, the Connaught Seamen’s Institute demonstrates the continuing efforts (begun with the creation of school, park and church reserves in the 1850s) of Victorians to replicate the infrastructure of the standard British colonial port. The function of the Institute, to provide safe overnight accommodation for seafarers far from home in a nurturing Anglican environment, reminds us of the darker side of port life, and the negative effects of drink and loneliness that the church sought to address. The association of the Institute in its early years with prominent, mainly female, citizens including Lady Douglas and the Dunsmuirs, speaks to the strong temperance movement, and the significance of women’s influence generally in Victoria’s history.

There is a cornerstone that reads “dedicated by the Duke of Connaught on September 28, 1912” and a stone plaque that reads “Seamen’s Institute. Come unto me all Ye that are weary and I will give you rest.”

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

In 1977 the building became a Unitarian church; the entrance was redesigned and a gable roof was built to make a scissor-truss ceiling for a more ecclesiastical-looking interior. The gable is largely hidden by the parapet. There is a partial second floor penthouse addition. In 1993 it became a private residence and antique shop. The Superior Café opened in the building in 2005.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:

• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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


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