Heritage Register
North Park

916 Pandora Avenue (ex-112 & 112½ Pandora Av)

Built 1863-64

For: George & Mary Ann Mason

916 Pandora


In 1857 George Mason purchased five acres from the HBC on the NE edge of Victoria, dividing it by Mason St. He built this house in 1863-64, when assessments show improvements valued at $1,800. It is thought to be the oldest extant brick house in Western Canada. This two-storey, hip-roofed house has large wooden dentils in the frieze, and three evenly-spaced windows across the upper front. The 1895 photo shows a wrap-around open front verandah. It has a corbelled, denticulated chimney. For years the main floor has been masked by the addition of a 1920 storefront. In the mid-1860s, when Mason was forced to sell the house, the auction notice mentions double parlours joined by pocket-doors, fireplaces, and three upstairs bedrooms. “The grounds are tastefully laid out, with a garden of choice Flowers and Fruits…[and] a never-failing well of pure spring water.”


1863-66: *George Mason (b. Kent, ENG, c.1826-1893) was one of BC’s earliest professional brickmakers. He came to Victoria in 1851 on the Norman Morison with many other labourers and contractors under a 5-year indenture with HBC to help develop the Vancouver Island colony. George initially made bricks with Robert Porter (151 Government St, James Bay) in a yard located near the NE corner of Beacon Hill Park. Later he entered into partnership with George Balls, and in addition to brickmaking, they engaged in saloon and real estate businesses. Their success was bolstered by the 1858 gold rush. By 1859, Mason and Balls had established the Beacon Hill Brickyard at Fairfield Farm, likely in the same location of his original business with Robert Porter.They sold the brickyard in the mid-1860s, but continued in the saloon business.

The economic depression of the mid-1860s forced Mason to sell off his property, including this house. During the 1860s and ’70s, he worked as a drayman and bartender. His wife, Mary Ann (c.1832-1915), established a boarding house on Fort St in the early 1870s. George re-entered the brickmaking business with his brother Jesse in 1875 and c.1880 they formed a partnership with John Coughlan to establish the Pioneer Steam Brick Yard on Saanich Rd near the brickyard of James and Robert Porter. George continued in the brickmaking business until his death in 1893


Owners: 1866-92: Saloonkeeper and ship’s captain William Patrick Farron and Anastasia “Annie” “Anna” Frances (née Murray, b. IRL 1848-1921) purchased this house at auction. William died, possibly at sea, and Annie remarried in 1879, to widowed ship’s pilot Capt. William Clements (b. Nova Scotia, c.1833). They were listed in the house until 1884. Annie’s son James Lawrence Farron (b. Victoria c.1867), a clerk with VanVolkenburgh & Bros, butchers, lived in the house in 1887.

1892-97: Arnold Pike of Esquimalt. The house became a boarding house, operated by:
1890-92: Widow Eugenia O’Brien named her boarding house “Sunnyside;” architect A. Maxwell Muir was one of her boarders;
1893: Miss Margaret Bulman;
1894: Thomas R. Cusack, compositor and printer (1202 Fort St, Fernwood);
1895: Mrs. Moore. 1897-99: Labourer Edmund Fredette and Catherine (née Johnson) (331 Michigan St, James Bay).

Owners: 1898-1934: John William Mellor (1868-1913) and then from 1902 his wife Rosina (née Bantly, 1875- 1942) owned the property until the City of Victoria seized it for unpaid taxes. John came to Victoria from England in 1888, and Rosina, born in California to German immigrants Annie and Marcus Bantly (1127 Fort St, Fairfield), came in 1884. John established the Mellor Brothers Paint Co. The Mellors lived here in 1900-02. After John’s death, Rosina lived at 1127 Fort from 1914-20. 916 Pandora continued as a boarding house:
Renters: 1903-04: Butcher John Duncan Manson (1867-1925) and Florence Frances (née Bayntun) married here in 1895. John was born in Victoria, Florence in Kent, ENG; she came here in 1888. 112½ at the rear was rented to commission agent Charles Rupert King (1845-1914) who came to Victoria from Nova Scotia in 1884 (132 South Turner St, James Bay).
1905: Bookkeeper Robert Wood.
1908 & 1910-11: D. Jones.
1909: Painter James S. Ross.
1912-14: Alexander McGhie (b. Glenluce, SCT, 1893-1966) was a clerk with grocers Harrison & McDonald. He was living in Grand Forks, BC, when he signed up for WWI in 1916, and died at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver, cared for by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The house was vacant through WWI and the 1920s to 1930, except for 1921: Grocer Tong Sing.
1923: Confectioner Kun Lee.
1931 & 33: “Orientals.”

1934-40: The City rented the house to Mae Chan (née Lee), the wife of John Hong Chan (b. California 1875-1942), and their son Edward Ben Chan (1912-1956). The family operated dressmaking and wood dealership businesses. Edward was born in Victoria, and married Eylene Norma Wong.

1943-85: Lee Gong Due purchased the property for his daughter Florence Ah Yut Marr (née Lee, 1903-1982) who raised her six girls and four boys and operated her dressmaking business here. Born in Victoria, she married Sing Fong Marr (1891-1981) right after she graduated from Vic High (1260 Grant St, Fernwood). After her death, her family sold the house in 1985.

* Research by Christopher J.P. Hanna


• Map of Victoria Heritage Register Properties

• North Park History

• North Park Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Three: Rockland, Burnside, Harris Green,
Hillside-Quadra, North Park & Oaklands

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