Heritage Register

1045 Joan Crescent (ex-975 Joan Cr)

Built 1918; 1920; 1928-29

For: J. William & Lillian Spencer

Architects: Thomas Hooper, 1918;
Percy Fox, 1920;
Ralph Berrill, 1928-29

1045 Joan


The earliest archival image shows a cross-axial two-storey, bellcast hip-roofed, Arts & Crafts house. The horizontal lines of the main roof, with its wide eaves and multiple modillions, and the wraparound verandah roof reference the Prairie School. The two cross-axial sleeping porches are above the two pedimented entry stairs in the verandah below. Thomas Hooper’s favourite Tuscan columns abound in twos, threes, and fours on granite piers. There are three massive granite chimneys. Today the verandah is enclosed and the perimeter walls on the upper storey have been extended to the former limits of the porches, doubling or tripling the house’s interior space. Many of the columns have been removed. In 1920 Percy Fox designed the interior fittings for the library. Ralph Berrill designed further alterations in 1928, and a chauffeur’s dwelling and garage in 1929. Later asbestos siding has been removed and original shingle and double-bevelled siding reinstated. However, the additions tacked on during its conversion to institutional use have severely altered it from the original residence designed by Thomas Hooper.


This property was bought by the Spencers just after the 1910 subdivision of Craigdarroch Park. The house was constructed in 1918 for a cost of $9,000. John William “Will” Spencer (1876-1946) was the fourth son of Emma (née Lazenby) and David Spencer, the retail empire mogul (1040 Moss St, Rockland). Born in Victoria, Will entered his father’s business upon graduation from Victoria High School, and eventually became director and secretary-treasurer. He is credited with playing a large part in the expansion of David Spencer Ltd into a major retail chain. In 1909 he married Lillian Lemon Watts (1887-1977). Will pursued various business interests, as a director of the Victoria Daily Times, BC Power Corporation, Excelsior Life Insurance Co, and Royal Trust Co. He served as president of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club. During WWII, Will was chairman of the Vancouver Island division of the National War Finance Committee, and supervised the island’s Victory Loans. Lillian sold this house after Will’s death in 1946 and David Spencer Ltd was sold to T. Eaton Co in 1948, Spencer’s 75th anniversary year. Wilspencer Pl, beside the Greater Victoria Art Gallery (1040 Moss St), was named for Will. Their daughter Myfanwy (1916-2007) was one of Canada’s foremost portrait artists, counting Pierre Trudeau, Yehudi Menuhin and Katherine Hepburn among her subjects. She married Niki Pavelic in 1948.


James (1890-1975) and Violet (Knight, 1895-1955) McVeeters lived here when this house was converted into suites in 1946. Born in Ireland, the McVeeters came to Canada c.1930 and to Victoria in 1939. James, a veteran of WWI and WWII, was an employee of Will Spencer, and later a gardener. They lived here until at least 1949, at which point this house was known as the Joan Crescent Manor Apartments. In 1972 it was converted into the Joan Crescent Manor Rest Home, and its number was changed from 975 to its present 1045 Joan Cr.


• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Rockland History

• Rockland Heritage Register

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

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