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Heritage Register
Rockland

1770 Rockland Avenue

Built 1905
Heritage-Designated 1982

For: Biggerstaff & Bertha Wilson

Architect: Samuel Maclure
Contractor: George Calder

1770 Rockland

ARCHITECTURE:

This 2½- storey house is hip-roofed with large gabled extensions on all sides. The bracketed gables have finials and are jettied on corbels. There is a gabled dormer on the front, with flat-roofed and hip-roofed dormers on the rear. The front has a balcony over the recessed entry porch, all supported on heavy battered granite piers. The step and porch balustrades are also granite. On the left side is another balustraded balcony above what was once an open porch, now enclosed. The ground floor is faced with granite, the second floor and gables with roughcast stucco and half-timbering, and the rear façade is shingled. It has three ribbed and corbelled brick chimneys. The house cost $9,000.

Samuel Maclure was not the first designer to be identified with Tudor Revival houses in Victoria. L.B. Trimen designed Ellesmere (1321 Rockland Av) in 1889, and Wm. Ridgway-Wilson, Schuhuum (1322 Rockland Av) in 1894. Maclure’s launch into the Tudor style was a renovation of Schuhuum in 1901 where he replaced the small gabled wooden entry porch with a fashionable brick porte-cochère that was not only out of historical character but obscured the façade. Perhaps it is unfair to be critical of Maclure for this, as doubtless his client had demanded the alterations. Despite “Macluresque” and “Tudor” being synonymous in Victoria, few of his half-timbered creations have other hallmarks of the Tudor style. Maclure preferred to develop his own eclectic style.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

1905-67: Biggerstaff “Big” Wilson (b. Victoria 1874-1925) and Bertha Matilda (née Erb, b. Victoria 1875-1970) married in 1900. Big, the son of prominent Victoria clothier William Wilson, was sent to Christ’s College, Finchley, London, ENG, to complete his studies, as had his older brother Herbert (610 St. Charles St, Rockland). In 1901 Big founded the B. Wilson Ice & Cold Storage Co on Store St and expanded it to Herald St in 1909. The company opened a locker plant in 1935 and in 1938 introduced a line of packaged foods, mostly fruits and vegetables. Biggerstaff, an avid golfer, was elected president of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association. In 1921 he was selected as one of eight golfers from the West to go to St. Louis, MO, to compete in an amateur US championship game. He remained active until about a year before his death. He fell ill after a trip to England, travelled to California to regain his health, but died in Beverly Hills in 1925.

Bertha Erb was educated at Angela College (923 Burdett Av, Fairfield) and lived all her life in Victoria. Their son, Richard Biggerstaff “Dick” Wilson, was mayor of Victoria from 1961-65 and a University of Victoria chancellor. Bertha lived in this house until 1967.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

1967-2010: Henry William “Harry” Gladwell (b. Regina, SK 1911-2010) and Caroline (née Lomax, b. Hong Kong 1923-2007) requested heritage designation of the house in 1982. Harry acquired the local Ford dealership and ran Gladwell Motors from 1946 for over 10 years. He excelled at many sports, including rowing, sailing, skiing, golfing, fishing and hunting birds, and surfed into his 80s.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:

• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Rockland History

• Rockland Heritage Register

• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives

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


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