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Heritage Register
Rockland

1368 Rockland Place (ex-1503 Rockland Av)
Fairholme, Menota

Built 1885
Heritage-Designated 2000

For: John & Sara Davie

Contractor: John Hill & Charles Conley

638 Rockland Pl

ARCHITECTURE:

One of the earliest estates on Rockland, this two-storey house was constructed for $7,000 in the fashionable Italianate style. Similar to the 1883 house at 146 Clarence St, James Bay, Fairholme has a very shallow, hipped roof with eaves supported by sandwich brackets, paired at the outer corners; there are panels in the frieze between the brackets. It has two main wings, each fronted by two-storey angled bays with turned details on the corners and one-over-one double-hung sashes with horns. The Rockland façade has a wide, shallow full-height extension with two-over-two windows. The horizontal is emphasized by a belt course and a water table. The main entrance steps, on the St. Charles façade to the left of the bay, lead to a verandah with a balcony above. The slim chamfered verandah posts have sharp capitals and delicately carved brackets that support the fascia of theverandah ceiling. The house is clad in drop siding; the rubble stone foundation has ashlar quoins at the corners. It has two brick chimneys, one with elaborate corbelling. The gabled extension on the rear has grown over the years.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

1885-1906: Dr. John Chapman Davie (b. Wells, Somerset, ENG 1845-1911) arrived in Victoria in 1862 on the Anna Maria with his father, Dr. J.C. Davie, Sr, sister Selina, and brothers Alexander and Theodore. Younger brothers Horace and William came later and settled in the Cowichan Valley. All brothers were educated at Eton College in England. Alexander and Theodore studied law, entered politics, and were BC premiers in 1887-89 and 1892-95, respectively. John graduated in medicine in San Francisco at 21, and practised in Victoria for most of his life. He worked with his father, then with Dr. J.S. Helmcken (638 Elliot St, James Bay). He was known as “Shot Gun” Davie because he took his gun along to shoot pheasant when visiting patients in the country. John was the first doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and designer and planner of the first Royal Jubilee Hospital. He is credited with bringing modern medicine to Victoria, including the antiseptic system developed by Pasteur and Lister, and reportedly performed the first appendectomy in BC. In 1883 his brother Prem. Theodore Davie appointed John as BC’s chief medical health officer to deal with a smallpox epidemic, which he quickly brought under control.


John married twice, first to San Francisco-born Kate Thain in 1869. She died in 1881 at 29. John’s second wife was Sara Holmes Todd, daughter of Anne Fox and Jacob Hunter Todd (Harris Green history). [John and Sara began courting before Kate died, and it was said that a “broken heart” contributed to her early death.] John married Sara in 1884, but she died of pneumonia in 1894 at 39. John moved to Oak Bay in 1906.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

Owners: 1907-18: Frederick B. Warren and Violet (née Gilmor, 1857-1937) came to BC in 1907 and called the house Menota. Frederick was managing director of Victoria & Vancouver Lime & Brick Co. The Warrens moved to Vancouver in 1928.

1920-23: Barrister and solicitor John Ronald Green.

1926-45: Journalist and writer Arthur Stileman Averill (b. Sussex, ENG 1886- 1956) and Evelyn Alice (née Haines) converted it to the six-suite Rockland Court in 1928. Arthur came to Canada in 1907 and BC in 1919. In 1935 Evelyn took their son John to school in England. She fell ill and died there in 1937. Arthur later married Helen Barbara LeBagge Welsh, moved to Telegraph Bay Rd and retired in 1953.

1949-55: Joseph A. and Gladys Holmes.

Tenants included: 1929-31: Architect John Graham Johnson (b. London, ENG 1882-1945) and Hilda Constance (née Olds, 1880-1965). John came to Victoria briefly in 1914, returned to Britain to serve in WWI, and came back in 1920. In 1936, they moved into a house designed by John below this property, now 620 Rockland Pl.
1945-55: After John’s death, Hilda lived here again.

1933-40: Miss Jeanette Cann taught psychology and English at Victoria College in Craigdarroch Castle.

1935-42: Louis Ramsbothan Davies (b. London, ENG 1885-1964) and Jennet Louisa (née Lawson, b. Victoria 1889- 1978) married here in 1915. Louis, who came here in 1914, was a Canadian Hydrographic Service surveyor for 55 years.

1935-66: Robert Walker Shannon (b. Ireland 1857-1936) and Emily Frances (née Sears, b. Kingston, ON 1876-1966) came to Victoria in 1931. Robert came to Canada as a boy, took law at Queen’s University and practised in the Yukon for some years. He retired as Saskatchewan legislative counsel.

1939-40: Edward and Eva Kjekstad, both physiotherapists, and their son Bernard, a student at Victoria College.

1943-58: Herbert “Neville” Wright (b. Lancashire, ENG 1881-1951) and Florence Isabel (née Raddish, b. Liverpool, ENG 1890-1979) came to Victoria in 1914. Herbert was BC’s Deputy Minister of Finance for 34 years until retiring in 1946. Florence later moved to 906 Pemberton Rd, Rockland.

1946-54: Retired railroader John Findlay Sweeting (b. ENG 1872-1954) and Jessie Craven (née Dickens, b. ENG 1883-1961). Jessie moved to 906 Pemberton Rd after John’s death.

1948: Ethel Unwin was the resident building manager (852 Pemberton Rd).

The house became a B&B in 1980.

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


© VICTORIA HERITAGE FOUNDATION (VHF) 2014
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