Heritage Register

1001 Terrace Avenue
Buncrana; Bowser Mansion

Built 1912-13
Heritage-Designated 1985

For: William & Lorinda Bowser

Architect: A. Arthur Cox
Contractors: William S. McDonald & Hugh Wilson


This impressive asymmetrical British Arts & Crafts house has a complex roofline consisting of hips and gables and shed-roofed dormers. A tower, perched on the rear of the roof, overlooks the garden façade; it has a pyramidal hipped roof on brackets and arched multi-light windows on all sides. A square extension on the rear of the tower has a long oriel bay below a balcony. The rear façade has multiple arched porches and balconies. The offset recessed front entrance is accessed through a hip-roofed porte-cochère supported on four massive battered, random granite piers with quoins. To the left of the porte-cochère is a two-storey, gabled extension with a multi-paned leaded light arched window. There are three large parged chimneys, one of which is on the tower. The house is clad in roughcast stucco with quoins at lower corners and some simple half-timbering in gables. The architect used both Nelson Island granite and Haddington Island andesite as building materials. Buncrana derives its name from a place on Lough Swilly, Co. Donegal, Ireland. Vancouver architect A.A. Cox designed this residence whose “upper extremity once was higher above sea level than any other structure in the city.”


1912-33: The Hon. William John Bowser (1867-1933), and his wife Lorinda Davidson (née Doherty, 1868-1928) moved to Victoria in 1913. They were both born in Rexton, NB, where they married in 1896. After a law degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, William was called to the New Brunswick bar. In 1891 he came to Vancouver, and was called to the BC bar. He practised law in different partnerships, served as Crown Prosecutor several times and in 1900 was named Queen’s Counsel.

In 1897 William was elected to the BC Legislature for Vancouver. In 1907 Sir Richard McBride appointed him Attorney General. He initiated the first automobile legislation and pushed for liquor control laws. William was reelected repeatedly as a Conservative by his Vancouver constituents and in 1909-10 he was Minister of Finance. He briefly served as premier of the province, when McBride resigned in December 1915. William served as Leader of the small Official Opposition, and retired from politics in 1924 after losing his Vancouver seat in a general election.

Lorinda died in 1928 after a long illness. Throughout her husband’s career she played a prominent role in the public life of Victoria, and often opened her home for political, social, and philanthropic functions. William lived here until his death in 1933. The Vancouver Island community of Bowser is named for him.


1934-79: Gladys Blanche Irving (b. New Brunswick 1892-1979), Lorinda’s niece, came to Victoria in 1914 and worked for the Canadian Red Cross for many years. Gladys’s sister, Eunice Bowser Weldon (née Irving, b. New Brunswick 1896-1972) lived at 906 Pemberton Rd, Rockland, from 1939-52, then lived here with Gladys from 1952 until her death. The widow of Haliburton Hugh Weldon, who died outside BC by 1947, Eunice came to BC in 1910. She was an active member of the CNIB and honorary president of the White Cane Club.

About 1975, developers offered Gladys a corner suite on the 15th floor of Camosack Manor, now called the Belmont, on top of Terrace Av, the highest building in Victoria. She was delighted with the views, and agreed to sell Buncrana to them. It was strata-titled in the mid-1980s and is now called Bowser Mansion.


• 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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