Heritage Register
Victoria West

1004 Catherine Street

Built 1900
Heritage-Designated 1977

For: Henry Brackman

1004 Catherine


Situated on the rise at the corner of Catherine and Skinner Sts, this cross-gabled house is a landmark in the Catherine St Heritage Conservation Area. This tall, two-storey house is a simple vernacular Queen Anne. It is clad in drop siding on the lower floor and sawtooth shingles on the upper, separated by a flared stringcourse. The Catherine St facade has a two-storey square bay fronted by a small entry porch. There is an angled bay on the first floor on the Skinner side. It has a rubble stone foundation below a wide skirting board.


1900-03: A native of Hamburg, Prussia, Henry “Harry” Brackman (1834-1903) left home at 14 to seek his fortune. He arrived here in 1858 via the San Francisco gold rush of 1849 and Honolulu. In Victoria he opened a branch office of Henry Rhodes’ Hawaiian wholesale firm. He was unsuccessful in the Cariboo gold rush in 1862, so returned to Victoria to work for Janion, Green & Rhodes. In 1870 he tried the Cariboo once again and this time found gold. Harry went home to Prussia, but found too much had changed and returned here. In 1876 he became a Canadian citizen. He was a member of the Pacific Club.

Harry bought a farm in 1875 in North Saanich, opened a hotel and store, and ran a small milling business. He employed David Russell Ker (1862-1923), (1521 and 1524 Shasta Pl, Rockland, 1050-58 Pandora Av, North Park) who became his partner in 1883. Brackman-Ker Milling Co headquarters moved to 150 Government St in Victoria in 1889 and in 1891 its huge mills and warehouse were built at Outer Wharf, James Bay. The company soon had branches, elevators and agencies throughout BC and Western Canada.

When Harry moved to town he lived at the Oriental Hotel on Yates St before moving to Mary St in 1895. In 1900 he built this house for $2,000. A bachelor, Harry employed Martha Maria “Mattie” Black (née Cherry, b. Bowmanville, ON, 1862-1946) as his housekeeper in 1901. She and her eight-year-old daughter Alma “Irene” (1892-) lived with Harry until his death from heart failure. He wintered in California during his last years, hoping to improve his health.

1901-04: Mattie remained in the house. She was the sister of John Cherry (1014 and 1020 Catherine St), a furniture dealer. She married Thomas Black from Toronto in Victoria in 1890. Thomas had many interesting jobs: he was a piano and cabinetmaker, a poultry expert [in 1893 he was superintendent for the BC Poultry, Dog and Pet Stock Exhibition] and a tobacconist in Trounce Alley. In 1893 the Blacks’ house on Old Esquimalt Rd burned to the ground and Thomas disappeared from city directories. Mattie, a dressmaker, worked out of her house on Edward St until she went to work for Harry. She worked as a dressmaker again from her home at 710 Wilson St where she lived from 1906-29 with Irene, who was a stenographer. Mattie took in boarders, including a woman who was also a dressmaker. In 1911 Mattie was listed as a widow for the first time.


Owners: 1904-05: Thomas Arnot Ker (b. New Westminster, 1866-1926), manager of the Outer Wharf mill. He was the son of Robert Ker, once Colonial Treasurer of the Colony of British Columbia, and his wife Jessie, and the brother of David. Arnot Av, north of the Gorge on the site of the original Ker farm in Saanich, is named for him.

1906-14: Chinese businessman Law Doy.
1915-22: Herbert Alfred Lilley (b. ENG, 1859-1922) owned the house as a rental property. Herbert, a bachelor, came to Victoria about 1877. For over 40 years he ran Lilley’s Candy Factory at 1417 Douglas St. Retiring to Crofton in 1919, he died in King’s Daughters’ Hospital, Duncan. His sisters Sarah Janes and Agnes Frances both married Elford family members (1442 Elford St & 1119 Ormond St, Fernwood).

Tenants: 1906-09: E&N roadmaster William S. Newman.
: Capt. David Llewellyn Jones (b. London, ENG, 1872-1937), master mariner, stevedor, and clerk with the Dominion Marine & Fisheries Department, and Rosa Elizabeth (née Sage, b. Nanaimo, BC, 1875-1960) married in Nanaimo in 1897 and had seven children. In 1914 they lived at 740 Mary St, Vic West. David returned to London in the 1920s, was hit by a carriage, and disabled.

1920-26: Frederick Brooks, a printer and saw-filer with the Colonist Printing & Publishing Co.
1929: CPO. William J. Roach, RCN, and his wife Annie B.

1930: Brynmor and Gwendolyn Gwynne from Wales. Brynmor was a clerk and later a terminal supervisor for 30 years with the CNR.
1931: Carpenter Orin Wiley and Elena Beatrice Dixon; Orin was born in Victoria, Elena in Manitoulin Island, ON. Orin was a Point Hope shipwright. 1934-35: Lillian Catherine Fisher, widow of William Fisher, her son William, a porter with the BCCSS, and daughter Annie Lillian. In 1934 Annie married Victor Francis Venn, a salesman from Vancouver. She was living in the brick duplex at 523 Springfield St, Vic West, in 1944.

: Machinist Harold H. Callaway, Lillian M. and sons Gordon and Ronald Victor, who became an Okanagan orchardist.
: Sgt. Marcus Lindsay Carnegie, PPCLI, and his wife Kathleen Madeline, who was born in Brokenhead, MB, and worked as hospital maintenance staff.
1939: the house was duplexed.

1940-49: Cummin Summers (b. Peterhead, SCT, 1898-1978) and Jean (née McNeil). Cummin fished for one year on the coast, then worked as a fitter and machinist at HMC Dockyard.
1940-50: Pte. William Aldridge, PPCLI, his wife May Elsie and their son John Lionel, a mechanic with Blackmore & Carson. William was on WWII active service. After his death in 1947, May worked as a laundress with New Method Laundry.
1951: The house was returned to a single-family residence, but now is again a duplex.


• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume One: Fernwood & Victoria West

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