Heritage Register
Victoria West

1109 Catherine Street
Rose Cottage

Built 1890; 1905
Heritage-Designated 1976
Interiors Designated 2007

For: Capt. William & Julia Holmes;
Henry & Grace Siebenbaum

Architects: 1905: attributed to Thomas Hooper & C. Elwood Watkins

1109 Catherine


Rose Cottage
is a vernacular Queen Anne house. In 1905 the Siebenbaums doubled the width of their main rooms by adding a second bay on the main floor and an upper balcony on top of the now double bay. The upper balcony consists of round columns supporting heavy shingled arch and gable, and large brackets under the bargeboards. There was originally a two-storey carriage house at the back of the property. It is thought the architect was C. Elwood Watkins of Hooper and Watkins, son-in-law of the Nisbets next door.

Using historic photographs, current owners Margaret Narain and Susan Nickum replicated the original corbelled chimneys, cresting, and finials. The porch and fence were also restored. In 1988 they won a Hallmark Society Award for the exterior restoration. Their painstaking restoration of the interior rooms included stripping the painted woodwork, reopening the upstairs bedroom / sitting room and restoring both 1890 fireplaces. In 2007 Margaret and Susan asked for interior designation of the stairwell and all the woodwork. With the City’s permission, a Victorian-style conservatory has been added. A period-style woodshed has been built on the footings of the original carriage house. Over the past 34 years the owners have also developed many Edwardian garden rooms around the property.


Owners: 1890-99: Capt. William E. Holmes (c.1856-1901), marine engineer, master mariner, docker and longshoreman built the house for $1500 (VDC, 1 Jan 1891). There is some confusion about the Holmes family from various documentary sources, but this Capt. Holmes likely ran the tugboat Hope for Sayward Mill Co. He was born in Sweden, came to Philadelphia when young, then out west to Puget Sound and up to Victoria. His brother Charles, a mail clerk and printer with the Daily Colonist, lived with Capt. Holmes and his wife in 1891-94. William was listed at Rose Cottage in the 1898 voters’ list because he still owned the property, but assessments show his address as Esquimalt from 1897. The city directory lists him as proprietor of Victoria Gardens on Gorge Rd.


Tenant: 1897-99
: photographic artist William Gourlie (Gourley) Blackie rented it as his home; his relative and assistant Miss E.M. Blackie also lived here. His studio was on Mary St at Esquimalt Rd from 1895-1899. Three of his photos in the Glenbow Archives, Calgary, indicate that he was travelling around Alberta from 1890-94. BC Archives has identified 11 of his photos in their collection.

Owner: 1900-42: Henry Siebenbaum (b. Schinkel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, 1859-1942) bought Rose Cottage from Holmes. Siebenbaum landed at Castle Fort, now Battery Park, NY, in 1887. He came to Canada in 1893 from Port Townsend, WA, where he had profitable real estate investments. Henry ran the Teutonia Saloon at 112 Yates St and lived at Delmonico’s Hotel. In 1897 he took a shipment of supplies and liquor up to Skagway for the Alaskan-Yukon gold rush. He sold everything quickly but had to wait for passage back to Victoria and was relieved to get back with his $20,000. By 1899 he owned the Palace Saloon at Yates and Government Sts, in the Adelphi Building. In 1902 he built the two-storey building next door at 1306 Government St, downtown, for $3,000.

The 1901 Census lists Siebenbaum with a live-in unmarried housekeeper, Clarys George and ten-year-old Thomas Holme, who both came from the USA in 1897: he may have been her son. About 1902 Henry married Grace Evelyn (Evangalin) (née Shea, b. Albany, NY, 1874-1913), who came to Victoria about 1897.

Henry bought several items from the 1909 Dunsmuir family auction at Craigdarroch Castle: his descendants still own the dining table and chairs. Henry’s saloon was ruined in 1915, in the attacks on German businesses after the sinking of the Lusitania. However, his investment income lasted him until his death. A niece remembers visiting Henry in the 1930s and recalls that “the house was dark with heavy draperies pulled. He mostly lived in the kitchen. I never saw his bedroom. He had the entire yard in dirt paths between flowers, plants and vegetables. He was a first in drying food, putting it in the oven on trays. Grandmother always told me ‘Now, we’re not going to eat anything at his house’.” Henry was a hiker and hunter, and back-packed up into the Olympics. He loved fine cigars, classical music, art and good books. He was a member of FOE, Aerie No.12, and of AOF.

1943: Florence Mary Courville, whose husband Joseph Leopold was on WWII active service. They lived at 1020 Catherine St in 1938-41.
1944-46: Alice and Thomas Wallace, a labourer at Cameron Lumber Co. 1947-49: Wilson Motors janitor Herbert Briton and Ethel Hanna Shea and their daughter Pearl, a clerk at New Method Laundry; they came to Victoria in 1942.

1950-53: James Campbell McKinnon and Amy Mary Turner. James was a cut-off manager at Drysdale Sash & Door Co and a general labourer.


• 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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