Heritage Register
Victoria West

715 Catherine Street

Built 1896

For: Alfred & Mary Ann Oldershaw

Builder: Alfred Oldershaw

715 Catherine


This is a 1½-storey simple rectangular vernacular labourer’s house, made rather unusually of brick on a stone foundation. During the 1950s the brickwork was covered or parged with stucco inscribed with lines to give the impression of bricks of a deeper red.


Owners: 1896-98: Alfred Oldershaw (b. Stapleford, Notts, ENG, 1840-1898) and Mary Ann (née Steen, b. Monaghan, IRL, 1838-1907) met and married in Chatham, ON, in 1861. The family moved to Vic West in 1875, travelling on the Southern Pacific Railway to San Francisco and then north by ship. They lived in Metchosin in 1881, and were listed as Aldershaw - that spelling in a number of records confuses research on the family. They eventually settled on lot 88 at the corner of Catherine and Edward streets in what was considered the Craigflower Rd area of Esquimalt. The 23 Sept 1876 VDC noted: “Concrete houses - Mr. Oldershaw building one on Craigflower Road.” What is likely a later home, 234 Edward St, still stands on the corner to the north of 715, and was rehabilitated in 2011-12. Alfred, a plasterer and bricklayer, built a grocery store on Catherine St. and ran it until the end of his life. He built this brick house on the south half of lot 88, possibly as a home for his son Bruce and daughter-in-law Bessie. Bruce’s name was on the 1899 property assessment, replacing that of his father who had died in 1898. It is also possible that this house was built as a rental property and that the Oldershaw family never lived in the house.

Alfred and Mary Ann had four daughters: three of the girls settled on other parts of the family property around Vic West. Sarah married at 16 and then twice more. Alfred probably built the brick house at 303 Langford St for her in 1890. Emmeline (1866-1897) married carriage builder Alexander William Semple (1862-1950) in 1885, and they lived at 409 Edward St. He built Semple Hall at 410 Langford St where he produced theatrical shows and events. Letty Ann married John Wesley W. Cherry in 1888. They built 1014 and 1020 Catherine St. Ethelda (1874-1944), married dentist Albert Richard Baker (1872-1941) in 1894, and lived next to Albert’s parents Michael and Joanna Baker on Balmoral Rd. Michael, a brickmaker, carpenter and contractor, built 968 Balmoral Rd (North Park).


Owners: 1899-1906: The Oldershaw’s only son, Alfred “Bruce” Oldershaw (b. Chatham, ON, 1870) apprenticed as a watchmaker and jeweller in New Westminster in 1882-86. He returned to Victoria and worked for various firms, then in 1898 established Ragstad & Oldershaw Ltd on Yates St. Bruce was in business for himself by 1903 and retired in 1944. Bruce was also an accomplished pianist. His wife Grace Elizabeth “Bessie” (née Butcher, b. Washington, USA, 1879-1934) came to Canada in 1898. By 1902 they were living next door at 234 Edward St and with Bruce’s mother Mary Ann. They left Vic West c.1916.

Owners: 1907-11: BCER blacksmith John Thomas “Tom” Skipsey (1864-1937), Francis (née Bulman, 1862-1946), son Joseph and daughter Dora Rutherford. They came to Canada in 1900 from Durham, England. From 1902 they lived in a house nearby on Edward St. Tom had the property connected with the city sewer in 1908. By 1911 they were farming near Alberni on Vancouver Island
1911-16: Elijah Howe Anderson (b. London, ENG, 1841-1928, see 15 South Turner St, James Bay, 1060 Burdett Av, Fairfield) came to Victoria on the Tynemouth in 1862. He immediately opened a variety store at Oriental Alley and Johnson St, outfitting people headed for the Cariboo Gold Rush. By 1867 it was E. Anderson & Co, Clothiers. He also prospected in the Cariboo, and spent considerable time away on business in England. Two commercial buildings which he built downtown still exist and are designated heritage: 565 Johnson St, built 1879, and 567-69 Johnson St, 1890. The latter housed his London House Gents Furnishing Store in the 1890s. Elijah’s son Berkley Howe Anderson lived at 724 Linden Av, Fairfield, from 1929-65.

Tenants: 1896-1903: Catherine St house numbers were not used in the directories until 1908, but it appears that Albert McDonald (b. Wilkesport, ON, 1867-1955) and Elva Jane (née Hodgson, b. Forest, ON, 1867-1973) who came to Victoria in 1891 were the renters. Albert was a tramway motorneer (an old term for tram driver), a teamster, and then a BCER conductor. He was a porter, warehouseman, and then foreman, at Wilson Bros, wholesale grocers, for many years. He retired from his own store, McDonalds Cash Grocer, in 1940.
: Teamster, carpenter and contractor Robert Benjamin and Eva May Kemp, the sister of Maud Bittancourt (502 Catherine St), married in Vancouver in 1904. Eva and Maud’s parents, Eugene and Catherine Whittier, ran the Constance Cove Dairy Farm in Esquimalt.

1912: Thomas John George, a stableman for Silver Spring Brewery on Esquimalt Rd.
1917: Sgt. Herbert Charles Ferrer, RCR, and his wife Florence Mary; Herbert was a painter.
1918: Master mariner William T. and Emma Johnson. He had been a steamboat captain in the Kootenays.

1923: Ernest Warwick and Martha Rose. Ernest was a drover when he joined the CEF in WWI; he was later teamster, then a Commissionaire.
1925-27: E&N machinist Walter Charles and Ethel Ashworth.
: Labourer Cecil August and Dorothy Margaret Johnston. When they married in Victoria in 1925, he was a Pvt. in the PPCLI living at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt. Dorothy, living on Springfield St, was a biscuit maker, probably at Ormond’s on Mary St.

Owners: 1930-2012: For more than eight decades this has been the home of the Kendall family. Stephen Wharfe Kendall (1882-1966) and Mary (née Smith, 1882-1966) came from England to Victoria in 1911. Stephen worked as a labourer, a salesman for Arthur C. Gardiner, a grocer at 810 Catherine, and then as a gardener at Work Point Barracks. Mary was a member of St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Daughters of St. George and Daughters of England. Stephen and Mary moved to 617 Catherine St in 1946.

Their son Basil Richard Kendall (1912-1980) and Bernice Regina “Bette” (née Barker 1912-1987) then lived here. Basil was a salesman for Mac & Mac & Prior (620 St. Charles, Rockland), a driver for Florence’s Hygenic Bakery, and a City of Victoria fireman. His son Kenneth N. Kendall and his wife Linda lived at 715 for several decades. It is now the home of the fourth generation family member Kirk Kendall.


• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

• Royal BC Museum Archives

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

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