Heritage Register
Victoria West

923 Catherine Street (ex-913 Catherine St)

Built 1908-09
Heritage Covenant 1992

For: Arthur & Margaret Walter

Architect: attributed to A. Maxwell Muir
Builder: Wiliam M. Ross

923 Catherine


See 917 Catherine St for a description of this house. This house appears with 929 Catherine St on one plumbing permit. The Walter family built them as rental properties and owned them for many years.


Arthur Walter (1849-1929) was born in Bristol, England. He trained as a marine engineer and worked for some time in Japan. On his way back to England in the 1880s, he passed through BC and decided to settle on Salt Spring Island where he took up farming. He married Margaret “Maggie” Shaw (1863-1954) in Nanaimo in 1888. Maggie came with her family from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1877. As Maggie explained in a book she published in 1946, Early Days Among the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, her uncle, who lived in Ganges Bay on Salt Spring, “had written home such glowing accounts of the new country, its propects and opportunities, advising us frequently to come out and perhaps take up land for ourselves.” Her family took him at his word and turned up totally unannounced very early one morning. They got a bigger surprise than her uncle did. “The house was a one-room cottage with a little verandah...(and) a sort of hut for the transient occupant...among the 160 acres of forest there was perhaps one of roughly cleared land - no fencing, no crops or garden...”

However, the Shaws stayed and settled on Galiano Island. They rowed to Salt Spring to attend church and this was where Maggie met Arthur. Their farm was in the mid-west area of Salt Spring, and in 1895 they were one of the three largest landowners. In 1917 they moved to the Saanich Peninsula, where Arthur died twelve years later. The properties on Catherine St were inherited by their son Dr. Arthur Brittain Walter (b.1889), who was living in NB. Maggie was living with her daughter Mary (1890-1983) in Oak Bay when she died. Mary worked in the federal immigration department.


Tenants: 1910-11: BCER streetcar motorman James Prentrice and Catherine Kay Torrance came to Canada from Scotland in 1907. 1912-16: William Burns and Elizabeth Jane “Kitty” Roe, from Glasgow, Scotland and Hartlepool, England, married in Vancouver in 1910. William was 2nd engineer on the BCCSS SS Princess Alice and SS Princess Victoria, then chief engineer on the Otter.
: BCER motorman Charles Hampton and Fanny Naomi Smith then moved to Esquimalt. [Charles Smith was an Esquimalt Councillor in 1925-31, 1944-45 and 1947-49.]

1921-23: Fisherman and labourer Jonas and Pearl Edwards from Newfoundland married in North Vancouver in 1916.
: Benjamin B. Bowman, a chauffeur and then a driver for Mackie & Gillespie. 1928: Widow Alice Poirier and her daughters Marguerite Gertrude and May B. Alice, born in Sooke, had married Sooke logger, sealer and labourer James Poirier in 1915, but he died the same year. 1929: Master mariner Berton Miller Balcom from Halifax married divorcée Daisy Pettman Smith in Vancouver in 1908. They later lived on Harbledown Island.

1931: Painter and decorator George and Nettie Elizabeth Pirie came to Canada in 1887 from Scotland and Michigan, and to Victoria c.1900. George was a sign writer and in 1920 worked for Harbour Marine Co. 1933-34: Electrician Walter William and Florence Ivernia Hawes married in Victoria in 1931. Florence was a packer at Ormond’s Biscuits.
: Neville “Buck” Taylor, RCN, and his wife Catherine Theresa “Kay” married in 1932. Buck came to Canada from England at 18 and served as a steward, then a printer.

1940-44: Arthur Geoffrey and Minnie Dickinson. Arthur was a bargeman, then a shipper for Brays Transfer and CP Transport.
: Victoria fireman Ernest and Emily Jane “Mike” Bennett were both born in Victoria in 1901 and married here in 1922.

1951-63: BC Land & Investment Agency assistant accountant Hubert B. and Vivien C. Smith.


• 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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