Heritage Register
Victoria West

303 Mary Street

Built 1897

For: Jane & James Leigh

Designer/Builder: James Leigh & Sons

303 Mary


With its steeply-pitched hipped roof and cross gables, this cottage is typical of the Queen Anne style. Eaves brackets rest on a millwork cornice. There are two cutaway, bracketed bays on the front and left side, with Queen Anne glass in both central windows, as well as in the piano window on the left. A through-the-roof wall dormer on the right side has a small balcony. The inset corner front porch is very decorative, with turned posts and pilasters. The frieze of turned spindles rests above ornate brackets with drop finials between the posts and pilasters. Decorative shingles in the gables, drop siding on the body, and shingles on the foundation clad the house. The house is a major element in the Mary & Robert Sts heritage cluster.


1897-98: Jane (b. WAL, 1829-1910) and James Leigh (b. Canon Pyon, Hereford, ENG, c.1826-1898) emigrated to New York then Ontario in 1852. They came to Victoria in 1889 and lived first at 14 Rock Bay Av with their offspring: Albert returned to Ontario to manage their Toronto concerns; mechanic Byron Victor drowned at Point Ellice sawmill; Alice Jane Mary (b. Pontypool, ON, 1859-1943) married Capt. James Warren Gidley (b. Copper Harbor, MI, 1856-1947) in 1900; John “Lewellyn” (b. Pontypool, ON, 1862) married Laura Esther Lepage (b. Guernsey c.1867) in 1894; and Sidney Minton married Annie Charlotte Mason in 1894.

James was a machinist and established mills at Kingston, Belleville, Port Hope and Newcastle, and a foundry in Durham county, Ontario. In Victoria James and his sons became builders and opened a sawmill on Pleasant St in 1890, which later became Point Ellice Saw & Planing Mills. The name of James Leigh & Sons continued after his death under Llewellyn, Sidney and their sons. Llewellyn’s son Victor Llewellyn Leigh, a prominent Victoria contractor in the 1930s-64, was a strong advocate for low-cost housing, and president of the Victoria Builders’ Exchange in the 1940s-50s, and a chairman of the Canadian Construction Association. Victor built the replicas of William Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage at the Olde England Inn in Esquimalt in 1959.


1898-1901: After James died, Llewellyn, Laura, and their three children lived here with Jane.
: Jane Leigh lived with Alice and James Gidley, who moved into 303 Mary. Jane’s funeral cortege proceeded from the house to Ross Bay Cemetery. The Gidleys then moved out as the house was owned by Jane’s estate. Alice was a music teacher and the first organist at Victoria West Methodist Church. She was a member of the WCTU, WMS and Red Cross Society. James came to Canada in 1861 and Victoria in 1898. He was a master mariner, ship builder, and designed and built several houses, including 808 Russell St for Dr. Melbourne and Leona Raynor in 1911 (see Vic West history). James was a member of AF&AM. When James died he was residing in the Lebanon Nursing Home at 1270 Yates St, Fernwood.

Owner: 1913-16: Ah Jim (b. China, c.1843-1923) had a laundry at 1007 Douglas St.
Tenants: 1912
: Widower William Francis Henry Thompson, district manager of Manufacturers Life Insurance Co, married divorcée Anna Minna Engelhardt in 1912.
: Robertson Iron Works steam engineer Frederick William and Alice Elizabeth Buck, both from London, England, married in 1912.
1914-15: Silver Spring brewer Victor Fahrmbacher.

1915-18: Telephone supervisor Isobel Brown McIndoe (née Pilmer, b. Leith, SCT, 1894-1972), whose husband, timekeeper William Angus McIndoe (b. Dunbarton, SCT, 1879-1945), was on WWI active service. They married in Victoria in 1914 and William signed up with the CEF in November 1915. He had served in the 1st Regiment Scottish Horse in South Africa during the Boer War. His brother, City Engineers Department head timekeeper James and Ethel Melina McIndoe, also married in 1914 and lived at 310 Mary St.

: Shipwright and steam fitter Thomas Edward and Louise Marion Sullivan, and Louise’s parents, stationary engineer Leonard and Sarah Walton (b. Kent, ENG, 1859-1920). The Waltons were in Victoria by 1891, when Leonard was an unemployed brick and tile maker. Thomas and Louise married in Victoria in 1906.
: John W. Griffiths, bookkeeper for Albion Iron Works.
: VMD boilermaker Loren/Lorne Libbie and Catherine Guptill were residents of Port Blakeley on Bainbridge Island, WA, when they married in Victoria in 1901.

1926-58: Self-employed carpenter and cabinet maker Herbert “Bert” Elesmore (b. West Bromich, ENG, 1879-1958) and Edith Harriet (née Ryland, b. Handsworth, ENG, 1878-1954) lived in the house until their deaths. Their offspring: Doris Irene was a telephone operator before her marriage; George Herbert died of nephritis in 1917 aged 10; and Frank (b. Victoria, 1910-1950), an auto painter for 20 years, who remained single and resided with his parents until his death.


• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

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

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