Heritage Register
Victoria West

723 Powderly Avenue

Built c. 1892

For: Malcolm Dunnett

Builders: Malcolm Dummett & William Williamson

723 Powderly


This is a 1½-storey vernacular Homestead House, which was a builder’s standard of the day. An archival photo found since the 2004 edition of this book reveals that there were originally finials on the lower gable ends and probably at the peaks as well. The upper portion of this steep gable is pedimented and decorated with a variety of shingle styles. There are two windows below the pediment. There is a square glassed-in bay to the left of the porch below an offset, shallow hipped roof (compare with 1441 Gladstone Av, Fernwood). There is one turned post on the corner of the porch with brackets supporting a spindlework frieze (see 631 Pine St, Vic West). The cresting and diamond-shaped shingles on the verandah roof have been removed. Two narrow windows on the left side have been widened by adding a window between them. The body of the house is clad in drop siding.


1892-1901: Malcolm Dunnett (b. Wick, SCT, 1860-1918) and Jessie (née Skinner, b. Cromarty, SCT, 1873-1957) married in New Westminster in 1894. Ship carpenters Dunnett and William John Williamson (b. North Yell, Shetland Isd, SCT, 1865-1938) built this house for Dunnett and 725 Powderley next door for Williamson. William first boarded on Powderly with John and Wilhemina Clark, then married their daughter Wilhemina “Minnie” Clark (b. Shetland Islands, SCT, 1867-1921) in 1894. Malcolm spent some time working on river boats in the Yukon during the gold rush. The Williamsons in 1899, and the Dunnetts and Clarks in 1901, all moved to Tyndall Av in Gordon Head to become farmers, but Malcolm and William still worked as shipwrights in Vic West for some time. When Malcolm died, William and Andrew Strachan (215 Wilson St, Vic West) were among his pallbearers. Dunnett St in Gordon Head commemorates the family.


Owner: 1901-05: Henry Emanuel Levy (b. Wellington, NZ, 1843-1929) came to San Francisco with his parents in 1849, and Victoria in 1859. He was a member of the Merchant Police and a fireman with the Tiger Engine Co. He then took part in the Leech River gold rush near Sooke in 1863. In 1865 he opened the Arcade Oyster Saloon on Government St; later as Levy’s Restaurant, it served full meals 24 hours a day, and was renowned up and down the West Coast. It was later run by son Arthur (2667 Empire St, Oaklands) until 1914. In 1870 Henry moved to Seattle and began the Seattle Soda Works with his brother Joseph, who ran the Victoria business. He also had interests in salting salmon, particularly at Point Roberts, and growing hops: for several years he employed 1,200-1,500 Vancouver Island natives to pick hops near Snoqualmie Falls, WA. From 1882 he ran excursions from Seattle to Victoria for the May 24 weekend, to see the Native Indian boat races on the Gorge and the sham battles in Beacon Hill Park. When the 1889 Seattle fire destroyed the business there, Henry moved with his wife Eva Rostein (they came to Victoria for their wedding trip in 1882) and two sons back to Victoria. He went into property development, at one time owning 52 houses. Levy, who was Jewish but listed as an Unbeliever in the 1901 census, was described as a Retired Capitalist on his death certificate in 1929.

Owner: 1906: John Raffell Saunders came to Victoria from Plymouth, ENG, in 1892; a bachelor, he was Esquimalt’s Reeve in 1913-14. He was a BCER streetcar operator, then Esquimalt Waterworks rate collector. He went into partnership with William J. Cave selling real estate and insurance at 1003 Langley St until 1942. Saunders built the first frame house on the Brentwood waterfront in 1911 on Saunders Lane, just above Gilbert’s Boathouse.

Tenants: 1902-03: William Nicolson, mattress maker at Weiler Bros.
1904-08: Ship carpenter Edward Mercer (b. Bay Roberts, Nfld, 1864-1954) and Delilah “Della” (née French, b. Bay Roberts, Nfld, 1875-1959) came west in 1894. Edward worked for the CPR at Arran and Kootenay Lakes, then in 1898 went to the Yukon gold rush. They came to Esquimalt c.1902 and Edward worked at the graving dock until 1908. Edward and Della moved to New Westminster and with his brother William founded the Star Shipyard on Lulu Island. In 1927 their sons William Edward “Arthur” and Gordon Archibald bought out William’s shares and it continued as a family business until 1970.

Owners: 1909-34: James Arthur McLaren (b. Glasgow, SCT, 1865-1934), a carpenter with BC Pottery Works, and Alice Mary (née Bellamy, b. Victoria, 1868-1952). James came to Victoria in 1894, and was listed as a mining engineer on his death certificate. [Note: Alice’s father was Dr. George Bellamy, RN, Resident Surgeon at the Royal Naval Hospital, Esquimalt, 1867-69. He then settled in Victoria with his family and opened a private practice.] Alice Bellamy attended Craigflower School in 1871. After James died she married returned soldier Frederick Carmichael Graham.

1935-38: After James’ death, the McLarens’ daughter Alice “Maude” (b. Victoria, 1901) and her husband, Metropolitan Life agent Cecil Lynn Ross (b. Moose Jaw, NWT, 1899-1981) lived here. When they married in 1924, Alice was a stenographer and Cecil a druggist.

1939-82: Alice Ross’s brother, Monteith Bellamy McLaren (b. Victoria, 1900-1982) and Mabel Frances Marie (née Merrifield, b. Seattle, WA, 1907-1986) married in 1925. Monty was a deckhand with Canada Western Cooperage, and later a federal civil servant at Naden.


• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

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

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