Heritage Register
Victoria West

516-18-20 Selkirk Street
(ex-517, 518 Selkirk St.)

Built 1910
Heritage-Designated 1999

For: Thomas & Florence Brown

Architect: C. Elwood Watkins

516-18-20 Selkirk


This steeply front-gabled, shingled, side-dormered house, part of the Selkirk Cluster of heritage houses, is an excellent example of the Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts. A similar house at 1127 Catherine St, Vic West, (see for details) was designed by the same architect for the same owners. It is interesting to compare their second-storey front balconies with those on 1109 Catherine St, Vic West, 110 Medana St, James Bay, and 647 Niagara St, James Bay, also designed by Watkins. The front verandah, while similar to 1127 Catherine, differs in that these piers are stone, supporting six columns. It originally had sawn balusters that echoed those of the upper balcony. The front of this house is 1½ storeys. The rear is 2½, as the property slopes down to the Gorge. The upper rear balcony is identical to the front. The rear main floor inset verandah, now enclosed, was full width with paired and tripled columns. The centre of the verandah has sawn balusters, the rest is shingled. Beneath that is an inset basement entrance. There is a shallow box bay on the right side set on seven heavy brackets, a pair on either end and three in the centre.


1910-24: The house was built for Thomas & Florence Brown. The architect C. Elwood Watkins was Florence Brown’s brother-in-law. The Browns moved here from 1127 Catherine (see for family information) in 1910, then in 1924 moved into 1115 Catherine St to look after Florence’s parents, Philip & Catherine Nisbet.


1925: Great West Life agent John Henry and Beatrice Mary Croft came to Victoria in 1922; John sold insurance until two days before he died.
1927-28: Dental mechanic Arthur Sidney and Sophia Elizabeth Fallows; Arthur was a farmer before he came to Canada in 1912.
1929: BCCSS, then CPR BCCS Chief Steward George Wallace and Mary Rebecca Woolett married in Victoria in 1900. Their sons Herbert George and Archibald, both clerks, lived with them. Herbert became a purser with CPR BCCS but died at 46 of leukemia. His mother lived to age 101.

1930-32: Maj. James Alexander Murray, RCAMC, and his wife Vida Hilda; James’s widowed mother, Jane, lived with them.
1933: Maj. Gordon B. Howard, RCOC, and his wife Ada E.B.
1934-36: John Sanderson Dee (b. Victoria, 1890-1959), elementary school principal, and Eugenia Emily (née Hill, b. Moosemin, SK, 1901-1970) married in Victoria in 1920; at that time Eugenia was working as a housekeeper in Ucluelet, BC, and John was a shipper living and working for Canadian Explosives Ltd on James Island.

1937-39: Lumberman Frank William and Elsie Kathleen Wilfert were married in 1923 in Cumberland, BC. Frank was a lumberman in Campbell River, and Elsie worked as a housekeeper in Heriot Bay, BC. They moved to Nanaimo, where Frank was a developer with Nanaimo Realty.

1941-44: Cameron Lumber employee and shipwright Andrew Marius Brenden (b. Mosjsen, Norway, 1898-1988) and Dorothy Byrnice.

1945-53: Capt. Frederick James Douglas Warren (b. Victoria 1888-1955) and Violet Evelyn (née Horton, b. Moodyville, BC, 1893-1979) married in Victoria in 1915. [Note: Fred’s father Frederick James Warren (b. Victoria, 1864-1935) and grandfather James Douglas Warren (b. PEI, 1837-1917) were both master mariners, and two of Fred’s sons became captains. In 1877 Capt. James Warren bought the Beaver from HBC and eventually owned a fleet of seven sealing schooners.]

Fred Warren became a master mariner in 1918. About 1928 Fred and Violet started the Warren Tug Co, eventually acquiring three tugs. Violet was the dispatcher and all five of their sons entered the business. In 1953 the Warrens won the bid for the Gray estate at 1135 Catherine St, Vic West, and moved into that house. Violet sold 1135 Catherine to the City of Victoria in 1974 and lived her last years in Chemainus, dying in Ladysmith. She was buried with her husband in Colwood Burial Park.


• 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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