Heritage Register
Victoria West

505-07 Springfield Street

Built c. 1889
Heritage-Designated 2001

For: Jane Russell; Anne & Henry Fairall

Builders: attributed to Henry Fairall & Sons

505-07 Springfield


This is a two-storey Victorian semi-detached brick townhouse. This English-style duplex is similar to the later duplex at 521-523 Springfield St. They are two of the very few early purpose-built duplexes in Victoria. The front upper storey has two tall sash windows per side. The two gable-roofed porches on the lower floor are separated by a deep pent roof over two angled bays. The small porches each have three arches and a balustrade, all of which have been stuccoed. The front lower floor has been stuccoed over the brick. A wooden shed has been added on the right side. There is a full-width, single-storey, flat-roofed brick extension across the rear.


1864-93: Robert “John” Russell (b. Edinburgh, SCT, 1832-1903) came to Victoria with his first wife on the third voyage of the Norman Morison in 1853. He was a Hudson’s Bay Co employee. Aboard the ship was machinery for a mill, and John was put in charge of the mill. After 10 years, John left the HBC and worked briefly as a blacksmith. In 1864 he bought Section 31, 103.5 acres, from the HBC and became the original developer of Victoria West, first subdividing some of his property in 1879. He sold part to Robert Dunsmuir for the E&N Railway line. Russell Station, servicing Vic West, was built on this property.

The area on which 505-507 was built was divided by John into lots and called Springfield Estates, after his family home, Springfield, at the foot of what is now Russell St. He served as a Victoria City Councillor in 1869-70. In 1874 the widowed John married Jane Theresa Swyney/Sweeny (b. Bruff, Co Limerick, IRL, 1843-1897). John and Jane both died of bronchial pneumonia. Their only son, Robert John, died in 1905 of tuberculosis in Phoenix, AZ, but was buried with his parents in Ross Bay Cemetery.

: Annie (née Wallis, 1849-1931) and Henry Smith Fairall (1844-1903) were born in Ryde and married in Newport, Isle of Wight, England, in 1869. This duplex is probably the brick residence they built in 1889: VDC, 1 Jan 1890: “Building Operations for ‘89: Victoria West: H.S. Fairall, brick residence, $2,700.” They leased the land from John Russell until 1893, when Annie Fairall’s name enters the assessment records.

The Fairalls emigrated to Orillia, ON, in 1881, where Henry established Fairall’s Brewery. Coming to Victoria in 1888, he founded the E&N Brewery south of Esquimalt Rd in Lime Bay. From 1890-93 he ran it with Alfred N. Barry. Henry bought Barry out in 1893, then sold it in July 1894 to O’Brien & Varrelman who named it Excelsior Brewery. By 1895, Henry’s sons James “Jim”, Henry Jr and William “Bill” were all working for Excelsior. Henry bought it back in 1897 and called it Anglo-Candian Brewing Co till 1900, then Fairall’s Brewery until 1903. Bill ran Fairall’s Aerated Water Works on Esquimalt Rd for some time. After Henry Sr’s death, Henry Jr, Bill and their brother Charles became partners as Fairall Brothers Brewers & Soda Works. In 1908 it was taken over by Silver Springs Brewery (see Vic West History).

The Fairalls also built a public hall in 1893. Jim built Annie a new house at 835 Esquimalt Rd in 1909. Henry was a member of AF&AM, and Annie of Eastern Star. She lived with her children until her death at 81. Charles and his wife Mary Emily lived at 835 Esquimalt Rd from 1912 until their deaths in the 1960s.


505 Occupants: 1904-12 & 1920-48: James Fairall (b. Ryde, 1872-1963) and Lucy Ann (née Milton, b. ENG, 1880-1911), five children and his mother. A prolific building contractor, Jim was responsible for most of the houses built in 1911-12 on Alma Pl in James Bay (331 Michigan St), and many others. Jim was also a brewery designer and builder, and established the Esquimalt Brewing Co on Viewfield Rd in Esquimalt in 1914 with W.T. Hagen. They produced “large ale” or lager beer, but in January 1916 the brewery exploded and burned to the ground, some thought at the hands of their rivals. In 1912 Jim married Lillian Annie (née Brown, b. Victoria, 1890-1968) and they lived in Oak Bay for some time. They had another six children and moved back into 505 from 1920-48. Jim was a member of Gorge Vale Golf Club, a hunter and fisherman.

1913-14: Silver Spring Brewery chief engineer Leopold and Kate Christie Vivian married in Victoria in 1908. Leopold retired in 1938.
1949-67: Canadian government security guard John George “Alvin” Mertz (b. Wellesley, ON, 1885-1969) and Edith Elizabeth (née Winter, b. Uxbridge, ENG, 1885-1970) came to Victoria in 1945. Alvin retired in 1956.

507 Occupants: 1905-09: Brewer William “Bill” Fairall (b. Ryde, 1877-1955) and Alice Jane (née Simpson, b. North Saanich, 1882-1937) married in 1905. They then resided at 508 Springfield from 1910 until their deaths.
1910-17: Henry and Annie’s daughter Ellen “Nellie” Fairall (b. Orillia 1885-1969) and her husband, Robert Thomas Holland Owen (b. Liverpool, ENG, 1872-1957), a clerk with Victoria Gas Co and BC Electric Co.
1918-20: Cook and labourer Thomas and Eleanor Lottie Holding married in Victoria in 1913.

1920-23: Painter George Storey and Jean “Jeannie” Bailey.
1923-31: Mabel Susan “May” Coldwell (née Brown, b. Chatham, Kent, ENG, 1876-1957), widow of printer George Alexander Coldwell (b. Red River Settlement, MB, 1865-1922), who had married in Victoria in 1896, and their daughters Henrietta Eva Lillian “Rita”, Zeno Marjorie Gladys and Doris Margaret. Rita and Zeno were packers at Ormond’s Biscuits, wholesale confectioners & biscuit manufacturers, 242 Mary St, one of Vic West’s main employers, particularly of the young. Chocolate-dipper Zeno married moulder Samuel Arthur Emery. All three of Mabel and George’s sons signed up for WWI, each claiming to be older than they were: Veteran’s Club steward James Morgan, postman Clarence Herbert and printer Frederick William.

1932-46: Stoker William Francis Heber Aldred, RCN, (b. Cornwall, ENG, 1903-1970) and his wife Sadie Mae (née Mugford). William came to Canada in 1918 and Victoria in 1928; he was on active service during WWII.
1947-48: VMD joiner and building carpenter Joseph Robert and Emily Ethel Bradley.


• Vic West History

• Vic West Heritage Register

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

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