Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Come See Victoria Walking Tour

Victoria has many incredible historic buildings downtown within a few blocks of each other.

Dave Mason has a great little business Come See Victoria and with our friends Lorne and Gail Booth we spent two plus hours together.

We learned about some colourful architects, like Francis Rattenbury, who left his mark on this city.  He did mostly commercial buildings... and Samuel MacLure, who was another self taught architect in the same era who specialized mostly in residential.

Dave had a portfolio of historic photos to help us see what things looked like over 100 years ago. The picture above is an ornamental decorated toilet designed by Rattenbury.

At the age of 25 he won the contest to design the BC Legislative Building... beating out 65 other well educated and more experienced architects.  How did he do it when he was so young and had no formal architects training?

After his first commission in Victoria Rattenbury road the wave with many new assignments... not the least of which was the Empress Hotel.

Just under the top dormers is a balcony with a quatrefoil design under the handrail.  WE saw a lot of this on our Europe trip.

This statue of the colourful artist Emile Carr sits on the corner across from the BC Museum... with the Empress in the background.

Walking along Front Street is a block with three iron front buildings.

Details in cast iron...

are attached to I-beam columns.  With a steel column structure they could use any kind of material to fill in the walls between the columns... masonry or wood with stucco.

Ornaments were simply riveted to the columns.

The P. Donahue Union Iron Works, San Francisco California... 1961 provided the steel structure and ornaments.

We walked into the foyer of the middle of the three iron front buildings... which is the Rithet Building.  During the restoration process, they uncovered the original Fort of Victoria water well, complete with mechanical pump. So they enhanced it... turning it into a fountain feature in the lobby. Pretty cool!

In the lobby of the Rithet Building are some placards about the early Victoria history.  In the centre of the sketch is one of the three octagonal three-story Bastions.  Dave pointed out where he thought we were in the Rithet Building.

This double row of bricks show where the north of Fort Victoria once stood.

The Hudson's Bay Company had a big influence on the early days of Fort Victoria.

And it still is here 343 years later.  This plaque is on the Bay story on Government Street and Fort 'Street.

There is a lot history in 343 years.  Here is a website full of interesting history on the early days of the Hudson's Bay Company.

This Dominion Custom House may have been the  the first Federal building built after the confederation of Canada in 1871.  Built in 1874-75 it had a flat roof which they used to look out over the harbour and anticipate how much customs they might be collecting that day.

This tower on Government Street was part of Fort Victoria.

This red brick building was one of Samuel MacLure's designs... done originally for Robert Ward.

The Temple Building shows the tightness and careful small details the MacLure was known for.  Very clean look done in the Chicago School style.

The Maritime Museum is currently in the original Law Courts building.

The Windsor Hotel is the oldest building in Victoria.  Originally a brick building, likely some Englishman thought it would look better in tudor style.

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