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Heritage Register
Fernwood

1347 Vining Street
(ex-13, then 1271 Vining St)

Built 1891; moved 1911
Heritage-Designated 1987

For: Charles Post; William Sprinkling

1437 Vining

ARCHITECTURE:

This 1½ storey Homestead house is an example of a workman’s cottage popular in the early 1890s, eg: 2011 Cameron St, Fernwood, and 723 Powderly Av, Vic West. It is front-gabled with brackets under the eaves. The front gable has bracketed returns and shaped, moulded bargeboards, with a spindlework sunburst at its peak. It has fishscale shingles, and stickwork below and between the two upper windows. The wraparound, hip-roofed verandah has chamfered square posts and balusters. Above the entry is a small pedimented gable with cresting. The house is clad in drop siding, with bevelled siding at the basement level. It originally stood on the site of Victoria High School, and was moved in 1911. It was raised and the wraparound verandah was added at that time. Owners Fran Backhouse and Mark Zuehlke have restored the detailing of the front gable and the verandah windows.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

1891: This house was built by carpenter Charles Albert Post (b. Belleville, ON, 1859-1944), who worked for contractor Samuel Gray at the time. Charles, the son of housebuilder/contractor Jason Harnes Post, came to Victoria c.1886, and in 1898 married Nellie McIlmoyle. Charles lived on Vining St beside his parents from 1894-98 and worked as a mechanic. By 1901, he was the foreman moulder in a planing mill.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

Owners: 1893-99: Lucy Shepherd and her husband, farmer William Jefferson Crull married in New Westminster in 1888. Two of their children died in Victoria, Hazel Muriel at 18 months during the 1893 cholera epidemic and Wilfrid at five in the 1896 Point Ellice Bridge disaster.

1900-06: George McMorran (b. Paisley, ON, 1855-1928) and Isabella (née Stark, 1858-1940) met when George worked at her family’s Stark Mills in Paisley. They came to Victoria c.1890, and George managed Robert P. Rithet’s (998 Humboldt St, Fairfield) Royal Oak farm. The McMorrans had a farm on Cedar Hill Rd, and c.1904 had that house moved to 3501 Cedar Hill Rd; it is now a Saanich designated heritage house. Their son George Stark McMorran in 1919 opened a small store at Cordova Bay, then McMorran’s Tea Rooms and the Seaview Room, which the family operated until 2010. His brother Alexander “Wallace” McMorran (1882-1958) paid taxes on this house in 1907-08, and married Elizabeth Jane Laing Whittaker (b. Victoria 1885-1976), daughter of Samuel and Christina Whittaker (1201-03 Yukon St, Fernwood) in 1908. They moved near Kamloops, BC, where Alexander was a ranch manager until retiring in 1944.

1909-10: Realtor Edward J. Martin owned it as rental property. In 1907 Martin built 2411 Wark St (North Park), designed by prominent architect F.M. Rattenbury, where he lived with his wife Maud and sons until 1911.

Tenants: 1902-08: Journalist and editor Lawrence and Belle Macrae. Lawrence was a private secretary when he committed suicide in the BC legislative buildings in 1914.

Owner: 1911: Contractor William Albert “Bert” Sprinkling (b. Victoria. 1891) bought the house and moved it down the hill. He applied to connect it to sewer on April 20th. Bert was the son of William Albert and Margaret Mary Sprinkling who married in Victoria in 1890. [Margaret’s brother Herbert was the City of Victoria Plumbing and Sewer Inspector from 1902-20 (2303 Quadra St, North Park). W.A. Sprinkling Sr. came to BC c.1881. He was a tailor but worked in real estate during the pre-WWI building boom.] At the time of his father’s death in 1936, Bert was living in Michigan.

Owners: 1912-16: The taxes were paid by Mary Ann, wife of Edmund James Parsons, head jailer at the Provincial Goal at First St and Topaz Av. They came to Victoria in 1872. Their son, Capt. Edmund “James” Parsons, and his wife Martha “Matilda” lived in this house. They married in New Westminster in 1907. After working as a jailer, James became a master mariner, then ran one of Victoria’s early automobile hire services from this house. They moved to Vancouver and James was a caretaker for Burrard Boat repairs until 1952; at the end of his life he resided on the Carewant while Martha lived on dry land.

1917-27: Janitor, then post office employee John Harris (1875-1934) and Mabel (née Taylor, 1881-1979) and their son Ernest John Harris (1905-1990). They came from Devon, England, in 1912. Ernest was still living here when he married Fanny “Annabel” Hamilton in Victoria in 1927. He was a City of Victoria fireman and by 1951, a lieutenant with the department. Mabel worked as a live-in maid at the Royal Jubilee Hospital (1900 Fort St, Jubilee) 1938-41. From 1942-51 she lived with Ernest and Annabel. Mabel was a resident of Rose Manor (857 Rupert Tc, Fairfield) when she died.

1927-47: Arthur Souter Steward (b. Dover, ENG, 1888-1980) and Doris Margaret (née Greig, b. Bayford, ENG, 1901-1972) married in Duncan in 1921 and moved to Victoria in 1922. Arthur, a steward for BC Coast Steamship Service (BCCSS), became chief steward in 1939. They moved to 4925 Prospect Lake Rd in Saanich in the late 1940s, and were still there when Doris died. Arthur was living with their daughter Kathleen Houlden in Burnaby when he died.

1948-70: John Richard Bladon (b. Birmingham, ENG, 1886-1961) and Florence (née King, b. Montreal, QC, 1889-1970) came to Victoria in 1948 when John retired as a brass finisher. John came to Canada in 1905; Florence’s parents were English. Florence was found in her home dead from a heart attack in March 1970.

1992-2012: The house is owned by Frances Backhouse, well-known Canadian author on history and the environment. In 1998 she was joined by partner Mark Zuehelke, another well-known Canadian author of military history (The Canadian Battle Series), and a popular mystery series based in Tofino on Vancouver Island’s west coast. They now share in all the joys and tribulations of heritage house rehabilitation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:


• Map of Victoria Heritage Register Properties

• Fernwood History

• Fernwood Heritage Register

• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives

• Before & Afters

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


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