117 Oswego Street (ex-104 Oswego St)
For: George & Mary Maidment
Builder: attributed to George Maidment
117 Oswego is one of two remaining simple Victorian workers’ cottages where a row of three once stood on the north lot 24. 121 Oswego was demolished in 1970. The Fire Insurance Map of 1903-07 shows that the three houses were virtually identical in size, shape and footprint, but 121 had a full-width front porch. 117 and 119 Oswego St are of a type once common throughout James Bay, of which few still exist in their original condition. The exterior is clad in 1x6 drop siding nailed with square nails. All windows of the main house body are one-over-one and double-hung. The scrollsawn bargeboards, window aprons and caps are of a style virtually unknown after 1900. The interior has bulls’ eyes and four-bead decorative casings around all the front parlour doors and windows. The central chimney is a hanging-style chimney, again a rare feature.
Carpenter and builder George Maidment built the three houses in 1892. The Maidments lived here until 1895. George, a native of Dorset, and Mary, of Kent, England, came to Canada in 1871 and Victoria c.1889. Mary died in 1903 at 72, George in 1916 at 76.
From 1896 until 1900, the Strawberry Vale Syndicate owned the house. Isabella (McLean) McGavin, widow of George, owned it as rental property in 1904-08 and 1911-12. She lived with her daughter and son-in-law Francis and William Clack at 106 Oswego, now 115. Isabella, born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1841, came to Canada c.1890, likely with George. She came here in 1900, likely as a widow. The 1901 census says that Isabella was a grocer. She died in 1917 at 79.
Ellen Gilles (Deans), widow of Charles Chester Fox, rented the house from 1901-11. Ellen, born in Victoria in 1855, married New York-born Charles in 1879. He was a milkman, then a hotelkeeper by the late 1890s. Ellen was listed as a widow in the 1901 census, but Charles was still alive in 1911. Ellen moved to 221 Howe St in 1912, and their daughter Minnie married Malcolm Blackstock of 251 Howe St, Fairfield, in 1914. Ellen died in 1922 aged 67 and was buried in Ross Bay Cemetery; Charles was not.
Mary (Greenhalgh) and John Ranns, who lived in Esquimalt, owned this as rental property from 1913 until at least 1916. John was born in London, England, in 1871, Mary in Lancashire in 1876. They came to Victoria in 1900. John was a general labourer. In 1921, a rare double wedding ceremony was held at St Paul’s Church in Esquimalt for daughters Mary and Rose to Chester Middleditch and Capt. Archibald Henderson. John died in 1925 at 54. Mary remarried in 1927 to James Quinn, a retired skipper. Mary was an IODE standard-bearer and involved with the Naval Veterans. She died in 1948 at 71.
Andrew and Dolly (Leckie) Durham lived here from 1927-c.1930. Andrew, a general labourer born in Scotland, married Dolly, a native of England, in 1922. Martha Dolly, as she was also known, died in 1981 at 79.
Rosalie Norman lived here from 1931-34. Rose Gildermeister was born in Ottawa in 1888 and came here soon after. She married Joseph Norman, a fireman, in 1907. After serving overseas in WWI, Joseph was a millwright from 1924-34. Rose died in 1949.
John Rolleston, a well-digger, and Edith (Westlake) Martin next lived here. They came here from England in 1918 and were married in 1919. Edith died in 1955 at 76. John still lived in the house when he died in 1961 aged 84.
In 1990 owners Mikal Williams and Melinda Seyler won a Hallmark Society Award for their restoration of this house. They later bought 119 Oswego St and restored it as well.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:
• James Bay History
• James Bay Heritage Register
• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives
• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Two: James Bay