247 Oswego Street (ex-54, then 407 Oswego St)
For: Augustus & Jennie Warren
The Warren house is a good example of the late Victorian Queen Anne cottage. It illustrates the shift from “historic” associations (as with the Italianate) to a more contemporary and “local” expression of the decorative capabilities of wood for its own sake. This cottage provides a small heritage oasis in a desert of modern, multi-occupancy buildings, and is surrounded by a charmingly appropriate garden. The recessed porch on the left with octagonal bay on the right, and the front-facing gable on the right reflecting a miniature gable on the left are a classic combination; very similar layouts can be seen at 559 Michigan St, 40 San Jose Av and 588 Toronto St, all in James Bay. Another gable on the south side tops a box bay. All the gables are pedimented. The porch posts are chamfered and have scrollsawn brackets. A wide frieze band separates the main floor from the roof component, with board-and-batten decoration (except at the rear, where short lengths of siding are placed vertically, in the same way as the building skirt). An unusual feature of this house is its multi-pane windows. Though Queen Annes are known for smaller glass panes in top sashes, the effect is exaggerated here with as many as 42 panes over one in the central bay. And the octagonal bay is reflected in the mixed shingles, many of which are “octagonal” in style. A pair of large sunburst brackets surround the bay.
Augustus and Jennie Warren owned this house from 1889-92. A marine engineer, Augustus was born in the USA in 1845, came to Canada in 1875, and married Jennie Suffern here in 1882. Born in Seattle, she came here in 1881 when she was 14. According to the census, she was living in a home for orphaned and abandoned girls.
From 1893-1907, the owners were Capt. James and Emily Bendrodt. James was born in Denmark, came to BC in 1878, and married Emily Swanson in 1888. A master mariner, he was later a pilot. James was master of the Dunsmuirs’ steamer tug Alexander and the steamer Isabel. James died in 1903 at 44 from pneumonia.
Emily was born in Victoria in 1868 to Capt. John and Katherine Swanson. John Swanson was Nanaimo’s first member in the BC Legislature, and skipper of the Beaver. Educated at St. Ann’s Academy. Emily died in 1938 at 70.
Capt. Alexander and Jessie (King) McDonald owned this property from 1908-27, then moved to 121 Government St. They came to BC from Scotland in 1895 and moved to Victoria in 1907. Alexander was from a seafaring family, and a master mariner by the age of 24. He captained the cargo ship SS Oscar for many years. During one stormy trip in January 1913 from Nanaimo to Vancouver, the cargo of dynamite and black powder caught fire. Capt. McDonald beached the ship on the tip of Protection Island, a couple miles from inhabitants, and hid his crew in a nearby mine shaft. The explosion destroyed the ship, but thanks to his efforts, collateral damage was minimal. This incident prompted revision of the Shipping Act to make shipping explosives safer.
Alexander then captained the cableship Restorer for 40 years, retiring in 1937. He and Jessie moved to 690 Dallas, where they lived until their deaths, Alexander in 1958 at 81 and Jessie in 1960 at 82.
From 1937-51, Albert and Rosetta (Talbot) Sadler lived here. Natives of London, England, Albert came to Victoria in 1906, Rosetta in 1910. They married in 1910 in Esquimalt. Albert was a veteran of the Boer War, a charter member of FOE, and a life member of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans’ Association. He was a rigger on the Restorer for 33 years until 1944. He died in 1960 at 80. Rosetta belonged to FOE’s Ladies Auxiliary. She died in Langford, BC, in 1964 at 85.
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