563 Superior Street
For: Government of British Columbia
Architect: Lord Wilfrid Hargreaves
Builders: BC Department of Public Works
Although plans are dated 1926, construction appears to have been completed in 1927-28. Purpose-built for the King’s Printer, this 3-storey, flat-roofed concrete structure is probably the city’s most majestic example of Art Deco style, very fashionable at the time for commercial and institutional buildings. The basic symmetrical box structure also exhibits Neoclassical touches. Prominent vertical piers and high parapet copings and tile insets disguise the trapezoidal footprint of the building and hide rows of skylights on the roof. This crenellated effect is dominated by a huge provincial crest extending above the roofline, over the massive central entrance bay. Stucco faces much of the exterior, which has been well maintained, despite many alterations that have occurred over 80 years continuous use by the government printer. The building was designed to accommodate large type-setting and printing machines, and maximizes natural light, so it retains its ranks of large metal windows, which hint at the 15-foot ceilings on the ground floor, 12-foot on the middle floor and 9 foot on the top floor, which also has a mezzanine. Some of the features of the original entry vestibule and stairwell, such as Caen stonework, have survived.
BC’s crown printing office dates back to 1859 with the establishment of (Queensborough) New Westminster as the fledgling colony’s capital city. Under orders from Governor James Douglas, the Royal Engineers established a printing office there and published the first government paper in September 1859. Captain Edward Hammond King held the position of superintendent until his death in 1861.
January 1863 marked the first publication of the British Columbia Gazette, under the supervision of Richard Wolfenden (140 Government St, James Bay). The printing office was located in one of the wooden Birdcage buildings, and later moved to the west wing of the new Parliament Buildings. Richard was Queen’s and King’s Printer in New Westminster and Victoria from 1868 until his death in 1911. William H. Cullin (428 Heather St, James Bay) was then King’s Printer until retiring in 1924.
In 1924 Charles Banfield (402 Skinner St, Vic West) was appointed King’s Printer for the next 22 years. He apprenticed at a printing office under H.G. Waterson, and later at the Daily Colonist. In the mid-1920s demand for government printing services precipated the need for new offices, leading to the construction of this building in 1928. This building underwent major renovations in 1989. The BC Government Gazette is still published here.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:
• James Bay History
• James Bay Heritage Register
• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives
• Royal BC Museum Archives Image 1
• Royal BC Museum Archives Image 2
• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Two: James Bay