Heritage Register

1141 Fort Street

Built 1887-88
Heritage-Designated 1976

For: Alfred J. Langley

Architect: Elmer H. Fisher
Contractor: George Mesher & Son

1141 Fort


Originally owned by A.J. Langley, a pioneer druggist (see 1133 Fort St), this house twins its neighbour at 1133 Fort St (see for description).


The first known occupants were Gustav Leiser (1856-1896), brother of Simon Leiser (1005 St. Charles St, Rockland) and his father-in-law Jacob Lenz (c.1819-1899) with whom in 1884 he formed Lenz & Leiser, men’s wear and dry goods merchants on Yates St. Born in Kerpen, Germany, Gustav came to Victoria in 1875. He engaged in mining and other business in the Cassiar District before coming to Victoria. Gustav’s wife was Sophie Lenz (1862-1919). She married the third Leiser brother, Meier “Max” after Gustav died of pneumonia.


By 1895, Gabriel H. Seelig (c.1857-1900) and his wife, children and an in-law, Herman Bloomingdale (c.1836-1900) were living here. Born in New York, Gabriel came to Victoria c.1892 and worked with Strauss & Co, which was controlled by his father-in-law in San Francisco. After this firm closed down, Gabriel worked at Simon Leiser & Co. Gabriel died in this house, possibly by his own hand due to financial difficulties. His widow and children left the house soon after.

Charles Henry (1868-1948) and Edith (Mills, 1874-1933) Topp lived here c.1901-04. Charles was a civil engineer born in County Cork, Ireland. He came to Canada as a boy. He married Edith, a native of Bracebridge, ON, and they came to Victoria in 1898 when Charles became City Engineer, which he remained until 1911 when he opened a private engineering consulting business. He oversaw the construction of many City and Island projects, including the James Bay causeway and the Point Ellice Bridge. As a consultant to the federal government he worked on the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich. During the 1920s he worked in Squamish for the Pacific Great Eastern Railways, and then on the West Coast Road from Sooke to Jordan River. Charles retired in 1932.

Police constable William J. Webb lived here in 1908. Widow Mary Laing lived here from c.1910-14. The house was vacant in 1917.

Carpenter and shipwright John Henry Marshall (1868-1966), his wife Thomasina Christina (Hoffmeyer, 1870-1962) and their children lived here during the early 1920s. Born in Yorkshire, England, John worked in shipyards before immigrating to Canada in 1906 with Thomasina. They lived in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and moved to Fernie, BC in 1908. In 1916 John went overseas with the CEF and served for 18 months before wounds forced him to come home in 1918. By this time his family had come to Victoria. They left in the 1920s and moved to Nanaimo.

The house was vacant in 1924, and in 1926, Miss May Cherry was living here. She operated a number of rooming houses in Rockland in the 1930s-40s, including 1195 Fort St, 1385 Manor Rd, 834 Pemberton Rd, 1320 Rockland Av and 1337 Rockland Av. Mrs Gertrude Parry lived here in 1929, followed by restaurateur T.H. Kelway in 1931.

In about 1933-34, the house was converted into five apartments. Long-time residents included Lillian Emily Benson (1903-1949) from 1933 until her death. Born in Victoria, she was a clerk with BC Tel for over 20 years. Maria Maas (Schier, 1864-1947), widow of Leonard Maas (1860-1922), lived here from the mid-1930s-mid-1940s. Born in Germany, Maria came to Victoria in 1885 and in 1891 married Leonard, who was also German-born.

Coal dealer Albert Theodore (1867-1947) and Jennie Marion (Shaughnessy, 1866-1947) Butler lived here from 1940 until they died. Natives of Dublin, Ireland, they came to Victoria in 1937.


• Fairfield History

• Fairfield Heritage Register

• Royal BC Museum Archives

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Four: Fairfield, Gonzales & Jubilee

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