Heritage Register
James Bay

614 Avalon Road

Built 1908
Heritage-Designated 1979

For: John & Lydia Margison

Builder: Bertram Knights

614 Avalon


Withernsea is a mirror-image twin to 616 Avalon Rd next door, differing principally in having a shingled, rather than brick-clad, foundation. It is a 1½ storey, front-gabled Edwardian Vernacular Arts & Crafts house, deviating from the archetype in having a few inches of wall between the first storey and the eaves. It has a shingled front gable projecting over a modillioned stringcourse, with a modillioned, shed-roofed window projecting further from the gable. Dormers on each side have finials and bargeboards similar to the front gable. The eaves are open with exposed raftertails. On the right front is a recessed entry porch with a triple square support on the corner, balanced by a cantilevered angled bay window on the left. It is clad in bevel siding. The house forms part of the Avalon Rd Heritage Conservation Area.

Bertram Knights built 614 and 616 Avalon Rd, beginning with 616 in 1907, and sold them to the Margisons and the Turners. Bert (1867-1953) was a self-employed general carpenter who came to Canada from England in the late 1890s and BC c.1903. A bachelor, he lived and worked mostly in Vancouver, and possibly built these two houses in Victoria because of the city’s development boom.


John Yeates Margison, Jr and Lydia Nute came from Hull and Plymouth, England, respectively, John in 1896 and Lydia in 1890. Lydia’s grandfather John Sandercock first visited Victoria in 1871 on HMS Zealous and returned to England vowing to emigrate to Victoria; he brought his family in 1890. John and Lydia were married in Victoria in 1908, went on a honeymoon trip on Puget Sound (very popular at the time), then moved into their new home, and lived here for the rest of their lives. Shortly before their marriage, John, with brothers Arthur and Oswald, founded Margison Brothers Printers on Wharf St. John was a well-known football player in his younger days, and an active member of James Bay Methodist, then United Church. He was still head of Margison Brothers when he died in 1958 at 83. Son Gilbert ran the business for many years, but it has now passed from the family. Lydia, an honorary life member of the Native Daughters of BC, died in 1969 at 84.

Gilbert’s adopted son Richard Margison (b. 1953) progressed from Victoria’s Metropolitan United Church choir and folk singing in the 1960s and 1970s to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1995. He has gained world renown as a lirico spinto tenor who specializes in the operas of Verdi and Puccini. Margison was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001. He has been awarded three honourary doctorates and two lifetime achievement awards.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Two: James Bay

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