Heritage Register
James Bay

243 Kingston Street
(relocated from 471 Belleville St in 1911)

Built 1900
Heritage-Designated 1977

For: Thomas & Rebecca Hooper

Architect: Thomas Hooper

243 Kingston


This 1½-storey, hip-roofed Edwardian house originally had two wings with identical gables, one on the right front, and one on the left side. Unfortunately the left gable was obliterated in 1949 by an ungainly and incompatible addition which towers over the house. The original rounded bay below the addition is in front of a side entry porch, which retains its Tuscan columns. The right side of the house has two small shed-roofed dormers on either side of a gabled dormer. Beyond the dormer is a shed-roofed, angled bay. The gable of the front wing, like the gabled dormer on the right side, meets the gutter line, giving them the appearance of being pedimented. Within the gable is a small decorative sleeping porch above a bracketed angled bay. In the apex of the hip to the left of the front wing is a hip-roofed, curved sleeping porch with a similar shingled balustrade with turned spindles. Below and to the left of the dormer is a wide, shallow, pedimented gable fronting the elegantly curved roof of the wrap-around corner entry porch. A solid frieze with a denticulated cornice is supported on triple and single Tuscan columns on battered piers. Wide flared front steps lead up to the porch. The house has a wealth of stained and leaded glass. The main body of the house is clad in bevelled siding; the porch and stair balustrades and the bay on the left side are clad in solid, curved bevelled siding. The foundation is concrete; one chimney remains.


Designed by architect Thomas Hooper (b. Haterleigh, Devon, ENG, 1857-1935) for himself and his wife Rebecca (née Johnston, b. ON 1858-1917), the house first sat at 471 Belleville at the SW corner with Menzies. It was moved to its present location in 1911. The Hoopers then took up residence at the Empress Hotel.

1900-11: Thomas and Rebecca Hooper built and lived in the house at 471 Belleville St. Building ran in the Hooper family, as his uncles were architects and surveyors, and masons could be traced back in the family for generations. He came to Ontario with his family in 1871, and undertook a 4-year carpentry apprenticeship with J.M. Dodd & Sons. In 1878 the Hooper family moved to Emerson, MB, where Thomas married Rebecca in 1879. A daughter born in 1880 died at four months. They later adopted a daughter, Rowena Taylor, who was born in Québec in 1879, and still living with them at the time of the 1901 census.

Thomas and Rebecca moved to Winnipeg, where Thomas worked as a contractor, then an architect with his older brother, Samuel, the Provincial Architect for Manitoba 1904-11. In 1886 Thomas and Rebecca moved to Vancouver, where Thomas’s skills were put to use helping to rebuild the community recently destroyed by fire. He established his architectural practice in 1887, and was appointed Provincial Supervisory Architect until 1888. Among his many Vancouver projects, Homer Methodist Church, 1888-89, was his largest early project.

In 1890 Thomas and Rebecca came to Victoria. He immediately designed two Methodist Churches: Metropolitan, 1889-91 (1411 Quadra St, Harris Green) and Centennial, 1891 (645-51 Gorge Rd E, Burnside). His career suffered during the mid-1890s economic depression, but thrived in the later Klondike Gold Rush. In 1902 he formed a partnership with architect C. Elwood Watkins, who had apprenticed in his office from 1890. Hooper and Watkins designed many commercial and residential buildings, including Victoria Public/Carnegie Library (794 Yates St, Downtown), 1904-05, and an addition to St. Ann’s Academy (835 Humboldt St, Fairfield ), 1908. The partnership ended acrimoniously in 1909. Thomas designed many commercial buildings, including the E.A Morris Tobacco Shop (1116 Government St, Downtown), 1909, and the Royal Bank (1108 Government St), 1909-10. 1913 was the beginning of an economic downturn. He moved to New York in 1915 but couldn’t re-establish a career. Rebecca died in Kings, NY, in 1917 and was buried in the cemetery in Emerson, MB. Thomas returned to Victoria briefly in 1927, then to Vancouver to live with relatives. He died a pauper at 77 in 1935.


1913: Robert Brown, manager of Pacific Iron Works.
1914-15: Architect William H. Hooper, possibly Thomas Hooper’s brother. c.1917-20: Capt. Robert and Emma (née Robson) Hunter (221 Quebec St, James Bay).

1921-29: Rev. Thomas Elliot Rowe (b. Tobago, British West Indies 1878-1951) and Winifred Irene (née Dalton). In 1929 this was the headquarters of the Guild of Health headquarters, and Rev. Rowe, an Anglican vicar, was the warden. He came to Canada in 1902, to Victoria in 1920, and retired in 1939.

1930-46: Florence Emma Grace Girdwood (née Matthews b. USA c.1887-?), widow of civil engineer Edward Prout Girdwood (b. QC 1874-1930), came to Canada in 1892. In 1941 she married Edward’s brother Harold (b. ENG 1876-1944), president of Girdwood & Co, realtors. Florence continued to live in the house after Harold’s death until 1946. Another brother, mining engineer James Bertram Girdwood (b. SCT 1874-1968), came to Rossland, BC, in 1896, later to Victoria. He spent many years at Cowichan Lake, BC. In 1909 he married Florence “Eveline” Ward (b. Victoria 1884), who predeceased him. James served with the British Army in Egypt and France during WWI, was a member of the RCMP, and served with the Navy during WWII. He, too, lived in this house, until his retirement in 1946. Both then lived in Oak Bay until the late 1950s.

1947: Royal Trust clerk Douglas S. Tuck and his wife Dorothy.
1947-55: Arthur Reginald Booth (b. Nottingham, ENG 1881-1971) and Janet Hunter (née Gilmour, b. ON 1894-1973), mixed farmers, retired here in 1947. In 1949 they altered the two suites in the house to five light housekeeping suites with the addition of a huge bump on the roof. 1954-55: Andrew Lee (b. Derbys, ENG 1881-1968) and Ada (née Hanson, b. Derbys, ENG 1884-1960) had the other main suite; they came to Canada c.1908. Andrew was a farm labourer in Balcarres, SK, when he signed up in 1916 for the CEF and WWI. They came to Victoria c.1928; Andrew worked as a janitor, gardener, labourer and a guard at VMD.

In 1994 Les and Mary Lane Anderson won a Hallmark Society Award for restoration of this house, although they made the decision not to remove the bump.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

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

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