Heritage Register

806 Dereen Place
(ex-6, 200, then 1606 Rockland)

Built 1892

For: Robert & Patience Day

Architect: Robert Scott Day

806 Dereen Pl


Derreen is a very early example in Victoria of a British Arts & Crafts house. Its complex massing, various roof shapes, tall chimneys, cladding, and nooks and crannies inside, all give the house the impression of having been built over a long period of time, a typical British A&C concept. This is a side-gabled structure with gabled extensions of varying heights on the sides and rear, and a monumental hip-roofed, two-storey, semi-octagonal bay on the front [resembling the huge three-storey bay on the contemporary Point Comfort Hotel - pg184, Building the West]. The house has small and large dormers on front and rear, with Classical curving roofline and side brackets on the unusual front dormer. The ridgecaps originally had upward-curving ends at the peaks of the gables. The original drop siding and shingles have been covered by stucco at least since the early 1930s; the stucco and half-timbering remains. Derreen was built for $8,000.


Robert Scott Day (b. Cork, IRL 1858-1920) was an architect and civil engineer. He designed Derreen for his family as soon as they arrived in Victoria. Robert trained in Ireland and articled with firms in Dublin and London, then practised in the diamond-fields in South Africa for five years. After arriving in Victoria in 1891, he partnered with architect Cornelius John Soule until early 1894. As Soule & Day, their work included the 1892-93 design for the Point Comfort Hotel on Mayne Island, and they won the 1893-94 competition for North Ward School (see Burnside History).*

Robert married Patience “Lilla” Swanton (b. IRL 1863- 1934) in 1888 in South Africa. She had travelled there to be married, but was also involved with an organization that helped indigenous women in the diamond-fields. The Days came to Victoria in 1891. They briefly resided on Dallas Road before purchasing this Rockland property from Tom Gore for $3,150. The many “scrub” oaks on the property inspired the Days to name their house Derreen, Irish for “a grove of little oaks.” [The street name is misspelled.]

In her diary, Patience described the then Belcher Av as “only a rough track with a two plank sidewalk leading to the only house on it, that of Major James Peters’ (now Colonel) afterwards bought by Mr. C.A. Holland.” 1892: “Came into our home at Derreen (October 1). It was in a very unfurnished state but we thought it best to move in before the winter. This turned out to be an unfortunate move for on December 21 a ‘cold snap’ started, one of the worst I have ever experienced, when with a large fire in
in my bedroom all night, the thermometer only registered 36 degrees (F).” From 1893: “It was a very uncomfortable winter. We had no furnace and on January 27, another cold snap started, which on January 31, culminated in the lowest temperature ever known in Victoria... even 6 degrees (F) below zero with heavy snow. That night our baby Olive was providentially saved from freezing to death when Rose awakened with the cold herself and went to look at her and found her blue, and unconscious in her cot. She took her to her bed, rubbed her, and kept her close in her arms all night.” April 1899: “Went out to stay at Cadboro Bay while Derreen was being finished inside - plastered, etc.”**

Robert and Lilla were both noted participants in civic and philanthropic activities. By 1896 Robert was in the land, mining and insurance business. He was later partners with Beaumont Boggs (1008 Carberry Gdns, Rockland, 1140 Arthur Currie Ln, Vic West). Robert attended the first BC Hospital Association meetings in 1918-19, and was a long-term director then chairman on the Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH) Board. In 1917 he was appointed Police Commissioner, and was elected after legislation changes allowed the public to elect police commissioners. Robert was a long-term president of Vancouver Island Underwriters’ Association, which became the BC Fire Underwriters’ Association. Robert lived here until his death in 1920.

Lilla was active in the Local Council of Women, the King’s Daughters, and a founding member of IODE. She also was a strong supporter of RJH, and she served on the Women’s Auxiliary. In 1923 Patience presented the first of what, after her death, became the Robert S. and Patience Day Memorial Scholarship to the RJH “graduate nurse obtaining the highest degree of general proficiency in theoretical and practical work and who also possesses those qualities of mind and spirit which find expression in consecrated service.” The scholarships were presented for 60 years.

Daughter Aline Dorothy Wynne Day (c.1889-1938) married Lestock Wilson Swinton Cockburn (1885-1934) in Victoria in 1911. Lestock was district manager of the Investors Syndicate. He was born in Dawlish, Devon, England, and came to Canada in 1894. He studied at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON, then served 17 years with the Royal Canadian Artillery in Halifax, Quebec, Kingston and Victoria. During WWI, he was stationed at Work Point Garrison, then with the Canadian CEF in Russia. He returned to Victoria in 1919, and was commander of the Fifth Heavy Battery, RCA, until retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in 1923. The Cockburns lived here until the mid-1920s, and divorced in 1928. Lestock moved to the Cowichan district. Aline died in England in 1938, but was buried in the family plot at Royal Oak Cemetery in Saanich.


Retiree Claude C. Bird lived here in 1928. The house was apparently vacant until 1935. Builder Duncan Rudolph Alcorn (1871-1946) (1618 Rockland Av) lived here with his wife Addie (Olmstead, 1876-1956) until 1937. The Alcorns came to BC from New Brunswick c.1905.

Dr. Stuart Guthrie Kenning (1899-1975) and his wife Muriel Marguerite Pitts (1898-1976) lived here from the early 1940s until at least the mid-1960s. Stuart was born in Rossland, BC, educated at McGill University, and practised medicine in Victoria, except for serving overseas during WWII. The Kennings married in 1929 in Windermere, BC. Muriel graduated from St. Joseph’s Hospital nurses’ training school. Stuart and his brother Gordon, also a physician, worked with their father, Angus, chief of the Victoria Military Hospital, until his death in 1923. Stuart was chief of St. Joseph’s and Royal Jubilee Hospital, then Veterans Hospital from the time it opened until it closed in 1971. This became the “Kenning Wing” when it merged with Royal Jubilee Hospital.

* research from Ron Soule for his article on C.J. Soule in Don Luxton’s Building the West, Talon Books, 2003.

**Excerpts from Patience Day’s diary, courtesy Elizabeth (Day) Gibson


• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Rockland History

• Rockland Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Three: Rockland, Burnside, Harris Green,
Hillside-Quadra, North Park & Oaklands

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