Heritage Register

1015 Moss Street (ex-915 Moss St)

Built 1912-13
Heritage-Designated 2012

For: James & Ethel Helmcken

Architects: Percy Leonard James & Douglas James
Contractor: John Shenk

1015 Moss


This is a steeply-hipped, bellcast-roofed British Arts & Crafts house with many gables. The front façade has a gabled dormer between two two-storey bays. The left front angled bay has an unusual wide, enclosed, oval-arched bargeboard, which is repeated on the right side and the rear on two-storey bays. The right front box bay is half-timbered as is the left, both of which sit on high stone foundations; the windows sitting on those foundations have concrete sills. The main entry between the two bays is a deep octagonal porch below a once-open balcony. The porch has posts with long British A&C brackets and is now partially enclosed. The balcony, porch and front step balustrades are all clad in doublecoursed shingles, as is the body of the house. On the left side there are two gabled dormers and a shallow, cantilevered box bay below a pent roof on the main floor. The dormers all have pent roofs below the gables. There is a small triangular dormer on the rear. The chimneys have roughcast parging. Front and rear balconies were added on the roof after 1977. When built, the house was valued at $12,000.

The two James brothers designed few Victoria residences together, their team being split up by WWI. They also designed a residence for contractor John Ernest Shenk (1871-1945) at 512 Selkirk Av [demolished] on the Gorge in 1911.


1912-20: Dr. James Douglas Helmcken (1858-1919) and his wife Ethel Margaret (1866-1941) lived here until 1920. “Dr. Jim” as he was affectionately known, was the eldest son of the Hon John Sebastian Helmcken and Cecilia Douglas (638 Elliot St, James Bay), and grandson of Sir James Douglas. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, received his MD at Bellevue Medical College, New York, and took over his father’s practice here in 1886. James specialized in children’s diseases, and spent much of his time at St. Joseph’s Hospital. In 1902 he taught a medical course at the hospital, before formal medical training schools had been established in the area. He practised for 34 years, and was elected president of the BC Medical Society. He married Mary Jane Halliday in 1886, but she died of tuberculosis in 1887. In 1888 he married Victoria-born Ethel Margaret Mouat, and they had five children, including Ainslie Helmcken (1025-27 Moss St). Ainslie is credited with establishing the City’s archives. The family had a summer cottage on Beach Dr in Oak Bay, and after James’ death, they moved there.


1920-27: Thomas Fraser Homer-Dixon (1871-1948), retired Lt-Col of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment, lived here in the 1920s with his wife Evelyn Anne (1885-1965) and their daughter Margaret. They lived at 1385 Manor Rd (Rockland) in 1929. Thomas was born in Toronto, Evelyn in Kenora, ON; they married in Winnipeg in 1908 and came to Victoria in 1920. Evelyn’s father, Douglas Cameron, was Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba from 1911-16.

1928-30: American Consul George Augustus and his wife Mary Ann (Williamson) Bucklin lived here c.1931-34. Paul William (1880-1943) and Esther Elinor (Lewis, 1881-1947) Rookes lived here in the late-1930s. Paul was president of International Importing & Exporting. He was born in Ingersoll, ON, and Esther in Indiana. They lived in Edmonton, AB, before coming to Victoria c.1930.

1937-65: John (1882-1941) and Blanche Irene (Boyle, 1883-1965) Moxam, proprietors of the Georgian Apartments, lived here for a number of years. The Moxams came from Ontario in 1928. John, a contractor, built and owned a number of apartment blocks designed by architect Percy Fox, including the Harrogate Apartments on Beach Dr in Oak Bay. Blanche lived at 1015 Moss until her death.

In 2008 the house sustained serious fire damage, especially to the roof. Owner Steven Chin won a 2012 Hallmark Heritage Society award for its rehabilitation


• 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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