Heritage Register

1520 Regents Place

Built 1929-30

For: Harold "Barney" & Mary Olson

Architect: Ralph Berrill

1520 Regents


This low-key cottage is another example of Ralph Berrill’s extraordinary versatility –from Tudor mansions to discreet bungalows. The steeply-pitched hipped roof with its chunky dormers, miniatures of the main roof, has closed eaves without embellishment. Among the few decorative elements are a flattened arch on the front porch, over side-facing front steps, and 12-over-1 windows that balance the big picture windows. Tall chimneys reach high, though now dwarfed by a towering high-rise. The nine-room house cost $15,000 to build. This is an example of Ralph Berrill's versatility, from Tudor mansions (1337 Rockland Av, 1521 Mondgomery St, Rockland) to bungalows.


First owners Harold Benjamin “Barney” Olson (1895-1966) and his wife Mary (1898-1975) lived here briefly. Born in Milltown, WI, Barney came here in 1912. He did a variety of jobs, ranging from railway labourer to chauffeur to contractor. In 1914 he and two friends bought a taxicab; eventually he bought out his partners and more cabs, as well as sightseeing buses. In 1920 he bought Gray Line’s sightseeing bus franchise, which became Vancouver Island Coach Lines in 1929 when he sold it. In 1935 he and his brother Speed Olson bought the franchise for the Winnipeg-Vancouver bus service, which became Western Canada Greyhound. Barney first retired in 1940 and returned to Victoria, where he bought the horse show pavilion at the old Willows fairgrounds and put in an ice sheet. This burned down in 1943. Three years later, Barney bought the Strathcona Hotel, which he ran until he officially retired in 1954. He married Mary Newlin of La Grande, OR, in 1921.


In 1931, Hon Rolf Wallgren Bruhn (1878-1942), BC’s Minister of Public Works, was living here with his wife Sarah Anna (1884-1958). Rolf was born in Sweden and came to BC in 1896. He married Sarah Treat of Darlington, MO, in Revelstoke, BC, in 1902. He worked in road construction in BC’s interior 1906-17, and then entered the lumber business, eventually becoming owner and president of R.W. Bruhn logging in Sicamous, BC. Rolf started his political career in 1924 when he was elected to represent Salmon Arm. In 1932 the Bruhns lived at 1630 Rockland Av.

By the mid-1930s, Robert William McMurray(b. Ardrossan, SCT 1885-1969) and May (née Steedman, b. Kobe, Japan 1893-1964) lived here from the mid-1930s until c. 1943. Robert came to Montreal in 1934 and began his career with Canadian Pacific Steamship lines. He was the manager of the BCCSS while he lived at this house.

Frederick (1867-1950) and Louisa Kate (Rich) Fisher likely bought this house in the early-1930s, as they are listed as occupants in 1933. They lived here again 1949-50. Frederick, born in London, England, was a metal merchant with Rudolph Wolfe Co for 20 years. He retired in 1930. Dr. John Thomas and Claudia Constance Barbara (Quinn, 1919-1982) Cruise lived here from 1951 until the 1960s. John was an ophthalmologist with a private practice in Victoria for 31 years until 1978, and was chief of the eye department at Royal Jubilee Hospital.


• 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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