Home / Accueil

Tweedsmuir Mansions

900 Park Boulevard, Victoria, British Columbia, V8V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Tweedsmuir Mansions; City of Victoria, 2007
Main entrance
Tweedsmuir Mansions; City of Victoria, 2007
Southwest facade
No Image

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/10/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Tweedsmuir Mansions is a three and one-half storey, stucco-clad, flat-roofed apartment building in the Streamline Moderne style located to the north and east of Beacon Hill Park in Victoria's Fairfield neighbourhood.

Heritage Value

The historic place, built in 1936, is valued for its architecture, its architect, its original owners, its location adjacent to Beacon Hill Park, and as an example of a landmark building protected from unsympathetic redevelopment through community effort.

Tweedsmuir Mansions is valued as a seminal example of Streamline Moderne design in Victoria. Designs in Art Deco and Streamline Moderne first appeared in North America in the 1930s. Billed at the time of construction as 'the last word in apartment house design and construction', Tweedsmuir Mansions represents a break with classical designs and illustrates the new alliance between art and technology that was characteristic of Modernist architecture. The building's new technologies such as refrigerators, electric ranges, washing machines and extensive soundproofing, were heavily advertised. This was the first building in Victoria with a penthouse suite.

It is also valued as an example of the work of architect William J. Semeyn. Born in Holland, Semeyn began his career in Canada in the Victoria office of Samuel Maclure, but was a sole practitioner for much of his career. Semeyn experimented with several different building styles but is noted for his Modernist forms. He also designed the Rainbow Mansion apartments (805-811 Academy Close) on the north side of Beacon Hill Park in a muted form of the Art Deco style.

This building has value for its association with the original owners, Colin and Florence Forrest, who also built the Modernist-style Cathay Apartment Hotel at 855 Douglas street and the Royal Oak Inn at 4509 West Saanich Road. They arrived in Victoria from Shanghai in August 1935. That they were willing to invest considerable funds, even in the midst of the Great Depression - no expense was spared - demonstrates their faith in the future of Victoria's economy. Permission to use the name 'Tweedsmuir' was obtained from the Governor General of the day, Sir John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield.

The building also has heritage value for its location, described in a 1936 Daily Colonist article as 'the most desirable from all points of view.' On the west and south it overlooks the lawn bowling green and cricket pitches of Beacon Hill Park, with views beyond to the Olympic Mountains. The park's walking paths, gardens and natural areas provide amenities to residents of the building.

The building's social value is evident in the community's efforts to protect it from unsympathetic redevelopment. A 1988 proposal to add eight new apartments was unanimously defeated by Council, and when changes were proposed again in 1991, the plans were modified to be more in keeping with the original style. The building continues to be a landmark in the community.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of 900 Park Boulevard include:
- characteristics of the Streamline Moderne style including asymmetrical butterfly plan, flat roof, stucco facing, stepped top parapet with fluting detail, canopy over front entrance, wood window sash
- front and side setbacks
- relationship between the building and Beacon Hill Park
- landmark status



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling


Architect / Designer

William J. Semeyn



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places