1775 Barrie Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8N, Canada
Links and documents
1910/01/01 to 1911/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
'Thrums' is a two-storey wood frame house, with attic, clad with dressed-stone on the foundation and main floor and in shingles on the upper floor. At the back of the house stands the cottage, now used as a garage, formerly known as 'Jersey Hall.' It is located in the Gordon Head area of Saanich.
The heritage value of 'Thrums' is associated with its development within its neighbourhood context. Gordon Head is bordered on the north and east by Haro Strait and on the west by Blenkinsop Valley and Mount Douglas. First settled by farmers, starting with James Todd in 1852, Gordon Head became famous for its strawberries and then its daffodils. Arbutus Cove was favoured as an area of summer homes for prominent Victoria-area families starting in 1902. In 1921, city water service was brought to Gordon Head, leading to a proliferation of greenhouses and vegetable farming. Since the 1950s, the area has gradually been developed with single-family housing.
'Thrums' makes a valuable contribution to the built environment of Saanich as it is one of the very few stone houses in the municipality. It is a demonstration of the skill and resourcefulness of early pioneers who used local materials to construct homes. The stone for the building was quarried on the property and dressed by the original owner, George Watson. Local craftsmen constructed the interior structure using lumber from trees felled on the property.
The house is important for its continuous association with George and Elizabeth Watson and their family. Watson was born in the Scottish village of Kirriemuir, Forfarshire, and was a cousin of the Scottish author James Matthew (J. M.) Barrie. Kirriemuir was used by Barrie as the fictional village of Thrums in 'A Window in Thrums' (1889) and Watson chose this as the name of his house. Watson served his community in a number of capacities - reeve, councillor, school trustee and police commissioner. He was a successful stonemason and worked on such buildings as the Provincial Legislature and the Post Office. Elizabeth Watson was well-known in the community, operating the Gordon Head Post Office from a room in 'Thrums' from 1910 to 1920 and served as president of the Women's Institute. This is also valued as an example of the resourcefulness and power of women at a time when they were not considered citizens or equals: it was Elizabeth who bought the property in 1898 with savings she had from her housekeeping allotment. Descendents from the Watson's continue to own and occupy the house.
'Thrums' is also significant for its connection to Dr. John Ash, who in 1885 built 'Jersey Hall', a small hunting lodge on the property. Ash was a member of the Vancouver Island House of Assembly, and was later elected to the post-Confederation Provincial Legislature.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Key elements that define the heritage character of 'Thrums' include its:
- form, scale and massing
- location on a large lot, with a setting of mature trees and plantings
- coursed, random-cut ashlar masonry with red mortar pointing
- front gable roof with hipped dormers, with gables clad in shingles
- 'eyebrow' window in the hipped gable at rear
- stone wall at front, and gate post with the carved name 'Thrums'
- Douglas fir interior woodwork, including two hand-turned pillars, made from a single tree trunk, dividing the living room from the hall
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
1885/01/01 to 1885/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Post Office
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Cross-Reference to Collection