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Law Chambers

45 Bastion Square, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/01/27

Exterior view of the Law Chambers; City of Victoria, 2008
Oblique view, 2008
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Other Name(s)

Law Chambers
Law Chambers Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/12/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Law Chambers is a two-storey (plus lower level) Edwardian-era commercial building located on Langley Street facing Bastion Square, in the heart of Victoria’s Old Town. It is distinctive for its tan pressed-brick cladding, elaborate Classical detailing, and Chicago School windows with arched transoms. The building is situated directly across from the Maritime Museum, originally the Victoria Law Courts, and marks one of the entry points to Bastion Square. The earlier red-brick building at 1118 Langley Street has been consolidated with the Law Chambers.

Heritage Value

The Law Chambers, built in 1901, is part of an ensemble of historic Late Victorian and Edwardian-era commercial buildings that front onto Bastion Square, an historic urban space that is valued as a link to the earliest physical development of Victoria’s Old Town, and as a public urban space. Located at a prominent corner at one of the entry points to Bastion Square, the finely-detailed façades have retained their historic character, and make a significant contribution to the historic ambience of the Square.

The Law Chambers represents the evolving development of Bastion Square over time. Initially the Law Chambers were built to house lawyer F.J. Schofield’s offices. Schofield (born 1835) was a prominent lawyer in both Victoria and Vancouver. The site was conveniently located across the street from the Provincial Law Courts, and the area was evolving as the city’s judicial centre. During an expansion, the 1901 building was consolidated with a two-storey brick warehouse at 1118 Langley Street, built in 1891, and the interior was reconfigured to open up an internal staircase and lightwell. Over time, the Law Chambers continued to house a number of lawyer’s offices. Between 1949 and 1969, it was home to Humber Brothers Furniture Store. With the revitalization of Bastion Square in the 1960s, it was adapted for use as retail and commercial space.

The Law Chambers is a significant example of the work of renowned architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury (1867-1935). After immigrating to Victoria in 1892, Rattenbury dominated the architectural profession in British Columbia by virtue of his practical expertise and effective manipulation of Imperial symbolism. Only months after his arrival, at the age of twenty-five, he won the design competition for the new Parliament Buildings in Victoria. Among his many other designs in Victoria are the Bank of Montreal on Government Street (1897) and the center block of the Empress Hotel (1904-08). The Law Chambers are an excellent and early example of Edwardian-era architecture, reflecting a shift from the more ornate Victorian styles to a simpler and more-refined Classical Revival influence. The design also reflects Rattenbury’s knowledge, at an early date, of the evolving Chicago School of architecture.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Law Chambers include its:
- contribution to the character of Bastion Square, as part of an ensemble of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century historic masonry buildings
- location at the southwest corner of Langley Street and Bastion Square, in association with the former Victoria Law Courts
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- interior features dating to the consolidation of the two buildings including wooden trim, staircase balustrades and newel posts, and original wood door frames

Key elements that define the heritage character of 45 Bastion Square include its:
- commercial form, scale and massing, as expressed by its two-storey plus lower-level height, symmetrical rectangular plan and flat roof
- masonry construction, as expressed by tan pressed-brick cladding, red tooled mortar, granite thresholds and terra cotta detailing
- Chicago School architectural features, such as tripartite façade articulation, symmetrical façade design, pedimented window hoods, keystones in ground floor arches, and block modillion sheet metal cornice
- original windows such as twelve-over-one double-hung wooden-sash windows with segmental-arched tops on upper floor, Chicago School windows with segmental-arched transoms andleaded glass, on the ground floor

Key elements that define the heritage character of 1118 Langley Street include its:
- commercial form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey plus lower-level height, regular fenestration and flat roof
- masonry construction as expressed by red-brick cladding and parged stringcourses, lintels and window hoods
- Italianate design features such as inverted-U window woods, round-arched window openings on the ground floor and segmental-arched window openings on the upper floor
- original two-over-one double-hung wooden-sash windows



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Francis Mawson Rattenbury



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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