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Yarrow Building

637-649 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of the Yarrow Building; City of Victoria, Liberty Walton, 2004.
Southeast elevation
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Other Name(s)

Yarrow Building
Pemberton Building
Pemberton Block

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/08/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Yarrow Building is a large six-storey commercial and retail building bordered by Fort, Broad, and Broughton Streets.

Heritage Value

The Yarrow Building is one of Victoria's finest office and commercial buildings built before the First World War. As Victoria's largest office building at the time of its construction, this building exudes the confidence and prosperity of the Edwardian era.

Notable for its associations with two of Victoria's most successful businesses - Pemberton & Son Realtors, and Yarrows Shipyard, this building has continued to possess a reputation as one of the most fashionable commercial and professional buildings in the city for over 90 years.

Formerly called the Pemberton Building, this 1911 office and commercial block designed for the J.D. Pemberton estate included the Victoria Stock Exchange in its basement until 1916, and the esteemed Pacific Club in its top floor until 1963. Purchased by industrialist Norman Yarrow after 1913, this building is a reminder of the wealth and prestige associated with the business success that fueled Victoria's commercial growth in the early twentieth century.

Architecturally, the Yarrow Building's value lies in its high-density massing, solid form, and state-of-the-art Chicago School styling, with its grid-like fenestration pattern, flat roof, protruding bracketed cornice, and restrained ornamentation. This large-scale landmark in the Old Town District is one of most substantial representations of the period of land speculation which occurred in Victoria prior to 1914.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Yarrow Building include:
- the six-storey form, and high-density massing of this building, bordered by Fort, Broad, and Broughton Streets;
- the Chicago School stylistic elements, such as the flat roof, grid like fenestration pattern of tripartite wooden-sash windows, and bracketed cornice;
- authentic building materials such as brick and granite;
- the mixed use of the building for office and retail spaces, with large storefront windows at street level;
- interior spatial configurations associated with the building's original design;
- spatial configurations, finishes, and fittings which remain intact on the top floor, and relate to the Pacific Club;
- the light wells.



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

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

George C. Mesher and Co.


George C. Mesher and Co.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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