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Alexandra Ladies’ Club

716 Courtney Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Alexandra Ladies’ Club; City of Victoria, 2009
Front elevation, 2009
Alexandra Ladies’ Club; City of Victoria, 2009
Drawing ('Victoria Architecturally', 1911)
No Image

Other Name(s)

Alexandra Ladies’ Club
Windermere Hotel
Windermere Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/02/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Alexandra Ladies’ Club is a four-storey, brick Edwardian-era private womens’ club building, with a lower ground floor level, a double-height main floor above and two upper storeys. This building features symmetrical massing, and a block modillion cornice. It stands on the north side of Courtney Street, with a secondary façade facing the alley that runs to the west side. It is now used as government offices.

Heritage Value

The Alexandra Ladies’ Club was the first womens’ club built in Victoria and represents a tangible expression of the city’s rich social history. This was a popular place for women to gather for cultural and social events, and was strongly supported by the elite families of the city. The female counterpart to the all-male Union Club, the Alexandra Ladies’ Club was founded in 1894 by Jane Shaw Dewdney (1842-1906), and she served as President until 1899; she was the wife of the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor at the time. Jane Powell (1845-1928), the wife of Israel W. Powell, was also a founder, and the Club was assisted by Mrs. Emily Conybeare Craven, who had experience with similar women’s clubs in London, England. Their mission was to create a literary society and social club that would be a creative and educational force for women.

Their original rooms were on the second floor at 1017 Government Street, and the Club grew to the point where they could afford this purpose-built structure for their organization in 1911. Completed at a cost of $51,000, it boasted a ballroom, dining room, lounges, and thirty sleeping rooms that provided accommodation for female guests and visitors, supporting the development of Victoria as a global tourism destination and strengthening the contribution of women to the local economy. In 1922, the Club moved to the now demolished Campbell Building, which stood on the southeast corner of Douglas and Broughton Streets, and this building became the Windermere Hotel until 1935, when it was converted into office space. In 1955 it was the RCMP Headquarters "E" Division, and since the early 1970s has housed provincial government offices.

The Alexandra Ladies’ Club is also significant for its handsome Classical Revival architecture, designed by talented and versatile architect David Cowper Frame (1882-1960), who practiced in Victoria for over half a century, and whose career spanned the decline of traditional architecture and the rise of Modernism. He was born in Scotland to a family of prosperous Lanark wool merchants, and after world-wide travels seeking his fortune, settled in Victoria in 1905. He gained employment as an architect's apprentice under F.M. Rattenbury, and in 1908 established his own firm, achieving great success in the booming years prior to the outbreak of World War One. Frame remained prolific into the postwar era, providing the designs for numerous apartment buildings throughout Victoria.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Alexandra Ladies’ Club include its:
- location on the north side of Courtney Street, with a secondary façade facing the alley that runs to the west side
- institutional form, scale and massing, as expressed in its four-storey overall height, built to the property lines, with a lower ground floor level, double-height main floor above and two upper storeys, flat roof, and symmetrical front façade with central entry
- Classical Revival design elements typical of the Edwardian era, such as: front entry porch with paired Doric columns; tripartite articulation with a rusticated base and pressed sheet-metal cornices; and cornice above the main floor windows with a repetitive shield motif
- masonry construction, including tan brick on the front façade, common red brick on the side façade, and an inscribed sandstone cornerstone
- windows such as: double-hung wooden sash windows at the lower level and in the upper storeys; tall divided windows on the main floor; and stained and leaded glass panels
- interior features such as its: original room configuration; staircase with shield motif on the balusters; coffered ceilings; fireplaces; wooden mouldings; and lath-and-plaster walls with decorative shield motifs



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
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations

Function - Category and Type



Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

David C. Frame



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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