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Thomas Nicholson Grocery

1328 Douglas Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Thomas Nicholson Grocery; City of Victoria, 2009
Oblique view, 2009
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/02/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Thomas Nicholson Grocery is a two-storey, stucco-clad brick building with a hipped roof, located on the southwest corner of Johnson and Douglas Streets in Victoria’s historic Old Town. The original form of the building is recognizable, and retains its angled corner on the upper storey.

Heritage Value

The Thomas Nicholson Grocery is significant as a demonstration of the late Victorian-era development of the city, and represents the gradual shift and growth of the business district when Victoria was a frontier boom town. The city’s original commercial centre had been located around the Hudson’s Bay Company fort, near present day Fort and Government Streets and facing the working waterfront. Requiring space for expansion, new commercial properties began to develop to the north and east. This was originally the burial ground for Fort Victoria - the city’s first cemetery - but as the land became more valuable, the bodies were disinterred and moved to what is now Pioneer Square, and the site was sold for commercial purposes.

Built in 1878, this is the oldest surviving building on Douglas Street, and dates from a time when masonry buildings were still relatively uncommon; its brick construction and corner location would have made this a very prominent structure in the frontier boom town. Adapting to different uses over time, by 1885 it was used as a CPR hotel; by 1889 it was the Regent Saloon with a rooming house above, and later housed a cigar factory on the second floor. In 1910, it was expanded with a two-storey brick addition to the west, designed by prominent local architect Thomas Hooper.

This building is valued for its association with Thomas Nicholson (1842-1914), who had it built to house his grocery and liquor business. Nicholson was not only a local businessman, but also played a prominent role in Victoria’s educational system. Trained as a teacher in Ireland, Nicholson arrived in Victoria in 1862, where shortly afterward he took a position teaching at the Collegiate School. Nicholson went on to become the first principal of Victoria West school, and later the principal at Lampson Street School. In 1880-82, Nicholson served as one of the City’s educational trustees.

The Thomas Nicholson Grocery is also valued for its modest, utilitarian architecture, that reflects the time when Victoria was a fledgling settlement, and typifies the struggle to establish a permanent community. It was constructed by prominent local contractors Hayward & Jenkinson; Charles Hayward was politically active in Victoria and served as councillor for several terms and as mayor from 1900 to 1902.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Thomas Nicholson Grocery include its:
- location at the corner of Johnson and Douglas Streets, in Victoria’s historic Old Town
- commercial form, scale, and massing, as expressed by its two-storey height built to the property lines, hipped roof, angled corner on the upper storey, and flat-roofed addition to the rear with a rectangular storefront and upper floor segmental-arched window openings
- masonry construction, including brick walls now covered with later stucco
- irregular fenestration, with original window openings in single and double assemblies, and large windows and skylights on the north side of the second floor, indicating later factory use



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
Eating or Drinking Establishment


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

Thomas Hooper (1910 addition)


Hayward & Jenkinson

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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