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Pacific Transfer Building

506 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Pacific Transfer Building; City of Victoria, 2009
Front elevation, 2009
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Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/02/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Pacific Transfer Building is a three-storey Edwardian-era, red brick building located mid-block on Fort Street, between Wharf Street and Langley Street, near the Inner Harbour in Victoria’s historic Old Town. The utilitarian design of the symmetrical front façade features a large, central entryway, segmental-arched windows on the second floor and corbelled brick detailing. It is part of a grouping of smaller-scale buildings that line this block of Fort Street.

Heritage Value

Constructed in 1902, the Pacific Transfer Building is valued as a vestige of Victoria’s role as one of the primary shipping hubs in the Canadian West. During this period, Victoria’s gateway economy was supported by a diverse mixture of commercial businesses, from merchants to manufacturers, and a wide variety of service industries, such as this transfer company. The close proximity of this building to the wharves and piers of the working waterfront of the Inner Harbour ensured that the Pacific Transfer Company was well positioned to meet the transhipment needs of the community. The Pacific Transfer Company, owned by English-born entrepreneur Arthur Edward Kent, offered express delivery within the City boundaries and served a key role in the distribution of goods arriving by ship and rail. Kent was one of the few non-Chinese business owners who maintained a good relationship with the Chinese community in Chinatown and was trusted to arrange shipment of the bones of deceased Chinese back to China for reburial in family plots; this was a common practice in overseas Chinese communities in the Canadian and American West. Victoria functioned as the central shipping point in Canada for all Chinese remains returning to China until as late as the 1940s.

The Pacific Transfer Building is also considered a significant example of the vernacular, utilitarian turn of the twentieth-century architecture that supported the commercial activities that drove Victoria’s booming economy. This building dates from a time when horses were still used as a primary means of ground transport; it originally housed a livery stable at ground level and living quarters above. The large central entry originally accommodated horses and wagons. It is an example of the work of prominent British Columbia architect Thomas Hooper (1857-1935), whose many commercial buildings helped define the evolving character of Victoria’s Old Town and Chinatown. Hooper had one of the province's longest running and most prolific architectural careers, designing hundreds of commercial, institutional and residential buildings. Illustrating the success of Kent’s business, additions to the structure were made in 1907, designed by local architect J.C.M. Keith (1858-1940).

In recognition of the material and social values of the historic buildings of Old Town, the City of Victoria has established policies and incentives that encourage their adaptive re-use and improve their economic viability. Rehabilitated buildings such as this play a critical role in revitalizing the downtown economy, in providing commercial space and in environmental sustainability.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Pacific Transfer Building include its:
- location on the north side of Fort Street, close to the Inner Harbour in Victoria’s historic Old Town
- continuous commercial use
- commercial form, scale and massing, as expressed by its three-storey height built to the property lines, rectangular symmetrical plan, and flat roof
- masonry construction, including red-brick walls and heavy timber internal structure
- Edwardian-era architectural details such as its: symmetrical design with central entryway; symmetrical bays of segmental-arched window openings separated by brick pilasters with brick capitals at the second storey; and corbelled brick cornice and shadow lines
- regular fenestration, such as double-hung wooden-sash windows, two-over-two at the second storey



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
Shop or Wholesale Establishment


Commerce / Commercial Services
Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Thomas Hooper



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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