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Ker Block

512 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Ker Block; City of Victoria, 2009
Front elevation, 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 Ker Block is a two-storey Edwardian era, brick commercial building located mid-block on Fort Street, between Wharf Street and Langley Street, near the Inner Harbour in Victoria’s historic Old Town. This building’s simple front façade consists of a large rectangular storefront, segmental-arched second floor window openings with exaggerated keystones, and second floor quoining. It is part of a grouping of smaller-scale buildings that line this block of Fort Street.

Heritage Value

Constructed in 1909, during the pre-World War One real estate boom, the Ker Block is valued as a reflection of the surge of development that characterized Victoria’s gateway economy. Prominent Victoria businessman David Russel Ker (1862-1923), president and manager of the Brackman-Ker Milling Company, built this block as an investment property during the upswing of the great economic boom of the Edwardian era. His successful milling business was formed when he partnered with Henry Brackman (circa 1832-1903) in 1881. Upon Brackman’s death in 1903, Ker took over leadership of the company and began an ambitious expansion throughout Western Canada.

The Ker Block is additionally significant as an 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. Only months after his arrival, at the age of 25, he won the design competition for the new Parliament Buildings in Victoria. Among his many other designs in Victoria are the Bank of Montreal, 1200 Government Street, 1897; the Law Chambers, 45 Bastion Square/1118 Langley Street, 1901, and the centre block of the Empress Hotel, 721 Government Street, 1904-08. Rattenbury also designed the Brackman-Ker Milling Company Warehouse, 1414-1420 Broad Street, in 1907. The design of this façade demonstrates Rattenbury’s familiarity with the Edwardian Baroque – also known as the Free Classic style – that was popular at the time throughout the British Empire. Recognizably British, it was a style based on Baroque precedents including the work of Sir Christopher Wren, and was inventively pursued by architects such as Sir Edwin Lutyens. Typical of this style, the classical elements are used in an eclectic manner, including the undersized quoins and the oversized keystones, expressed in contrasting polychromatic masonry reminiscent of London’s Westminster Cathedral (completed in 1903).

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Ker Block 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 two-storey height built to the property lines, rectangular symmetrical plan, and flat roof
- masonry construction, including brick walls, stone sills and trim, and heavy timber internal structure
- Edwardian-era architectural details, such as its symmetrical design, front parapets with twin flagpoles, segmental-arched second-floor window openings with keystones, and quoining
- influence of the Edwardian Baroque style, including polychromatic masonry, and exaggerated scale of classical details



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
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

F.M. Rattenbury


Dinsdale & Malcolm

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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