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British American Trust Company Building

737 Fort Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/11/22

British American Trust Company Building; 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 British American Trust Company Building is a two-storey, Edwardian-era Beaux-Arts commercial building located mid-block on the south side of Fort Street in downtown Victoria. Designed in the manner of a Temple Bank, it is distinguished by its stone cladding, giant order Corinthian columns, narrow façade, and symmetrical massing.

Heritage Value

The British American Trust Company Building, constructed in 1912, is a superior example of a Temple Bank design. During the Edwardian era, it was typical of financial institutions to draw from Classical styles in order to project an image of security and permanence, particularly desirable characteristics for a financial institution. This structure displays an academically-correct version of the Classical Revival style, displaying two giant order Corinthian columns enclosed within recessed porch walls, surmounted by a pediment. This gives a strong vertical emphasis to its relatively-narrow street frontage. It was designed by Vancouver-based architect Alfred Arthur Cox (1860-1944), an English-trained architect who brought a refined aesthetic to a series of landmark structures built in Vancouver and Victoria before the outbreak of the First World War. Cox was a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and immigrated to Montreal in 1892. Following the opportunities offered by the western boom, he moved to Vancouver in 1908 and met with considerable success over the next few years. In 1912, Cox designed both the Union Bank, 1205 Government Street/612-618 View Street and this building in downtown Victoria, illustrating his command of the Beaux Arts tradition.

Further value is attained through its affiliation with the British American Trust Company Limited, illustrating the presence of United States and British investors in Victoria at the pinnacle of the Edwardian-era boom. This overseas investment drove the city’s burgeoning gateway economy. It is additionally valued as a tangible reminder of Fort Street’s importance as a commercial corridor, reflecting a prominent period of the street's history, when it was the financial, commercial and retail centre of downtown. This building served as the company’s local office in Victoria and was later used as a branch of Yorkshire Trust.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the British American Trust Company Building include its:
- mid-block location on the south side of Fort Street
- continuous commercial use
- formal, monumental and symmetrical form, scale and massing, as expressed by its narrow frontage, two-storey height, flat roof and stepped side parapets, built to the property lines with no setbacks
- Edwardian era Temple Bank design as expressed in its: two giant order Corinthian columns flanking the entry between framing pilasters; triangular pediment with carved shield; projecting cornice with block modillions; multi-coloured mosaic tile inset with Greek key border at front entry; recessed arched entry flanked by engaged pilasters with keystone and multi-paned transom; double-hung wooden-sash windows with Roman cross motif in the upper sash; and cast iron light standards flanking the entry
- masonry construction, including granite base blocks and front steps, andesite block cladding on the front façade, and board-formed concrete side walls



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

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


Commerce / Commercial Services
Bank or Stock Exchange

Architect / Designer

A. Arthur Cox



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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