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Simmons Block

907 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Simmons Block; City of Victoria, 2009
Government Street elevation, 2009
Simmons Block; City of Victoria, 2009
Gordon Street elevation, 2009
Simmons Block; City of Victoria, 2009 (courtesy Karen Borden)
Historic image, no date

Other Name(s)

Simmons Block
London Bakery

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/02/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Simmons Block consists of two consolidated three-storey brick buildings, sited on a long narrow mid-block lot facing Government Street on the west and Gordon Street on the east, in Victoria’s historic Old Town. Notable features of the Government Street façade include bands of upper floor windows and sheet metal cornices, while the Gordon Street façade is more utilitarian in appearance, with segmental-arched window openings.

Heritage Value

Constructed during the pre-World War One real estate boom, the Simmons Block is valued as a reflection of the surge of development that characterized Victoria’s gateway economy. With its substantial size, brick construction and simple detailing, it remains a prominent presence facing two street frontages. The portion facing Gordon Street was built in 1906 for Arthur William Simmons and Sydney Edwin Coker. The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Empress Hotel, completed in 1908 just one block away, was a significant boost to Victoria’s development as a global tourism destination, and stimulated the construction of many other buildings in the lower Old Town area. The building facing Government Street was built by Simmons in 1912.

The front of the building facing Government Street is more ornate, befitting the high-end commercial businesses on that street. The rear façade facing Gordon Street was more utilitarian, and the ground floor originally housed the London Bakery, which supplied the hotels in the area. Founded by Stephen Sylvester Burt (1842-1902), the London Bakery was one of the earliest bakeries in Victoria. It was sold to John Dean in 1891; originally housed in a smaller building, the expansion into this new building demonstrates the success of this bakery business during a time of economic expansion.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Simmons Block include its:
- mid-block location with façades facing both Government and Gordon Streets, one block from the Empress Hotel and 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 plan, and flat roof
- masonry construction with brick front and side walls
- elements of the Government Street façade including bands of double-hung one-over-one wooden-sash windows, with transoms on the second storey, with projecting sheet-metal cornices, including dentils above the storefront and an upper cornice with block modillions
- elements of the Gordon Street façade including regularly-spaced, segmental-arched window openings with projecting sills, and twin corbelled sidewall chimneys



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
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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