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Brown & Cooper Building

910 Gordon Street, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Brown & Cooper 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: 2010/02/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Brown & Cooper Building is a two-storey commercial building located mid-block on Gordon Street, one block from the Empress Hotel and Inner Harbour, in Victoria’s historic Old Town. It features white-glazed brick cladding, sheet-metal cornices, an inset second-storey bay window and a shaped parapet.

Heritage Value

Constructed during the height of the pre-World War One real estate boom, the Brown & Cooper Building is valued as a reflection of the surge of development that characterized Victoria’s gateway economy. Built in 1910, it has been used continuously for commercial purposes. This was a prime location adjacent to nearby hotels and other businesses. The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Empress Hotel, completed in 1908 just one block from the Brown & Cooper Building, 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. Brown & Cooper supplied fish, fruit, game and confections; this commercial structure was built as an extension to the rear of the store at 909 Government Street that they opened in 1904, demonstrating the success of their business at the time.

Additionally, the Brown & Cooper building is significant as a surviving design by the prolific Victoria-born architect C. Elwood Watkins (1875-1942). Watkins began his architectural apprenticeship in 1890 in the office of Thomas Hooper, and by 1902 had become a full partner. He opened his own office in 1909, and in addition to his many commercial, institutional and residential projects, Watkins was the official architect of the Victoria and Saanich School Boards.

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 Brown & Cooper Building include its:
- location mid-block on Gordon Street, one block from the Empress Hotel and 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 plan, and flat roof
- masonry construction, with white-glazed brick on the front façade and common red-brick side walls
- typical commercial features of the Edwardian era including: overall symmetrical design; shaped front parapet; side pilasters; sheet metal cornices and sign band above rectangular storefront; and inset second floor bay window assembly
- windows, including double-hung one-over-one wooden-sash assemblies



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
Office or Office Building


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

C. Elwood Watkins



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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