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Royal Oak Inn

4509 West Saanich Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8Z, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/01/11

Exterior view of the Royal Oak Inn.; District of Saanich, 2004.
Oblique view.
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Other Name(s)

Royal Oak Inn
The Thatch
The Maltwood Art Museum
Fireside Grill
Chantecler Restaurant

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/27

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Royal Oak Inn is a local interpretation of an Elizabethan hall house, nestled among trees on a rise overlooking the Patricia Bay Highway, and a prominent 2.4 hectare site, adjacent to West Saanich Road, in the Royal Oak area of Saanich.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the building lies in its association with the Forrests and the Maltwoods. The Royal Oak Inn was commissioned by Colin and Florence Forrest, who wanted to replicate a fourteenth century English hall house as an English-style tearoom. The building is nestled into the landscape among the native Garry Oak trees. In 1940, the building was sold to Katharine Emma and John Maltwood, who called it The Thatch, and filled it with antiques and art works. Katharine, a noted sculptress, was a student of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. After her death in 1964, John donated the house and collections to the University of Victoria for use as the University art museum, named in her honour.

The Royal Oak Inn is valued as a good example of the English Vernacular Revival Style. It is a Cotswold Cottage style, T-plan building that suggests a rambling old building constructed over a number of years. Designed to mimic a half-timbered English medieval cottage, its double-height great hall has exposed roof beams, and its jerkin-headed roofs have rolled edges that are covered in steam-bent shingles resembling traditional thatch.

The Royal Oak Inn is valued for its association with its architect Hubert Savage (1884-1955) whose work over a long career reflected a profound attachment to his British roots.

In 1980, the University sold the property to Municipality of Saanich and moved the museum and collections to the Gordon Head campus, forming the basis of the current Maltwood Museum. The building was designated by the City, and is the first in Saanich to have a heritage designation for its interior. Its conversion to a restaurant returns this former inn to its original public usage.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements of the heritage character of the Royal Oak Inn include its:
- complex asymmetrical form and irregular massing
- picturesque roofline, with jerkin-headed gables and irregularly-placed eyebrow dormers
- cedar shingle roof, with rolled edges covered by steam-bent shingles
- rough cast light-coloured walls and half-timbering in contrasting darker colour
- large brick chimneys
- fenestration including multi-paned leaded-light wooden-sash casement windows
- interior features that are original to the construction of the building such as hand-adzed post and beam timbers; a great hall with a vaulted ceiling; stone and Inglenook brick fireplaces; a mezzanine minstrels' gallery; oak floors
- plaque in the hall commemorating the donation of the house and its collections by the Maltwoods to the University of Victoria in 1964
- relationship of the building to the landscape, set in a meadow on a sloping site facing south
- landscaping, gardens and contributing sculptures and features such as the Glastonbury Tree; English dry stone terraced rock garden; and mature trees including Lombardy Poplars and Garry oaks



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)

1964/01/01 to 1964/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations
Peopling the Land
Migration and Immigration

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment

Architect / Designer

Hubert Savage



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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