Oak Bay United Church
1355 Mitchell Street
2095 Granite Street
St. Columba Presbyterian Church
2089 Granite Street
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Oak Bay United Church stands at the intersection of Mitchell and Granite Streets in Oak Bay, British Columbia. This red brick church occupies a prominent position in a mainly residential area. The entrance is on Granite Street, where a double staircase leads up to the main door. The main facade is dominated by a square tower with a spire.
The Oak Bay United Church has strong spiritual and emotional value for its congregation and for the community. Built in 1914 for the congregation of St. Columba Presbyterian Church, the building became the Oak Bay United Church in 1926. The United Church was formed by the amalgamation of three Protestant denominations: the Methodist, the Congregationalist, and two-thirds of the Presbyterian churches. The congregation of St. Columba chose to join the United Church. Over the years, the fabric of the building deteriorated and the congregation was forced to decide between demolition and restoration. It overwhelmingly chose the latter, and today support for the continued care of the building is strong and increasing.
The church is a landmark structure which makes a significant contribution to the ambience of the residential area in which it stands. Its scale and massing complement the surrounding houses.
The Oak Bay United Church is further valued for its architectural style, which is primarily Gothic Revival with some eclectic elements, harmoniously and competently combined. Its main facade is dominated by a rectangular corner tower with an octagonal-plan steeple with lancet ventilators. This impressive Gothic Revival facade has regular fenestration, stained glass windows, pointed arches, and elegant brick detailing. At the rear, a rectangular section housing a kitchen and chapel has Italianate details. The interior of the main church is cruciform, with hammer beams supporting the vaulted ceiling. At the southern arm is a hemispherical chancel having a ribbed half-dome ceiling with stained glass panels illuminated artificially from the rear, giving the impression that sunlight is shining through.
This building is also valued for its association with architect William Henderson, who designed and donated the plans for this church in 1914. Henderson was born in Scotland and settled in Victoria in 1897 after a career working in the building trade as a mason and construction supervisor on many federal government buildings across Canada. He was a prominent Oak Bay citizen, who served as alderman on the first Council of Oak Bay from 1906 to 1908, and as Reeve from 1909 to 1911.
The building is also valued for its association with Cornelus Johannes Schaddelee, founder of The Dutch Bakery in Victoria, a well-known and respected business for over 60 years. Schaddelee created the stained-glass panel that has been inserted into the window of the north arm of the sanctuary.
Source: District of Oak Bay Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of Oak Bay United Church include its:
- prominent location at an intersection in a residential area
- siting at the lot line with no setback
- ecclesiastical form, scale, and massing, with front gabled roof, cross gable, and corner tower with pyramidal roof and gabled ventilators
- masonry construction, concrete foundations
- ecclesiastical details such as stained glass window with tracery above main entrance, ceremonial entrance
- exterior architectural details including corner tower with octagonal spire and gabled projections, one internal chimney, ventilator lantern at crossing
- regular fenestration, stained glass windows, double-hung sash windows
- original interior elements including hammer beams, domed fan-light with stained glass at the south side of the sanctuary, wood floor and ceiling lining, plaque in honour of William Henderson
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
1926/01/01 to 1926/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
District of Oak Bay Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection