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6490 Dear Lake Avenue, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5G, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/11/23

Exterior view of Altnadene, 1913; Burnaby Village Museum Collections, BV.985.57.1
Oblique view from the northeast
Exterior view of Altnadene, 2004; Don Dool, City of Burnaby, 2004
North facade
No Image

Other Name(s)

William John and Mary Mathers Residence
W.J. Mathers House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Altnadene is a two and one half storey wood frame house set in a large terraced garden, now located in Deer Lake Park. Built as a a family home, it is designed in the British Arts and Crafts style enriched by Tudor, Romanesque and medieval details. The historic place includes the house and surrounding gardens.

Heritage Value

Altnadene was constructed in the Deer Lake Crescent subdivision, which was originally promoted as an upper class neighbourhood. It represents one of the first residential developments in the City of Burnaby that required buildings to be of a specific value, thus demonstrating the desire for exclusivity among the successful businessmen who chose to settle in the area. The house and grounds illustrate the social, cultural, lifestyle and leisure sensibilities of the owners in the Deer Lake Crescent subdivision: such values as social aspiration, racial exclusivity, demonstration of architectural taste, importance of a landscaped garden, and the provision of facilities for fashionable pursuits such as lawn tennis.

The estate is historically significant for its connection to William John Mathers (1859-1929), an early pioneer who arrived in New Westminster in 1876, an enterprising grain dealer, businessman, alderman, president of the Board of Trade and various other local organizations, and a public spirited and progressive citizen.

Designed for Mathers and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Jane (Whelan) Mathers (1869-1939), by Burnaby architect Frank William Macey (1863-1935), the Arts and Crafts style of Altnadene contributes to the overall stylistic ambiance of the collection of homes now preserved in Deer Lake Park, displaying an eclectic array of details that give it a unique identity. The first resident architect in Burnaby, Macey was born and trained in England where he was well respected for having published two standard texts for the architectural profession. He settled in Burnaby in the first decade of the twentieth century and obtained a number of commissions from prominent businessmen who were building grand homes in the new community of Deer Lake. He designed mostly in the British Arts and Crafts style and introduced the use of rough cast stucco for building exteriors, a characteristic for which he was renowned.

The house also has an important connection to Burnaby's history as it later served as a convalescent home for soldiers wounded on the battlefront during the First World War. Indicative of the evolving functionality of the site, a classroom wing was added in 1939 after Benedictine Monks acquired the house and it was operated as the Seminary of Christ the King.

Source: Heritage Site Files: PC77000 20. City of Burnaby Planning and Building Department, 4949 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C., V5G 1M2.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Altnadene include its:
- prominent corner location within a park setting, in relation to the adjacent Anderson residence
- irregular form and massing
- irregular roof line, including a central pyramidal hipped section and open gable ends to front and sides, with cedar shingle cladding
- exterior of rough cast stucco and half timbering
- eclectic exterior details such as the Tudor arches of the verandah; and the medieval crenellations of the tower
- mixture of double hung and casement, with transom, wooden sash windows
- massive chimneys of Clayburn firebrick
- surviving interior details such as fireplaces, doors and leaded glass
- wrought iron gates, massive gate posts inscribed with Altnadene and granite walls at the corner entry of the property



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

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Recreation Centre



Architect / Designer

Frank William Macey



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Site Files: PC77000 20. City of Burnaby Planning and Building Department, 4949 Canada Way, Burnaby, B.C., V5G 1M2. See also: City of Burnaby; Salvaged original elements from the house, including fireplace surrounds, doors and hardware.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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