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W.G. Cameron Building

581 Johnson Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of the W.G. Cameron Building; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
Johnson Street facade
Exterior view of the W.G Cameron Building; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
Johnson Street façade, showing adjacent alleyway
Exterior view of the W.G. Cameron Building; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
Rear façade showing Klondike-era courtyard

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/11/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The W.G. Cameron Building is a two-storey brick commercial building located on the corner of an alley on the south side of the 500 block of Johnson Street. It is distinguishable by its decorative façade, intact cast-iron columns and wooden storefront, and a name plate bearing the name "W.G. Cameron" in its prominent cornice.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the W.G. Cameron building lies in its intact condition and the contribution it makes to the continuity of this block of Johnson Street and the historic character of Victoria's Old Town District. It also has a notable association with its first owner.

Constructed in 1888 by architects Fisher and Wilson, this commercial building is valued for its retention of elements which made it one of the most modern and functional buildings in the city at the time of its construction: an attractive street presence, and well-lit interior spaces. Situated next to an alleyway and with a Klondike-era courtyard at rear, it is of value to the commercial core of Victoria's downtown because it helps to retain and define the infrastructure that supported the period of significant development and growth which occurred during the latter years of the nineteenth century as the city became the economic hub of British Columbia. The practical and appealing design of this building is a valuable reflection on the enterprising success of its first owner, Californian W. G. Cameron, who operated his "Mechanic's Cash Clothing Store" here until 1911, and went on to become a city alderman, Land Commissioner, and a local MP.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the W.G. Cameron Building include:
- Its location on an alleyway, which allows for windows on the east façade.
- The contribution of the exterior brick walls to the Klondike-era courtyard at the rear.
- Its modest scale and two-storey form.
- Its sense of cohesiveness with other historic buildings along the south side of Johnson Street.
- Its relatively intact storefront, featuring such elements as cast-iron columns and detailing, and large windows with transoms, which allow for a well-lit interior.
- Its intact and decorative façade detailing, including incised scrolled ornamentation and the "W.G. Cameron" name plate, the prominent cornice, and the arch above the two central windows.
- Upper storey double-hung wooden-sash windows.
- Interior spaces which support the heritage character of its 1888 design by architects Fisher and Wilson.
- The integrity of the building envelope, which identifies it as a nineteenth-century commercial building.



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


Architect / Designer

Fisher and Wilson


Elford and Smith

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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