Home / Accueil

Prior Building

1401 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/11/27

Exterior view of the Prior Building; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2005.
West and south facades
No Image
No Image

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 Prior Building is a massive three-storey commercial block with a beveled corner, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Johnson and Government Streets in the commercial core of Victoria's Old Town District.

Heritage Value

The Prior building is valued for its historic association with former Premier and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, E.G. Prior. It is also significant to Victoria's Old Town District because of the physical contribution it makes to the historic streetscape.

This building has been considerably altered from its original design by architect Leonard Buttress Trimen, but it retains significant elements which shed light on its former grandeur, the socio-economic status of its original owner, and the historical context of its construction. The considerable size and prominent corner location of this 1888 building (with a 1902 addition), built for Colonel Prior, reflect the commercial prosperity of the E.G. Prior and Co. Hardware Store, which generated its success facilitating the considerable growth and development of Victoria and the province which occurred in the late nineteenth century.

The dominant form of this three-storey building with its beveled corner make it a considerable presence at the corner of Johnson and Government Streets, one of the busiest intersections in the city's commercial core. A counterpoint to the former Victoria Hotel across Government Street, the length of storefront and upper storey windows along the Johnson Street facade of the Prior Building add to the continuity of the historic streetscape, and serve to maintain the heritage character of the Old Town District.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Prior Building include:
- Its massive form and three-storey scale, and flat roof.
- Characteristics which accentuate its prominent corner location, such as its beveled corner.
- The continuity of the street wall with the surrounding urban fabric, as illustrated by the absence of set-backs.
- All surviving elements relevant to its 1888 design by architect Trimen, and the 1902 addition, including decorative and structural masonry (underneath stucco and paint), the proportions and spacing of windows, cornice detailing, and decorative pilasters;
- Interior elements which support the heritage character of its original design.
- The integrity of the late nineteenth-century building envelope.



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

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

Leonard Buttress-Trimen


Elford and Smith

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places