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Willie's Bakery

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

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of Willie's Bakery, Johnson Street facade, February 2006; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2006
North elevation
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Other Name(s)

Wille's Bakery
Willie's Bakery

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/10/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Willie's Bakery is a two-storey Italianate building located by the Johnson Street entrance to Waddington Alley. It can be identified by its bracketed cornice and ornately decorated mouldings above upper storey windows, and its cast iron storefront columns.

Heritage Value

Willie's Bakery is important to the City of Victoria's heritage as a product of late nineteenth century entrepreneurship. Opened as a bakery by miller and baker Louis Wille in 1887, it provides an important reflection of a typical building and business that contributed to the city's boom time between 1886 and 1892, and supported the city's growth as the economic hub of British Columbia.

Custom-built by architect Elmer H. Fisher, it is notable that Willie's Bakery housed the oldest continuous bakery operation in British Columbia's history (Wille's Bakery, 1887-1976). The functional and attractive design is a reflection of the architectural idioms of the time, and illustrates the ability of the architect to articulate the enterprising success of its original owner. Likewise, the fact that this place saw a rebirth in 1989 as Willie's Bakery, after a 23-year hiatus, speaks to the importance of Old Town traditions and the suitability of the architecture to its original purpose.

An important example of intact nineteenth century Italianate architecture, Willie's Bakery also adds to Victoria's physical heritage. It survives as a significant piece of the city's commercial and architectural history, and plays an integral role in the continuity of downtown revitalization. It is a landmark at the Johnson Street entrance to Waddington Alley, and an important part of a precinct of rehabilitated and revitalized buildings which perpetuates the heritage of picturesque streetscapes and promotes urban livability.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Willie's Bakery include:
- Its location near the Johnson Street entrance to Waddington Alley.
- Its physical status as a prominent feature of the vista from the Johnson Street Bridge.
- Its two-storey height.
- Historic construction materials such as brick masonry and its sheet metal cornice.
- Its historic design intended for mixed use, with a utilitarian basement, storefront at street level, and living quarters upstairs.
- Its intact storefront, featuring such elements as cast-iron columns, and large windows with transoms.
- Its intact decorative facade detailing, including incised scrolled ornamentation on upper-storey window hoods, and ornate bracketed cornice.
- Its upper-storey double-hung wooden sash windows.
- Its ongoing use as a bakery.



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

Elmer H. Fisher



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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