Home / Accueil

557-559 Johnson Street

557-559 Johnson Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of 557-559 Johnson Street, February 2006.; City of Victoria, Berdine J. Jonker, 2006
North elevation
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)

557-559 Johnson Street
Saunders Grocery Store
Gilmore & McCandless Merchant Tailors and Clothiers

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/10/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

557-559 Johnson Street is a three-storey Italianate brick commercial building situated on the south side of lower Johnson Street. It is the central building in a group of three structures which make up the Paper Box Arcade, a retail and residential complex in the Old Town district of downtown Victoria.

Heritage Value

557-559 Johnson Street is valued as a symbol of the prosperity of one of Victoria's most important early commercial districts. Constructed in two stages in 1875 and 1886, this modest building illustrates how the city grew to become the primary urban centre of the province in the late nineteenth century. Commercially, this building is valued for its historic associations with supply businesses such as Henry Saunders grocery store, and later Gilmore & McCandless Merchant Tailors and Clothiers. It reinforces the role of the Old Town district of Victoria as the centre of retail trade, catering to the needs of gold rush miners and locals alike.

557-559 Johnson Street makes an important physical contribution to the streetscape in its massing and street-front facade, forming a cohesive unit with the other similar buildings on this side of Johnson Street. It is also valued as an example of early downtown revitalization in Victoria. Together with 547-555 and 561-563 Johnson Street, it forms the 'Paper Box Arcade', an innovative residential/retail heritage rehabilitation development which occurred in the mid 1980s.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of 557-559 Johnson Street include:
- Its three-storey massing.
- Its contribution to the Johnson Street streetscape, seen in the cohesion of its design and form with other buildings on this side of the street.
- Surviving original street-front facade elements, including upper-storey fenestration, joinery, quoining, and decorative cornice.
- The composition of the storefront with two display windows flanking a recessed central doorway.
- The pronounced stylistic differences between the second and third storeys of the street front facade.
- Its relationship to 547-555 and 561-563 Johnson Street, and its contribution to the 'Paper Box Arcade' development.



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)

1886/01/01 to 1886/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places