William Herbert Cross Residence
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Valrose consists of a two and one-half storey mansion named Valrose and associated grounds in the Uplands residential district of Oak Bay.
The Cross family home, Valrose, is valued as part of the social and architectural development of Oak Bay's Uplands district. This property was one of the original 12 homes built in the first phase of the Uplands development prior to World War I. Valrose is part of a distinct subdivision designed by North America's leading landscape architect, John Charles Olmsted. Olmsted's vision was to design the Uplands subdivision as a residential park to harmonize with the natural environment. Valrose is an example of the exceptional skills of local building contractor Peter McKechnie, who worked for Uplands Limited under the nominal supervision of company architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury.
This home is important to Oak Bay in its association with William Herber Cross, who established himself as a rancher and owner of the Calgary Brewing Company. W.H. Cross was a principal member of the Foncier Group, a French Syndicate, which conceived and financed the Uplands development on the former Hudson's Bay Company Uplands Farm. It is notable that W.H. Cross, of Scottish descent and influential in Canadian economic development, chose to build this grand home and retire in the Uplands. Built for the Cross family in 1915, Valrose is also important as home to his sister Yvette Germaine Cross and her husband William Jacobus Semeyn, a prominent Victoria architect. They were married in the late 1930s and lived in the home until the death of W.J. Semeyn in 1952. Also important is the association of the home with Ronald McKenzie, a successful entrepreneur and active in city politics, who purchased the home in 1971. He was a City of Victoria alderman, and occasionally acting mayor, for 6 years from 1975 to 1981. It is notable that his daughter, Roxana Simons, has continued to own the home since 1993.
The architectural values of Valrose are associated with its unique Georgian Revival symmetrical design, enriched with classical detail and distinctive exterior brick cladding. The grand scale of the building, combined with the quality of both exterior and interior finishing, exemplifies the social status of the wealthy Cross family.
Source: The Corporation of the District of Oak Bay
Key elements that define the heritage character of Valrose include:
- The location of the site at the corner of Landsdowne and Uplands roads.
- Symmetrical Georgian Revival design with balanced alignment of windows and doors, main entrance side lights, and terrace French doors.
- French Renaissance Revival detailing, found in the cube-shape massing, the exterior brick cladding, and the balustrades of the garden terrace and the porte-cochere roofline.
- Low pitched hip roof with symmetrically placed gables, dormers and chimneys.
- Intact floor plan (except for the kitchen).
- Authentic interior detailing, such as the fir trim and wainscoting with original finishes, oak flooring, marble fireplaces, architectural hardware and light fixtures.
- Mature oak and cherry trees on the property.
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
The Corporation of the District of Oak Bay.
See also: McKechnie photograph collection, Oak Bay Archives
Cross-Reference to Collection