Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
‘Rockside’ is a two-storey late Victorian era house of wood-frame construction with detailing influenced by the Queen Anne Revival style, and later additions. Facing north, the house is situated in a residential neighbourhood, on a lot of modest size, between a steep slope to the south and Palmer Road to the north.
‘Rockside’ is valued for its transitional late nineteenth century architecture and for its evolution over time. It retains much of its late nineteenth century character and architectural detailing, marking it as a fine example of early residential architecture in Saanich. The growth of the house indicates the sometimes casual nature of early house construction, with substantial additions being built as families grew and funds allowed. The front portion of the house was built circa 1896, and reflects an eclectic response to the popular architectural styles of the time. The square, hipped roof massing demonstrates the influence of the Italianate style, while additional features, such as the wraparound verandah that may have been added later, display Queen Anne Revival details. The 1909 addition to the south features sophisticated Queen Anne Revival detailing, and bears little relation to the original house; it was likely a separate dwelling moved to this location and attached to the circa 1896 house.
‘Rockside’ is also significant for its association with its original owner, Richard Mason Palmer, who purchased this land in 1896. A noted horticulturalist and gladiola grower, Palmer was the first horticulturalist employed with the BC provincial government and was provincial Deputy Minister of Agriculture from 1909-11. The Palmer family lived here until about 1911, at which time they moved to Kamloops so that Palmer could pursue private work on irrigation development. Palmer's children followed in their father’s footsteps and also became noted horticulturalists; the Palmers became known as BC's 'first family in agriculture.' The Palmer family retained ownership of ‘Rockside’ until 1944.
Additionally, ‘Rockside’ illustrates the early development patterns of Saanich, and the transition from its rural origins. Palmer’s original property comprised 4.0 hectares of land, which he developed as an orchard. Quadra Street would have provided the original access to the property. Although the house remains on its original site, the remainder of the property has been subdivided for residential lots, and the access road is named after Palmer.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Key elements that define the heritage character of ‘Rockside’ include its:
- original location on a north-facing, steeply sloped lot, set close to the street
- proximity to the major thoroughfare of Quadra Street
- residential form, scale and massing, as expressed by its asymmetrical two-storey height and 'L' shaped, compound plan
- bellcast hipped roof on the original house, and gabled roof on south addition
- two tall corbelled internal red-brick chimneys
- wood-frame construction with wooden drop siding and cornerboards
- brick and rubble-stone foundation
- Italianate style influence on the original house, including symmetrical massing and articulated window trim
- wraparound verandah with square columns, scroll-cut brackets and corner pediment
- Queen Anne Revival style influence as evident in the 1909 addition, such as: the pent roof in the gable; bellcast shingle beltcourse between the upper and lower floors; cutaway bay windows; and scroll-cut brackets
- regular fenestration: single and double-assembly narrow 1-over-1 and 2-over-2 double-hung wood-sash windows with wood trim and cornices; flashed stained glass window in entry foyer
- associated landscape features, including an early, wood-frame garage, rear retaining wall holding a sharp slope and mature specimen trees including a cedar and an elm
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Cross-Reference to Collection