Newcastle Heritage Homes and their Genealogies

In 1860, 500 acres on the north side of the Millstone in Newcastle Townsite was purchased by the City of Nanaimo from the E&N railroad and 47 ½ to 3 acre lots were subsequently sold at auction in Victoria. Access to the area was by an old, wooden bridge. The area remained a suburb within the 1875 city limits, but was still sparsely populated with homes scattered throughout the townsite.  Two of the oldest homes still standing date to 1890 and 1898. By the early 20th century more residences were constructed and, as a result, we are left with many excellent examples in the neighbourhood of the Craftsmen style. 

Newcastle, Stewart and Vancouver were all initially named as such but until 1949 the streets were creatively called First (Dawes); Second (Bryden); Third (Mt Benson); Fourth (Rosehill) and Fifth (Townsite). Terminal was Union Avenue N and then became Departure Bay Road before settling on Terminal.

Read more about the original residents in these various Newcastle Heritage Home Genealogies:

Bird House: 461 Vancouver Avenue

Built in 1914, the Bird House is a good example of a Craftsman style home. The house features many design elements typical of this style including half timbering in the gable ends, triangular eave brackets and an open
front verandah supported by flared piers. Although the original wood siding has been covered by stucco and most of the original windows replaced or modified, the building is otherwise substantially intact. The house was designed by William Frederick Gardiner (1884-1951) born in Bath, England who came to Vancouver in 1907.

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Ekins Residence: 441 Vancouver Avenue

Built in 1927, for Dr. William Edward James Ekins, the residence reflects the period revival styles popular in the years between the two World Wars. It is a very good example of the English Arts & Crafts style, a romantic form that recalls an idealized medieval past. It has many elements of the style including a very steeply-pitched, bell-cast hipped roof, dormers, stucco cladding, tall brick chimney, and tall multi-paned wooden-sash casement windows. Visual interest is provided by a gable projection over the front entry, a hip dormer and a larger jerkin-headed dormer facing to the front. The house has been very well maintained by the present owners. The beautifully landscaped garden provides
an appropriate setting.

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G.L. Schetky Residence: 225 Vancouver Avenue

Built around 1898, the Schetky residence is an excellent example of a transitional late Victorian/Edwardian style
bungalow. The Edwardian style, popular from about 1898 to 1910, is recognized for its simplicity and balance compared to the sometimes over complicated look of Victorian architecture. Less complex and decorative, this
style tends towards a more symmetrical and classical appearance as embodied in the Schetky Residence.

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James Galbraith: 164 Mount Benson St: 1923

Built in 1923, the Galbraith Residence is a very good example of a Late Craftsman bungalow, a popular style among Nanaimo’s entrepreneurial and professional class during the 1920s. The character-defining elements of the Galbraith Residence are expressed in the horizontal massing, shingle-cladding, open front verandah,
multi-paned windows, stucco and wood half-timbering in the gable ends, and front gable roof.

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Daniel Galbraith: 185 Stewart Avenue: 1890

This is the earliest known surviving residence in the Newcastle neighbourhood. Originally built around 1890 and extensively remodelled in a vernacular English Cottage style in the 1930s, it is a good example of the stylistic evolution of a building over time. Design features representative of this style include asymmetric building forms, rolled eaves (designed to simulate the appearance of thatch), multi-gabled and mixed materials facades, dormers and jerkin headed and steeply pitched gable roofs. Located on a corner lot at Stewart and Bryden on a major thoroughfare, the residence is a highly visible neighbourhood landmark. It is now painted blue.

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Hoggan’s Store: 404 Stewart Ave 1914

When constructed in 1914, Hoggan’s Store was considered one of the most modern and best equipped business blocks in Nanaimo. Built using Gabriola bricks, it is substantially intact and is a very good example of a vernacular Edwardian Commercial style building. This restrained, symmetrical style was very popular after the exuberant eclecticism of the Victorian era. All of the elements of Edwardian Commercial style are evident as expressed in the simple form and massing, symmetrical façade, overall restrained appearance, brick cladding, wooden sash windows, stained glass transom panels in the upper floor arched windows, pressed metal cornice, the cast iron columns, and the recessed storefront with obscure leaded glass panels. Hoggan’s Store was, for many years, the only commercial building in Newcastle Townsite. Its presence is a tangible reminder that this area was, from its initial development in the early 1900s to the 1960s, a prestigious, almost exclusively residential neighbourhood.

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Zillah Cooke Johnston: 36 Stewart Avenue 1912

Located on a narrow lot bounded by a main thoroughfare and the waterfront, the residence at 36 Stewart Avenue is a highly visible neighbourhood landmark. Built in 1912, the house displays many sophisticated features of Craftsman style architecture. The complex gable roof covers a bungalow form, with a corner entry and an unusual round projecting bay at the southwest corner. Stained glass panels and straight-leaded glass are used as decorative features. Half-timbering in the gable ends, triangular eave brackets, and exposed rafter ends are other hallmarks of the Craftsman style.

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Sharp Residence: 261 Vancouver Avenue 1923

Built in 1923, the one-storey Sharp Residence is a very good example of a Late Craftsman-style bungalow and a rare example of brick residential construction. Long and low in form, the Sharp Residence has many typical Late Craftsman features, including an open front verandah and triangular eave brackets. The building is also notable for its brick construction, as brick was rarely used for residential buildings in Nanaimo. Other character defining elements are the rough-cast brick checkerboard pattern in the gable ends, the casement and double-hung wooden sash windows, bell cast roof, and wide bargeboards.

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William Sloan: 255 Stewart Avenue 1900 & 1931

This property is prominently located at the corner of Stewart Avenue and Mt Benson Street. The low stone and concrete wall and cut stone gateposts that front onto Stewart Avenue were part of an earlier Queen Anne style mansion centred in the middle of this block and built in 1900. The current residence at 255 Stewart Avenue was built in 1931 and is an excellent example of the English Cottage Style that was very popular in Nanaimo during the interwar period. Design features representative of this style include the asymmetric floor plans and rolled eave roof treatments, designed to simulate the appearance of thatch. Other notable design features include jerkin-headed and steeply pitched gable roofs and early use of rough stucco siding. The building is surrounded by mature, sympathetic landscaping which features a row of Chestnut trees located on the adjoining Mt. Benson Street right-of-way.

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Archibald Charles Van Houten: 184 Mount Benson 1924

This one and one-half storey residence built in 1924 for Archibald Charles Van Houten is a very good example of a late Craftsman bungalow, a popular style among Nanaimo’s entrepreneurial and professional class during the 1920s. All the elements of the Late Craftsman style are expressed by the horizontal massing; large, open front verandah supported on twinned columns; side, jerkin-headed gable roof with front jerkin-headed gable that projects over front verandah; wide lapped wooden siding with a bell-cast at the bottom of each wall; and multi-paned, double hung wooden sash windows.

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Westwood/ Giovando Residence: 225 Newcastle

Built in 1942, the residence at 225 Newcastle is a prominent landmark in Nanaimo with its spectacular waterfront location, exceptional condition and unusual style. The building’s horizontal form, simple smooth surfaces and curved second floor balcony illustrate the elements of sleekness and modernity typical of the historic Art Deco “Streamline Moderne” style; and demonstrate the influence of the new discipline of Industrial Design.

The house was designed by Otto Wilhem Becker (1914-1990) who, it is believed, sailed to Vancouver from Hamburg, Germany on Nov 10 1925 with his mother, Wilhelmina Lisette Kramer Balcke Becker (1880-1969) and stepfather, Otto Emil Adolf Becker (1886-1964) who had married his mother on Nov 27 1920 in Hamburg. Otto Wilhem Becker married Catherine Margaret McRae Seggie in Nanaimo on July 31 1937. She was the daughter of Peter Seggie (1885-1960), accountant for Canadian Colleries, and Jane Patterson McKinley (1887-1964). Otto Becker and Associates would make a name for himself with the construction in Vancouver of the eighteen storey “self-owned apartment” Ocean Towers in 1957 which would instigate the high-rise boom in Vancouver’s West End.

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