Brick homes are not too common in Canada, but one of the oldest in Western Canada is located here in Victoria between Pandora Avenue and Mason Street.
Originally built by George Mason in 1864, the 150-year-old building is now home to Anthony Mathews and Debra Bakowska. The home is heritage-registered by the Victoria Heritage Foundation, meaning it is not fully protected, but may warrant future preservation. Covering the bottom half of the two-storey house on the Mason Street side is a now closed-down cafe, built in 1920.
Mathews and Bakowska bought the home six years ago, after moving to Victoria from England. It took 18 months to fix up the entire property.
“The whole place was rundown,” said Mathews. “We gutted the whole place right down to the bricks and started again.”
Having previously moonlighted as a builder for seven to eight years, Mathews said he knew exactly what he was getting into.
“From a structural point of view, what’s so special about this building is it’s actually double brick,” said Mathews, adding there is an inner and outer layer of brick.
“You never get [that],” said Mathews. “Even in England, you’ll have a brick wall on the outside, but inside is what you call breeze blocks.”
This home was the only brick house Mathews and Bakowska could find for sale in Victoria when they came.
“I’m English and it’s brick. Everyone’s got a mindset what you’re brought up with. And for us in England, you’re talking brick,” said Mathews.
One side of the house had a crack in the brick as wide as a fist going all the way up, said Mathews. He had British builders in Victoria come to do the job, because they were familiar with the brickwork.
Mathews said the most trouble he had was getting permits from the city for the six phases of renovation.
On the Mason Street side of the property, Mathews runs an osteopathic and rehabilitation clinic called Bodylogic Clinic.
The former coffee shop on the Pandora Avenue side, Cranberry’s Coffee Cup, has been closed for over a year, said Mathews. Although he also said there has been recent interest from someone looking to reopen the coffee shop.