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Helmcken House

638 Elliot Street, Victoria, Colombie-Britannique, Canada

Reconnu formellement en: 1963/12/05

Helmcken House in summer; BC Heritage Branch
Oblique view of front elevation
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Autre nom(s)


Liens et documents

Date(s) de construction


Inscrit au répertoire canadien: 2004/08/17

Énoncé d'importance

Description du lieu patrimonial

Helmcken House is a one-storey log house, with two distinctive two-storey wood-frame additions. The house faces Elliott Street Square beside the Royal BC Museum on a slight rise of land that looks north to downtown Victoria, BC.

Valeur patrimoniale

Helmcken House is significant because it was the home (1853 to 1920) of Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken, first speaker of an elected assembly in British Columbia, one of the three negotiators of British Columbia's entry into Confederation, early Vancouver Island doctor, and founding president of the British Columbia Medical Association. It is also an excellent example of the evolution of wooden, vernacular houses in nineteenth-century British Columbia.

The original shingle-clad, squared-log structure, begun by Hudson's Bay Company workers in 1852, is one of the few surviving intact examples in British Columbia of piece-sur-piece construction. The dining room addition, clad with cedar shingles, added ca. 1856, is a good example of vernacular post and beam construction. The two-story gabled balloon-frame addition with its front verandah, built ca. 1889 for the doctor's youngest daughter, was professionally built, its mass-produced drop siding contrasting with the cedar shingles of the earlier wings.

Heritage value is also derived from Helmcken House's location beside the site of Sir James Douglas's home (demolished). Upon marriage to the eldest Douglas daughter, Helmcken built his house to be next door to his in-laws. The two houses were among the first substantial houses built outside Fort Victoria, marking the beginning of James Bay, Victoria's earliest residential neighbourhood. Purchased by the provincial government in 1939, Helmcken House is also significant as the first provincially owned historic site in British Columbia.

Source: BC Heritage Branch properties files

Éléments caractéristiques

The character-defining elements of Helmcken House include:
- physical features remaining from the residency of Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken
- the house's three distinctive styles, construction techniques and exterior colours
- the original location of the house
- the spatial configuration of the stairways and of the interior rooms and corridors on both floors
- original woodwork and interior surfaces throughout the house
- the furnishings and layout of the doctor's bedroom, which his daughter preserved as a shrine to her father after his death in 1920




Autorité de reconnaissance

Province de la Colombie-Britannique

Loi habilitante

Heritage Conservation Act, art.9, art.13(1)(a)

Type de reconnaissance

Lieu patrimonial provincial (désigné)

Date de reconnaissance


Données sur l'histoire

Date(s) importantes

1889/01/01 à 1889/01/01
1939/01/01 à 1939/01/01

Thème - catégorie et type

Un territoire à peupler
Les établissements

Catégorie de fonction / Type de fonction


Site historique ou d'interprétation


Logement unifamilial

Architecte / Concepteur



Hudson's Bay Company

Informations supplémentaires

Emplacement de la documentation

BC Heritage Branch properties files

Réfère à une collection

Identificateur féd./prov./terr.




Inscriptions associées



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