History - The James Bay inn

┬áHistory “Excerpt from local newspaper”

James Bay Inn - HistoryHistoric JAMES BAY INN is the third oldest hotel in Victoria, preceded only by the Dominion Hotel and the Empress, 1908. Opened in 1911 it has operated continuously as a hotel with only a brief interlude during the war years.

By the erection and completion of the James Bay hotel, corner of Government and Toronto streets and at the foot of Avalon road, a long-felt want in that old residential district has been supplied. It is situated in a beautiful section of the city, close to Beacon Hall park, within easy access of the business portion of the city and the ferry docks.

The building is so arranged that every one of its hundred rooms is an outside one, there being ample space between it and the surrounding property to secure light and fresh air in unlimited quantity. The Parfitt Brothers, the well-known firm of builders and contractors are the builders and owners of the hotel, which has been leased to F.C.Smith, a hotel manager of wide experience both in Europe and on this continent, who will conduct it along modern lines. The property on which it is built is part of the Cridge estate. The plans were drawn by E.M.Watkins, architect, of this city.

James Bay Inn - HistoryFrom 1942 – 1945 the hotel was purchased by Mother Cecilia’s religious order and operated as St. Mary’s Priory. It was during this period that the hotel welcomed its most famous guest. Canadian artist and author Emily Carr was a patient at the Priory in her final illness, dying there March 2, 1945.

The main entrance to the hotel, with steps and balustrades, gives the building a massive appearance, the recesses being paneled and set out with tile and marble. On entering is seen the comfortable-looking pressed brick fireplace, handsomely finished with beveled plate mirrors and heavy cornice. The office is also located here, with a large fireproof vault for the storing of guests valuables, etc. To the left is the wide and spacious stairways leading to the upper floors, the halls of which are unusually wide and well lighted and most comfortably furnished with lounges and writing tables.

A most attractive feature is the large open balcony on each floor, affording a splendid view of the park and enabling guests to benefit by the fresh air at all seasons.

James Bay Inn - HistoryMr. Smith has furnished the rooms in a thorough and up-to-date manner, the furniture being of the most tasteful design and the appearance of all the rooms being comfortable and home-like in the extreme. There is a telephone in every room, served from a private branch exchange and communicating through the exchange with the city telephone service.

The grill, situated on the ground floor, is not the least pleasing feature of the building. It is paneled in Old English style and is prettily decorated, comparing favorably with an institution of the kind in the city. H.E. Church has leased the grill, the business of which is already increasing at such a rate that it bids fair to become a very popular resort for those desiring first-class catering at moderate charges. Mr. Church is a caterer of some fifteen years’ experience and is well known here and in Vancouver.

The painting and decorating of the building was executed throughout by Wormald & Paul, the heating and plumbing was installed by W.R.Menzies & Company; W.M. McNeil & Co. did the glasswork, F.R.Irwin & Co. supplied the tiles and marbles and the terrazzo work was done by Picca & Galls.

James Bay Inn - HistoryThe building is constructed of reinforced concrete and brickwork, the two upper stories being finished in stucco work, with all cornices and projections in metal and concrete, the red Spanish tile covering supported on massive brackets, giving the whole a unique appearance. A fireproof bulkhead partition is constructed across the entire width of the building, with metal doors in all corridors, and all the latest appliances as required by law and supervised by Fire Chief Davis.

On the ground floor the south wing consists of suites of rooms, while in the centre is installed the heating plant, suitably arranged in reinforced concrete. The entire north wing on the ground floor is occupied by the cafe and grill, with kitchen, pantries, storerooms, etc., while the spacious dining room, looking comfortable and homelike, with its pressed brick colonial fireplace, has been furnished to accommodate one hundred guests, with a space provided for the orchestra. On the ground floor in the centre of the building is the entrance to the grill, effectively finished in white glazed tiles and terrazzo, with handsome plate-glass doors.