Bed and Breakfast History – Ashcroft House Bed and Breakfast
We hope you enjoy learning a little history of our 1898 Heritage designated Bed and Breakfast accommodations, located in sunny James Bay, downtown Victoria the capital of British Columbia, Canada.
A little history of a home that has welcomed friends from the day the doors opened in 1898.
E.H.H. Taylor of Britain (grandson of the Marquis of Headfort of Kells, County Meath, Ireland) was a well traveled man enjoying many different ports of call. We are fortunate to have a picture of him riding an elephant in India, a picture of the view of Jaffa from the house he stayed in, and a family shot back in Britain. In the year 1892 Taylor was off again for another adventure; this time he was on his way to China and Australia. It was this journey that brought him to Victoria where he befriended a local musician, George Jennings Burnett. George himself was a bit of an adventurer and was soon guiding Taylor on bicycle expeditions around the James Bay waterfront and trips further along Vancouver Islands west coast to Jordan River and Port Alberni. These must have been some incredible bike trips because 5 years later Taylor made Victoria his destination once more. After boarding with Everett Ward for the better part of a year Taylor decided that Victoria was indeed home. With his love of the James Bay waterfront he chose a plot of land just a block from the sea and started building in 1898. Once the 4200 square foot house was completed Taylor, a bachelor, extended the invitation to his good friend George (including Georges wife, 2 brothers, and one sister) and of course to Everett (and his wife and new baby girl) to reside in the new James Bay house with him. IAs listed on a 1901 census record Taylor himself and both families plus an additional 2 boarders and a servant were in residence here. This is my absolute favorite part of our homes history, seems like this wonderful house has always had an open invitation, lots of house guests, and all the positive energy that comes from giving back to others.
The other fun historical note about Taylor himself is his fascination with exotic parrots; he became a rather amateur ornithologist. In 1897 when Taylor came to Victoria on his second trip he had brought with him several parrots and other exotic birds and once the house was completed he immediately started building an aviary in the back garden for his treasured birds. It is often noted that Taylor enjoyed riding his bike around town with his favorite cockatoo perched on the handlebars of his bike. The aviary is still here though I confess much more of a storage shed than a habitable home for animals, although it did take us 3 attempts to evict the river otter who found living under the aviary quite satisfactory.
For a property over 110 years old there have been remarkably few owners. In 1903 Taylor married George’s older sister, Ada. Ada’s father and brother resided in the house until their deaths, the last being in 1936. Frank and Evinda Williams bought the house in 1939. Frank was a fireman for twenty years, retired in 1953, and enjoyed the house and its fabulous location until his death in 1969. The house was bought by a neighbor and within the year flipped for a small profit. The purchaser Pamela Verduyn ran the ‘Battery Street Guest House” from 1970 through 2002. We still to this day receive calls from people enquiring about her successful B&B. When Pamela retired in 2002 she sold the property and the new owners only stayed for 18 months. They sold and again the new owners only stayed for about 18 months, the property was then purchased by Ann & Derek. These two seasoned B&B owners breathed a fresh new start into the Battery Street Guest House. After close to a year of drywall dust, plumbing & electrical upgrades, and many, many gallons of paint, Ashcroft House Bed and Breakfast, Victoria BC was born in the late fall of 2004. David and I had been looking for the opportunity to purchase a Bed & Breakfast in Victoria BC for the previous 3 years, during which we did put in offers on 3 other properties. After 3 years of searching I was having a harder time believing ‘the right one will happen’ and now; I wouldn’t trade this property for any of the others we looked at! We know you will enjoy Ashcroft House as much as we do, the big bright windows letting in all that southern sunshine, the warm inviting energy, the fresh sea air, and of course the friendly and quiet neighbourhood of James Bay, downtown Victoria.