Gold rush, ghosts and past Prime Ministers.
In 1875 William J. Pendray came to Victoria, BC, to invest the money he made from the gold rush. In 1877 William J. Pendray married Amelia Jane Carthew from England and they had four children: Ernest, Carl, Herbert and Roy.
In 1876 Alexander Blair Grey had been appointed a Justice of the Peace, an important position in the growing town of Victoria, B.C. He had purchased a piece of land at the corner of Belleville and Oswego Streets and decided to build a new home (today known as the Judges House). Mr. Grey’s home created a bit of a stir in colonial Victoria, being rather large and splendid for a city, which, despite being the capital of the new province, was still a small frontier town.
Around 1890, the Pendrays bought a block of property on Belleville Street. It had a small cottage on it (today known as the Middle House) and the family lived in this home while their new Mansion (today known as the Gatsby Mansion) was being built beside it.
The Pendray’s new home was a lovely structure, built in the Queen Anne style, with all the trappings of a grand Victorian home. Mr. Pendray commissioned two German painters, Herr Sterns and Herr Muller, to paint frescos on the ceilings of some of the rooms, including the parlour, the dining room and two of the bedrooms; you can still see them today. Panes of stained glass were shipped from Italy in barrels of molasses so that they would not break.
Always up-to-date, Mr. Pendray had the first telephone in a private residence in BC installed in his Mansion. It was a direct line to his soap factory on Laurel Point. Unlike his neighbour Mr. Pendray, Mr. Grey lost his fortune in a crash in 1893 and his fine home had to be sold. George R Jackson was a young and very successful tailor in Victoria and bought the house soon after it was for sale. Mr. Jackson soon decided to try his hand at something new and moved to the USA, sold the house and graduated as a medical doctor. However, he did not go into practice, but turned back to business, producing a breakfast food called Roman Meal, and became a millionaire.
Back in Victoria, a young lawyer named Gordon Hunter purchased the house from Mr. Jackson when he moved to the USA. Mr. Hunter soon became Chief Justice of British Columbia, and it is for him that the house now is known as the Judges House. Hon. Hunter served as Chief Justice for 25 years and in that time many titled persons and dignitaries were entertained in the house, including Prime Minister Mackenzie King.
In the meantime during 1913, Mr. Pendray died while inspecting his factory when a pipe fell 40 feet and struck him on the head, killing him instantly. Mrs. Pendray continued to live in the Mansion after her husband’s death.
After Hon. Hunter’s Death in 1929, the Judges House was run by the Missionary Sisters of Notre Dame des Anges as a boarding house known as Belleville Lodge. In 1939, the Pendray’s children sold the Mansion to Mrs. M A Lewis for $4,500. Mrs. Lewis bequeathed it to the Missionary Sisters of Notre Dame des Anges, who ran the Mansion as a boarding house for young women, it was known as Loretto Hall until 1966.
In the 1980s, the property was purchased and expanded with the construction of the Huntingdon Manor Hotel, styled after the first and finest Canadian Pacific Hotels.
Today, the iconic property is a much-loved scenic fixture on Victoria’s Inner Harbour landscape, offering a convenient and comfortable resting place in BC’s capital city.