2184-2194 Oak Bay Avenue

The Castle Block is a two storey, with crawlspace, Tudor Revival landmark that extends 35 metres along the north side of Oak Bay Avenue in the heart of the commercial corridor. With a commercial lower floor, the façade is side-gabled with both twin and single gabled projections. Parking for the building is behind in what is known as ‘Theatre Lane.’

Heritage Value: 

This large, Tudor Revival building has dominated Oak Bay Village since its construction in 1936, and has lent much credence to the ‘English’ atmosphere of Oak Bay. Though the shop fronts have been altered, most of the exterior details are intact. The building was constructed using many local products - the ‘Duroid’ roofing and ‘Fibre-Rock’ insulating board were made by the Sidney Roofing and Paper Co. Ltd. of Victoria.

The Castle Block was designed by Eric Charlesworth Clarkson (1895-1977), an architect who had a varied and prolific career in England, India and California before moving to Victoria where he received commissions for Mount View High School in Saanich (1931), the Atlas Theatre (1936) and Red Cross House (1945-46). Between 1932 and 1938 Clarkson also designed a number of residences in Victoria and Oak Bay that were built by contractor Robert Noble, the contractor for the Oak Bay Theatre.

Commissioned by R. F. Castle, this structure originally housed a theatre, coffee shop and dance hall on the second floor, a room once famed for having no obstructing columns. The lower level has continuously operated as commercial space since 1936. The change in function, with the closure of the theatre, is indicative of the changing demographics and tastes of the local residents but the building continues to have strong cultural associations and remains part of collective community memory.

The Castle Building is valued as an important component of the historic context of Oak Bay Avenue, which is enhanced by the Bell Block and the old Oak Bay Grocery building – all three of which serve as ‘anchors’ for the commercial core of Oak Bay.

Character Defining Elements: 
  • setting within a context of other heritage commercial properties, built to the property line;
  • location along Oak Bay Avenue, a commercial corridor;
  • form, scale and massing;
  • combination roof with side gables and front gabled extensions on the front façade, pseudo Mansard roof with flat top at the rear;
  • concrete foundation, wood frame construction, parged stucco with wood trim;
  • style details such as half timbering on the second storey, heavy wood brackets, parallel front gables on the entrance to the theatre, mini jettys, brackets, exposed rafter ends, barge boards;
  • exterior architectural elements: Oak Bay Theatre neon sign, two internal brick chimneys, flag brackets;
  • regular fenestration: multi-paned casement windows, some cross leaded in front façade, some multiple assembly;
  • interior features: original wooden dance floor building using the ‘English’ construction method (tongue in groove; nailed parallel on the joist), most of the lobby;
  • landscape features: Theatre Lane
Identifying Names: 
Castle Block, Oak Bay Theatre, Little Theatre
South Foul Bay / Windsor
Oak Bay
Capital Region District