921 Foul Bay Road

Located on the Foul Bay escarpment, ‘Foreen’ is a landmark residence with prominent street presence that defines an important corner in a residential area at the junction of Foul Bay Road and McNeill Avenue. It is a two-and-one-half-storey residence with full basement built in the Tudor Revival/Arts and Crafts style with round-headed entrance arches, half timbering, and finials. Prominent rubble-stone foundations and first storey, with ashlar quoins and window dressings, tall rubble-stone chimneys and a complex roof line contribute to the overall appearance of the house, which sits atop a rocky rise.

Heritage Value: 

The heritage value of ‘Foreen’, built in 1914, is as an outstanding example of Arts and Crafts/Tudor Revival architecture, a residential style popular in the early part of the twentieth century, particularly in Oak Bay where British connections were strong. Distinguishing elements of this style include the steeply pitched roof with multiple cross gables, tall chimneys, and an emphasis on the vertical - achieved with the rich textural change in exterior materials including rubble-stone with ashlar quoins, stucco with half timbering, and prominent, decorative masonry chimneys. The design follows Arts and Crafts principles in its truth to materials, particularly the massive stone walls that anchor the residence to its precipitous site as testament to the solidity and permanence of the construction - creating the impression that the building grows out of the rocks on which it is situated.

‘Foreen’ is significant for its association with its architect, Samuel Maclure (1860–1929) who is closely identified with the predominantly British Arts and Crafts style of the domestic architecture common to Oak Bay, parts of Vancouver Island, and the Lower Mainland. His reputation for designing exceptionally beautiful homes led to his largest commission, Hatley Park, in nearby Colwood – considered, at the time, perhaps the finest home in Canada. He gained international recognition during his forty-year career, with close to five hundred commissions. Maclure utilized many stylistic influences and was able to adapt his use of indigenous materials with versatility. Many of Maclure’s buildings with their handsome and functional interiors have been recognized as masterworks and are considered part of the cultural heritage of BC.

‘Foreen’ is valued for its association with the Fell family. Thornton Fell, who commissioned this house in 1914, was a prominent barrister in Victoria who served as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. His father, James, was a successful businessman who served as Mayor for two terms in late nineteenth century Victoria, and the family name is honoured in Fell Street on the border of Victoria and Oak Bay. The family retained possession of the property until 1954, at which time the house was converted into suites.

This site is an important component of the Foul Bay Road cluster of contemporaneous heritage homes, built on land that had been part of the land holdings of Joseph Despard Pemberton, the first Surveyor General of the colony of Vancouver Island. It provides a significant demonstration of the social, cultural, and economic history of the area. The early houses on the Foul Bay escarpment were commissioned by affluent clients, designed by prominent architects, and employed the British Arts and Crafts architectural style. Many were surrounded by large estates with views south across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, and east to the Coast Range and the volcanic cone of Mount Baker. They represent an era of prosperity in Oak Bay's development history; but, by the mid 1950s, social and economic conditions had changed and 'Foreen', and many other properties on the escarpment, were subdivided, in-filled, and converted into suites.

Character Defining Elements: 
  • situation on the sloped high, rocky and exposed corner site on the Foul Bay escarpment, with views to the south and east
  • residential setback and location at the junction of Foul Bay Road and McNeill Avenue
  • form, scale and massing
  • steeply-pitched, picturesque hipped roof with multiple cross-gables
  • wood frame construction with stucco and wood cladding, stone foundation
  • style details such as: massive, random rubble-stone walls with roughly-squared quoins and dressings; stucco and half-timbering; arched principal entrance; continuous granite window sills and lintels
  • exterior architectural elements such as: three internal and one external chimney with prominent granite chimney-stacks, double height angled bay windows
  • fenestration, and window types such as: casement; double-hung sashes, multi-paned, multiple-assembly; leaded plain glass
  • landscape features: mature coniferous and deciduous trees and shrubs, granite wall and gates along Foul Bay Road with the incised name ‘Foreen’ on one pier cap and '921' on the other
Identifying Names: 
The Thornton and Elizabeth Forin Fell House
South Foul Bay / Windsor
Oak Bay
Capital Region District