The Board of Trade Building at 31 Bastion Square was built in 1892 by architect Alexander Maxwell Muir for the British Columbia Board of Trade.

The Board of Trade Building, 31 Bastion Square. Built in 1892 by architect Alexander Maxwell Muir for the British Columbia Board of Trade

The Board of Trade Building, 31 Bastion Square. Built in 1892 by architect Alexander Maxwell Muir for the British Columbia Board of Trade

Additional Information About 31 Bastion Square, the Board of Trade Building

  • Assessed Value (July 2015): $7.639,000; Land $1,387,000 Buildings $6,252,000
  • Assessed Value (July 2014): $7.569,000; Land $1,237,000 Buildings $6,332,000

A Brief History of the Board of Trade Building

The Board of Trade Building at 31 Bastion Square was built in 1892 by architect Alexander Maxwell Muir for the British Columbia Board of Trade at an estimated construction cost of $37,000.

Here is the the 1891 local newspaper report about the Board of Trade Building before it was actually built. We thought it was worth reproducing in its entirety.

“TOWERING TO THE SKY

A Handsome Building to be Erected For The Board of Trade In This City

It Will Be Solid Evidence of Victoria’s Growth and Increasing Prosperity

——

Not very many years ago it would have been looked on as a piece of presumption had Victoria so far thrusted herself forward as to even hint at the formation of such a body as the Board of Trade.

On Thursday, the Victoria Board of Trade, a well established institution, composed of our brightest and ablest business men, accepted a local architect’s plans for a magnificent building, in which hereafter they will conduct their deliberations.

Hard facts and four stories of brick and stone make good, though silent, witnesses.

There has been quite a boom in Board of Trade buildings all over the continent lately. Chicago started it with one of the most magnificent piles on the continent, a twelve story structure, with eight towers, all of solid granite and marble. Then came Boston, then Denver, Atlanta, Rochester, Toronto, Philadelphia and New Orleans, all within a year. And Victoria, seldom, of late years, behind in the march of civilization, is to have a change in this respect, too.

On the corner of Bastion Square and Helmcken Alley, on the spot where, since the early days of Victoria’s history, several rickety wooden shanties have existed, will be started, within a very short time, the erection of a handsome brick and stone pile which will, when completed, overshadow everything in its immediate vicinity, and present to the eyes of all a building unlike in form, design, or arrangement, anything else in the city.

The plans, accepted from among those of several competitors for the award, are from the office of Mr. A.M. Muir, a gentleman who has but lately started out for himself here, but whose sterling work, while with Mr. John Teague, was universally admired. He modestly disclaims any idea of being the successful competitor, but admits, at the same time, having put his very best work into the plans, and having tried his utmost to turn out some fine work. And he has succeeded admirably. The gentlemen who examined and reported on the merits of the drawings have done wisely and well.

The general style of treatment is that of the free Italian of the Renaissance period and the beautiful light form of the architecture is brought out in all its detail by the graceful front elevation provided.

The following is a description of the building in detail: –

The basement floor, 10 feet in height, is constructed so as to offer every inducement for easy renting. It will be reached by broad steps, and the arrangements for light and ventilation are well nigh perfect. It contains a spacious heating chamber adjoining a kitchen and large pantries.Then comes a large grill room, toilet room, and wine sample room, and numerous lavatory and toilet apartments run along the rear.

The ground floor, the front pillars of which are to be of solid stone, will be divided into several commodious suites of offices and rooms. The principal of these will be a large Merchants Exchange, running the whole length of the building, and flanked by the elevator and main staircase.

The first and second floors are in arrangement practically the same, both being divided into suites of offices, all arranged so that every square inch of space is utilized, thought there is not the least attempt at or sign of crowding.

The third floor will be devoted exclusively to Board of Trade purposes. The handsome meeting room (39 x 48 ft.) will run along the front, while alongside it, will be a spacious board room with all conveniences. Then comes a smaller committee room adjoining a large secretary’s office. At the back are the toilet rooms and the janitor’s quarters, consisting of two bedrooms, a sitting room and a kitchen.

The elevator shaft is so constructed that the elevator in its passage up and down runs close by every large door in the building, and it buts onto all the bigger rooms.

The building will have a frontage of 42 feet on Bastion Square and 120 feet on Helmcken Alley. At the corner a handsome solid tower will rise out from the main block, adding a great deal of beauty to the rest of the work, and containing office and look-out rooms, which will command a superb view of the city and harbor.

It is hard to try to describe on paper the many beauties and attractive points about this new edifice soon to be built, but it is safe to say that it will, when completed, be without a rival in this city for artistic grace and striking appearance.

The architect, the Board of Trade, and citizens generally are to be congratulated on the inception of this latest proof of the rapidly growing welfare of Victoria.”

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