INTERESTING MASONIC CONNECTIONS
Douglas James, Architect
Douglas James (1888-1962) was an architect who maintained a practice in Duncan, B.C. from the early 1920s until 1943. As far as we know, he was not a member of Temple Lodge, No.33 although his brother, the well known Victoria architect Percy Leonard James (1878-1970), was a Freemason affiliated with several Masonic Lodges in Victoria, B.C. We will do more research to see whether Douglas James was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Victoria, B.C.
We have recently discovered five downtown Duncan buildings which Douglas James designed and built for Temple Lodge, No. 33 members and one downtown building building which he designed for a member of Malahat Lodge, No. 107 (Mill Bay), for which current Canadian architectural history books and websites do not give him credit (as of July 2015). We have also discovered a house Douglas James designed for a Temple Lodge member in a Duncan residential district (see Fig.7).
All seven buildings have Interesting Masonic Connections so we have added them to this website. But we have also made this page for Douglas James on our site in the hope that search engines will find it and Douglas James will belatedly receive credit and historical recognition for these seven building designs.
Fig. 1 shows 45 Craig Street, the first of these buildings. Douglas James designed and built this structure in 1922 for W.B. Harold Fairfax Prevost, who used it for his stationery business. In 1933, W.B. William Bruce Powel moved his business, Powel's Mens' Wear, into this building and stayed until 1972, when Powel's Mens' Wear moved next door to 25 Craig Street (now the Craig Street Brew Pub) where it stayed until the business closed in 2004.
45 Craig Street has been occupied by Just Jake's Restaurant since 1993.
The Interesting Masonic Connections with this building are that the Mayor of Duncan at the time it was built in 1923 was Bro. Ormond Towers Smythe and several members of Temple Lodge were instrumental in forming the Duncan Volunteer Fire Department (and several other local organizations) and several Temple Lodge members were volunteer firefighters in 1923 when this building was designed and built.
Fig. 3 shows the current appearance of 231 Government Street, at the corner of Government Street and Jubilee Street in downtown Duncan, B.C.
This building was designed and built by Douglas James for R.W.B. Thomas Pitt (1880-1937), who used it for his automotive business. This building was originally an Art Deco design but the exterior has been altered over the years and the Art Deco features are somewhat obscured.
After Thomas Pitt's death in 1937, the building was occupied by a restaurant operated at various times as the Totem Fountain Restaurant and the Totem Cafe.
A later restaurant operated here from 2000 to 2012 as the New Totem Cafe. A fire gutted that restaurant in 2012 and it did not reopen. The fire damage was repaired and the building is now used by Magnolia Fashion Accessories.
Fig. 4 shows the building at 151-155 Craig Street, betwen Station St. and Kenneth St. in downtown Duncan.
Douglas James designed and built this structure in 1929 for R.W.Bro. Hugh George Savage, who published the local newspaper, the Cowichan Leader.
Hugh Savage used this building as the offices and printing press building for the Cowichan Leader.
The facade of this building has been significantly altered from the original Douglas James design. It is now occupied by two retail stores.
Fig. 5 shows the building at 211 Craig Street (at the intersection of Kenneth Street) which Douglas James designed for William Chesterfield Wragg, a member of Malahat Lodge, No. 107 in Mill Bay, who used it as the business premises for his bakery. Bro. Wragg also served as Mayor of Duncan from 1947-1955.
Fig. 6 shows the Wragg Building in downtown Duncan, designed and built by Douglas James for James C. Wragg, a member of Malahat Lodge, No. 107 in Mill Bay. James C. Wragg served as Mayor of Duncan 1947-55.
The Wragg Building has frontage on both Government Street and Station Street.
Fig. 7 shows the house at 733 Wharncliffe Road, designed and built circa 1928 by Douglas James for Claude Green, a local businessman who joined Temple Lodge, No. 33 in 1927 and served as Grand Master of B.C. & Yukon in 1957-58.
Here are some more websites with information about Douglas James: Biographical Dictionary of Architects In Canada;
Here are some websites with information about Douglas James' brother, Percy Leonard James: Biographical Dictionary of Architects In Canada; Maltwood Gallery - UVic; Oak Bay Encyclopedia; Hallmark Society - Victoria, B.C.; Archiseek;
Building The West: The Early Architects of British Columbia, edited by Donald Luxton is an excellent reference book on British Columbia's 19th and early 20th century architects and architectural history. It is available by special order through Volume One Books in Duncan, B.C.
We have put it on our Suggested Reading and Research on Freemasonry page.
This book has chapters on Douglas James, Percy Leonard James and their occasional partnership as James & James.
But the chapter on Douglas James does not attribute any of the five buildings on this page to Douglas James. Hopefully, this web page will bring Douglas James that belated recognition and credit.