Victoria Avenue South was developed for residential housing in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Between Hunter and Stinson, properties were constructed on the east side only. The west side was occupied by the massive Central Collegiate Institute built in 1897. The land for that Collegiate was originally owned by the Wanzer family who brought sewing machine manufacture to Hamilton. They, among other industrialists such as William Burrow, a prominent iron founder, occupied the block prior to the first World War.
The housing in this specific block was owned by the family of Thomas Myles, a successful coal merchant. (Is the Thomas Myles building on James St. N. named after him?) Mr. Myles left the properties to his widowed daughter Emily Clark. She acquired them in the early 1890s and occupied her father’s home at 91 Victoria Ave. S. at the corner of Hunter and Victoria.
The most expensive house on Emily’s block was #125. It was valued at $7,000.00. The most prominent neighbour was Joseph Lister who lived in a mansion south of Stinson on the east side of Victoria Ave. S. The building stands today, all newly dressed in white, hidden behind low-rise apartment buildings. This house was later owned by
the Webber family, after whom Webber Avenue was named.
Emily’s tenants at 101 Victoria Ave. S. reflected the middle class neighbourhood of the time. The property itself had an assessed value of $2,300.00 back in 1891. Her tenant, Mr. Charles E. Stewart paid an annual rent amount of $600.00 at that time. He was a 27 year old clerk.
He was followed by a coal merchant in 1892, Mr Edward C. Murton, and a 37 year old contractor and merchant in 1894. In 1900, a Mr. Edward J. Moore moved in. He was the Secretary of D. Moore & Company Ltd. You may remember that company from our Spring Newsletter issue. The co-owner and Vice President, Mr. William Robinson
lived over at 69 East Ave. S.
Another fine Hamiltonian, Mr. Harry W. Woodman, occupied the house from 1908 to 1910. He was a partner in Woodman Electrical Line Contractors located at 30 King St. E. It was his firm that constructed the high voltage transmission line from DeCew Falls to Hamilton supplying hydro electricity to the city, the first in Canada! The
DeCew Falls 1, developed in1898 by the Cataract Power Co. to deliver electricity over 56 kilometres to the City of Hamilton is still in operation today!
It was around 1913 that Emily Clark died. For the 1914 tax year, the property’s value was listed as $2,820.00. A severe recession set in and the housing value dropped to $2,720.00. The new owner of the property is listed as Emily Whiting. She also lived at 91 Victoria Ave. S., but moved by September, 1915 and #91 was divided into apartments.
It wasn’t until 1943 that the house at 101 had a new owner; DuBart Wilson. The house changed hands in 1946 to Eva and Leo Martin. Leo was a soldier and later a foreman of the International Harvester Co. Was it Eva or DuBart that looked out of their window on June 7th, 1946 to witness the northeast corner of the Central Collegiate Institute ravaged by fire? That huge property across the street was derelict until the 1950s. Did that affect the value of 101? The property was valued at $5,120.00 in April, 1956.