Point Grey and Aberthau Mansion Tour

A special walking tour

Sunday October 21, 2018

10am – 12pm

Register here, $20

 

West Point Grey has been home to the original Vancouver Golf Club, a boys school, a Royal Canadian Air Force base and Aberthau, the former home of the Rear and Spencer families. For many decades, real estate agents have enticed purchasers with the lure of invigorating ocean breezes and views. Join Historian, John Atkin for a walking tour to explore the history and development of the area surrounding Aberthau, now the West Point Grey Community Centre, before touring rooms inside of the mansion and ending with refreshments.


About Aberthau Mansion:

James S. Rear was one of Vancouver’s most successful businessmen, rising through insurance companies to become a prominent financial broker and the President of North American Securities Limited. Rear also invested heavily in real estate and was one of the first property owners to build on the farthest reach of Marine Drive in the new municipality of Point Grey. In 1909, he commissioned the talented firm of Maclure & Fox to build a home for his family. Set within a large acreage, the house was designed with garden terraces overlooking lawns with a view onto English Bay.

Samuel Maclure, the renowned BC architect, joined in a partnership in 1905 with Cecil Crocker Fox, who had trained in England under the great Arts and Crafts designer C.F.A. Voysey. Together they excelled at creating homes that incorporated English Tudor styling and West Coast materials and craft. The firm also designed the combined garage and stables, now used as a pottery studio, which is the oldest known structure of its type in the city.

In 1920, the house was sold to Colonel Victor Spencer, one of thirteen children of Welshman David Spencer who founded a retail department chain. With a large family, Victor and Gertrude Spencer made alterations to the house and extended the gardens. In 1933, they hired leading architects Sharp & Thompson to create the handsome “Oak Room” addition, including the beautiful carved ‘linen-fold’ wall panelling, plaster ceiling, stained glass and fireplace. It was the Spencers who gave the house its Welsh name, Aberthau, meaning ‘a place filled with light’. Just six years after the completion of the Oak Room, the house was acquired by the federal government which used it as the Royal Canadian Air Force officers’ mess for the nearby Jericho air base during the war. A fire destroyed the mansion’s third floor and roof in 1942, but the building was restored. The property was later acquired by the City of Vancouver to become the West Point Grey Community Centre, opening in 1974. Restoration work in the 1990s assured the continued enjoyment by the community of this unique house that showcases the craftsmanship of its time.