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Malahat Building

The other night standing at the intersection I saw this building just glowing red in that final sun of the day. The hand held bit and the zoom lens made photography at that time of the day challenging.

Of course looking at a photo always brings up the question whether it is any good in the blog. I thought this one could be  if it only had some history.
So I spoke with the family historian, my wife, and she surprised me knowing some of the building’s history by heart.
Apparently it is the first Federal building constructed in Victoria (in the 1870s) as the old Victoria Custom House. There is a rooftop viewing area so that boats in the harbour could be seen. It is also known as the Malahat Building. Building style is French, but the architect named somebody Scott doesn’t sound very French.
The building is small compared with what you see around it. The height of the building reminds me of the 1960s when I first arrived on these shores. What struck me at the time was the fact there were no highrises. That made for a spacious friendly almost other worldly feeling. Obviously and perhaps sadly much has changed and the planners and movers better watch out so that with all the new development (very much of that without imagination or links to the past) Victoria does not get lost in Victoria.

7 responses to “Malahat Building

  1. ehpem

    I like these photos – this is one of my favourite buildings. Partly for the roof line, partly for the great colour someone chose to paint it.

    • There are so many photogenic buildings in Victoria if you like its many different styles of architecture. I never thought about the bricks being painted and will have a closer look at that. On a different level I like to emphasize how much I like that latest storm photograph you posted.

      • ehpem

        Hi Joseph – most of the early brick buildings in Victoria are painted, or should be, at least on the exterior. The reason for this is that a very low fired and poor quality brick was used for a number of years that does not last if it gets wet and then freezes – rather like a flower pot in that regard. There was a period in the 1970’s when people were removing the paint from these buildings thinking they were restoring them to their original look, but in fact were hastening their demise.
        I don’t know if this building is one of those – it probably dates to the time prior to local brick making. Before then bricks were brought to Victoria as ballast in ships that were coming for local products, mostly timber. There are a lot of British manufactured bricks that came here that way. I am not an expert on this, just something I learned 20 or 30 years ago and I suppose I may have all the facts messed up.

        • Joseph de Lange ⋅

          Thanks for your enlightening reply ehpem. Every building has a story, forever more to look into.
          On February 13 I took a few more shots of this photogenic little building and also ascertained the fact that the building is a painted one. The color looks its best when the sun touches it. Once again this type of info is really appreciated.

  2. This is one of my favorite heritage buildings in Victoria! Love the way you’ve captured it! The first shot is a great composition, and the second has such wonderful framing to it! Great photos, my friend!! I did a blog post last year with a small set of HDR photos I did of this location over at for sake of comparison.

    • Yes, I enjoy your photo essays. Your post about this building and my post could complement each other. I’d like to have an opportunity sometime to photograph on the rooftop and may look into the possibility of that.


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