(Wellburns Food Market / Google Maps)

A historic heritage building in downtown Victoria is slated to close and be redeveloped into a mixed-use residential and commercial property next year.

The building, now called the Wellburn Market Heritage Building, was originally designed and constructed in 1911 and is home to the Wellburn’s Food Market, the Cook Street Barbershop, and the second-floor Parkway Apartments.

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The History

In 1914, three short years after the building was created, Matthew Wellburn opened up a humble grocery store on the corner of Cook Street and Pandora Avenue.

When asked about his decision to start a business on Vancouver Island, Wellburn has been quoted saying that he came to visit in 1910 “and never got over it.”

At the time, the building was also home to a bank, a bakery, a pharmacy, and the currently operational Parkway Apartments.

(Image from Wellburn’s Food Market)

Wellburn had been a grocer for his entire life, and while two previous grocery stores had failed at the same location, Wellburn’s Food Market managed to grow at a steady pace. Eventually, the store became so successful that the owners purchased the spaces occupied by the bank, bakery, and pharmacy.

As of 2019, Wellburn’s Food Market occupies the entire bottom floor of the building, save for the Cook Street Barbershop.

Matthew himself would go on to run the grocery store for years before handing management over to his son, George Wellburn.

George Wellburn would oversee the business until the late 1960s before it was sold to one Jim Hall, who operated the business for several years. In the mid 1970s, the food market was then sold to Francis Ko and Harvey Cheung, before finally landing in the custody of the Lum family in 1983, who still operate the business today.Since the building was created, it has undergone three major renovations. The most recent was undertaken by the Lum Family in 1995.

The 105-year story of the Wellburn Food Market will come to a close in 2020, however, when Vancouver-based development company District Group begins its conversion of the property.

The Future

While plans for the Wellburn Market Heritage building have not been finalized yet, District Group plans to build a mixed-use residential and commercial property.

The structure could be as large as 6 storeys high, and will include aspects of the building’s original façade on the exterior walls.

It will mostly consist of residential rental units, with commercial and retail spaces on the ground floor.

“Surrounded by lush parkland with desirable views adjacent to Franklin Green, as well as Harris Green Park to the south, this well-known corner on the parkway will be brought back to its’ distinguished prominence,” reads the business’s portfolio description of the project.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to Wellburn’s Food Market and District Group for further details on each groups’ plans.

Photo renderings of the proposed new building:

(Image / District Group)
(Image / District Group)
(Image / District Group)
(Image / District Group)