Sunday 26 July 2020

June 2020 History Corner

History Corner
by John Lover
Goward House in Cadboro Bay is now firmly established as a centre for cultural and artistic activity in the community. It has close associations with the Victoria Sketch Club, both as a facility for holding art exhibitions and the fact that it served us as a temporary home for our Tuesday meetings whilst the new Windsor Park Pavilion was under construction in 2005. During the 1990s it was also the venue for a weekly portrait painting session organized by a section of our Club, in which members and friends took turns to sit as models.

The house, of heritage value, was built and occupied for almost 80 years by the Goward family, with which our Club also enjoyed special links.  Originally called The Woodlands, it was designed in 1908 in the style of a wood-frame Colonial wood-frame bungalow by Bernard and Mary Goward, reflecting their time in India. In 1946 it became the home of their son Owen Goward and his wife Elizabeth, and was eventually sold to the Corporation of Saanich for $123,000 in 1973, on terms which allowed the family to  live there until 1986, when Elizabeth – Owen had died in 1983 – chose to vacate the property.

The house was converted to a seniors’ activity centre, managed by the Goward House Society, founded on a non-profit basis in 1989. In recognition of the Goward family’s lasting legacy to the Greater Victoria arts community, the Society offered Elizabeth the first honorary membership.  She passed away in 2002.

Former Club President, Kay Mais, recalled visiting the house in the Goward years, and was impressed with its “Old World Charm,” as well as with a gallery, set up on Owen’s retirement in 1971, to display the couple’s art works. Owen was an engineer by profession and an artist by avocation. He had studied art by correspondence from the Royal Academy in London, and Elizabeth had graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia, where the pair had first met.

Owen and Elizabeth were successful portrait, landscape and commercial artists. Both exhibited in the Island Arts and Crafts Society annual exhibitions in the late 1940s. Elizabeth was a noted portrait artist and Owen a talented watercolourist.  Several of his paintings can be found in the collection of the Royal BC Archives.

Owen Goward was an engineer by profession and an artist by avocation. He met his wife, Elizabeth, a noted portrait artist, at the Philadelphia School of Art. The couple married in 1938, returning to Canada in 1946 and making their home in Victoria.
Owen Goward exhibited with the Island Arts and Crafts Society in its final years in the late 1940s. A talented watercolourist, several of his paintings are in the collection of the Royal British Columbia Archives. He died in Victoria in 1983.