It’s a scene straight from a Harry Potter movie.  Or perhaps it’s the headquarters for the pending zombie infestation, or even the convention facility for the four horsemen of the apocalypse.  It certainly needs tidying up before the next meeting to avoid someone having to go to a doctor for a rather nasty tetanus shot.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

As our economies continue to deteriorate, scenes like this are becoming more frequent and much easier to find.  It is unclear if this old character home has been left abandoned due to financial issues facing the current owners, or if there’s something else at play here.  Regardless, it was a truly striking scene to encounter, especially in this specific neighborhood.

This old home sits pretty much right on the border between downtown Victoria, BC and the affluent neighborhood of Oak Bay.  Just a block away from our main city hospital, the Royal Jubilee, which itself is in the Oak Bay area, this is something you would not expect.  And given that we’ve scouted this place out now for over 9 months, it seems that there is no rush to deal with it directly.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

Absolutely covered in graffiti, fresh signs of vagrants and homeless people were easily spotted in the yard and surroundings.  And when we say fresh, we mean fresh.  We have no doubt that people were actively in the building at the time we were doing this shoot, which for personal safety reasons precluded us from even attempting to enter.  No doubt what lays inside is a cornucopia for HDR photography, but in this case it’s all left to our imagination.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

Oak Bay is full of wonderful old heritage homes, with some of the highest average property values in the country.  People who live nearby here take great pride in their homes and surroundings.  This only adds further intrigue and mystery to the story, with all questions left unanswered.  On the other hand, it does make some sense…  to a degree.  The downtown core of Victoria over the past few years has found itself amidst an increase in violent crimes, drug abuse and gang activity, so with this home being on the outskirts it does make for a great burrow for the homeless and destitute.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

If you’re planning on buying this property with an eye towards a quick little cleanup followed by a housewarming BBQ, you will need to plan in advance.  Two people at minimum will be required to operate the BBQ: one person can hang by one arm from the remaining railings and use the other hand to hang onto the dangling BBQ, the other person will have to lean out the door and flip the burgers.  At bit tricky perhaps, but it will definitely add some rich character to the evenings festivities.  And watch that first step there…  it’s a doozy.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

The inside here must be incredible to witness.  The roofing appears to be haphazardly implemented in the first place, and Mother Nature herself has been busy dismantling things.  This has resulted in gaping holes left unattended, and undoubtedly the inside here is deteriorating rapidly and is even probably full of mold.  Just standing near the house, you get wafts of decay.

Higgledy-Piggledy House - Victoria, BC, Canada

Higgledy-Piggledy House – Victoria, BC, Canada

The place almost appears as if it was designed and built, and then turned upside down.  A tall, narrow and long home with Tudor accents, the character and shape is just so utterly compelling.  The loss of our history and heritage is something that we are acutely aware of these days as we strive to document places in their current condition.  This is our effort to bring history forward to the future in the event these places disappear forever.

The obvious issues in having a facility in this condition in the location it’s in are quite evident.  Crime and homelessness are on the rise, and decrepit buildings like this are a magnet for trouble.  Not to mention the effect these have on local property values already feeling the downward pressures of our economy.  But, if we tear all these old character homes down and replace them with modern condominiums, soon all that will be left of our history and heritage will be a handful of memories and some photographs.

This truly is a modern-day dichotomy we find ourselves in, with no easy answer.  The cost of repairing and refurbishing buildings like this one probably mean this is an activity left to those with emotional ties to the home.  There certainly would be no profit to be found here.  Yet with that all being said, the questions of our heritage and history remain.

What is your view on this issue?  We really do love hearing from all our visitors, so please don’t hesitate to join in the discussion and share your thoughts.  Many thanks for your visit here today, we really appreciate it.

  1. avatar Stacy Butera says:

    Toad! Looks like it was once a beautiful house. Too bad you couldn’t go inside. It’s always sketchy when bad folk is lurking about the grounds. Anyway beautiful photo’s of the exterior.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so very much Stacy, we really appreciate you taking the time to visit, and for leaving us your awesome comments here! Please come again, we really enjoyed you popping by today!

  2. avatar Mrs. Mudpuppy says:

    I love your description of the potential BBQ party Toad, that would be quite the scene! Great photos of an intriguing subject as always, keep up the amazing work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much my dear friend! It’s really quite the place, isn’t it? Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for all your friendship, support and encouragement, Mrs. Mudpuppy, it really means so much more than we can properly express!

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    What a pity it looks like it must have been quite the home in its time. Wonderful job in documenting this place.

  4. avatar ehpem says:

    I have been watching that house decay for several years – its been a long time getting to this condition, and boarded up for quite a few years too I think.

    I wonder if it is connected to the nearly adjacent commercial property which has been vacant for several years. That I believe is a very sad case of the old owner and operator of Ian’s Coffee Shop being unable to continue his business and the child(ren) not being able to let go. The commercial building is also worthy of photography with its curved front and tiled lower wall and so on – not likely to last much longer.

    • avatar ehpem says:

      And oh yes! Great shots, you have really captured the feel of this building.

      • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

        Thank you kindly, my friend, this really means an awful lot to me coming from you! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Funny you should mention Ian’s Coffee Shop, Ehpem!! Keep your eyes open on our blog here for a feature on this building as we did a great shoot of it the same day we shot this house! I really appreciate you taking the time to visit, and giving us your insights here. I have often wondered about Ian’s Coffee Shop, my best friend and I have scouted it out for the better part of a year just waiting for the right day, light and time to shoot it. That happened this past Sunday, and we’ve got a pretty great set of images from it!

  5. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    It is a real shame what happens to some when the economy goes south. You have captured and documented this wonderfully Toad. Let’s hope that our economies rebound and you can document this houses’s return.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Wouldn’t that be absolutely wonderful, Len, thank you for your kind thoughts and sentiments here!

  6. avatar Rick Meryman says:

    This is all too familiar..not because i once lived here, but because there are houses rotting away just like this where i live… there is SERIOUS money living here, and some once-fine buildings quietly sinking into the ground… as their occupants either age out, pass away, or just plain leave, they leave these structures behind. I am seeing more and more of this. i should do what you’re doing…document before destruction…..Rick

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What a thoughtful set of comments, Rick! Thank you for your visit, and for taking the time to leave these here for everyone to read. It sure was nice to see this today, please do come again!

  7. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Toad, at one time, I’m sure this house was a looker, even being a bit oddly shaped. But, where’s there’s empty, there’s this. Sad to see, but truly a product of modern times. Well documented Toads – great descriptive pics!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so, so much there Jim, great comments you’ve shared here with everyone! We really appreciate you taking the time to pop on by and see us here today!

  8. avatar Fred Norris says:

    Nicely captured Toads!This home once proud and rich with character,looks like it has been left to die,a slow painful death.Thanks for sharing Mate,love to see that BBQ party

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hope you’ve got elastic arms there, Fred, that BBQ is really going to be quite the event! 🙂 Many thanks for popping by today and leaving us your thoughts, my friend, we sure do appreciate it!

  9. avatar LensScaper says:

    This house must have a history that has sadly been lost. It is almost criminal to see something like this suffering neglect and decay.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I find it heartbreaking, Andy, I really do. I understand the need and desire for modern buildings and architecture, but as places like this become rarer and rarer, I get worried that our heritage and history is close to being lost. It really is a driving force in our photography work, that’s for sure. Many thanks for your visit today, my friend!!

  10. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Hey I’m still waiting for the BBQ invitation! LOL!

    Looks like this place was a nice place at one time. Sad to see it in this state. Well documented, Toad!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey, Rick, we mailed that invite out a few weeks ago! Hope it didn’t get lost in the mail there!! LOL 😀

      Thank you so much for coming by to see us here, and for leaving your awesome comments my friend, that means an awful lot to us!

  11. What an interesting building. Its a shame that it has been left to get to this state. Maybe one day someone will realize the its potential and help rescue it from its current occupants.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Wouldn’t that be awesome, Mark! Thanks for taking the time to pop on by and see us here today, and for leaving your great comments here for everyone to read and enjoy. Much appreciated, my good friend!

  12. A very interesting story and sad for the building so to speak.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hi Otto, thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and see us today, we really appreciate it! It is very sad for the building, as you note, it’s a rather beautiful house and to see it in this state is indeed sad. Too many of these sorts of places are being lost these days to “progress” and we are very concerned about maintaining our heritage for future generations now. Thank you for coming by and leaving us your comments here, we hope to see you again!

  13. I love the look of this house Toad, absolutely great. The one thing that always puzzles me is that you stayed outside, me? I’d have been in like Flynn

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      There were most definitely people inside the house during our visit so it just wasn’t prudent to do it, my friend. LOL I really wish you’d come to Canada for a visit one day, Chris, you and I could get into so much trouble, er, I mean we could produce some GREAT photography together!! Thank you so much for your visit & comments here, my friend!

  14. avatar dragonflydreams88 says:

    . . . too bad you couldn’t shoo the inside, what a great addition it would have been to this fabulous documentation!! . . . I do find it sad when we loose these interesting historical,architectural gems!!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      What wonderful comments, my friend, we sure do appreciate it! Thank you so much for your kind visit today and for leaving us your thoughts to enjoy here! 🙂

  15. It really is such a pity to see something go to waste like this. But this makes what you do that much more important. To document what you do on your blog, you bring attention to the areas that need it. Hopefully somebody will step forward and save these buildings. Another great post my friend!

    Also I like my burgers well done! Just sayin’ 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      A’right everyone, we’ve got our first burger order here! Who’s gonna dangle the BBQ and who’s gonna be the official flipper person? LOL.

      Thanks so much for your visit and comments of support and encouragement Michael, that means so much more than we can say!

  16. Looks like a nice house (once).

    I often find the wrecked houses depressing for similar reasons, It would be great to see these done up and recovered, but often the cost is too much. Generally with residential property a derelict place is left to rot as the owner has passed away and the siblings cannot afford or to pay for the upkeep, or maybe there were no children, so the property is owned by the bank or actually no-one at all.

    Most frustrating is when there are superb mansion that was left to fall into disrepair. Sometimes they are left this way so that developers can knock them down, planners have a harder time justifying that the building has to be kept if its a wreck.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You’re really hitting on key points here, Mark, no doubt about it. Thank you for taking the time to visit, and for leaving these thoughts for everyone to enjoy my friend, that really means a whole lot to us!

  17. This house has been on the City of Victoria’s list of derelict properties for several years. It was indeed owned by the proprietor of Ian’s Coffee Shop..last I heard there was some problem with the estate, but that was a few years ago..I have taken photos there and at the former Ian’s location several times..sometimes there appears to be work going on, mostly just decay. Whether or not either building can survive to be restored given their state of disrepair is a little dubious, I think, but if someone had “deep pockets” they could do it. The property taxes must be rather steep, I am amazed that it is not on the market after such as long period of time.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      This place at this particular location is an enigma wrapped in a riddle to us here at The Hollow, that’s for sure. We’ve received some feedback much like yours from this post and can clearly see there is a lot of passion out there on this topic. I love the form of this house so much, I would love to see it brought back to life, but as you mention it’s in very poor condition and if that’s even possible money-wise is yet to be seen… Thanks so much for your visit and valuable comments, that means an awful lot to us here my friend!

  18. avatar Ron Wilson says:

    Hi Toads

    I’ve been looking at the house for years intending to paint an oil of it some day, graffiti and all.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much for your visit here, Ron! I would LOVE to see that painting when you finish it! Thanks for taking the time to visit us today, and for leaving these great comments, we really hope to see you around here again! 🙂

  19. avatar steve yatch says:

    theres a huge old abandoned house on Elford just behind stadacona park…would like to see you take some crazy photos of it..theres an open door on the back right side ..would be awesome if you ventured in there to document it! its a classic photo-op

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey, Steve, good to see you here at The Hollow! I will mark this location down and try to get to it, it sounds like an awesome spot to shoot! Many thanks for your kind comments and visit here today, we hope to see you again!

  20. avatar Leigh says:

    This house is owned by the Turner family. I believe (according to older photos I’ve seen online that are no longer findable) the Turner family used to operate a store out of the front of the house, prior to opening the Turner’s store and coffee shop.

    The large door on the diagonal-ish angle that faces the front of the property was the store’s front door.

    • avatar Ron Wilson says:

      The house is still there. Lately people have taken to leaving unwanted furniture besides the front door.

      • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

        That’s too bad. The architecture of this house is really exquisite, and we hope that someone comes along who sees the value and beauty in restoring it. Thank you so much for your visit, and for taking the time to leave us your comments, we really appreciate it!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Oh, isn’t that interesting, I didn’t know that! Thanks, Leigh, for both taking the time to visit, and for leaving these comments that everyone will enjoy! Hope to see you here around The Hollow again!

  21. avatar Christa says:

    Hello Toad,

    I can’t help but wonder due to the close proximity to the Turner bldg if they are/were perhaps owned by the same family? They are very close to each other I noticed when I was walking today & couldn’t help but wonder. I noticed you took photos of both bldgs.I kind of know the history regarding the Turner but not so much the Higgly Piggly house…. I have lived in Victoria for over 7 years & I don’t think I have ever seen the Turner in operation. I noticed the bldg sign has since been removed…Its sad to see both buildings in such disrepair! I would of love to see what the places looked like in their hey days!


    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hi Christa, it’s great to see you here at The Hollow, thank you for your visit and for taking the time to leave us your comments!! Indeed, you are correct, the house and the Turner building are owned by the same family here in town, and the story actually forms part of the foundation of the city, in my humble opinion. So many locals remember Ian Turner and how wonderful he was to visitors and friends alike, and he’s left an indelible mark on us all. I love the architecture of this house and would love to live in such a place; full of character and heritage. We’re losing too many of our important landmarks these days, it seems, as new and modern structures are replacing these old homes. Regardless, it’s a very interesting story and definitely part of the fabric that makes up Victoria. Thanks so much, once again, for popping around, we hope to see you again!

      • avatar Christa says:

        Thanks for your quick response!!!

        That is too bad that both places were left to decay in such away.
        I figured they were related based on your comment on the Turner pg that this was a sister building.

        Base on your comment I think that Mr Ian Turner would be sad to see what has come to his old house & business. I love the architecture & history that both these building have…I regret that I never got to see the buildings when they were taken care of & loved!

        I have actually found some of the buildings on your site as well…It has been cool discovering some of the abandon buildings!

        Oh I forgot to check, but figured I would ask have you seen the abandoned grocery store on Pandora?
        It photographs quite well….I suggest taking pictures of it & the abandon apartment building beside it as well.

        Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my email/inquiry.

        • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

          Hi Christa, thank you again for popping back around! I used to visit Ian’s Coffee Shop back in the day when it was a going concern, and yep, it was an amazing amazing place. It was like going way back in time, in a heartbeat, to a simpler time. I only discovered this home when we went to shoot the coffee shop and when I started to research and talk to local folks, the full breadth of the story became evident. I totally agree with you, I think Mr. Turner would be very saddened to see things in the shape they are today.

          Thank you also for taking the time to peruse our photographs, we sure do appreciate it! I have heard of the grocery store on Pandora before, I haven’t had a chance to visit it yet. We live up in the Cowichan Valley outside of Duncan and as such I haven’t been spending a lot of time in Victoria lately. I really hope to come down soon again and spend some time exploring; I’d love to shoot the grocery store and the apartment beside it!!! 🙂 Thanks for the tip my friend!

          Stay in touch, let us know if there’s anything at all we can do for you! Many thanks once again for all you’ve done here today, it really means a lot to us.

  22. avatar Christa says:

    Haha no problem I just love the pictures! I also found you on Facebook so I can get some updates as well.

    I saw the greatest music video today that will take you back in time! The video even has Ian in it! The music very catchy as well!
    here it is!
    the band is named Catus Pricks & the song is called Would You Still Dance?

    I’m glad that music video is out there it allows me to put myself in that time & see what it was like!

    The grocery store on Pandora is such a classic 1980’s looking grocery store I bet it even had a pac-man game in it when it was around & had slushee’s in the summer!
    It isn’t nearly as intriguing as Mr Turners place…but still worth the trip! I think that place would of been a staple in my childhood if I lived here growing up!

    Thanks for chatting with me! I had an interesting afternoon!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Me too, Christa, thank you for your friendship here today! It’s always great to connect with local folks like you and share stories like this. I LOVE that video, it was obviously shot in Victoria, you see the Parliament Buildings and the Observatory on Gonzales Hill a couple of times in it, as well as Ian’s Coffee Shop!!! 🙂 I am going to add an addendum to this post and include this video, it really adds great dimension to the story, thank you for finding that and sharing it!!

  23. avatar Christa says:

    It was great connecting with you as well! Glad to hear you enjoyed the video. I found it on a discussion string online. I then was able to look up the band via youtube.
    I really liked the video as well. It was like time traveling.
    I kind of regret not moving to Victoria sooner…The video does add more to the story it gives a lot of people out there an idea what it was like back in the day.

  24. […] see it suffers from the same lack of maintenance. We covered this story previously in our post “Higgledy-Piggledy House” where we took a look at the home. Time has done similar damage […]

  25. avatar Christa says:

    I walked by the Higgly piggly house and saw that they had torn it down

    • Dang. I loved that place. Thanks so much for the update, Christa, I am actually scheduled today to return to shoot the current situation and will be writing an update on our blog here in the coming days. Thank you so much for your kind visit and for sharing this update with everyone, we sure do appreciate it.

      • avatar Christa says:

        It is too bad it is gone. I was surprised it was gone. I wished I could of seen it being torn down. I just saw the aftermath of it being torn down lots of debris! I didn’t get any good pictures they had a huge fence around the property and the sun was really bothering my eyes. I saw the Holiday court on Hillside being tore down last year so I guess I can’t see them all being ripped down. There is a nice boarded up house on Elford st. It is up for sale so hopefully it doesn’t have the same fate as the Higgly Piggly.

        • It’s really really hard to find good compositions in zones of destruction like that, Christa, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I am literally an hour away from hopping out the door and heading to the Turner Building myself and I expect to be really challenged in that regard. Sometimes the truth in imagery is less “artful” and more “documentary” in nature. We do what we can, I guess. You saw the Holiday Court go down? We’ve got quite a few posts here on our blog featuring that motel just before it was demolished. Loved that spot, although it certainly had a very checkered past. Thanks again for your visit and comments, you really are adding a lot of depth and interest to the post here and we really appreciate your kindness.

  26. avatar Christa says:

    I haven’t walked near the Turner bldg since last week when I saw the Higgly Piggly being torn down. I have been busy with a new job. I live really close to the Turner bldg so it is kind of funny I don’t really know if it is still standing or not. I found that since they boarded up the windows and put the fence around the Turner it isn’t interesting to look at or photograph. So you are totally right about it losing it “artful imagery” and becoming more documentary.

    It is really funny I have lived near a lot of derelict bldgs I use to live near the Holiday court but moved out of the area last May to this area that had an abandon bldg. The Holiday Court went down before I left that area though. I remember walking to Douglas to catch a bus and happened to walk by as they were tearing it down. The best part was they didn’t put up a fence and I was able to get some cool pictures of it going down!

    Did you end up coming to Victoria and checking out the Turner bldg/Higgly?
    If you ever get a chance check out the house on Elford street? Elford is off of Begbie st. The house is a huge beautiful old thing that is boarded up. The house is up for sale so hopefully it doesn’t have the same fate the Higgly. You can see the back of the house from the Stadacona park.

    I love your pictures! Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Christa, thanks once again for popping back around with an update, we sure do appreciate it! Yep, I went back down last week and got some great shots and am working on a new blog post/update on the story as we speak. Hope to have that published early next week, please stay tuned! The shots I got are far from artistic, but there is a huge thread of hope in the update we’ll be posting, we’re pretty excited to have some positive news to share with everyone!

      I haven’t been to Elford yet. We live in the Cowichan Valley so I am not very often in Victoria proper these days, but I must make a point of visiting to shoot this place! It’s definitely on my todo list!! 🙂

      Thank you once again for your support and friendship here, Christa, this is the fuel that keeps us going! We love interacting and communicating with folks just like you who share our passions. Please stay tuned for updates here and please stay in touch! Much appreciated!!

  27. avatar Christa says:


    That is good to hear that you came down and saw the Turner. It is sad to see that it could not be saved.

    The last time I went by there the Turner is still standing. For how long not too sure…

    The house on Elford street is a hop skip and a jump away from the Turner. I can usually walk to it from the Turner in about 15 minutes. It is a great old house. You should totally check it out when you get a chance. You won’t regret it! It photographs really well!
    The house is up for sale currently but the windows are boarded up so hopefully it does not stay abandon for too long!

    I remember awhile go mentioning the grocery store down on Pandora being abandoned as well. I noticed recently it got a new paint job and a new business has moved into it. Some sort of boutique or something. The apartment bldg is still empty however and has one of those fences to keep trespassers out.

    There is also a bunch of houses that recently been boarded up on Shelborne and the apartment bldg on Yates has now got a fence around it. Not great for taking pictures of….So there is a lot of great thing to take pictures of here in town…

    I appreciate your friendship here too! It is nice to talk with someone that has interests in taking pictures of abandon bldgs in Victoria. I’m a amateur photographer So my pictures are cool but far from professional. I don’t really have any friends who share my interests in the abandon bldgs. Most of my buddies think its a kooky hobby and prefer my scenic sunset pictures…. I tend to search out the abandon places here in town. I do not know where they all are however. Because I don’t drive most of the stuff I take pictures of are easy to get to either by walking or busing it…

    I will look forward to your updates!


    • Thanks once again for your kind visit Christa, that means a lot. I am just about to dive into writing a new post for us here to feature an update on the Turner Building and the Higgledy-Piggledy House. It’s with a heavy heart that I share the update showing this house is now gone, alongside the changes going on at the Turner Building. I am hopeful at least for the Turner Building that we are going to have a good ending to the story, stay tuned here as we roll out an update shortly.

  28. avatar joyfulgozo says:

    What an extensive history on Higglety Pigglety. Was this your name for it or was it the actual name? Glad to see the joy of history. Do hope the old houses, especially the mansions, can get some new upkeep life.
    /// I came by this page due to the new blog on the Turner Building-Ian’s Coffee Shop. Hope the doctors can have the heart and deep pockets to help this historic place.

    • Thank you for your wonderful comments! The name here for the house is definitely our own, we thought it really suited the place. Sadly, the house is gone today as it was removed for safety and liability issues (we believe) and is making room for developments on the lot in question.

  29. avatar Numa Starck says:

    Where is it, and can I enter?

    • Sadly this wonderful old Victorian home is long gone I am sorry to say. Thanks for your visit and I am sorry to share the bad news here with you on this house.