The Turner Building: A Second Life

Posted: 5th February 2014 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography

Thanks for visiting us here at The Hollow today, we’ve got a very interesting update to share with everyone.  For those of you who follow us regularly, you already know of the story behind Ian’s Coffee Stop & Confectionery store just across from the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria.  For those just joining us today, we’ve done several previous posts on the Turner Building and the old house that sat behind it, please visit “A City Landmark Lies Forlorn” and “Ian’s Coffee Stop” for the history and stories behind the site.  Our post featuring the house is available here at “Higgledy-Piggledy House“.  Sadly, the house is now gone but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for the original Turner Building.

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

We’ve been actively following our sources on this story as it continues to break.  A few days back I revisited with camera in hand to capture fresh shots of the latest developments at the site, and I have to admit there is a sense of excitement as it appears that the new owners are actively working on renovations to the existing building.

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Let’s first talk about what we know for sure.  Late last year the back portion of the building fell down, a direct result of a big storm we had here.  The poor state of the building interacted with Mother Nature, opening up a huge section in the back to the outside world and the elements.  A real fear was building in the community that these were the last days for the building as the city deemed the site unsafe and gave an order to the Turner family to fix the issues, sell the property, or tear it down.  A huge uproar in the community ensued, a Facebook page came to life and everyone came together to see what could be done.  Recently, the property was sold.

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Now, we’ll talk about the rumors that are swirling here in Victoria.  These are all unsubstantiated but do make sense in the context of the unfolding story.  We’ve been told that a group of doctors in the area bought the building and are planning to completely refurbish and revitalize it.  Word has it that the group is highly sympathetic to the building and it’s meaning to the city of Victoria, and is planning on trying to maintain some of the historical details and features that made is so special.  I’ve even heard word that there may be a new coffee shop opening up in the lower area!  This would be terrific news, to say the least.  The location is perfect for this sort of thing, right across the street from the hospital and all, and it would be a very meaningful feature in the city for those of us with very fond memories of Ian and his diner.

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Ian's Coffee Stop / Turner's News - Victoria, BC, Canada

Ian’s Coffee Stop / Turner’s News – Victoria, BC, Canada –

Sadly, as we’ve discussed previously, Ian is long gone.  But his legacy remains, and it remains strong within the community.  On the day I revisited here for the new shots, I was approached no less than 3 times by local people to talk about Ian’s Coffee Stop, and Ian the man.  The chats were all heart-warming, allowing us to stand and remember Ian for what he did and what it meant to us all.  This entire experience and the way the community came together to offer assistance to the Turner family during this difficult period was utterly uplifting, and I carry this hope forward as I see active construction on the site.  Perhaps a way can be found that can bridge the past with the future, in a way that makes financial sense to the new owners at the same time it preserves our links to the past that we all love so.  Time will definitely tell.

Thank you for your kind visit today, we really do appreciate it.  Stay tuned as we continue to cover this story with updates on the revitalization project and the intended use of the facility once the work is complete.  If, indeed, a coffee shop is built here we’ll also be featuring some shots of the new cheeseburgers!  Nothing could be more exciting.  Until next time, my friends!




  1. avatar Joyfulgozo Joyfulgozo says:

    i like the attitude and will enjoy following the story, although i’m not a resident of this locale. this shall be a good read. i’ll check the aforementioned articles.

  2. avatar Darrel says:

    From what has happened so far , I am very encouraged that the best possible outcome for the Turner building and Ian’s is at hand . Kudos to the purchasers for their vision .

    • You bet, Darrel, us too! I was really afraid late last year that things wouldn’t turn out that well, but here we are! Goes to show the power of community and how coming together can actually make a difference. We’re very much looking forward to the next chapter of this building’s storied life! Thanks so much for your visit and comments today!

  3. avatar Bev Oliver says:

    How great to see that somebody actually cares about the history of this old place; I think it’s pretty miraculous that a group of doctors would undertake this! I really hope you continue to keep us posted, Toad. How wonderful it will be to see this old place come back to life! I wonder if the original signs have been kept? Would it not be amazing to see a modern take on the shiny black tiles of the ’30’s?

    • Ooo, you speak our language here, Bev, absolutely! The signs went missing late last year and I am not sure by any stretch, but I did hear once that the Turner family does have them. Like you, I would LOVE to say this place come back to life with the character and spirit that it once had. Who says we can’t go back? 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind visit and terrific comments here today, Bev!!

  4. It is so great that you can pass on some good news. So often this is not the case with these interesting but not that historic places. Please keep us informed of the progress, Toad.

  5. avatar Jamie Gripich says:

    Thanks so much for following this story! Next time you’re in Victoria let’s go for coffee and get caught up.

    • Jamie, SO good to hear from you my good friend, thanks both for your visit and your terrific comments!! I would be delighted to see you for a coffee, I’ll make a reminder here and call you in the next couple of weeks to arrange that!

  6. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    This is so nice to see, Toad. In this day and age it is not often that new life comes to an old building that has been a part of a community for many years. I think a certain amount of consumer loyalty also come with a refurbishment project like this, at least from those who remember the days gone by.

    Good stuff, man. 😉

    • Thank you ever so kindly Jimi, we really appreciate your wonderful support here my friend!! We totally agree with your thoughts here and are looking forward to posting some more, hopefully positive, updates again in the near future!!

  7. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    It is amazing what happens when people like you document the demise of some of the history of the area Toad. While I know you weren’t the only one but it is efforts like yours that make a difference. You must feel great about the rebirth.

  8. avatar red ang says:

    The Goodmans, father and son, had a barbershop in the block. Next to Ian’s. They cut my hair before all big occasions. Then it was into Ian’s for a ‘shake.

  9. avatar Jenny Nelson says:

    I agree entirely with Len. There are many of us who share your passion for the Island’s architectural history, but few who so eloquently document an imperiled structure as you do with your camera lens. I’m so happy that this marvelous building is being rescued from the brink. Thank you for your part!

  10. Great update, nice to see things coming along, great series of photo udates

  11. This is indeed good news, Toad – I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a happy outcome!

  12. avatar Wendy says:

    Thanks for sharing this info about the Turner Building. It has been my favourite building in the city since we moved here 10 years ago and I’ve never even been inside! I have often fantasized about buying it and opening a retro cafe with a green grocer next door. Since I couldn’t afford to, I am glad that someone else has! I only hope that there will be a cafe in the future there…

  13. avatar Edith Levy says:

    That is great news Toad. It’s always good when we try a keep some of our heritage instead of always tearing down for bigger and better. Great coverage in this post but the written word and the photographs.

  14. Great story of a building. It’ll be interesting to see the final outcome. It looks like its new face is in the making as we speak (or write).

    • Thanks Joseph, we sure do appreciate your kind support my friend! I am really excited to see how this story unfolds for the community, check back again soon for an update!