Edward Forrer Residence

4580 Arthur Drive
Delta, BC

Built: 1890-91

The original portion of the Forrer Residence is a one-storey wood-frame late Victorian cottage, identifiable by its paired bay windows on the front facade; later additions to the side and rear have added substantially to the original size of the house. It is located on the southern edge of Ladner village, mid-block on the east side of Arthur Drive in the context of other late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses. The property is well landscaped with manicured lawns, mature coniferous trees and a picket fence.

Status: Still Standing

Forrer Residence - 2004
click photo to enlarge
This house is quite different in appearance from any of the surviving houses on the block, being a single storey, with numerous exterior corners and angles. More interestingly, it is older than any of the houses on the block. It appears that this house was built in the 1890s, probably 1891, according to the assessment records. A Vancouver newspaper reported in September 1890 that A. E. Forrer was building a cottage near the Landing; perhaps it was completed in 1891.

Who was A. E. Forrer? He was identified as a "farmer" in the 1891 census, but the 1895 assessment records list Edward A. Forrer as a salmon packer involved in the Fisherman's Cannery in Port Guichon. About 1899 the family moved to Vancouver and ownership of the property passed to M. N. Reid.

Reid was the Municipal Clerk for Delta from 1899 to 1901. He was removed from his position in 1900 as a result of allegations of misappropriation of funds, a charge of which he was later cleared. Reid returned to his position and served out the term of his appointment.

The house was later sold to Mrs. John Kirkland, who in turn sold it in 1909 to David Ellis, who in the same year had married her granddaughter, Florence Kirkland. This was the family home for several years before a move to Westham Island. Ellis sold the house to Herbert J. Kirkland, his father-in-law, after renting it out for several yeays to various families, including the Bradfords.

How long Herbert Kirkland and his second wife, Bessie nee Oldham, lived lived in it is unknown but Mrs. Kirkland rented out the house after her husband's death in 1921. Since she frequently spent the winter in southern California, renting made sense.

The house ceased to be a rental when Smith and Elizabeth Wright bought it in 1943 after they retired from active farming on 56th Street. The Wrights undertook the considerable task of tidying up the grounds and transformed them into fine gardens.

New owners followed the Wrights in the 1950s, including the Greens and the Alcrofts. It is noteworthy that no one has attempted to raise the house to install another storey. We are fortunate in that respect, since we can enjoy an authentic house from the late nineteenth century. An addition was made at the rear in the 1980s but it conformed well to the original house.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Forrer Residence include its:

  • mid-block location facing west on Arthur Drive, with Chilukthan Slough running along its eastern property line
  • residential form, scale and massing, including later additions, expressed by its one-storey height, prominent roofline and regular, rectangular plan
  • complex roofline with hipped roof incorporating polygonal forms over the bay windows, all clad with cedar shingles
  • wood-frame construction with horizontal wooden drop siding with cornerboards
  • Victorian era decorative embellishments such as the paired semi-octagonal bay windows on the front facade, with vertical tongue and groove cladding on bay windows
  • irregular fenestration, including: tall, narrow double-hung 2-over-2 wooden-sash windows, with window horns (double-assembly in front square bay); stained glass windows on either side of the external chimney; and piano window on the south elevation
  • landscape features such as the large, mature pines in front yard and grassed lawns
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