From October 1976 until just recently when it was converted back to being a residential home, the Grant house had been used a restaurant. it was first known as the ownership of Junine Oberg, a restaurateur from Victoria. In 1980 Bruno Marti took it over and renamed it La Belle Auberge. Bruno Marti is a world-class chef and the winner of a number of championships in world competitions.
Built in 1904 for Duncan B. and Mary Grant, this house, with its stained glass windows and it mahogany paneling, was an example of the prestigious home chosen to display the accumulation of wealth and achievement of success in business. D. B. Grant was a partner in Grant and Kerr Sawmill located on the western bank of the Chilukthan Slough approximately where Double R Rentals is now situated on Elliott Street. The Grants' original house may have been nearby. However, when changes in dyking dictated the re-location of the mill to River Road, Thomas Shorttreed and David Price, well-known local builders, were contracted to build a new home for the Grants on this site. The house was given the name "Roycrest".
Duncan and Mary Grant were childless so it is obvious that necessity did not dictate the size of the house. Four bedrooms were located upstairs and a living room, dining room, and a library downstairs. There was no basement underneath this two-storey residence. On the west side was a long verandah, perfect for taking tea, while at the back was the kitchen and living space for the two Chinese servants. One man did all the work inside, including the cooking, and the other looked after the grounds.
Although the wood paneling was painted over, the interior of the house was not modified structurally in its later transformation into a restaurant. The ambience of a turn-of-the-century house remained with the exception of the uncomplimentary addition at the rear. The addition appears to have been made before 1949, as it appears on the map of Ladner village of that date.
The Grants moved to Vancouver in 1920 after selling the house to John Dodds of Calgary. The Dodd family stayed here for only four years and the house changed hands again. The new owner, W. J. Smith, a partner in the butcher business of Smith & Stoke in Ladner, and his family made their home here for the next decade. They later moved to a farm on Arthur Drive.
The Grant house was bought in 1936 by the Bruntons who rented it out to the managers of the Ladner branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. From 1936 to 1938, Walter F. Granger and family lived here. He was succeeded by Arthur W. Webb who made his home here with his family until 1941. the Bruntons moved into the house themselves in 1941 but rented out rooms at various times to, among others, servicemen during the war.
Mrs. Brunton continued to own it until 1952. Other owners, while it was a family residence, were Nelson Allen (principal of Delta Secondary School who rented it out after he became inspector of schools for the Nelson district), Reginald and Ina Birch for a very brief period, and Jens and Marie christensen who the were the last people to make it their home before it became a restaurant. As a restaurant, however, this house led a completely different life - a noteworth example of adaptive re-use of a heritage building.
Key elements that define the heritage character of 'Roycrest' include its:
prominent corner location
residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey plus crawlspace, square plan with projections, including an octagonal turret
hipped roof with bellcast eaves; hipped roof front dormer with bellcast eaves; and broad, closed, wooden tongue-and-groove soffits
wood-frame construction, with original bevelled wooden siding under later asbestos cladding
elements of transitional Edwardian-era architecture, including: lathe-turned porch columns and balusters; a stylized Palladian window; and leaded and patterned coloured glass windows
additional exterior features such as an open, front porch with wooden tongue-and-groove soffits and shed roof; glazed front entrance door; and second storey balcony with glazed access door
fenestration, including: double-hung 1-over-1 wooden sash windows; living room windows with diamond patterned upper-sash muntins, with obscured and coloured glass, and bevelled glass in the lower sash
substantially intact interior room layout and configuration
interior features such as: wooden staircase; wide window and door casings; wide baseboards; panelled wooden doors; and double pocket doors
complementary landscape features including mature maples and holly