Nels Johnson Residence

10306 Main Street
Delta, BC

Built: 1928
 

The Nels Johnson Residence is a one-and-one-half storey house with Craftsman-influenced detailing, set on a terraced corner lot with expansive views of the Fraser River. It is located in the historic Norwegian neighbourhood of Annieville.

Status: Still Standing

Nels Johnson Residence - 2006
click photo to enlarge

Heritage Value

The Nels Johnson Residence dates from 1928, and represents a time when Delta was developing rapidly due to booming agricultural, canning and fishing industries. Salmon fishing and processing was integral to Delta's early development. The earliest salmon canneries were built along North Delta's Fraser River waterfront, and thrived as an industry that provided work for thousands of out-of-work immigrants after the completion of the railway and the subsidence of gold rush activities. Drawn to the booming industries, Scandinavian immigrants settled in the area surrounding the canneries, in communities that came to be known as Annieville and Sunbury. This expansive growth of this Scandinavian community left a distinct mark on the social landscape of North Delta, including a school in Sunbury in 1897, another in Annieville in 1906, the first Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church at Norum Point in 1904, and a local post office in 1901. Many of the local houses, including the Nels Johnson Residence, are finely crafted and demonstrate the success of the fishing industry in this Norwegian community.

This residence is further valued for its ties to its original owners, Nels Johnson (1873-1963) and his wife Gertrude (of the Gunderson family), who were prominent among the Norwegian families who settled in Annieville. Nels Johnson, a commercial fisherman, built the house and lived here until his death in 1963. The house was sold the following year to the Mackie family, who owned the property for three decades.

With its wood-frame construction and handsome Craftsman detailing, the Nels Johnson House is also significant for its architecture, which reflects the style of other contemporaneous houses in the area. It displays a symmetrical facade with a gabled front porch and a shed-roofed side porch, both with tapered columns and triangular eave brackets. Notched bargeboards and a leaded feature window at the front entryway also add to the charm and affluence of the house, and demonstrate the late persistence of the influence of the Craftsman style on residential architecture.

Character-Defining Elements

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

  • siting on a high terraced lot in the historic community of Annieville, with views of the Fraser River
  • residential form, scale and massing, as expressed by its one-and-one-half storey height with full basement and side-gabled roof with exposed purlins, front and rear shed dormers and front-gabled porch
  • wood-frame construction with twin-coursed shingles at basement level, double-bevelled wooden siding at main level and shingle siding at dormers
  • Craftsman style details, such as detailed triangular eave brackets, notched bargeboards, and tapered porch piers
  • additional architectural details, such as an internal red brick chimney and the original wooden front door with coloured cross-leaded glass
  • windows such as its triple assembly, double-hung, one-over-one wooden sash windows with cross-paned leaded glass in upper windows
  • landscape features, such as arbutus trees along the south edge of the lot