Readers Choice
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Readers' Choice Award Winner: Capital Iron

Favourite Houseware Store
Favourite Hot Tub Store
Favourite Hardware Store
Favourite Patio Furniture Store

 

FOR OVER 80 YEARS

 

Capital Iron stands in one of the oldest buildings in Victoria, with a rich history on the Inner Harbour. Founder Morris L. Greene opened our first location in 1934 as a scrap business. He had considerable knowledge of ships, which combined with the company’s waterfront location, enabled his successful ship dismantling business. Between 1934 and 1971, the company dismantled nearly 100 ships of various sizes.

 

During the Second World War, when industry was busy supplying goods for the war effort and little for civilians, Capital Iron was a popular spot to pick up salvaged or surplus items. Following the war, Capital Iron took on a major challenge and bought 14 frigates and a minesweeper for scrapping. Salvage from these ships provided hard to find items for years. As demand grew beyond surplus, Morris started carrying regular hardware lines. By 1971, the scrap business was at an end as retail success grew. At that time, Morris was succeeded by his son, Ronald Greene.

 

Ron and his team continued to grow Capital Iron, adding new product lines to complement the original hardware business. In 1988, Ron opened a second location on Bevan Avenue in Sidney with his son-in-law Mike Black as store manager. Over the next few years, two other locations were opened but eventually closed.

 

In 1997, Ron’s daughter Eveline and Mike took the helm as Capital Iron’s third generation owners alongside two other senior managers. The Black’s started a period of rebuilding Capital Iron with new product lines and expansions. In 2014, they opened the third location in Langford.

 

Today, Capital Iron offers one of the largest selections of housewares, camping, fishing, marine, hardware, garden, barbeques, hot tubs, patio furniture, home decor, fireplaces, fabric and Christmas products anywhere on Vancouver Island. With the growth of the outdoor living product lines in patio furniture, barbeques, hot tubs and garden, we’ve expanded the showrooms on the lower wharf-level outdoor areas. To accommodate growth, in 2016, third generation owners Mike and Eveline Black completed the newest warehouse structure in the lower yard.

 

History of the Building

 

Capital Iron’s Downtown Victoria store is housed in two buildings. The stone structure was built in 1863, with an addition from 1976-77. This was clad in enameled steel and set back to impinge as little as possible upon the older building. The third building in brick, to the left of the stone structure, was an addition to the original Rice Mill in 1890 and is no longer used by the company.

 

Wright & Sanders, Architects, designed a number of structures in Victoria between 1858 and 1867, including Capital Iron’s main stone building. They designed the original stone warehouse in 1863 for Dickson Campbell & Co., importer and commissions agents. The building consisted of two floors: a lower wharf-level floor and an upper street-level floor. It was one of the first built along Store Street after the removal of the first Johnson Street Bridge permitted ships to enter the upper harbour. At some time before 1885, the roof was replaced by a hipped roof and the lower level was paved with large flat pieces of sandstone on clay.

 

Few of the original stones have survived after more than a century but several are still visible in the store. Other points of interest are the longitudinal beams that span 120 feet with only one joint, the cast iron columns in the basement, and the iron shutters visible part way up the main staircase.

 

In 1885, the property was taken over by the Mount Royals Milling Company, which added a two-story frame addition to allow for their milling machinery. Locally known as the Victoria Rice & Roller Milling Co, they imported rice from the Orient and distributed across Canada once the railway opened. In 1890, the company built the brick building and extended the 1885 addition to the street. Unfortunately, the milling company went into bankruptcy in 1907.

 

After a period of various tenants, in 1934, Morris L. Greene rented the buildings and opened Capital Iron & Metal Ltd. In the 1950s, the facades of the two main buildings were modernized with new windows and a coat of stucco. In 1980, under the guidance of Morris’ son and company president, Ronald Greene, and Architect, Claude H. Maurice, the facades of both older buildings were restored to their 1890s appearance. The restoration was recognized with the 1981 “Award of Merit” of the Hallmark Society and the 1982 Regional Award of Heritage Canada.

 

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