There’s been a Bodega Hotel on Carrall Street since 1887, soon after the fire that devastated the months old new city. This isn’t it – the original wooden hotel lasted just 13 years. (The first Bodega is on the left in the postcard below – from around 1890). Joe Fortes, when he wasn’t at English Bay, was the barman in the hotel’s saloon.
The building we see today is the 1900 replacement, built in more fire-proof materials and on a grander scale. J W Mallory (he was John Wesley Mallory) was the architect, and it’s the only surviving building he designed, in this case for John B Lovell. Lovell was an absentee landlord. Like the owner of the building to the north, the Alhambra Hotel, Lovell lived in Victoria. He was born in Buckinghamshire in England in 1831, moved with his family to the United States and then Canada in 1842. He moved to Victoria in 1858, and then on to the Cariboo where he mined in the gold rush, established a mercantile company and became postmaster in Glenora. He may well have known George Byrnes, the owner of the Alhambra/Byrnes Block as Byrnes was an auctioneer in Barkerville, and Lovell was a founding member of the Cariboo Masonic Lodge based in Barkerville.
He returned to Victoria before 1879 and managed the BC Co-operative Company store on Douglas Street. In 1891 he was the census commissioner for the city of Victoria and in 1892 he was elected an Alderman and served on the Board of School Trustees from 1892 to 1896. Although the 1901 Census shows him as being retired, his retirement was presumably quite active as he built the Bodega in 1900. He also paid for repairs to 121 Water Street, a site he had bought from the Methodist Church in 1888. He died in 1915.
In 1905 The Bodega was only the name of the saloon; the rooms upstairs were called the Oakland Rooming House. By 1910 they were back to the Bodega Rooming House. By 1920 it was the Bodega Cafe and the Bodega Hotel was upstairs and in 1926 the name changed to the Fraser Hotel, a name it retained for many decades – our image shows it in 1978. (Whether intentional or not, the name was appropriate as Angus Fraser’s house had stood on the site as early as 1877). Like most of the hotels in the area, the hotel eventually returned to being a rooming house, but in 1993 it was one of the earliest live-work studio condo conversions, designed by Marshall Fisher Architects. Today, among the retail tenants is LynnSteven, a clothing store with an award-winning MGB designed interior.