The man who built Trounce Alley

How did Trounce Alley in Victoria B.C., get its name?

Thomas Trounce

Thomas Trounce

Thomas Trounce was a gold rush miner and a builder, originally from Cornwall, England. He moved to London as a young man and later with his wife Jane, moved to New Zealand where he worked as a carpenter and joiner. When the California gold rush broke out, they sailed for San Francisco. With all the fires that occurred in San Francisco, Trounce had steady work as a builder. Then, in 1858, news of the Fraser River gold rush reached his ears and Trounce got on a ship bound for Victoria.

He first lived in a tent on Government Street while he worked as a builder. He was able to buy a property not long later. The only issue was that the right of way to his property belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company and this they sold. What was he to do? Trounce was hardly discouraged, instead he established his own thoroughfare between Government and Broad Streets which became known as Trounce Alley.

Tregew ‘The Flourishing Place’

In 1860, Trounce built his house in James Bay which he named Tregew, Cornish for ‘the flourishing place’. It lived up to that name with all the fruit he grew there.

Many buildings in Esquimalt were built by Trounce thanks to his good business dealings with Admiral Hastings and Paymaster Sidney Spark. It was discovered later that the paymaster had overlooked the requirement to get other tenders.

Trounce, who advertised himself as an architect and builder was able to take advantage of both roles. He built several brick buildings around Victoria and was the contractor for the construction of the St. Nicholas Hotel.

In later years, Trounce served as alderman on Victoria City Council and he became a Grand Master of Masons. Apples that were grown at Tregew earned him a prize at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. Shortly after his wife Jane died in 1888, Trounce married again to Emma Richards, a widow 27 years younger. He was 76.

A hundred and seven years after it was built, Tregew was demolished to make way for an apartment building.