Mark Lindholm is the not so proud owner of the house across from his Westbay Marine Village in Esquimalt. He plans to develop the area into a mixed commercial and residential development and the house came with the land. It also came with a pirate on the roof, a crow’s nest by the front door, a ship’s cannon, anchor, Neptune, a mermaid and a stork made by the house’s owner John Keziere.
“It is very eccentric,” acknowledges Lindholm, “Unfortunately the condition is extremely poor.”
Keziere, who died in 1999, was well known in Victoria. He’d dress up in a mermaid costume, row out to a rock in the Inner Harbour and wave at competitors in the annual Swiftsure yacht race.
Keziere was a carpenter. He owned rental property around Victoria and when his wife died in the 1970s he decided to move into the Head Street house.
“He fixed it up inside so it was cute and cozy for himself and over the winter he would plan these various figurines and make them in the summer in the treasure chest,” says his daughter Joan.
The “treasure chest” was originally the garage that Keziere converted into his workshop.
Joan figures the house was built around 1918.
One of the first pieces to go up on the house was the steering wheel on the front. Lindholm thinks it was from the last merchant sailing ship dismantled at Capital Iron.
Joan salvaged the front door. “It’s a huge funky front door with a solid brass porthole as the window and an old fashioned crank wringer,” she says.
Lindholm who knew Keziere, says if the house was in better condition he’d find a way to incorporate it into the new development. As it is, he plans to preserve as much of the folk art as possible.
Joan says he even wrote it into the sales contract.
She admits the house is well past its prime.
“It needs to come down,” she says. “Ten years ago it was quite superb. The figurines were all painted up and the garden was nice and in its heyday it was really quite a delightful place. The red double decker buses used to include it in their tour of Victoria.”
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