Capital Iron stands in one of the oldest buildings of Victoria, British Columbia, with a long and rich history on the Inner Harbour. Founder Morris L. Greene opened our first location in 1934 as a scrap business. He had a 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 fourteen 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 our 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 our original hardware business. In 1988, Ron opened a second location on Bevan Ave. in Sidney, BC 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 our third location in beautiful Langford, BC.
Today, Capital Iron offer one of the largest selections of housewares, camping, fishing, marine, hardware, garden, barbeques, hot tubs, patio furniture, home decor, fireplaces, fabrics and Christmas products anywhere on Vancouver Island.
A History of the Building
Our downtown Victoria store is housed in two buildings. The stone structure was built in 1863, with an addition from 1976-1977. The addition is 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 user by the company.
The firm of Wright & Sanders, Architects, designed a number of structures in Victoria between 1858 and 1867, including Capital Iron’s main stone building. Wright & Sanders designer 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. The building was one of the first built along Store St. after the removal of the first Johnson St. bridge permitted ships to enter the upper harbor. 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 are 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 to the second floor.
In 1885 the property was taken over by the Mount Royals Milling Company, which added a two story frame additions to allow for their milling machinery. Locally knows 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 restore to their 1890’s appearance. The restoration was recognized with the 1981 “Award of Merit” of the Hallmark Society and the 1982 Regional Award of Heritage Canada.
With the growth of our Outdoor Living product lines in patio furniture, barbeques, hot tubs and garden, we’ve expanded our showrooms on our lower wharf-level outdoor areas. To accommodate our growth, in 2016 our third generation owners Mike and Eveline Black completed the newest warehouse structure in the lower yard area.
Capital Iron is proud to be a member of:
- Better Business Bureau
- Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
- Downtown Victoria Business Association
- Shop Local Victoria
- Canadian Association of Family Enterprise
- Hearth, Patio & BBQ Association