Profiles of Historic Sites



McRae home at 33022 3rd Avenue (MCA 10-16)
Image courtesy Mission Community Archives

McRae Residences


Location:
33022 3rd Avenue and
33046 3rd Avenue

Neighbourhood:
Central Mission

Date of Original Construction:
1910

Resource Type:
Residential

Current Owner/Occupant:
Private


Site Description:

Eye-catching 3 storey Edwardian style residence, just a few blocks north of downtown Mission. Built of Clayburn brick, with a front verandah facing north; the property slopes steeply to the south, with magnificent views of the Fraser River and Mt. Baker.


Site History:

In 1910 Edward James Abbott built his family's second home in Mission on Third Avenue where they owned a large berry farm. Edward's grand daughter Mildred thinks that Edward had bought this property in 1900. He owned practically the whole block from Grand Street and Third Avenue down to Second Avenue and then east until the last three lots before James Street.

At that time the only structure on the property was a shed (see image MCA 141-26) right about where the gate to the house is now located. When Etta (Edward's youngest daughter) was 9 years old (ca 1910), the Abbott family moved from Cedar Street,1 where their first farm house had been built.

This new house in town was ahead of its time by having electricity, indoor plumbing (including flush toilets) and a hydraulically operated "dumbwaiter" cooler which Mr. Abbott invented himself, and which extended from the kitchen to the basement. The dumbwaiter was used for numerous items such as jars of canned fruit, and in the summer, a cool storage place for milk. This house was also unique in having a toilet on the ground floor. This was so that Edward, when working, would not have to take off his boots and go through the upstairs to use the washroom.

In 1912 the house which sits just to the east was built for Edward's son, Cephus and his new wife. It is difficult not to include the history of this neighbouring house as it is so intertwined with the family and the history. Unfortunately Cephus died overseas of the Spanish flu in 1919 just after WWI. That house was then rented out until Edward's youngest daughter Etta was married in August 19, 1921 and moved into it with her husband Andrew Davidson McRae and they raised their family. Edward Davidson McRae (Andrew and Etta's son) was born at home. Mildred and Lois (Edward's younger sisters) were born in the Mission hospital. The family remained in the home originally built for Cephus until Edward died in 1932.

Etta and her family moved back next door to 33022 Third Avenue with Etta's mother Charlotte where they stayed until Charlotte passed away in 1939. Etta and Andrew then moved back to the home where they had originally begun their family. The 33022 house was rented out and eventually it was made into two apartments for rent.

After Etta passed away on Dec. 22nd 1981 the house that had been built for Cephus was also rented out and Edward, Etta and Andrew McRae's son, managed the two houses. Edward, Mildred, and Lois later sold one of the properties and Mildred moved to the upstairs apartment in the other property.

The house was recently on the market and has been purchased.


People Associated with the Site:

Charlotte Abbott, wife of Edward Abbott.

Mina and Ira Abbott, children of Edward and Charlotte Abbott.

Andrew McRae's sister and her husband and their two daughters lived across the street from the Abbotts. The two nieces of Andrew were friends with Etta who eventually married their young uncle. Andrew McRae arrived in Mission from Ontario at 16 years old

The Abbott and McRae families were very involved in the local community and active in many associations.


Architectural Features:

An Edwardian-style house, typical of prosperous Ontario family residences, with two front doors, one into the dining room and one into the front hall. On the main floor there was a parlour at the front and a master bedroom that had a porch off of it. Two storey's plus attic and a basement. Dormer windows. Edward James Abbott was the builder; he may also have drawn up the plans.

Construction method/materials: wood frame with a Clayburn brick exterior, decorative shingle pattern on the gabled roof.


Landscape:

The lot was originally a berry farm but is now subdivided and urban, with a large back yard. Mr. Abbott planted numerous fruit trees along the back - an Oregon Red apple tree, a Winter Banana tree, a cherry, a pear, a prune, and a big plum tree. Later he would grow an Oregon Red and Winter Banana for the neighbouring house which was his, but also built for his son Cephus. There are still remnants of one of the cherry trees that has to be cut back. It was called a Carnival Cherry. Mr. Abbott nursed a seedling along and when it started to produce it was a big Bing-like cherry, a little juicier; it always ripened by the first of July. When Mr. Abbott got Mr. Eddy from Eddy's Nurseries to come down to see it, Mr. Eddy wanted to take cuttings from it. Mr. Eddy wanted to call it the Abbott, but Mr. Abbott was far too modest, so they called it the Carnival.

A path leads from the front porch around the east side of the house down through a gate into the back yard. The yard contains many flowers and shrubs, including a wisteria vine on the south west porch. Grape vines in the back of the house extend from the ground and can reach all the way up over the third floor balcony. The Carnival Cherry tree still exists in the back yard along with a vegetable garden, raspberries, a fig tree and other fruits.


Where to get further information:

- FVR September 28, 1911. "Mr. Ed Abbott is building a fine 2 storey house..."
- Mission Community Archives. BPA 490. 3rd Avenue Section.
- Mission Community Archives. File 702.20 ABB1.
- Vollick, Mildred. Oral History. Documented by Meggie Shields. April 24, 2009.
- Vollick, Mildred. Memories of Early Mission. Lifetime Learning Centre oral history. May 2, 2000.


1 See Abbott House profile for details of that residence and farm




Last Modified October 18, 2013