Vermilyea Block No. 1 – 927 Granville Street

Built in 1889, this is one of the oldest buildings on Granville Street. It was designed by William Blackmore for John Vermilyea, who had moved from Ontario to farm on Lulu Island (the main island of Richmond). He was one of the few Quakers in the city at the time (and the only one on Lulu Island, where he led a service every Sunday). He mortgaged the farm, built two buildings on Granville Street, and waited for the city to grow in his direction. But by 1901 there was still 100 feet of vacant land on either side – and nothing across the street – his idea was good but his timing wasn’t, and he lost the farm in 1896 when he couldn’t keep up with his mortgage payments. He had arrived from Ontario with his family including his son, Walter, who was living in this building in 1894 when his middle daughter, Ada, was born, and was still there in 1896 when her sister Frances was born.

By 1925, as the photograph shows, Bert Love had become the tenant of the store, running Love’s Cafe until 1942 when his sons took over as Love’s Skillet. Upstairs was residential. Back in the 1890s, as well as Walter Vermilyea the tenants included Mrs Sam Greer. Presumably Sam was away – he was locked up for shooting a constable when he was being evicted from the 160 acres he had bought (including Kitsilano Beach), but which he was kicked off without compensation (but not without as fight – including 3 court cases that he won while failing to get either title or compensation).

These days the building still looks good, housing a bar, sports goods store and upstairs a dance studio as well – a conversion from housing back in 1975.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3050

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