The Railway Club – Dunsmuir and Seymour

In 1903 Mrs Thrythall was listed in the Building Permit Register owner, architect and developer of a frame store and dwelling at the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour. Her husband, William, was one of the earlier printers in the city, setting up shop in 1888 with his son, also called William. The 1903 insurance map shows the corner developed with a printers office (electric motor) with offices above. The additions seem to have been further east, along Dunsmuit Street. The family name is recorded as both Thrythall and Trythall, so there’s some confusion, but Trythall seems to be correct. The company was still operating from the Seymour address in 1920, although a year later they have moved to Homer Street. Most history associated with the family is connected to Mt Trythall’s cabin, halfway up Grouse Mountain – when a climb to the summit took three days to accomplish.

Some time in the mid to late 1920s when this picture is thought to have been taken a new building was erected. It’s identified by the City Archives as the Lawsen Building – although there don’t seem to be any residents of the city called Lawsen in the late 1920s or early 1930s. But there was a Viggo Laursen, who was a solicitor for the BC Electric Railway Co, and he seems to be the likely owner. Viggo was born in Denmark but had arrived in 1893 with his parents, John and Mary, joining his brother, Otto, a plumber, who had arrived two years earlier. We’ve failed so far to identify the architect or builder.

By 1932 The Railway Club began as a members only card club for railway workers. Known initially as the Railwaymen’s Club, it was one of many membership only workingman clubs opened in the city after prohibition was lifted. The club occupied space once occupied by the European Concert Cafe on the upper floors of the Laursen Building. The club operated with a rare “red circle” license where card clubs like the Marine Club and Logger’s Social Club were given a choice by the government, stop the cards or the sale of liquor. Today the Railway Club continues to operate as a bar and live music venue with one of the most eclectic selections of music in the city.

Picture source, City of Vancouver Archives, 1927? Bu N350 (identified as the Lawsen Building)

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Posted September 1, 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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