Dufferin Hotel – Smithe and Seymour Streets

Dufferin 1981

The Dufferin Hotel maintained the same name for 95 years of its existence. Since it was built in 1911 it also remained a hotel – these days re-launched as the Moda. It was designed by Parr and Fee, and there are contemporary records that show the Dickie & Dugmore, Daily Building Record, Liens Filed 3 Feb 2012owners as ‘Dickie and Dogmore’. However, there is also a 1912 Builder’s Lien that identifies the owners as W R Dugmore and R D Dickie – and that looks as if it’s more likely to be correct. The 1910 building permit was for six storeys – the owners obviously decided to stop at four.

There were several men called Dickie living in the city in 1911, and with a remarkably limited imagination, every one of them was called Robert. The hotel developer was almost certainly Robert Donald Dickie. He was a real estate broker, who was also associated with the Canadian Securities Co and lived at 1460 Barclay Street. Although there was a well-known wholesale grocers called Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co, we haven’t been able to identify any links that R D Dickie had to that company.

Robert Donald Dickie enlisted in the army in 1915 and survived the war, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. He had a wife called Lillian, and military records say he was born in Calcutta. His expertise was in railway construction – he started out as a sapper in the army’s Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Company. In 1911 both Robert and Lillian were identified in the census, living at 1460 Barclay (with Mary Bevan, their English-born servant), and here both are listed as being born in Ontario.

We haven’t found anyone called Dogmore – or Dugmore – in or around Vancouver around the time the hotel was built. The only W R Dugmore anywhere around that time was a retired British army officer. There is another building developed by ‘Major W R Dugmore’ (with the spelling correct) – an apartment building designed by Fred Townley, on Powell Street. The rank of major may have been his rank in the Reserves. There were a number of candidates in the Dugmore family – all of them had an impressive set of achievements – W R is the most likely given a Canadian connection, and the fact that he was retired in 1909.

William Francis Brougham Radclyffe Dugmore was born 1 October 1868, eldest son of Captain Francis Dugmore, 64th Regiment, and the Honourable Evelyn Mary, daughter of the 2nd Baron Brougham and Vaux.  He was educated at the Oratory, Egdbaston, and at St Mary’s College, Oscott, and was commissioned in the Prince of Wales’s North Staffordshire Regiment 20 June 1894, as Second Lieutenant.  He was employed in the Uganda Protectorate 27 December 1899 to 23 January 1902, serving with the King’s African Rifles in the East African Arab War, taking part in the operations against the Mazrui rebels (Medal); in Unyoro, 1896-97 (Medal), and in the Uganda Mutiny in 1897-98, when he averted the threatened insurrection of 500 Sudanese.  He was mentioned in Despatches, received the Medal and clasp, and was created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order [London Gazette, 24 January 1899]

He had been promoted to Lieutenant and served in the South African War from 1899 to 1902, and was promoted to Captain 12 January 1901.  He was employed with Kitchener’s Fighting Scouts, took part in the operations in the Tranvsaal to 31 May 1902, and received the Queen’s Medal with five clasps.  He was on Special Service with the Somaliland Field Force 7 November 1902 to 27 May 1904, taking part in the operations in Somaliland (Medal with clasp).  He was employed under the Liberian Development Company 27 March 1906 to 17 September 1907; and retired in 1909.  In 1914 he was Second-in-Command, 72nd Highlanders, Canada.  He served in the European War from 1914, and the London Gazette of 25 August 1916, announced the appointment of Captain W F B R Dugmore, DSO, Reserve of Officers, to be temporary Major (24 March 1916).  He was Second-in-Command, 72nd Highlanders, Canada.  He was killed in action 12 June 1917.  He had married, in 1910, Phyllis, daughter of J Wilson Usher.

The Dufferin continued to operate as hotel as it was in this 1981 picture. Over the years the hotel’s bars became associated with the city’s gay community. One 2002 review commented “The Dufferin pub is lots of fun. Especially if you love balloons. The ceiling is always heavenly decorated with them.” The club offered male strippers under the slogan “Go Buff at the Duff”.

These days, as the Moda, there’s are two restaurants, a wine bar that’s a little more sedate than in the Dufferin days; the surroundings are more up-market (and the beer is no longer advertised as being  cheap). To the south, the block featured a car dealership for many decades. Now its Metropolitan Towers, a pair of rental apartment towers.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E06.17

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