Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category
This photograph was taken from the slope of Spruce Street (these days Choklit Park) looking across the yards of Vancouver Iron and Engineering Works some time in the 1960s. Through the 1920s and even earlier the Vancouver Machinery Depot Ltd were on this site; in 1928 the Vancouver Iron Works also appeared in the street Directory.
The company expanded on the shore of False Creek, becoming the biggest machine shop west of Toronto and north of San Francisco. Vancouver Iron and Engineering Works built equipment from propane tanks to logging equipment, and from stainless steel valves for the pulp & paper, chemical & petroleum industries to railcars for carrying woodchips.
In 1966 the company was bought by a US financier, and it looked as if it had a solid future – in 1968 an order was placed for six girders, each 190 feet long and weighing 110 tons for an Alaskan natural gas refinery worth $500,000. The company didn’t last much longer after that, and the entire South False Creek and Fairview area were transformed into a modest density neighbourhood (by Vancouver standards, and given the proximity to Downtown). The housing on the left is Fairview Place that was built in 1983 to Rhone and Iredale’s designs.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-490
From 1889 until the early 1980′s the company who occupied the site alongside the Cambie Bridge made barrels. Initially Michael Sweeney’s cooperage was in Victoria; in 1921 it moved to Vancouver on False Creek (or 1914 depending on which source you read – although there’s no sign of them in the street directories that early). Sweeney was a cooper from Newfoundland who ran the company until 1920 when his son Leo took over. At one point Canadian Western Cooperage was the largest barrel manufacturer in the British Empire producing 2000 barrels a day, selling them to customers in more than 40 countries with branches in Montreal, Portland and Seattle. Sweeney barrels were used to ship goods from strawberries to salted salmon around the world.
The sawmill which produced the wooden barrel parts (shown in this 1960s image) was built in 1945 and the cooperage closed in 1981 to make way for the construction of B.C. Place and the new Cambie Street Bridge. Some of the factory lives on – McGinnis Wood Products in Cuba, Missouri acquired some of the barrel making machines and now has the largest air dried inventory of bourbon barrels in the world.
Today Concord Pacific’s Cooper’s Mews has replaced the Expo activity with four condo buildings containing over 500 units designed by Walter Francl, Hotson Bakker and Hancock, Bruckner, Eng & Wright.
Image sources, VPL, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-489
The Empress Theatre was built on the corner of Gore Street in 1908. It was funded by a real estate and financial partnership known as G A Barrett & Company, and the first operator was the Del S. Lawrence Stock Company, who at various times also played the Avenue Theatre and the Opera House in the city. His company worked the west coast, from his native California to Vancouver, with stops in Seattle, Portland and Victoria. The house was managed by Walter Sandford, another American actor (whose wife was busy running the Hotel Stratford up the road). As far as we can tell the architect was E E Blackmore.
The theatre only lasted until 1940. Between the wars it saw a number of stock theatre companies tour through the city, and it was popular for the size of its stage – one of the largest in the west. It was demolished in 1940 (the year our photos were taken) and from other pictures that exist it appears to have remained a cleared site used for parking for over 40 years until the unremarkable 1983 retail building that stands today was built. The only slightly unusual thing about it is that it appears to have a second storey – a pretence that’s somewhat blown by the two ‘window’ openings where the infill panels have gone, revealing a view through to the sky.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N134
This 1940 image was taken not too long before the building was demolished. We’re not completely sure when it was built, (and we don’t know who designed it) but it was early in the life of the city. The early history is a little confusing; in 1887 A Boehlofsky was listed as the owner of the International Restaurant at 135 Cordova. In the 1890 and 1891 Directories it’s listed as the International Restaurant and Hotel, proprietor F A Boehlofsky. In 1892 it has become the St Lawrence Hall, with waiters but no mention of a hotel operation. From 1894 to 1897 it’s the Hoffman House, and the Hoffman House Restaurant, although in 1897 it appears the restaurant may not have been operating, although there are a few residents at the address. In 1897 F A Bochlofsky is running the Boulder Restaurant at 7 Cordova Street. In 1898 The hotel is called the Savoy for the first time, and that same year William Blackmore designed the Savoy Theatre, the smaller building to the right of the hotel in the photograph.
In 1899 it was listed as the Savoy Theatre, Hotel and Cafe. A G Ferrara was in charge of the restaurant, Cesar Ferrara was chef de cuisine and Antoine Ferrara was a waiter (one of many . Chas McNiffe was manager of the Savoy Theatre with S D Nesbitt. The Savoy Hotel was being run by Steve O’Brien and W R Jackson.In 1901 the Insurance map references the Savoy Hotel, with the Savoy Theatre to the east.
Major Matthews, the city’s Archivist recorded his memories of both the Theatre and the Savoy Restaurant.
“When I came to Vancouver in November 1898 there was a small theatre called the Grand Theatre on Cordova Street, in the middle of the block between Cambie and Abbott Street—north side. It is still standing.
This theatre was a small affair. Its frontage was twenty-five feet, and its depth presumably about one hundred and twenty. In 1898 the Imperial Opera House was still in use, but as a Drill Hall. The only two theatres at that time which I recall were the “big” theatre, and the “little one,” the former being the Vancouver Opera House, and the latter, the “Grand,” and it was customary to go first to one, and then to the other, for there was no other one to go to; we alternated.
The stage was very narrow. There were boxes on both sides. The boxes were just wide enough for one person to squeeze into, and were entered by a passage way, very narrow, from behind which led to the stage. Box holders sat one behind the other. All the formality of etiquette was observed by those using them; dress suits with white bosoms, and the ladies in low necked dresses. In the middle of the theatre were seats for the “common crowd” distant from the elite by a few inches only. In all, the boxes on each side of the small theatre probably held six persons (twelve persons in all) and these of course could reach down to those sitting in the seats in the middle of the theatre.
In the back was a very small gallery of some sort.
In the front was a tiny ticket office—about the size of a telephone booth.
In latter years the building was used, first as a moving picture house. I am under the impression that the first moving pictures regularly shown were shown there; afterwards half a dozen cheap nasty moving picture houses sprung up on Cordova and Carrall Street in several disused stores. After the war I think the building was used as a commercial warehouse—butter and cheese, etc.—and finally I think A.R. Gun and Co., the confectionary wholesalers, used it as a distributing warehouse.
In 1898 and for some years after, A.G. Ferrera, later the Italian Consul, conducted a restaurant about three doors west of the “Grand Theatre.” It was an excellent restaurant with small boxes, hung with heavy curtains. The cuisine was perfect, and it was famed far and wide. As with the theatres, so with restaurants; it was either the Hotel Vancouver or the Ferrera restaurant, known as “The Savoy.” It was a tiny affair as restaurants go now, built on a 25 x 120 foot lot, but it was exceedingly well conducted and the food was the best money could buy.
It followed then that the leaders of Vancouver society would drive up in their carriages, or perhaps hired broughams or hansom cabs, step daintily to avoid any little mud there might be on the macadam road, and sail into the boxes, where they observed all the forms of a more resplendent edifice, and after the “show” was over, would repair to the Savoy in all their finery for supper; and there, too, the waiters and others performed their parts with equal delicacy. It was a pretty performance of good manners in primeval surroundings; they lived to fare better, but not with greater grace.”
The Ferraras apparently didn’t stay at the hotel for many years, by 1903 the Savoy Restaurant was being run by Thomas Strange, and the Hotel by Jackson & McDonell. Two years later A G Ferrara has a Restaurant on Granville Street, and the Savoy is now called the Hotel Quinte, with C Jarvis as owner and Mrs E Jarvis as proprietress, while Bentley Johnson was the bartender.
By 1912 the Insurance map shows the building has become the Cordova Hotel, a name it retains right through to 1935. George Nahrgang was running the hotel in 1916. By 1920 Arthur Worsley had taken over the theatre for his wholesale confectionery business, and the hotel was being run by George Smedley and John Martin. By 1930 much of the rest of the block was vacant except for Woodward’s auto parking just down the street – with space for 500 cars; the largest garage in Canada (the company claimed). After 1940 the building was demolished and later (in 1957) Woodwards expanded their parking garage onto the site - a use that’s still there today, although totally rebuilt by the City of Vancouver in 2004 to Henriquez Partners Architects design.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N128
Fred McElroy and his wife, Orlena, first appear in Vancouver in 1901 when they were both about 28 years old. Both were born in the US; Fred was barman at the Balmoral Hotel, and while we know Orlena was one of nine children, born in King County in Washington, we haven’t been able to trace Fred’s origins. In 1901 they were living in Mrs Alameda McCluskey’s rooming house at 139 1/2 Hastings Street.
In 1903 Fred partnered with a Mr Smith as proprietors of the Horseshoe Hotel at 83 E Hastings. Two years later Fred’s partner was John Scuitto, and Mrs McElroy was running a rooming house at 75 E Hastings. Scuitto had previously run the City Hotel, and before that the Klondike Hotel in 1899. Before that he had been a grocer, and in 1888 a baker. Reports of his death in the 1901 San Francisco press had obviously been greatly exaggerated. A year later Fred was running the Horseshoe restaurant at 75 E Hastings as well as the hotel (on his own), while he and his wife lived at 75 which she was still running as a rooming house.
In 1910 Fred had moved up in the world. He’s living at 1763 Nelson Street, a house he has obtained a permit to build in 1909. The Horseshoe Hotel has new proprietors and Fred is in real estate. He’s still there in 1914, although by now it’s getting confusing as there are two other Frederick McElroys are listed in town, one a bartender (whose name is really Frank) and one who owns the Clarence Hotel. In 1911 (when fortunately there was only one F McElroy in town) a building permit for 123 E Cordova was issued with the owner being F McElroy. It was for a 3 storey brick & stone hotel, designed by architect Hugh Braunton, it cost $50,000 and was called the Madrona Rooms. (Fred had also developed a store and dwelling house on Victoria Drive in 1910).
In 1913 the rooms were run by Mrs Katherine Newell, who was still in charge in 1917 after the McElroys had left Vancouver. We know that by 1916 Fred and Orlena were in Seattle because Orlena’s father, John S. Alexander, died that year. He was a former Klondike gold miner who had moved to a very young Seattle, having taken the Oregon Trail to Portland and then the Schooner ‘Exact’ to reach the new city. He was Sheriff and Assessor of Island County, went to the Legislature in 1881 and was appointed collector of customs at Seattle in 1889. At least two other married daughters ended up in the Vancouver area.
By 1923 Fred was in real estate in San Francisco (coincidentally, perhaps, another Frederick McElroy was managing a large hotel in the same city in the same year), and Fred and Orlena are still there in the 1930 census. We haven’t been able to trace Fred’s activities after that, but Orlena lived until 1952 when she was living in Los Angeles. By 1944 the Madrona Rooms were renamed the Rancho Rooms and later the Rancho Hotel.
Our image must have been taken around 1984. The City’s parking garage was completed in mid 1981, and the Rancho Hotel was still standing then, just behind the ‘P’ sign for the parkad entrance, but by 1987 the Salvation Army’s Harbour Lights complex, designed by Davidson & Yuen, was completed. The facility offers a meal service, detox and non-market housing for Downtown Eastside residents.
Image souce: part of City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-479
J M Spinks was an early Vancouver pioneer. We’re pretty certain he had the dubious distinction of getting embroiled in legal argument to land claims even before the city was established. It doesn’t seem to have been an impediment to his later success, although he seems to have rewritten history a little by claiming in the 1901 census to have arrived in Canada in 1887. John Manly Barrington Spinks was born in his preferred version in 1853 in Liverpool (that’s his birth year on the 1891 and 1901 census forms). One version of his story is that he arrived in Victoria in 1884 and lived briefly in Duncan before moving to Granville in March 1886. Unless there were two J M Spinks in the city at the same time, he was probably here a little earlier. While there are two different birth dates for a John Manly Barrington Spinks in Liverpool (suggesting an earlier child died, and a second was given the same name) his birth date record in the UK was 1850 (Although in the 1881 English Census – where he was a butcher – this had already slipped to 1851).
A Select Committee of the Provincial Legislature heard evidence in 1884 “About fifteen years ago two Indians, named Charlie and Jim, squatted on said land and made improvements thereon (including building two houses), several clearings, &c., and resided continuously upon the land until the sale presently mentioned, and one of them is still upon the place, it having been arranged that he shall receive the year’s crop of potatoes. On the 23rd June, 1884, the said two Indians conveyed their right and title to said land (with the consent of the Indian Agent) to one J. M. Spinks“. In further evidence it became apparent that Mr Spinks had a partner, Sam Greer (later of Greer’s Beach – now Kits Beach) who had paid the Indian Agent for transfer of title to the land, but put the land in Spinks’ name as he thought it more likely that Spinks claim to title would be accepted.
Having had Greer carry out the legal transaction on his behalf, Mr Spinks then sold his interest on, but the Province was not willing to entertain the idea that he ever had anything to sell. F G Richards Jnr, on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works replied to a request to recognise the new owners title to land:
“In reply, I am to inform you that your application cannot be entertained, as the Chief Commissioner cannot admit that the Indians ever acquired a claim to the land in the slightest degree.
“The land in question, among others, was leased to the British Columbia and Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber, and Saw-Mill Company (Limited), by Indenture dated 13th November, 1865, for a term of twentyone years.
“According to the terms of the agreement no portion of the lands so leased could be pre-empted or entered upon by bona fide settlers or pre-emptors without the written sanction of the Governor and Superintendent of the Saw-Mill Company.
“No such sanction was ever given in this case. Furthermore, the existing Land Laws, at the time you claim the land was entered upon by the Indians, does not permit any of the aborigines of this Province, or the Territories neighbouring thereto, acquiring or holding any land by pre-emption.”
In further evidence it was clear that all the purchasers were unhappy with Mr Spinks. As well as he having successfully sold on a claim that he probably didn’t have legal rights to sell, it was also suggested that the claim as staked was 160 acres, but as sold was 400. Sam Greer was probably the least happy – he was out of pocket and he was then accused of (and taken to court for) forging the document claiming title in the first place. This is the simple version of the story – there are even more twists in other people’s memories of the ‘deal’.
This didn’t seem to cramp Mr Spinks style at all. Initially he was partner with Walter Graveley – who in 1932 remembered rescuing the metal ‘Graveley and Spinks’ sign and putting it behind a stump as he ran, only to find it melted from the fierce heat of the 1886 fire. For no obvious reason, Mr Graveley recalls Mr Spinks to be called ‘Bob’. Later Spinks partnered with R G Tatlow in real estate promotion, although the year that this building was built, 1891, that partnership was dissolved and he continued in the real estate business alone. He and Tatlow developed at least one property near Seymour Street. He had a house built on Seaton Street in 1888, designed by Henry Bell-Irving. Later he partnered with R C McKay and Dr Israel Powell on a commercial block on Pender at Richards, designed by Fripp and Wills. John’s brother, William also moved to British Columbia. A barrister by profession, he was practicing in Kamloops by 1884 and was sworn in as a judge in 1889. He had Fripp and Wills design a house in Swan Lake in 1892, and was obviously an aficionado of the Arts and Crafts style as he hired Greene and Greene to design his retirement home in Pasadena in 1909.
According to the 1891 census 38 year old John M Spinks was married to Jane (originally from Paddington, and possibly a year older than he was, depending on when he was really born), and had a son, John M, another, Richard and a daughter, Mary, as well as their domestic, May Austin. Jane died, along with her new born baby, in 1892 and by 1901 John was married again to a Danish born wife, Ursula, 17 years younger than him (and only seven years older than his son, Richard). In 1903 he apparently moved east, to Toronto and in 1911 had a wife 19 years younger, Ella, recorded as having been born in Ontario.
For the building, Walter Graveley, who owned the lot, partnered with Spinks to develop a triangular building on the awkward lot created where the rail right of way cut through the street grid at forty-five degrees (behind the building in this 1939 image). Designed by the Fripp Brothers, the building became well-known as the home of the Oyster Bay Cafe. In 1913 Fripp was again hired by Gravely to work on the building. At the time it wasn’t called Cordova, but rather Oppenheimer Street.
Gravely was born in Cobourg, Ontario, in 1853. In 1873 he worked in Toronto in the marine insurance business for eight years, then two years in Winnipeg as a real-estate and financial broker, and finally Victoria where he opened an office with F C Innes while they waited to see where the Canadian Pacific terminus would end up locating. In 1885 they separately moved to Vancouver, as did C D Rand, and set up rival real estate sales offices. Graveley had the receipt for the first piece of land sold by the Canadian Pacific in 1886 (which miraculously survived the 1886 fire), and continued to acquire and sell land. As far as we can tell this was his only foray into property development. He married in 1888 and his first daughter was born in San Fransisco (his wife’s home town) in 1890, followed by a second in Vancouver in 1900.
As well as his real estate activities, Graveley was known around town as the first Commodore of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (he was responsible for getting the ‘Royal’ label. He also dabbled in a railway company that was to build a spur to Chilliwack, although nothing came of that scheme. By 1913 he had retired, although he lived on until 1939.
Today the site has another curious triangular building, the retail component of a condo project called The Van Horne completed in 1996 and designed by Kasian Kennedy as a partner to Carrall Station on the opposite side of the street, finished a year later.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-290
Here’s a 1956 picture of a two-storey building on the corner of Burrard and West Pender. If it’s looking a bit shabby, that’s because it’s heading for demolition. It was built in 1910 by owner, and supposed architect E W McLean, and built by R P Forshaw at a cost of $50,000 as stores and apartments. This was not the only project developed by the same owner / builder combination - there was also a $5,000 house on the corner of Nelson and Bute. While Mr McLean’s skills were surprisingly varied, architecture wasn’t something mentioned by his biographers, despite his claim to be the architect on the Building Permit. This is confirmed by an entry from a 1910 copy of the Contract Record that notes the construction of a “commercial block for Arthur E. McEvoy and E.W. MacLean” designed by J S Helyer, the architect of the Dominion Building and Stock Exchange Building.
There’s a bit of confusion about how Mr Mclean spelled his name. The Building Permit, and the 1901 census both have McLean, but his Biographer spells it MacLean – so that’s what we’ll stick with. Ewen Wainwright MacLean was described in 1914 as ”one of the most prominent capitalists in Vancouver and on the Pacific coast of Canada, has been engaged in the real-estate, loan, investment and insurance business for about two decades and is an active factor in the control and management of various enterprises.” E W’s father was Scottish, his mother from Canada (born in PEI into a Scottish family) but E W was born in Nagasaki, Japan, where his father acted as superintendent of the lighthouse service. He was sent to school in Hong Kong, so was fluent in Chinese, explaining why his 1901 Census entry gives his employment as a Chinese Interpreter.
He left college aged around 14 and went to San Francisco for ten years before moving on to Victoria in 1886. He worked there as a fur sealer until that practice was banned, at which point he moved to Vancouver (around 1890). He initially ran a coal business, which he sold after a few years to become a broker, involved in insurance, stocks and real estate. He also obviously used his language ability as a number of items of correspondence between Chang Toy, the Chinese merchant who ran the Sam Kee Company, and other businessmen were routed through Mr MacLean. This would also explain an entry in Chang Toy’s biography “During the night of 6–7 September, following a rally organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League, a mob rampaged through Chinatown. Chang responded by sending his two younger sons to stay in the homes of prominent Vancouver citizens Ewan Wainwright McLean and John Joseph Banfield“
Mr MacLean had significant property development interests in addition to the modest building at Burrard. He was vice president of the Exchange Building, Limited (hence the connection to J S Helyer as architect). In association with J. W. Weart he organized the Investors Guarantee Corporation, Limited, where he was vice-president, and built the fifteen-story Weart building at the corner of Hastings and Richard streets. (although a deal with tenants ensured it became The Standard Building). He also had a railway interest as vice-president of the Southeast Kootenay Railway.
Arthur McEvoy had arrived in Canada in 1889 from England, and the 1901 Census says that at the age of 26 he was already a barrister (having been called to the bar in 1899). There’s a Sam Kee connection to Mr McEvoy as well. In 1908 the company the company purchased standing timber in the Hastings Townsite and then approached Arthur McEvoy to offer the cut wood to City Hall, the City Hospital, schools, churches and “any other big buildings” to clear the stock before the summer. A Director of a number of companies including the Howe Sound Development Co and vice-president of the Howe Sound Northern Railway, in 1913 Mr McEvoy acquired the Coalmont Colliery and as president of the company saw 4,850 tons of coal hauled from the mine in 1914 before the war put a temporary halt to operations.
Both developers of the building were members of the Liberal Party and members of the Terminal City Club. While Mr McEvoy and his family lived across False Creek at 1290 West 12th Avenue in 1910, but a year later was at 1147 Nelson Street, while Ewen MacLean lived at 1184 Nelson Street. (Actually there were two Ewen MacLeans at that address as Ewen MacLean junior was an assistant cashier in his father’s company, but was still living at home in 1911).
The building that replaced the MacLean and McEvoy investment was Bentall’s first office tower downtown. Charles Bentall was present in 1965 (aged 83) when the ground-breaking for the 21-storey tower took place, and exactly a year later he was present with the mayor when the final concrete was poured to ‘top out’ the building. The Bentall family construction company, Dominion, moved into the building on its completion in 1967, the year that Tower Two started construction. Both were designed by Frank Musson who worked until 1965 for Dominion Construction, and then founded Frank W Musson and Associates, later the Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, responsible for designing the other two towers of the complex.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-336
We have already see the Louvre Hotel very soon after its construction in 1889. A section of the Louvre was lost in 1940 when the adjacent Bijou Theatre was demolished. Here’s the Bijou and the Louvre in 1909. As well as the Louvre Hotel and Cafe there was a combination business at 329 1/2 Carrall Street – Anderson and Nelson, tobacconist & barber.
The Bijou in this picture was actually a conversion of an earlier building whose architect is unknown. It seems to date from 1896 when it appears to be home to Langley and Co who were wholesale druggists. In 1899 it was the English Chop House and in 1901 it appears to have been vacant with the upper floor occupied by Nora, the widow of G A Biers. It was the Strangers’ Rest Coffee House in 1904. In 1906 and 1907 it was listed as furnished rooms and the first mention of the theatre is in 1908. In 1909 (when the picture was taken) the proprietors of the theatre were Hoar Hermann & Sharratt - Charles Hermann and Harold T Sharratt ran the theatre, and Hoar was probably Harvey E Hoar who also managed the Rose Theatre which showed moving pictures at 126 East Hastings. Mrs Charles C Pyle was cashier of the theatre.
At the Louvre, John Gaedres was proprietor, Carl Asback, Norman Cameron and Edward Harff were bartenders, Norman Gaedres ran the cafe (and lived upstairs) and Robert Inman was the cook. A published source says Al Principe ran his barber’s shop from the Bijou, but it looks as if it was part of the Louvre in 1909.
In 1913 a new theatre was built, designed by Donnellan and Stroud (although only James Donnellan’s name appears on the Building Permit. That’s almost certainly the building seen in the this 1940 image, just before it was demolished. In 1913 William P Nicholls was the proprietor, Walter Buchanan the doorman, Mrs Sam Driscoll the cashier, Arthur Gildner and Lewis M Potter wer the operators (presumably the projectionist), Ethel Copeland and Olive Beaton the musicians and Percy Anderson the usher. Two years later the operation was much smaller; P Willis was the proprietor and William Scott the operator.
It doesn’t look much here, but for a while it was quite something, as this night shot taken around 1913 shows, with the brilliant illumination of the facade advertising the 5c admission. It looks as if part of the Louvre was incorporated into the new theatre (which is why there’s less of the Louvre today than when it was built). It also looks like the barber’s shop was now in the theatre, rather than in the hotel.
In 1918 Walter Anderson is the proprietor of the Bijou, but by 1919 the cinema use had gone. Morris Zlotnic seems to have his jewellers shop at 333 Carrall, but somewhere around this period the street numbers appear to have been reassigned. Up to now the Bijou was always 333 Carrall. In 1919 William Anderson us running a shooting gallery at 317 Carrall, which seems a very likely use for a former cinema, but less likely for any other space. There’s still a shooting gallery in 1922.
Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-393, LGN 995
Painter and paper hanger J C Rowley wasn’t in this building for all that long. We assume he is in the picture, presumably with his employees. We don’t know if bowler hats were required for painters, or just a fashion statement in 1894. We’re not sure when Mr Rowley took occupation of these premises as there’s currently no directory for 1893 available. He wasn’t around in 1892 when 508 Pender was occupied by T Prest & Co, real estate agents. In 1890 Mr Prest was still there, but the block was numbered as 408, and there was no 408 Pender in 1889 so that’s probably when it was built.
By 1896 J C Rowley had moved to 1 Pacific Street and 508 Pender was occupied by Andrew Armstrong who was a cleaner and dyer with a home in Mount Pleasant. That’s the last reference to J C Rowley in Vancouver – it seems quite possible that he moved on to New Zealand – there’s a painter called J C Rowley who won a contract in Auckland in 1898.
It looks as if the building stayed undeveloped for nearly 100 years. Here’s a late 1980s image that suggests it was still standing with surprisingly little change. In 1912 J P Matheson had designed an office for the North West Trust Co that took a slice off all three Pender Street lots, but that was a little way up Richards Street. Today it’s called the Lumberman’s Building, and it’s still standing.
In 1990 Kingsley Lo’s design for a 246 space parkade and retail building was completed – one of the last new parkades built downtown. It’s unusual in that it’s ‘L’ shaped, wrapping round the Richards Street office building.
It took two years to build, and when it was first completed in 1925 the Devonshire was the big kid on the block. It soon became far less significant as the Hotel Georgia was built to the east two years later and the Georgia Medical Dental Building (by the same architects as the Devonshire) to the west two years after that; both several storeys taller. It wasn’t really a hotel at that point, but rather an apartment hotel. It was designed by McCarter Nairne early in their career and set them on the road to success and even bigger buildings (especially the Marine Building).
The Devonshire advertised for tenants – here’s a billboard at Clark and Kingsway from 1931. In 1930 there were engineers, a stenographer, clerks and a seamstress – but the directory also shows there were nearly as many maids and other staff (including two telephone operators) working there as there were tenants, suggesting it was already more of a hotel than an apartment building. The hotel advertisement said it was “Canada’s Finest Apartment Hotel” with “Modern and luxuriously comfortable Kitchenette suites and Hotel rooms, all with bath . . . just a few minutes walk from the stations, waterfront, and the glorious Stanley Park.” The hotel offered free telephone service, and charged $3.50 for a single and $5 and up for a double.
In the early 1930s the manager was T Karl De Morest, who also ran the Devonshire Cafe, while the Devonshire Cab Service was run by Messrs Brown and Walker. DeMorest could well be Thomas DeMorest, born in the USA and living as a child in the Okanagan in 1911. In 1937, quite early in his career, CBK Van Norman designed alterations and additions to the building, almost certainly when it became simply a hotel.
The Devonshire was never a huge success, overshadowed by the grander Hotel Georgia and Hotel Vancouver, but it had a popular bar. Our image shows it in 1974, but this earlier postcard shows the relationship to its neighbours. In 1977 Eleni Skalbania took the hotel on and managed to generate a profit before moving on to the Hotel Georgia. In July 1981 at 7.05 am the hotel was imploded with the help of 100 lbs of high explosive – (you can find the video on youtube)
Not long after the dust settled, many publications will tell you that work began on building the HSBC Bank Canada building. That isn’t completely accurate, what was really being built was the Bank of BC Tower designed by Webb Zerafa Menkès Housden Partnership. The second bank to bear the title (the first having disappeared in 1901) it was founded in 1966, the creation of Premier W A C Bennett. By 1986, following financial difficulties arising from poor management, HSBC was allowed to rescue the company. It’s a post-modern stumpy block covered in granite supplied from Quebec. A huge internal public atrium is lined with granite from South Dakota - over two billion years old – featuring Alan Storey’s ‘Broken Column’ pendulum artwork.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-30