In 1900 five rival architects teamed up to produce an illustrated guide to Vancouver – appropriately title ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’. One of the partners was G W Grant, who chose to feature The Twigg Block. Although the address isn’t identified, the photograph shows it was at #608 and was a confectioner’s, so that narrows the location to E Minchin & Co on Granville Street. 608 Granville was 50 feet south of Dunsmuir, and on the 25 foot lot that was owned by Mr Twigg, G W Grant designed an extraordinary building. Son of a Nova Scotia farmer, Grant initially moved to New Westminster in the 1880s and designed over 100 buildings there before opening a Vancouver office. While the Granville Street building was relatively modest in scale, it looks almost as if it was designed as a 3-D catalogue for all the styles of window available – recessed, bay, pedimented and square.
Although they don’t seem to feature in any of the biographies of the day, the Twigg family – or probably more accurately the Twigge family – were both wealthy and active in real estate. Major-General John Twigge and his brother Samuel Knox Twigge, came to Canada in 1887 and to Vancouver before 1890. They were the sons of Captain John Twigge of Dublin. Mrs. S.K. Twigge and her two daughters came in 1891. They lived in a house on Pender Street, jointly owned by the two brothers, and built before 1901. The Major-General, whose title is invariably referenced, is said to have been the developer of a Water Street warehouse in 1898, although his brother, S K Twigge is also often found associated with real estate in the city, and he owned the Granville Street lots. On at least one occasion he picked up a site when unpaid taxes led it to become available at a significant discount. In 1890 John Hill Twigg was recorded buying land from Robert Tatlow (so that’s the Major-General). In 1891 the brothers bought 150 acres of land in Whonnock, where the Canadian Co-operative Society built and operated the Ruskin Mill on a few acres of their property. Samuel Knox Twigge is shown on the assessment and collection records of the period until 1905, when he sold the land. He was also involved in the creation of South Vancouver in 1891, and there’s an island in the Fraser River named Twigg Island (but after a nephew, Conley, who had a dairy farm there).
In 1893 S K Twigge and architect R McKay Fripp ended up in court disputing costs on a pair of houses Twigge had commissioned. He lost the case. In 1897 the Board of Trade sent Major General Twigge (late Royal Engineers) to the Third Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire in London.
S K Twigge died in 1906, and his widow may have returned to England. His two daughters stayed in British Columbia; Sidney, who married in 1910, moved to a ranch in the Chilcotin, although in the 1920s she moved to England after she was widowed in the First World War. In 1909 she hired Maclure and Fox to add a $3,000 extension to the Pender Street house. Her sister Mary had married in 1896, and died at Alkali Lake in 1934.
We hadn’t appreciated that Samuel Twigge so liked W G Grant’s design that he built it again. This extract from a 1900s picture of the block shows that a second building was built to the south which is apparently an almost exact replica of the first. There’s another image of this block in the city Archives that shows both structures were built by 1893.
Today the site of the first half of the Twigg Block is the entrance to The Hudson, a 423 unit condo building that was completed in 2006 and designed by Stantec Architecture.
Image sources: Vancouver of Today Architecturally, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2100 (extract)
The Kenilworth Apartments were photographed around 100 years ago when half the building that’s there today was recently completed. Built in 1910, the building was designed by Grant and Henderson for S S Bond at a cost of $23,000, described as a ‘brick veneer apartment house’. We’re not sure if that covered the cost of the whole structure – which continued along Cardero (and was completed by 1912) or the structure that can be seen in the photograph.
Sidney Silas Bond was born in Sheffield, Ontario, married Mary Reid in Toronto in 1908 when he was aged 40 and died in Vancouver in 1952 aged 84, a year after his wife (who at her death was aged 90). It looks as if Sidney was a builder, but also sometimes a lumberman; in 1908 Sidney S Bond applied for a special timber licence to log an area of the city. In the street directory for that year he was described as a builder, and he was living on West 7th Avenue. In the same year he built the Kenilworth Mr Bond had the same architects design a house (presumably for himself) at 1232 Harwood Street. There’s no sign of Sidney in Vancouver before 1908, but his late marriage and apparent wealth may be explained by the location of the only S S Bond in the 1901 Census – the Yukon.
Today the Kenilworth is still standing, although the context is dramatically more leafy.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives M-11-63
We saw the small building just showing on the far left of the picture (the Bank of Nova Scotia) in an earlier post. The three storey building is the Canadian Pacific Telegraph Building, built and operating by 1901. Dalton and Eveleigh are associated with something called ‘The Railway Building’ built in 1903, and the 1903 Insurance map for the city shows foundations for a new building to the west of the telegraph office, so it’s likely to be the two storey structure. There’s another permit for this location in 1913 by Davis & Sanders for the Canadian Pacific Railway who were also listed as the architects. As it’s for $2,300 it’s likely to have been an addition rather than a new building. Davis and Sanders were a competent contractor with previous experience building Ferrara Court on East Hastings. The street directory (and their newspaper advertisements) refers to them as Davies and Sanders, and identifies them as William A Davies and Ernest Sanders, Assuming it’s the same Ernest Sanders, he had previously been a cabinetmaker. Our 1918 VPL image shows CP using both buildings, and also that the Bank of Nova Scotia’s original pediment was replaced quite early in the life of that building.
Curiously, no architect has been identified with the design of CP’s Telegraph Office, although it was, and is, a handsome building. The two storey building was rebuilt in the mid 1930s to create a new featureless three storey structure. The two buildings were used by numerous railway and transportation-related companies that maintained offices with representatives or ticket agencies including the Northern Pacific Railway, Great Northern Railway, Alaska Steamship Company, Nippon Yusen Kaisha Steamship Company and the Western Union Telegraph Company.
More than half way up the block (barely visible in this picture, where the red brick can be seen in the contemporary image) next door to the Abbott Block and the Costobadie Block, E A Morris had his tobacconist store; the name can still be seen today on the restored building facade. Edward Arthur Morris was born in London in 1858, and came to British Columbia in 1877 and then went to seek gold in the Cassiar gold fields. After working at a variety of jobs, he went to Victoria in 1892 and opened a tobacco business. In 1899 he opened a tobacco business on Hastings Street in Vancouver. He sometimes advertised himself with the phrase “I am the man who imports cigarettes for ladies”. In 1919 ‘extensive alterations and repairs’ were carried out by contractors Dixon & Murray, including the installation of a new storefront.
Both stores were known for the elegance of their fittings and decorations. It’s possible that the building was designed by Thomas Hooper. The Statement of Historic Significance for Thomas Dunn’s warehouse at 1 Alexander Street (these days the home of the restaurant ‘Chill Winston’) says it houses “handsome oak store fittings dating from c.1897, designed by prominent local architect Thomas Hooper. This woodwork was originally installed in the E.A. Morris Tobacconist shop on Hastings Street, and moved here after a fire in 1982.”
At the end the end of the block, on the corner with Richards, is the Scougale Block. It was replaced in 1938 with a new store for F W Woolworth, still standing today. We looked at this building last year. Quite possibly the original seen here was designed by W T Dalton, who designed a ‘Richards Block’ in 1897, and seems to have been designer of several of the buildings in this block.
This picture dates back to 1931 when Millar and Coe were the tenants of the other half of the Morris Block as they were in our previous post. On the corner of Homer, closest to us, Charles D Bruce had his clothing store, offering a ‘Special Underwear Sale’. Next door (and also on the lower floor accessed from Homer Street) was T B Lee, selling ladies read-to-wear and millinery. Several of the offices upstairs were vacant but Dr English was there, and so was the Vancouver English Academy. Dr. Lemons advertised his dental practice in the upper windows. There were also offices upstairs in the McMillan block to the west as well; James Lipp, a chiropractor was here, so was John Innes, an artist, Jack Allen, a music teacher and Miss Madeline Humes, a masseuse. Owl Drugs (by this time associated with Rexall) had a store downstairs and Copp, the Shoe Man was next door. Down the street on the other side of Richards Street the David Spencer company had built his Department store in 1926. Way down at the end of the picture it is possible to just make out the Metropolitan Building.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N281.1
Our previous summer view of the north side of the 400 block of West Hastings had street trees completely obscuring the two buildings in the centre of the block. Here’s a winter shot of the same view (compared to a postcard from around 1905). The next two facades are also completely obscured (even when the tree doesn’t block the view); underneath are two interesting buildings completed at or before the turn of the century, and now covered in sheet steel.
The 3-storey structure with Roman arched top floor windows (the third building from the corner) has two possible designers – either it was built in 1889 for D Campbell, and designed by William Blackmore, or it was the Abbott Block designed a year earlier by N S Hoffar. Both were described in contemporary newspapers as ‘beside the Lady Stephen Block’ If it’s the Abbott Block (and it does look like a Hoffar design), then the building with the triangular pediment and huge curved window would be W T Dalton’s 1898 block for A P Costobadie. This is most likely to have been Akroyd Costobadie, an Englishman who almost certainly never lived in Vancouver – he was an absentee overseas investor at the time. His building was described as ‘adjoining the Abbott Block’. The Costobadie family were originally French Huguenots – (some family members used de Costobadie, although they were not part of the French court), and many of the men in the English family in the 19th Century had the name Palliser in their full name – as was true for A P Costobadie.
Over the years both buildings, being rental investments, saw tenants come and go. The upper floor of 419 West Hastings was the Butler Hotel from before 1910 for at least 5 years, run by Mike Fitzpatrick. Before that, in 1901, there were a number of offices including the Northern Pacific Railway Co, the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.
In 1918 Millar & Coe moved in, and they would remain the tenants well into the 20th century – for over 90 years. They dealt in china and glass, and supplied restaurant quality pottery in the city, but earlier they also sold toys. As the 1974 image below shows, the building façade was visible through to the 1970s, while the 3-storey building to the east was covered up in the 1950s (but has a slightly different sheet steel façade today). The original façade was altered in 1918 for Millar and Coe’s arrival – they consolidated two stores to move to the new building, owned by E A Morris. He hired Thomas Fee to design a new three-storey addition & front of the Morris Building; “brick construction to conform with present building”. Fee’s design was a window wall with maximum glazing – very different from today’s wall of grey painted sheeting, (although it’s possible some of the original storefront is still intact).
Here’s another view that we can’t replicate, taken in 1944. It shows that The Lady Stephen Block was indeed called the McMillan Block, and that Millar and Coe were not the only long-standing occupant of the block. Evans-Sheppard Ltd sold shoes here, and Sheppard Shoes were still here in 1974.
Image sources, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-144 and Str N131
Here’s a view of the north side of the 400 block of West Hastings around 1910, looking at the corner with Homer Street. On the corner (on the right of the picture) was A E McMillan’s ‘Head Quarters for Diamonds’. Next door in the same building was a branch of the Dominion Bank, while the building to the west was home to Johnston’s Big Shoe House and Ladywares American corsets. Next door is the Lady Stephen Block – later known as the McMillan Building (although as the photo shows, McMillan’s were originally located next door). We’ve looked at the building already - it’s one of the earliest in the city still standing today, designed by T C Sorby in 1887. It was once obscured by a contemporary façade, but has since been restored.
The same cannot be said for the corner block. Underneath the mirror glass is at least the frame of the 1905 building designed by Maclure and Fox for Stephen Jones. The only Stephen Jones in Vancouver at the time was a sawyer, and it seems unlikely he was the investor. There was a Stephen Jones in Victoria who is a much more likely candidate. He was a hotel keeper – but also a real estate investor, both in Vancouver and Victoria. A 1933 obituary notice included the following: “For forty-three years Mr. Jones had operated the Dominion Hotel which he took over from his father, expanding it as the city grew. The successful operation of the hotel was the basis of the Jones fortune, but it was added to from the first of the century when downtown real estate in Vancouver, which Mr. Jones had acquired when Granville Street was only a trail through stumps, became valuable.” Mr. Jones was born in Ontario into an Irish family, but they moved to Victoria when he was an infant. He was a prominent Freemason as well as being active in both local politics and the Chamber of Trade in Victoria.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 560
Here’s the other side of 342 Water Street, which started life as the Burns Building, designed by William Blackmore for John Burns, with an additional two storeys added in 1911 by Grant & Henderson.
In 1901 Turner Beeton & Co occupied the building, the company founded by John Turner who was at different times Mayor of Victoria and Premier of British Columbia. Also occupying the building were S Greenshields & Co, founded in Montreal by a Scottish businessman, Samuel Greenshields, and expanded across the country to be the largest suppliers of dry goods, including cottons, woollens, carpets, household furnishings, dress goods, and notions such as gloves, hosiery, and laces. In 1910, before the extra floors were added, Greggs, importers of Japanese Goods were here with the Canadian Rubber Co of Montreal. Ten years later the Dunlop Tire Co had half the building and the Western Dry Goods Co of Canada, Ltd the other half. Despite the ambitious title, they appear to only have operated in Vancouver, run by R B Mackedie and E St John Howley. In 1930 Dunlop were still in the building, but the other half was J H Hunter & Co, another dry goods company headed by T E Leigh.
Buscombe & Co were run by George Buscombe, and they were in a smaller building next door to the east. In 1935 they were shown at 341 Water Street, and a year later at 342 – this building. (The 1935 entry might be an error, although it’s repeated in the directory). The company had been founded in 1899 when Fred Buscombe bought out James A Skinner and Co, china and glass importers, originally founded in Hamilton. He was at different times President of the city’s Board of Trade, and Mayor of Vancouver in 1905. He was also president of the Pacific Coast Lumber & Sawmills Company, and director of the Pacific Marine Insurance Company. By the time the company moved to this building there were several Buscombe family members associated with it, but Fred had retired. He died in the same year that the picture of the building was taken; 1938.
The other company in the building were the Julius Shore Mail Order House. Dealing mostly in furniture, Julius Shore was a prominent member of the city’s Jewish community. His father, Benjamin, was manager of a coal company in the late 1920s while Julius was at UBC, and in 1935 Julius was working with Dominion Furniture and seems to have established his company soon after, moving into Water Street at around the same time as Buscombes.
The most recent restoration of the building took place in 1997, designed by Rafii Architects, and today it’s home to Brioche Urban Eatery. Upstairs are a range of office occupants, from a Massage school to a coal company and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.
Image source: Vancouver Public Library