We have already detailed the story of the city’s new Public Library built in 1954. The basic structure is still there today – although altered by James Cheng’s redesign for HMV records and CTV in the 1990s, and again more recently for Victoria’s Secret. Of course, a 1950s building wasn’t the first structure on the block, and like both the opposite side of the street and the south-west corner there were single-storey stores here. We saw them in an earlier post from 1925 when the roof of the building was a series of hoardings. By 1951, not long before they were demolished, there was only one hoarding left – and that didn’t face onto the Robson and Burrard corner.
It looks as if the building was already running down by the time the photo was taken.The corner unit was already vacant. Gracey’s cafe was next door, and G H Grant sold real estate from 975 Robson – and shared the address with ‘The Dory’ who sold used clothing (from the right hand window). The next unit was also empty, and J Pickford, a tailor operated from the next store. The next to last store in the row was Speer & Lamont ladies’ accessories, and the Coca Cola sign was where three businesses all squeezed into one store; Robson Billiards (presumably at the back of the building), W P Brown’s shoe shine stand and Red’s Barber Shop.
Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N242
We initially thought this would be a short one, but as you can see, we were wrong. For some reason that we haven’t been able to identify this block of Granville Street was photographed quite often. While we often dig around – and often fail – to find images to show some locations, we have no problems like that with this block. So here are two more images, the Archives shot above from 1934, and the Vancouver Public library shot below from 1940. Almost all the buildings have been referenced in the previous two posts, and earlier posts on the Bower Building and the Leigh Spencer block.
The one building we haven’t referenced before is the small and slightly classical building close to the photographer, across the lane from the railway offices. The Building permits tell us that the building was designed in 1902 by W T Dalton for E Lewis, with Mr Horrobin as the builder of the $20,000 project.We think E Lewis was someone known in the city as Edward Lewis who developed at least three buildings in the early 1900s, all designed by Dalton, including the Bank of Nova Scotia that is still standing on West Hastings Street.
In 1903 the Granville Street building was in use as the Customs Examining Office, (the insurance map calls it the Customs Postal Package Office). That would be connected to the location of the Post Office and Customs Office of the day – next door. That use was only to last until 1905. In 1906 it was identified in the Street directory as the offices of ‘Dominion Express’. The Dominion Express Company was a delivery division of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Express delivery rates were quoted from Victoria, Vancouver, and New Westminster. In 1926, the name of the company was changed to the Canadian Pacific Express Company. In 1903 the offices of the Dominion Express were on Hastings Street, in the same block as the Wells Fargo Express offices (also developed by Edward Lewis and designed by Dalton & Eveleigh). By 1935 when the picture was taken the building was the home of the Mutual Relief Life Insurance Co.
We hadn’t come across Mr Lewis before, but fortunately the excellent blog West End Vancouver has researched Edward in detail. They tell us that Edward was really Albert Edward, who had been active in real estate in Montreal before he arrived in Vancouver. He may have been born in Quebec – or possibly Wales. He was born in 1860 and as a young man is said to have travelled to New Zealand, several south sea islands as well as to China and Japan. He was a cattle rancher in Oregon and maybe in Washington. On returning to Montreal in the 1880s he married Helen Bagg, daughter of a wealthy real estate investor.
The blog tells us he became a successful real estate dealer in his own name – until “this happy life seems to have had a darker side. One evening in late November 1897, Albert told Helen that he was going to meet a man on business, but he didn’t return that night. Not far away from his house, people found his hat and gloves, along with evidence of a struggle. The police sent out a notice, offering a reward of one thousand dollars “for his recovery.” After several days, there were reports of Edward having appeared in New York City, seemingly unharmed, but no details were forthcoming.
According to a newspaper story that found its way into the Marion, Ohio, Daily Star, Edward had been leading a double life. Although in many ways he was a model husband, he had been carrying on a series of affairs with women in Montreal. One of the Montreal women was married, and her husband was threatening to shoot Edward. As well, the woman from his premarital relationship began demanding money, which he paid at first, but after he stopped paying, she threatened to expose him.
Edward decided to leave, and he made a plan to suggest that he had been murdered. However, information leaked out that he had transferred large parts of his stock holdings, and that he had borrowed money from members of his wife’s family. As well, while he and Helen had been in England for the jubilee celebrations, he had deposited a large amount of money in a London bank. The speculation was that one of his Montreal women would join him in New York, and that they would go to South Africa.”
By 1901 Helen and Edward (as he now preferred to be known) had apparently got over his past indiscretions and settled in Vancouver. They’re listed in the 1901 census, and were living on Haro Street from around 1900, and it seems that Edward went on a trip to Shanghai before this. He may have been in the area previously – an Edward Lewis took a steamer from Victoria to San Francisco in 1899 in the company of Captain Van Braemer. In 1901 Edward and Helen had a Scottish domestic, Mary McGillivray living with them, and from 1902 to 1906 they’re shown living at 1960 Robson Street. Interestingly (and probably not coincidentally) W T Dalton lived next door at 1972 Robson.
The couple travelled quite often, sometimes to Europe, and after several reports of ill-health, the Daily World of June 29 1908 reported “The death occurred on Monday in Paris, France, of Mr. Edward Lewis, well-known in society and business circles in this city. Mrs Lewis was with her husband when he passed away. The deceased came here a number of years ago from Montreal, where he had been in business. He soon became one of the largest property holders in Vancouver, being the owner of some of the best locations in the business districts. The news of his death will be deeply regretted in Vancouver, where his hospitality and other good qualities made him a large number of friends.” The Times Colonist had the same story, and rehearsed his earlier Montreal ‘disappearance’.
Burial records show Edward was buried in the family plot in Caerwys, Flintshire,Wales. His widow arranged for a large stained glass window to be installed in Christ Church in Vancouver to memorialize him. In 1911 she remarried to Herbert Charles Drummond.
There’s a puzzling entry in the 1911 Census. Someone called Edward Lewis is shown living at 1960 Robson Street, aged 46, born in England. The Street Directory doesn’t identify anyone called Edward Lewis living at that address; S Quigley, a widow, is listed as living there in 1911 and Frances Grosvenor in 1912.
The most likely explanation is that this was not Mr Lewis mysteriously reincarnated, but actually Mrs Lewis – his widow. She re-married soon after the census was taken, but would still have been Mrs Lewis in June 1911. There are two young ladies, described as nieces, living there too – 19-year-old Mollie Fitzgibbon and 20-year-old Marjorie Lindsay. Mrs Lewis had a sister who married and became Mary Lindsay, and the Province in 1907 reported “Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lewis, accompanied by their niece, Miss Lindsey, will spend the month of April at the Riviera.” The household was completed by the Chinese domestic, recorded as ‘Wee Lamb’.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5056 and Vancouver Public Library
Here’s the southern half of the 500 block of Granville Street. The picture was taken in 1981 from half-way up the block looking south to Dunsmuir, and really very little change had occurred since this 1905 VPL image.
The building on the right, closest to the photographer was the Inglis Reid building, originally designed by G W Grant for builder/investor Bedford Davidson in 1902 for $8,000. The smaller building to the south was known as the Anderson block. The biggest building on this end of the block was the four-storey Gordon Drysdale block, built for his dry goods business in 1907 and designed by Hooper and Watkins with an addition in 1912 by S B Birds. Like many of our successful businessmen and developers, the Drysdale family lived in the West End at 825 Broughton. Gordon and his wife Maria, and both their older children were born in Nova Scotia (George in 1888 and Janet in 1892), but their youngest son, Truman, was born in BC in 1895.
The smaller building to the south was another designed by G W Grant for Bedford Davidson in 1903, at a cost of $10,000. The one building that has changed is the corner block; originally also a Grant design for Dr S J Tunstall, it was replaced some time before the 1980s with a smaller 2-storey structure (seen better in this companion 1981 image)
Today the Pacific Centre’s north building occupies this entire part of the block, completed in 1990 and designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership. In 2007 the Holt Renfrew store at the southern end of the block was redesigned by New York designers Janson Goldstein who had local glass studio Nathan Allan Glass Studios create a unique ‘slumped’ glass facade with convex panels of individual quilted glass pillows.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W01.35, Vancouver Public Library and CVA 779-W01.34
We’ve seen all of these buildings in earlier posts. Today the extension of the Pacific Centre Mall has swallowed up the earlier buildings on the block, which we also saw looking south, up Granville Street. The Bower Building and closer to the camera, the Leigh-Spencer Building were both replaced by a new Bower Building in 1995. To the north, on the corner of the lane, the original Grand Trunk Pacific offices were replaced by Ingledews shoe store in 1980. And closest to the camera is 559 Granville, the BC Lease Holders Building with a 1930 facade on a 1902 building. Now just the facade remains, hoisted higher onto the wall and missing its storefront.
Our 1981 image shows that the Pender Place towers, designed by Underwood, McKinley Wilson & Smith had been standing at the end of the block since the early 1970s.
Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 779-W01.36
We have featured one of the buildings on this block – the smallest building with the biggest blade sign. Arnold & Quigley, men’s furnishings, were at 540 Granville (these days numbered as 546 Granville). We’ve also written about the building closest to us on the right, the Bank of Montreal, designed in Montreal by Taylor and Gordon and completed in 1893. These two almost identical views are from the Vancouver Public Library collection of images in the public domain – from 1935 (above) and 1940 (below).
There are three other buildings on the block, one of them still standing today. That’s the Abbott Block, developed by Harry Abbott in 1889, designed by the Fripp Brothers. In 1909 Abbott, Vancouver’s senior CPR official, hired Parr and Fee to design alterations to the building that cost $7,100.
We’re not completely certain, but we’re pretty sure both the buildings to the right (south) of the Abbott block were built for the same developer, who happened to be the architect as well. Thomas Fee, the business half of the Parr and Fee architectural practice also developed buildings, as we saw in an earlier Burrard Street post. He built the large building with the spectacular square columns in 1902, and named it the Fee Block. The smaller infill building that completed the block was built a few years later, and we haven’t been able to identify the building permit – but Thomas Fee owned it in 1917 when he designed the replacement of the rooflights.
Today the Fee block has been replaced by an office building that’s a cousin (or perhaps a sibling) to a very similar office on the opposite side of the street that replaced the Bower Building. 570 Granville was completed in 2000, a 17 storey boutique office tower designed by Eng, Wright and Bruckner for the Campbell family.
In 1922 when this image was shot, the building was the Vancouver home of Ames, Holden, McReady, a Montreal based shoe manufacturer. They were an early example of a company created by a financier rather than a family business: two existing family businesses were merged and completely reorganized in 1911. McReady’s was started in the 1860s by three leather merchant brothers. By 1895, James McCready & Company was considered one of Montreal’s major factories, producing 12,000 to 15,000 pairs of boots and shoes for men, women and children per week, which was considerable at the time.
At least one of the pre-merged companies was located in the city by 1910, but were on West Hastings. The newly combined Ames-Holden-McReady initially located on Cordova, and Damer Lumsden Co were in this building, a rival shoe wholesaler. Before that it was vacant for a while, and from its construction until 1911 it was occupied by the company who developed it, Henderson Brothers.
When it was built in 1902 it was built for Mr Henderson and designed by G W Grant; built at a cost of $25,000. As there were three Henderson brothers, we can’t be sure which of the three was referenced in the permit; Thomas, Joseph or William. All three came originally from Quebec, and they ran a wholesale drug company. In 1901 Thomas lived with his wife Margaret, son and two daughters, and his brother Joseph. While the census said he lived in Vancouver, the street directory said he was in Victoria.
The earliest reference to Henderson’s in Vancouver we can find is an advertisement from 1897, when it shows they were partnered with an earlier company with Mr Langley, a Victoria based druggist. A J Langley, originally from Staffordshire, founded his drug supply company in Victoria in 1858. Thomas and Joseph Henderson originally partnered with him around 1886. Victoria Illustrated in 1891 said the company’s business “extends North far beyond the mark of civilisation”.
The brothers obviously did well. By 1908 the los Angeles Herald was reporting “J. N. Henderson of the firm of Henderson Bros., wholesale dealers from Vancouver, B. C, registered yesterday at the Lankershim. Mr. Henderson and his brother and partner, T. M. Henderson, with their nieces. Miss Muriel and Miss Evelyn Henderson, are passing the winter season in California. The brother and nieces are now at Redlands, but are expected in Los Angeles today”. In fact Joseph had been visiting California regularly for health reasons.
By 1912 Henderson Bros still exist, but Thomas, living at 1844 Barclay Street, was a director of National Drug & Chemical Co who were listed as occupying the West Pender warehouse. Henderson Bros are described as “Associated with the National Drug & Chemical Co” and only William and Thomas are listed as being associated with the company.
Like 137 West Pender, this building was demolished (in fact even earlier, before 1980) and eventually replaced in 1989 by Pendera, a 113 unit non-market housing building developed by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.
Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 99-3506
We caught a glimpse of this church in the previous post. Like Christ Church to the north, the church is the original on the site, on the north-west corner with Nelson Street. It was even a vacant site before the church was built – there were no previous structures here before the building permit was taken out in 1909. That’s not true to the south, where there were houses before St Andrews Wesley was built, as we saw in an earlier post. The cost of the church was $75,000, and the builders were Matheson & Heard. The architect was listed as ‘Burk’ – although really that was Burke, Horwood and White, based in Toronto and also responsible for the Hudson’s Bay store design. It was completed in 1911 in a Gothic Revival style, although the interior is newer. A 1931 fire destroyed the original interior and roof, and the replacement was more Arts and Crafts in style.
The rebuilding was led by Charles Bentall, a member of the church, who he was present in 1911 when the cornerstone was laid in 1910 by John Morton, one of the three original purchasers of the West End land holdings. Bentall was president of the Baptist Union of Western Canada from 1929 for four years, as well as head of Dominion Construction, He had been superintendent of the Sunday School on Burrard for many years although by 1928 he attended the Grandview Baptist Church – a more modest frame building. Bentall personally supervised the reconstruction – he even took a trip to the eastern US to source acoustic tile for the ceiling to sound proof the structure. This 1914 image shows the church three years after it was completed.
While there have been few changes to the church since the 1930s reconstruction, that may not stay true for much longer. The rezoning of the adjacent YMCA building, with a residential tower to fund the reconstruction and heritage restoration of that building also included a future tower behind the Baptist church.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1239