Until very recently, the context for the Kingston Hotel on Richards Street was two parkades – one on either side. Remarkably, the Kingston Hotel is not only still a hotel 105 years after it was built, it’s still owned by the same family who built it. Lawrence O’Hagan developed the hotel late in 1912 at a cost of $40,000, with the architects identified as James and Davidson. Somehow, as is often the case, Lawrence O’Hagan seems to be missing from both the 1911 and 1921 Census records. Lawrence’s death record shows he was aged 66 when he died in 1929, that he was a hotel keeper who had been in Vancouver since 1894, in British Columbia since 1889, and in Canada since 1884. He was buried in Mountain View cemetery.
Fortunately, because he had arrived in Canada before the turn of the century he appears in the 1901 Census. He was living with his wife Helen, his one-year-old daughter, also called Helen, and his sister-in-law, Agnes Legg. All three adults had been born in Ireland, but baby Helen had been born in British Columbia. Lawrence was a cannery man, who in this record arrived in Canada in 1889, and his wife had arrived in 1895. Helen died in 1947, when her name was recorded as Ellen. Lawrence and Helen had married in British Columbia in 1892 and the marriage record shows Lawrence was from Ometh, and Helen from Lagan. They had a son, James, born in 1901, (whose marriage in 1927 recorded his mother as Ellen, rather than Helen).
The architects, James and Davidson, were a short-lived partnership between English architect Charles James and established builder (and sometime designer) Bedford Davidson. James arrived in 1910, just before a recession saw very little development completed after 1912.
Our picture is from the mid 2000s before the two parkades were redeveloped. To the south the Telus parking garage has been replaced with a 46 storey condo building (with the lower four floors as office) and to the north a 22 storey office tower, both called Telus Garden, and both designed by Henriquez Partners architects.
Here’s what looks like a companion image to our previous post. We think the taxi in the distance on the left was parked in the same spot, so the two shots were probably taken a few minutes apart. If we were correct in that identification, it dates from around 1980, when the Lee building (behind the circular red sign) had been rebuilt after a 1972 fire, and the Vancouver Centre (perfectly aligned behind the Sun Tower) in 1976. The building in the centre of the picture with the much larger top floor balcony was built for Chinese owners in 1923, designed by A E Henderson and originally called the ‘Business Building’. It replaced an earlier 1914 building designed by W H Chow.
The building with the red canopy was altered in 1921 to add a fifth floor, but it was originally built in 1913 by clothing mogul William Dick, designed by H B Watson and cost $30,000. Today it’s the home of the Mah Society (who carried out the 1920 alterations) and it’s currently receiving a comprehensive restoration. On the extreme right is the former International Chop Suey House, later Ming’s restaurant. We looked in greater detail at its history in an earlier post. This postcard gives a sense of what the restaurant was like in the late 1950s or early 60s.
There’s a Fred Herzog photograph of this block from 1968 that shows the street was still lined with telegraph poles that blocked some of the flamboyant neon that shouted for patrons to visit the restaurants that lined the street. This block has seen little apparent change to the buildings since the 1920s, and while other less historic parts of Chinatown are being redeveloped, little change is contemplated here.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-4779
This is another unidentified Archives shot, which we’ve pinned down (with no difficulty) to the 100 block of East Pender Street. Initially we suggested it dated from around 1974, when many of the undated images seem to have been shot. However, the Sun Tower stands alone in the distance but the Scotiatower (completed in 1976) sits right behind it. There are relatively newly planted trees, but the design of the ‘heritage’ lights is different from today, and the dragons haven’t yet been added to the lamp posts. On the right is the Lee building, rebuilt after a fire in 1972, and alongside is the Wong family association building built in 1921. Eagle-eyed reader Dave notes that the cars have white letters on a blue background, and the back plates have a red sticker along the bottom, This would date the photo between January 1980 to December 1981.
At the end of the block was the former Great Northern hotel which we think was built originally by the Sam Kee Company in 1911. We looked at that building (which had an extra floor added in the 1980s) in a several posts, most recently here, when we also noted the history we were able to find for the other structures on this block. Across Columbia Street there was a 1904 building developed by Loo Gee Wing, substantially remodeled in the 1930s and then rebuilt comprehensively in the 1970s.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2380
This is another Mount Pleasant industrial building, built in 1942 as the Cemco Electrical Manufacturing Company Factory. According to the recently published heritage statement for the building “Cemco commissioned the factory to house its expanding electronics business which supplied equipment for ships being constructed in local shipyards. Not much is known about the company, as is the case with many industries during the War which were subject to a certain amount of secrecy and security. Cemco remained at the site for a couple of years after the War ended, and then ceased to exist. Until recently, the building was occupied by N. Jefferson Ltd., a family owned textile supplier which has been operating since 1926 and continues to do so at a new location”
Cemco weren’t as mysterious as this suggests, and they didn’t disappear after the war. They had been in operation since 1934, in the Mount Pleasant area, with S Darnborough as Managing Director. Before this new factory was built they were at 165 W 4th Ave. S Darnborough was Sidney, (although he was really T S Darnborough), and before Cemco he was president of Canadian Electrical Manufacturing Co (which would be CEMCO’s precursor), with a home on Osler in Shaughnessy. Before CEMCO, in the 1920s, Sid Darnborough was an electrical contractor, living on West 8th Avenue.
The company were still operating from this E 5th address in 1949, with Sid still running the company, having moved to University Boulevard. They were here in the mid 1950s but by then Sid had retired and B W Ball had taken over as President of the company. A year earlier they had expanded eastwards by adding a new factory in Granby, Ontario. At the time they were described as specializing in switchgear for industrial uses. They also made electrical instruments, street light fixtures “and many other products of a similar nature for industrial and commercial use”. The 1943 image of the factory floor shows what looks a lot like light fittings being assembled by a workforce with a high proportion of female workers.
A little more insight about the company is contained in a 1946 court case where the company’s salesman, Peter Van Snellenberg, sued for wrongful dismissal after discovery that he had added commission on the sales tax payable on a few of the orders he had obtained. He was dismissed in 1943 (the year our images were shot), so although the company has been described as ‘building radar and radio equipment for ships being built for the war’ (which they may have been doing), they were also selling their products on the open market. In 1958 the Federal Pacific Electric Company of Newark New Jersey acquired Cemco, where it was described as “engaged in manufacture and sale of electrical switchgear, air circuit breakers, air switches, load break switches, fusible breakers, cable terminal potheads and related apparatus for the distribution and control of electricity”.
The Cemco Factory was designed by Australian-born architect H.H. Simmonds, and used pour-in-place construction that retained the marks of the formwork. It supposed heritage value earned it a reprieve from redevelopment, but also permitted a larger office project (yet to commence) to be built behind the retained walls.
CVA 586-1783 and CVA 586-1784
This 1927 warehouse and office was the second location for Wilkinson Steel. The company was founded by Frank Wilkinson in 1910 on Beach Avenue as the sole distributor for U.S. Steel in British Columbia. Frank Wilkinson was born in England, and arrived in Canada in 1891. His wife Alice was also English, but had arrived a year earlier. They must have spent quite a bit of time in Quebec as all their children, (they had at least six), were born there, the youngest in 1909. In 1911 Alice’s sister, Hilda Baker was living with the family; in 1921 they had a domestic servant.
There were two houses built on this corner in 1904; they only survived a little over 20 years. In the 1920s the neighbourhood was changing from a residential area to an industrial and commercial area, although there are still a few residential pockets even today. This image was shot in 1946, and shows a couple of houses still located on Columbia Street, behind the warehouse.
In 1958 the company moved to SW Marine Drive, where they still operate today. In 1973 the existing two storey office and production space was built; which we’re pretty certain incorporated some of the original warehouse building. It’s now home to City TV’s studios.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4769
This is another of the Vancouver Archives ‘mystery images’. This one is easier to locate and date within a year or two. It’s probably taken at the same time as our previous image, from a block north of here. It’s clearly Granville Street, and most likely it’s 1970, or possibly a year or two later. That’s because mayoral candidate Robert Reeds had generously dated his encouragement to vote for him as mayor in the 1970 election. He’s stood once before, in 1968 when NPA mayor Tom Campbell got over 63,000 votes – Mr. Reeds got 360. He didn’t actually make it onto the 1970 ballot, withdrawing before the list was drawn up.
In the picture, the Hotel Martnique had become the Blackstone – today it’s the Comfort Inn. The building that Robert Reeds was advertising on was a four storey $21,000 building designed by Townsend & Townsend in 1912. That has now been replaced by ‘The Standard’, a 100% rental building. The Best Western Chateau Granville, completed in 1977 and designed by Hamilton Doyle Architects replaced a two storey building on the corner of Helmcken. We haven’t managed to trace a developer for that corner, so it probably dates back to the few years with ‘lost’ permits in the early 1900s. The single storey retail buildings further south were developed in 1909 and 1911, and were also replaced by the hotel.
Here’s another of the unidentified Archives images. Like others we’ve looked at where there’s no location or date, so we’re slething out an identification. The location is easy – the street sign has been flipped round, but even the building on the corner is the same. It looks as if it was vacant then; today it’s one of the few remaining XXX Adult stores on Granville – or anywhere else. The building dates back to 1909. Originally the single storey retail on the corner was built with 125 foot of frontage (the 75 feet to the north were redeveloped with 3 floors in 1960). Maclure and Fox were the architects for T Godman, and the whole development cost $20,000. We’re pretty certain that the developer was Richard Temple Godman, a London businessman from a military family. He was in partnership with a Vancouver-based broker, and built a couple of other investment properties here; he also seems to have had interests in San Francisco which he visited several times, and the Godman family had built the earliest buildings in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, and operated a cannery there.
In terms of dating the image, that’s a Mark 2 Ford Cortina (1967-1970), so we’re at the end of the 1960s or early in the 1970s. There’s no sign of the Scotiatower in the Vancouver Centre, so it’s before 1975, and the sign on the Vancouver block was removed in 1974, so it’s earlier than that. When it was removed it read ‘Birks’ – the ‘Gulf’ version was a year or two earlier, so this is probably somewhere in the first few years of the 1970s.
In the older image today’s Templeton restaurant was the Fountain Café – ‘Chinese food, fish and chips, steaks and chops’. It was Adele’s Cafe in 1934, in 1956 it was sold to Top Chef Cafe and renamed Top Tops and it became the Templeton in 1996. There a mural on the end wall by artist and activist Bruce Eriksen which dates from the late 1960’s. Leslies Grocery was Sunny Grocery – but the 7up sign was the same one. Q Carpets and Interiors had a huge sign, competing with Belmont Furniture across the street in the Glenaird Hotel – now a backbacker’s hostel. Behind it the Capitol condo tower has filled in a big chunk of sky, replacing the Capitol Theatre. Nobody in the early 1970s was listening to music, or checking their phone as they crossed the street.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2102