Beaconsfield Apartments – Bute Street


The Beaconsfield is one of the earlier apartment buildings built in the West End. Completed in 1910, the building permit tells us it was designed by J S D Taylor and built by McLean & Fulton at a cost of $85,000. The developer was A J Woodward.  The building’s features include the bays filled with wooden balconies and some art nouveau details, with a slightly incongruous Palladian style window in the recessed entrance court.

We’re reasonably confident that Mr. Woodward was unrelated to the Woodward family who were rapidly expanding their Downtown departmental stores. We don’t believe he was (at the time of the building’s construction) a Vancouver resident; we think that it’s Arthur Joseph Woodward, the owner of the Vancouver Floral Company, living in Victoria. (There was another Arthur J Woodward in Vancouver, but as a bartender living in rooms, he seems an unlikely developer)

The Victoria based Arthur was born in England, as was Adelaide, his wife, and according to the 1911 census had arrived in 1905 with at least eleven children, all still living at home in 1911, aged from six to twenty-seven. In fact Mr. Woodward had arrived in 1888, and established a large seed and floral business with significant glasshouses and nurseries in both Ross Bay in Victoria and in Kerrisdale.

In 1914 The Woodward family built a new British Arts & Craft style home in Saanich. Five years earlier A J Woodward had paid for the construction of a new Gospel Hall in the 1100 block of Seymour Street. We’re pretty confident that it’s the same developer as the apartment building because the architect and builder were the same, (apparently Mr. Taylor’s first Canadian design). For many years this building was ‘women only’, offering apartments to nurses at St Paul’s Hospital.

Today the building still offers rental apartments, although the street is closed and the tree canopy almost hides the entire structure in summer, and the cornice has been lost.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives M-11-57

Posted January 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Davis Chambers – West Hastings Street


This substantial office building was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1905 for E P Davis. This 1974 image shows the Philippine Creations store and the Green Parrot Café on the main floor. The only office advertising on its window is for F Gorlich, Foot Specialist.


painless-parkerFor many years this was the home of Vancouver’s most flamboyantly advertised dentist – ‘Painless Parker’. Although there really was a ‘Painless Parker’ – a dentist who changed his name from Edgar so he didn’t fall foul of the advertising authorities, he didn’t personally carry out the extractions or fillings here.

An American, he had a chain of dental offices, with this location in Vancouver operating from the 1930s to past 1950. At 1940 prices of $1 for extractions and $2 for a filling he amassed quite a fortune – By the early 1950s Parker had 28 West Coast dental offices, employing over 70 dentists, and grossing $3 million per year.

On the ground floor of this 1940 image was a store frontage for Famous Cloak and Suit Co, shared with the building to the west, the Leland Hotel Annex. As we noted in an earlier post, the building had the 1887 façade designed by N S Hoffar replaced by 1943. That in turn was obscured with the windowless sheet steel shown in the 1974 image above.

davisE P Davis, who developed the 1905 building was an Ontario-born lawyer; a partner in Davis, Marshall & Macneil, Barristers and Solicitors, based in his new building although later moving to the London Building. He was called to the bar in Calgary in 1882, and in British Columbia in 1886 when he arrived here. He lived on Seaton Street and was unanimously recommended for the Chief Justiceship British Columbia in 1902 (a postion he declined, as he had previously in 1898). Owner of a spectacular moustache, he was legal counsel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, and also a Director of Royal Collieries, Ltd. In 1912 he built a mansion designed by Samuel MacLure, on extensive grounds near the tip of Point Grey. Davis named it “Kanakla,” a West Coast native word meaning ‘house on the cliff’. Now part of UBC, it was renamed Cecil Green Park.

The Davis Chambers were replaced in 1981 by the 11 storey ‘Princess Building’. That will be the baby on the block in future if the two towers proposed for either side of it get built. There’s a 25 storey tower proposed for the east side, on the corner of Seymour, and a 28 storey office proposed to the west, on the site once occupied by the Leland Hotel Annex.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-158 and Bu P294

Posted January 12, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Pender and Granville – sw corner (3)


We’ve see the first building that was built here in two earlier posts. It was the site of the city’s post office: a controversial and much fought-over choice of location. The Canadian Pacific Railway Co offered the Federal Government the site on Granville Street at a significant discount from its market value. Of course, the Federal Government had given CP the land a few years earlier to help them decide on Vancouver as the terminus of the railway, so it was only really returning a favour. The benefit to CP was significant – it pulled the city’s important public services westwards, away from the original Granville (the name for the Gastown original city centre) and towards CP’s own Granville; the street with their station, hotel and Opera House located some distance from civilization in the recently cleared forest.

After the Post Office operations moved out in 1910 to a newer, and even bigger building nearby, the previous post office was used for the Dominion of Canada Assay Office until 1924. In 1926 the street directory records this location as ‘under construction’ and in 1927, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, it housed the offices of the Northern Pacific Railway Co. (We’ve looked at their new station, built in 1919 on the reclaimed False Creek Flats, designed by Pratt and Ross of Winnipeg).

We haven’t identified the architect of this building, and initially we thought the railway company were the developers as it was called the Northern Pacific Building into the 1930s, although the railway soon stopped occupying main floor space in the building, their corner office replaced in 1935 by Christie’s Shoes. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s research we now know it wasn’t the railway company, but Mr. A J Buttimer who developed the building, with Dominion Construction building it at a cost of $65,000. Dominion may have used their in-house designers, as no architect is identified on the permit or in the newspaper story.

A J Buttimer arrived in Vancouver in 1890, and established the Brunswick Canning Co (reflecting his New Brunswick origins). WestEndVancouver say that “He continued to be involved in the fishing industry until 1925, when he sold his interest to B.C. Packers and devoted his time to Vancouver real estate.”

Pender Place, a pair of office towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith now occupies the spot.

Posted January 9, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

64-72 West Hastings Street


For the time being this is a vacant site, although not for much longer as the City of Vancouver are planning a 10 storey building including non-market housing here. In 1923 there was a more modest 2-storey structure shown in this Vancouver Public Library image. To the east, just coming into the edge of the shot was the Columbia Theatre, built in 1912.

We haven’t managed to definitively pin the owners and developers of these two storey buildings down, but we suspect it’s another of the investments owned by full-time architect and part-time property developer and investor Thomas Fee. He certainly appears to have been the owner when alterations and repairs were made in 1916, and Fee and Stevens were listed as owners when more extensive repairs were carried out in 1913. He even hired architect W T Whiteway to design alterations to number 70 in 1909, and Baynes and Horie to design and make repairs in 1919, following a fire.

In the picture, these buildings contained BC Barber Supply at 64 W Hastings, the United Empire Club upstairs with Stag Billiards at 68, and Samuel Cohen’s Army Surplus store at number 70. Sam’s business expanded into other premises down the street over the next few years and became the Army & Navy store. At 72 the Pacific Coast Development Co (where R H Wright was Manager) had their offices.

Posted January 5, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Post Office – Granville and West Hastings


Here’s the Post Office building completed in 1910, and designed by David Ewart, the Government’s Ottawa based head architect of the day. This is one of the undated images from the City’s Archives. The cars suggest late 1970s or maybe early 1980s. The Granville Square tower designed by Francis Donaldson behind the Post Office was completed in 1972. It was the first (and only) tower of the Project 200 scheme that would have seen a wall of towers (and a freeway) replacing Gastown. All the other buildings in our original image were older; the extension to the Post Office was designed in 1935 by McCarter and Nairne, and the Royal Bank Tower on the eastern side of the junction also dates from the 1930s.

In the 1950s the Post Office moved out to a much larger structure, that has recently been abandoned (with many operations moving out to a new building near the airport). This building was reused as Government offices.

Today both the Post Office and the addition form part of the Sinclair Centre. Four buildings were restored and connected by a new atrium space designed by Henriquez Partners Architects and Toby Russell Buckwell Architects in 1986. If you’ve ever wondered who the Sinclair in the name was, he was James Sinclair, member of Parliament for Vancouver North and later Coast—Capilano as well as Minister of Fisheries. These days Mr. Sinclair is also known as Margaret Trudeau’s father.

A couple of years back the Federal Government, having abandoned attempts to sell the Sinclair Centre,enquired whether they could reconfigure and add to the site to create a huge million square foot office complex. The City agreed they could proceed with preliminary designs, but nothing more has been heard of the idea, (and there’s a different government in Ottawa now).

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-454

Posted January 2, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Granville and West Pender – northwest corner


Here’s another early and substantial (for the time) Downtown office building. It’s the Fairfield Building, designed by William Blackmore, although there’s just a tiny part of the adjacent Dunn Block to the north showing (on the right). When Walter Frost took this picture in 1946 it wasn’t going to be standing much longer; the replacement buildings that are still standing were built in 1949 and 1951. The three storey ‘New fairfield-1899Dunn Block’ was erected around 1893, and the Fairfield in 1898. The image on the right (which we can’t reproduce as a ‘before and after’ because the photographer stood on the vacant site up the street) shows the building at completion, and the adjacent earlier structure to the north. Blackmore used almost identical design elements for both buildings, and Thomas Dunn also had a hand in the Fairfield. We know he certainly supplied many of the materials because William Blackmore chose to feature the building in a promotional brochure called ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’.

We also know the building was developed by the Fairfield Syndicate, as work started on August 8th and was reported in the Daily World. Earlier that year the paper reported that “the buyers of this property from Thos. Dunn were the Fairfield Company, of London, and of which J. J. Lang is the Vancouver agent. The building, which is to be a large four-storey structure, will extend from the McKinnon block to the corner of Pender street and will include the present Dunn Hall, on which another storey will be erected. A feature of the building will be a fine arch on the Granville street side and the entire fronts on both streets will be of granite.” The Syndicate weren’t just building investments downtown, they also actively developed a series of mining properties throughout the province; we don’t know which endeavor was the more profitable.

Thomas Dunn’s decision to build his building on Granville Street was significant – before this he’d built in the earlier Granville area of the city, both on Cordova Street and on Water Street in Maple Leaf square. The CPR had built their station at the foot of Granville, their hotel several blocks up the street in the middle of the cleared forest, and their directors had built office buildings along the street in between. In 1895 H. McDowell Co., Ltd., Agents were based in the Dunn Block – Vancouver agents for Columbia, Cleveland and Rambler Bicycles.

In 1920, Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) must have acquired the building as he paid $7,500 for general repairs to 445 Granville; the Dunn Block part of the building. Today the office building on the corner was designed by McCarter and Nairne and completed as the Dominion Bank building in 1949. The adjacent Canada Permanent building that replaced the Dunn Building was completed a year or two later and was also designed by the same architects. No doubt the sixty year old buildings, with their modest density, will themselves be redeveloped – most likely as an office tower, perhaps with preservation of the 1940s facades.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-286 and CVA 15-03

Posted December 29, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1200 block West Georgia Street, south side (2)


We looked at these buildings when they were the home of Consolidated Motors in 1931. Once Consolidated moved down the street at the end of the 1930s, McDermott Motors took over, selling Oldsmobile and Chevrolet cars. Part of the buildings (to the west) were used as a Government Armoury in the war, which is why the Archives have a picture of a large gun sat on the street in front. After the war Consolidated Motors moved back to the building on the right, 1230 W Georgia. By 1949 McDermott had moved on to a new location on Burrard Street, and Ross Baker Motors moved in. They had been in business since 1925, and became part of Wolfe Chevrolet in 1952, when they moved out of Georgia Street.

Consolidated Motors stayed for a while in the right hand building, but with new non-motoring based neighbours. The 1200 West Georgia building on the corner of Bute became the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studios announced in early 1953 to cost one million dollar. The television studio and transmitter allowed Vancouver residents to receive the first Canadian TV programs on CBUT, Channel 2 in December 1953. By 1958 when Alvin Armstrong took this image, the CBC had expanded westwards into the other garage as well. While the outward appearance was of an art deco building from the 30s or 40s, underneath were the car showrooms and repair garages from the 1910s.

By the late 1960s CBC were looking to expand and build purpose-built (and soundproof) studios, hiring Thompson, Berwick & Pratt to design the new Downtown studios further east (with Paul Merrick designing the bunker-like outcome).

Today there are two 36 storey towers of the Residences on Georgia, designed by James Cheng for Westbank for the Kuok Group.

Posted December 26, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone