Patricia Hotel – East Hastings Street


The Patricia started life with 200 rooms, fifty of them with their own bath. Having the luxury of your own bathroom wasn’t cheap – a 1923 brochure shows rooms from $1.00 and up for one person, $1.75 for two people, but $2.50 and $3.50 for a room with a bath. The $1.00 a night rate was quoted in 1913, when the hotel had first opened, so rates didn’t go up a lot in the early years. On opening, Edward P Mulhern was listed as the proprietor, J. J. Moraney was the chief clerk and Fredrick Southern the manager of the Patricia Pool Room. Before taking over the Patricia, Mulhern ran the Hotel Eagle at 111 West Cordova. Benjamin Taylor was running the Pool Room in 1916. In 1917 the Patricia Café opened, and that’s when this image was photographed by Stuart Thomson.

This wasn’t the first building on the lot; William Cargill built a house here in 1890. He ran the Sunnyside Hotel for a while, before becoming secretary of the Union Steamship Company, and later an accountant in the inland revenue department. He died in 1904, and in 1905 another house was built on the lot in 1905 by Doctor Thomas H Wilson. He was born in Waterloo, Ontario, in 1869, graduated in medicine in Manitoba in 1897 and had arrived in Vancouver by 1898 when he married an American, Clara Mitchell, in the Baptist Church.

As we have seen with other Vancouver professionals, Dr. Wilson joined the real-estate aspirations of the fast-growing city. He applied for a building permit for the site of his home in 1912, with J Y McCarter as architect and the Dominion Construction and Supply Co as the contractor of the $115,000 investment, described as “six-storey brick & mill construction store & hotel”. That same year he applied for a permit to build a $7,000 house designed by L E Gordon, and built by the Dominion Construction Co. In moving to Chilco Street he may have created some confusion; another medical doctor, Dr D H Wilson had built a home three blocks away in 1910. That Doctor Wilson had really pushed the boat out, spending $31,000 on a Samuel McLure designed mansion. He also built himself a hotel as an investment, the Alcazar on Dunsmuir Street.

The pool room became a café that began presenting jazz bands in October 1917, at first drawing on local musicians, including the African-Canadian drummer George Paris. Dr Wilson commissioned alterations in that year that may have created the new café, cabaret and dance venue. The Patricia Jazz Band – later Oscar Holden’s Jazz Orchestra – was organized by Oscar Holden, while William Bowman managed the cabaret in the Café. A 1919 note in an Indianapolis newspaper reported “The Patricia Orchestra, one of the best bands on the coast, is scoring a big hit in Vancouver. The band is composed of Oscar Holden, leader, pianist and clarinet; Charles Davis, banjo; Albert Paddio (Padio), trombone; Frank Odel, saxophone, and Williams (sic) Hoy, trap drummer and xylophonist. Misses Ada Smith (Brick Top) and Lillian Rose are the entertainers who are really pleasing in their work and money never fails to come after these clever girls get through. One of the band’s biggest hits is where they all stand and shimmie, featuring William Hoy, the clever Hoosier drummer, who wishes to say that he was made a Master Mason the 24th of November.” These must have been tough times for the proprietors of the café – requiring a carefully managed venue, as it was during the period of prohibition in British Columbia when it should have been theoretically impossible to enjoy any alcohol with the performance. 

Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was known as ‘Bricktop’ because, although she was a black singer and dancer, she had red hair (thanks to an Irish father). She toured on the Pantage circuit, worked in Chicago and New York, and arrived at the Patricia around 1919. “Bowman’s biggest customers–and I do mean big,” wrote Smith in her 1983 autobiography, “were the Swedish lumberjacks who came into Vancouver on their time off. Tall, strapping fellows, they could make a bottle of whisky disappear in no time. Pretty soon, they’d be drunk and ready to fight.” One of the more notable brawls took place on Christmas Eve in 1919; Bricktop ended up with a broken leg. She returned to touring in the early 1920s, and opened a club in Paris in 1924 that stayed open until 1961.

Later that year Ferdinand LaMothe – better known as “Jelly Roll” Morton arrived in Vancouver, playing for several stints between 1919 and 1921, initially in the Patricia Café. A creole from New Orleans, Morton claimed to have invented jazz – which is a stretch – but he was certainly an influential pioneer of ragtime piano, writing the “Jelly Roll Blues” in 1905, and publishing it in 1915. The jazz historian Mark Miller described Morton’s arrival  as “an extended period of itinerancy as a pianist, vaudeville performer, gambler, hustler, and, as legend would have it, pimp”. He left Chicago, where he had been working, and headed west to Los Angeles. He is said to have lost heavily at a card game in Tacoma where Bowman was present, who invited him north to perform at the Patricia. Oscar Holden was a veteran of Chicago cabarets in the 1910s and remained in residence at the Patricia Café through 1920 and into 1921. He spent the rest of his career in Seattle. Morton also played at the Irving Cabaret, run by Paddy Sullivan, further west along Hastings, and had returned to the US by mid 1921, started recording his music in the early 1920s basing himself back in Chicago and traveling the country with his Jelly Roll Jazz Band.

In 1923 the hotel then had a lobby coffee shop, and the Patricia Gardens, but the street directory don’t identify any uses other than the hotel, so they were integrated into the hotel’s management (unlike many hotels where the bar or restaurant had separate proprietors). In 1925 there were 4 clerks, a book-keeper, and a waiter associated with the hotel. Edward Mulhern was still running it, and the cook was E Michael Mulhern (probably his son, also called Edward). A year later Edward senior, who came from Brechin in Ontario and was then aged 45, married 31 year old Mary Doherty from Ireland. He was described as divorced; it was her first marriage.

In 1940 there were three clerks, three waiters, a chambermaid, a porter, two elevator operators and an engineer associated with the hotel. Edward P Mulhern was still in charge, and one of the clerks was Christina Mulhern (almost certainly his ex-wife). The Mulhern family owned and operated the hotel until 1958; (Edward died in 1953).

Today the hotel operates as both a long-stay SRO hotel (although each room now has its own bathroom) and a budget hotel. On the main floor Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse still features live music. While the cornice has been lost for many years, the substantial ‘brick and stick’ structure is in pretty good shape and sees thousands of visitors every year. The huge mid 50’s neon sign replaced an earlier wall mounted sign from the 1940s. It’s one of the few remaining working examples on a street that has lost many excellent examples of the sign-builders art.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-187

Astoria Hotel – 769 East Hastings Street


Unlike the Patricia along the street which was built as a hotel, and stayed in that use, the Astoria started life as an apartment building – initially named for its developer, R A Wallace, and simultaneously as the Toronto House Apartments. The Astoria name was attached to a building on Hastings Street from the 1920s until 1949. The building permit was issued in June 1912 to cost $53,000. It was designed by Braunton & Leibert, and the contractors were Allen & Jones; Robert A Wallace was the original owner. He was aged 37 when he developed the building, a real estate agent from Ontario who lived in the household of Peter and Bella Duffey in 1911 They lived on Charles Street, and Peter was a builder. He was brother in law, and as he wasn’t married Bella must have been his sister. We think he was born into a Presbyterian family in Mount Forest, Ontario and living in Egremont, South Grey County in 1881 when he was aged seven, one of nine children born to Irish-born Mary. His father, William was born in Ontario, and we think it was this family because he had an older sister, Isabella. He was married in 1913 when he was 39 to Lillian Carscallen, who was aged 33, from Belleville Ontario.

He moved into his new investment, which he also managed, in the year he was married. Mrs Etta Chatwin was the building’s housekeeper and the first tenants included Malcolm Morrison, a policeman, P H Thompson, another policeman, C A Blubaugh, I Cumcumm, G W Daligher, a printer, D R Fraser who taught at the Central High School, C Edward who was a grocer and C W Erickson who was involved with ‘timber’.

In 1923, when Stuart Thomson took this picture (in the Vancouver Public Library collection) Robert had moved back to Charles Street (to a different house than earlier) and was also still involved in real estate from an office on Seymour Street. Chris Owens was the proprietor of the Toronto Apartments, and there were many more residents including two engineers, several loggers, two longshoremen, three salesmen, a meter man with the City, Mrs. Lilly Rollings who was a telephone operator with B C Phones, and Mrs. Agnes Fraser. Robert Aubrey Wallace died in 1950 (the year the apartments became the Astoria Hotel) aged 75. He and Lillian were by that point living on West 10th Avenue. In 1949 the Toronto Apartments were being run by C and B Y Chan. On the same block, at 717 E Hastings Wallace Neon’s manufacturing plant was operating, run by William and James Wallace. As far as we can tell there’s no connection between the two businesses.

This building took the Astoria name in 1950 when it was first run as a hotel by Alex Bayer and William Sawchuk. Mr. Sawchuk was president of Astoria Hotels at both addresses, so transferred it when he moved his operation from West Hastings to East Hastings. Five years later the owners were still Mr. Bayer, now with Ludwig Radymski. Today the hotel is a single-room occupancy rental with 85 rooms, and a newly rejuvinated bar. The balconies have been removed, but the 1950s neon signs, that had gradually lost their lustre over the decades have been restored and now offer a pretty dramatic splash on what is otherwise a quiet part of the street.




511 East Georgia Street

511 e georgia

This small retail store used to sit next to the Jackson Apartments that are on the corner of Jackson and East Georgia. It was still standing in 1973 when the picture was shot, although the store looks like it had closed down, and there’s a request to not park in front of the garage door (which had no curb crossing associated with it). The Jackson was built in 1910, designed by E E Blackmore, and the owners were Jim Lim and Ying Lee. It cost $35,000 to build, and the land to the east remained undeveloped for a while after it was built. There were often Chinese businesses in the Jackson’s retail units: in 1920 for example the Wing Ty Lung grocery was on the corner. (It was addressed as East Georgia, although when the Jackson was built it was known as Harris Street).

We assume Jim Lim is the same person who owned a building on East Pender Street; the 1912 street directory identifies only one Jim Lim; he was branch manager for the Carrall Street branch of the Bank of Vancouver. Ying Lee doesn’t appear – although there is a merchant called Ying Kee on East Pender in the street directory that year, and there’s a Wing Lee as well, so we can’t be sure if it’s either of these gentlemen, or someone missed by the directory compilers.

In 1927 the corner store became the Harris grocers, presumably as a reminder of the former street name, and by 1937 Harry’s grocers, with the Italian Worker’s Club was in the adjacent retail space (just showing in the picture). In 1950 the Panda grocers was on the corner, and in 1952 this structure is built – recorded as ‘new store’. However, it didn’t open as a store, but rather W J Mesco operated here as a welder. A year later in 1954, McKenzie’s Linoleum Cement mfrs are in the retail unit on the left, and Superweld Co casting repairs and Excelweld of Canada are in the single storey building Mr. Mesco was running the businesses. Superweld was described as a “New and Guaranteed way of mending cracks in motor blocks and cylinder heads without heat” This could be achieved without stripping or pulling the motor.

We’re not sure how long the structure lasted – it’s been gone several years: today there’s a recently installed garden built by the current owners of the Jackson Apartments.

Happy Birthday!

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 808-30

Posted September 29, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

800 block – East Hastings Street

800 E Hastings south side

On the right of our 1965 image is the Rice Block. We looked at Mr Rice’s earlier history, and his architect, Otto Moberg, in the previous post. The block, built in 1912 was initially called the Thistle Rooms, with the Thistle Restaurant, which was one of the retail units in the building on Hastings Street, run by Mrs. Lily Muir from 1913. The Thistle Rooms in 1914 were run by Joseph Duminie. He was born in Ontario, and in 1911 was still living there.

By 1920 D H Rice had started yet another career – he was General Manager of the International Advertising Co, living at 800 E Hastings (the alternate address for 404 Hawks). T Ozaki was running a grocery store at 804, James Haughton had a drugstore on the corner, and the Scottish Ham Curers were at 802 East Hastings. Strangely, there’s no mention of the rooms above, although there are residents listed in the directory giving their home address as 800 E Hastings. A year later the Ham Curers have become Sweid Produce, D H Rice is now “gen mgr Internatl Moving Bill Board”, and had moved again, to 1232 W 15th.

In 1922 he appears to have cloned himself – there’s an entry for “Danl H of Rice Inv Co” living at 1041 Comox (but oddly, cross checking there was nobody called Rice listed there – the Bonaventure Apartments, so maybe that was an error). That company had offices at 321 Pender, and there was also a listing for “Danl H agt Natl Life Assce Co r 800 E Hastings”

In 1923, Danl H was a broker, home was  now 1663 Robson. Lorne Rice was a dentist living at the same address: we identified Lorne aged 1 in 1901 when his parents were in Rossland where his father was a grocer. Lorne had moved out again in 1924, and in 1925 Daniel was now a salesman with Paddon & Vogel, real estate brokers at 445 Homer.

In 1926 he has a new business partner and yet another new home address: Danl H Rice of Rice & Nickerson h 2870 Laurel. Another Rice was living at home; Angela was a stenographer with Fleisehmann Co. Lorne was a dentist on Robson Street, and had his own home on Nelson Street. W D Nickerson and Dan Rice were now selling real estate from an office at 441 Homer Street – two doors down from his previous employers, Paddon & Vogel. Things stayed the same for the next few years: by the late 1920s Angela had left home and Daniel’s partner was no longer involved, but he continued in the real estate business, as did Mr. Paddon (but not Mr. Vogel) two doors away.

Once things started getting difficult in the real estate business and the 1930s recession set in, Daniel switched businesses once again. By 1932 he was manager of the Pacific Mutual Benefit Association, still living on Laurel. Lorne Rice had moved his practice address, and his home several times, but he was still a dentist, now on Granville Street. In 1933 Angela Rice still had the same job, but was living on W 13th. The Laurel Street address appears, but now the resident was Olive Rice, widow. The death certificate is confusing – it says that Daniel Rice was born in Ireland (which is quite possible, but it doesn’t match census returns describing him as American, or his brother’s birth in Minnesota). He was aged 62, described as retired, and living with his son, Lorne, on W 36th Avenue for 27 years (which as we’ve seen is very inaccurate, as they had both moved several times over the years). A year later Angela had moved in to live with her mother. Olive Catherine Rice, born in Ontario in 1874, wife of Daniel Henry Rice, died in St Paul’s Hospital in 1955. Her death was registered by her daughter, Angela Berts. A year later another of the Rice’s children, Lawrence, died in Golden aged 57. We assume this is Lorne Rice’s real name, born in Toronto in 1899, and married to Mary McDonald from Boston in Vancouver in 1924.

Two doors up the street is the Hastings Dance Studio, home to the Vancouver Table Tennis Club. It started life as an Italian venue, a hall for the Venetian Benefit Association, designed by R T Perry in 1928. Opening as the Silver Slipper Club, Stevie Wilson outlines in Scout Magazine how in the 1930s The Celestial Gents (Canada’s first modern Chinese swing band) played here, as did The Pony Pals, an early version of the 1940s BC country band The Rhythm Pals. After a period when it was called the Hastings Auditorium, (as in this 1965 image, with dancing on Wednesday and Saturday) in the 1980s it became the Viking Hall. It was home to concerts by punk bands including the Pointed Sticks, who played here in Dennis Hopper’s movie ‘Out of the Blue’. Now located in a part of the city where developers are eyeing up opportunities, and where the recently adopted Downtown Eastside Plan anticipates redevelopment, it’s long term future is probably in peril.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-20

Posted September 28, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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The Rice Block – 404 Hawks Avenue

Rice Block 1

The Rice Block is another of the city’s ‘1912 boom’ residential buildings. Sitting on the corner of Hawks and East Hastings, it’s history is surprisingly unpublished. Originally known as the Thistle Rooms (in the Street Directory) and the Rice Block (on the 1912 Insurance Map), the recent restoration plan was written without the development history. It was designed by Otto Moberg for D H Rice, cost $30,000 to build, and was built by S J Lund. Moburg was a Swede who was working in Washington state in the early part of the 20th Century and came to Vancouver having won a design competition for buildings at the Pacific Exhibition. He also designed the rustic Tea House in Stanley Park, as well as several residential blocks including this one and today’s Ramada Hotel on West Pender. A couple of years after he arrived, when it became apparent that there was a building recession, he headed south, ending up in San Diego. The building contractor, Sefanias Johnson Lund was a Norwegian, born in 1879 or 1880, and he had also recently arrived in Vancouver from Seattle. By 1920 he had returned to King County, and in 1930 (and until his death in 1956) he was in San Bernadino County in California.

We weren’t completely sure about Mr Rice’s early history. There’s a Daniel H Rice living in Grand Forks in 1900, running a grocery store with James E Rice. There were two Daniel Rice’s shown in the 1901 Census; one was 26, boarding in Chilliwack, originally from England and working as  CPR Labourer. The other was in Rossland in the Kootenay, aged 30, married to Olive with a one-year old son, Lorne. He was a grocer, and listed as an American. It may be that our Daniel Rice was neither of these gentlemen, but we’re reasonably certain he was the American grocer. The English Daniel Rice was still working as a CPR Labourer when he was identified in the 1911 census – although now he was aged 42. There was a third Daniel Rice in British Columbia in 1901, a 29-year-old miner in Milford Creek. He unfortunately died that year; his death certificate recording the cause: “a blow from a bear”.

The first time he shows up in Vancouver is in 1905, as an Insurance Agent for New York Life, living at 552 Granville. A year later he’s manager of the Pacific Land Co, and has moved to 1255 Seymour, and in 1908 he’s living on Hornby Street. As well as the Land Co he was still acting as the BC agent for an insurance company; the Western Canada Fire Insurance Company. In 1911 he had offices on Homer Street, and was shown living at 404 Hawks Avenue – so we assume he redeveloped the site of his house with the apartment building.

Our reason for thinking Mr. Rice was an American is that James E Rice, who was born in Chatfield Minnesota was Managing Director of the Western Canada Fire Insurance Co in 1912. He had been a telegraph operator with the CPR, was Chairman of the Finance Committee in Rat Portage at the turn of the century and moved to Calgary in Alberta in 1903. It would be a remarkable coincidence if he wasn’t a grocer in Grand Forks in 1900. He was eight years older than his brother, Daniel, who was 9 in the 1880 US Census, both members of a large family whose parents had emigrated to the US from Ireland.

Mr. Rice was mis-named on the 1911 Census as Daniel Rise, and his children were shown as Lorne and Angila. As in 1901, he’s shown as being American. The Daily World in the same year reported “D H Rice, formerly of the Pacific Land Company, Is located at 401 Homer street.” He owned motor vehicle licence #1881 in 1912, where he was shown registered to 924 Granville Street, which was the address of the Dissette Motor Co. In 1912 he had a partner in D H Rice & Co, Frank J Fitz Simmons. In that same year he built this building and also hired Halloran Construction Co to move and alter a house on Pender Street. He had moved again, this time to 1054 W 10th Av. A year later his partner is no longer associated with his company. In 1915 the Rice Block is listed for the first time, and Daniel H was shown living there, listed as a notary public and as an insurance agent. By 1917 he has given up the other business interests – he’s shown as Dan Rice, managing the furnished rooms as well as running the Thistle Café.

Our 50 year-old image shows that the building is in better shape today than when it was 54 years old. That’s because it’s just been comprehensively restored as part of the $144 million program where BC Housing in conjunction with several partners is restoring thirteen SRO non-market housing buildings. For the first time in many decades the building has a cornice. It’s modeled on the Woodbine Hotel nearby, as there are no early images of this part of East Hastings. Barry McGinn, the architect responsible for the restoration plan noted “The building’s pronounced cubic massing was originally relieved by an attractive projecting sheet metal cornice, and an articulated storefront complete with its own sheet metal cornice. The removal of the upper cornice, insensitive alterations to the storefront, painting of the red brick masonry and random replacement of the wood double hung sash with aluminum fixed/slider sash has rendered this, originally, attractive building a poor facsimile of its former self.” That’s no longer the case; the restoration has created an attractive anchor for the corner and the basis of another century of residential use, these days managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society.


Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-23


Posted September 24, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Woodbine Hotel – 786 East Hastings Street

700 E Hastings south

The Woodbine, like many of the remaining hotels in this part of East Hastings, was built in the city’s dramatic development boom around 1912. This was built for George Woodcock, and designed by A J Bird. Despite the sign on the cornice looking like it’s been on the building for it’s entire life, the name only dates to the 1960s – and not even the early 1960s – it wasn’t on the building in this 1965 image. When it was first built (at a cost of $35,000) it was called the Oak Apartments.

George Woodcock was said by the 1911 census and the street directory to be a builder, the census adds that he was originally from England, as was his wife Mary, and they lived with their five children (including 11-year-old twins) on East 9th Avenue . They’d arrived in 1901, so all five children would have been aged under seven, so George had either done well in the following decade to build the rooming house, or perhaps he borrowed the money with the intention of selling off the completed building. In 1908 he was shown as a bricklayer. In 1910 he designed and built his house on East Broadway (E 9th) which cost $2,700 to build.

H C Woodcock was listed as the builder of the property – although George was listed as a builder in the census, Hubert Woodcock was the more experienced if later building permits are to be believed. From their daughter Gladys’s wedding in 1923 and Florence’s in 1924 we know her mother Mary Woodcock was originally Mary Etherington, and so we know George and Mary married in Tamworth, in Warwickshire, in 1892. There’s a Hubert C Woodcock living in Tamworth in 1901, aged 19, so he’s almost certainly a relation of George – possibly a younger brother. Hubert married in Tamworth in 1906, and had been born in Wooton Wawen, also in Warwickshire. He first shows up in the Vancouver street directory in 1912, although the permit for the hotel was issued in December 1911, so he must have arrived in the second half of the year.

Either Mr. Woodcock sold his investment, or he allowed somebody else to manage his property. In 1914 Mrs L McLeod was proprietor of the apartments.


George and Mary Woodcock stayed in the East Broadway house. George worked as a bricklayer until he was 75, and Mary died in 1939, aged 66, just as he finally gave up working.  George died in 1948, aged 85. Hubert and Edith Woodcock settled in Vancouver, had a family, and they were living in Victoria, with Hubert still alive when Edith died, aged 90, in 1971.

Posted September 21, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Holy Rosary Cathedral – Dunsmuir Street

Holy Rosary

The area around this part of Dunsmuir Street was once the location of several churches – Holy Rosary is the only one still standing. The multiple denominations found here may be why this is wrongly labeled in the Archives as St Andrew’s Presbyterian which was on a corner of Richards Street on the same block as Holy Rosary, but at Georgia Street. This image dates to around 1900, when the church was a very new structure. It was the second church built here; the first was much more modest. The construction of the church began in 1899 on the site of an earlier structure by the same name, which only lasted 12 years before being rebuilt in the French Gothic Revival style, designed by T E Julian (with H J Williams). This view only lasted a few years – by 1908 David Gibb was planning the Dunsmuir Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee.

The project was managed by the parish priest, Father James McGuckin, who took over the project in 1897, and despite the parish already being in debt managed to see it completed; the religious order McGuckin belonged to (the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) mortgaged their headquarters in France to pay for it. It was initially known as “McGuckin’s folly” because of the financial strains that accompanied the construction, but the rapidly growing city ensured that the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was an appropriate scale for the congregation.

It was elevated to a cathedral in 1916, and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate withdrew in 1927 (partly due to the financial circumstances that continued to cause them problems). A Catholic church can only be consecrated when it is free from debt – so the cathedral did not have its rite of consecration held until October 3, 1953, fifty-three years after it first opened. The construction is Gabriola sandstone on a granite base: the sandstone isn’t tremendously well bonded and the cathedral has needed repairs as details of the carving have been lost and some parts threaten to break off.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 466-23

Posted September 17, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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