Main and Keefer Street – sw corner

This rather uninspiring corner shot was reportedly taken by Walter E Frost in 1971. It shows a part of Chinatown that has seen two new building erected since then on this spot. Very soon after the picture was taken the corner was cleared and the Mandarin Centre, a casino and retail building, was developed by Faye & Dean Leung. In 2016 Westbank’s 17 storey residential replacement was completed, designed by W T Leung (as far as we know, no relation to Faye or Dean).

The corner structure seems to have cost $459 to build: designed by George Giepel for owner and builder A Damascas. There’s nobody of that name in any street directory around that time, but there was a Greek family called Damaskes with three brothers, recorded as Agisbie, Antoniy and Asiyer. They didn’t show up in the street directory because they were all lodgers with Petter Collos, another Greek, with a house on Columbia Street. The ‘architect’ is also impossible to find anywhere in the city, as well. The first occupants of the building appear to have been the Parisian Dye Works.

On the far left hand edge, the single storey, but more substantial brick building was designed by Maclure & Fox for Temple Godman, costing $7,000 for Baynes and Horie to construct. We’ve noted in an earlier post that we think this was Richard Temple Godman who liked to use the classy architects for relatively mundane projects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-386

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Posted September 21, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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Hastings and Westminster Avenue

We’ve looked at this corner in a post we published several years ago, when it was newly occupied by the Carnegie Library, with the City Hall alongside. Here it is earlier, in 1895, before the library was built (from 1902 to 1904), or the City Hall role had commenced. In 1895, when this picture was taken, this was the city’s public market, with A M Beattie’s City Auction Mart on the corner.

Mr. Beattie’s office was where meetings of the Vancouver Cricket Club were held. He was clearly also active beyond the city. For reasons lost in the mists of time the Barrington News of Barrington, Illinois reported in 1894 that “A. M. BEATTIE, Hawaiian Consul, at Vancouver, B. C., appointed by President Dole, received his exequatur. This shows that Lord Roseberry has concluded to look upon the provisional government as a fixture.” Why Mr Beattie was appointed to the job was clarified a year earlier in an article from the Vancouver World, reproduced in the Hawaiian Star “A. M. Beattie has received notice of his appointment as Hawaiian consul for Vancouver The appointment comes from the Provisional Government and is signed by Sanford B. Dole as President. Mr. Beattie is going extensively into the purchase of Hawaiian fruits and other products, and with T. V. Harvey on the ground to do the buying, he is in a position to obtain the best goods, personally selected at the lowest price, and also to have the packing and shipping superintended, He disposed of a lot of his importations this time in Victoria and the Sound cities, but local merchants have preferred to buy from an outsider.”

Mr. Beattie was from Scotland, although his wife, Alice, was from the USA. Her father had been born in Quebec, and so were all three of the couple’s children in 1891, aged 10, 7 and 5. In the census Mr Beattie was shown as being 38, and Alice 30. They also had a domestic living with them, born in Nova Scotia. From the 1901 census we know that Mr. Beattie was called Archibald (although he seems to have favoured his initial and middle name, Murray). He had arrived in Canada when he was aged three, and his wife in 1868 when she was six. (She had lost two years of her age from the 1891 census, and was now aged 38). as well as daughters Frances, Edith and Kathleen, who were still at home, William Beattie, A M’s brother was living with them.

In 1895 the family’s home on Cordova had been hooked up to the city’s water system in 1889 by an earlier owner, Richard Cook, who managed the Foundry. The house had been first built in 1886, and was later occupied by Thomas Dunn, the hardware mogul and developer. Still standing today, it’s probably Vancouver’s oldest house. The family were well off, and Alice Beattie’s gorgeous evening cloak is now owned by the Museum of Vancouver.

Mr. Beattie’s death, in 1915, was reported in the Daily World, with a detailed biography. “DEATH COMES IN SUDDEN GUISE Mr. A. M. Beattie, Well-Known Citizen, Drops Dead in Collingwood East. While walking with a friend in Collingwood Last last night, Mr. A. M. Beattie, the well known local auctioneer, suddenly fell to the ground, and expired before assistance could be brought. Dr. Fuller of Central Park was called as quickly as possible, but pronounced him dead on arrival. Mr. Beattie has recently been taking an active interest in South Vancouver politics, and was in Collingwood arranging for a meeting which will be held tonight, when heart failure occurred. The body was removed to the city and Coroner Jeffs notified. but it is not thought that an inquest will be necessary.

There was no more familiar figure in Vancouver than Archibald Murray Beattie, who has resided here for more than thirty years, and had seen Vancouver grow from a little village of shacks to a big city. During the period of that growth Mr. Beattie was engaged as real, estate agent, land auctioneer and in other business capacities and In private business and public life he earned esteem and respect. Mr. Beattie was born In Dumfries, Scotland, on May 25, 1851, the year of the first great exhibition, which it was fondly hoped would inaugurate an era of world’s peace. He came of a fine old Scotch family, which had long been associated with the land, and he inherited the feeling of joy which he often expressed at seeing waste places made fruitful. Brought to Canada as a young boy, he was put to school at St. Francis College. Richmond, Quebec. His progress was rapid, his instincts commercial, and while still a young man he was in business as a general merchant, founding the firm of Beattie & Alexander. In 1886 Mr. Beattie sold his interest in this business and came to Vancouver, and as soon as he arrived here he was convinced of its great future.

As a land auctioneer he has realized millions of dollars for the government and for private corporations by the sale of lands, and as a business man and notary public he has had to do with many big deals, though he never despised “business,” however small – if “straight.” He was a Conservative and Imperialist. When the Marquis of Lome, afterwards Duke of Argyle. was governor – general, A. M. Beattie was in command of the Richmond Field Artillery. He was frequently pressed to enter the political arena, but the only office he held was that of consul for the Hawaiian Islands. This office he held from 1892 to 1895. He was a member of the Anglican church, attending St. James, and he was much attached to the late Father Clinton. He was an active and popular member of the Masonic order. Before he left Richmond, Quebec, Mr. Beattie married Miss Alice H. Rollins, daughter of Mr. George Robbins, an official of the Grand Trunk Railway. His widow survives him

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives City P6

Posted September 18, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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City Hall – Westminster Avenue

The City of Vancouver’s first purpose-built City Hall was wooden, built on Powell Street near Water Street, and expanded in 1888. Here’s the second location, on Westminster Avenue – today’s Main Street. To the south when this 1930s image was taken, was the Market Hall, and to the north the Carnegie Library. Sansom and Dawson won the commission to design this building in 1889 – but not as the City Hall. They were designing the new City Market, which occupied the building until 1898 when the City Council decided it would suit their purposes better as offices.

The market was moved quite a bit further south, by the bridge to Mount Pleasant (as False Creek went all the way to close to Clark Drive in those days). It didn’t do well in such a relatively isolated location and was moved back here some years later. Here’s a 1908 image from the same angle showing the side of the hall before the market returned.

The city didn’t get round to another location for their offices for 30 years, finding their quarters increasingly cramped over the years as the city grew, and the administrative functions with it. Finally, in the mid 1920s, they leased the Holden Block, an office ‘tower’ (for its day) on West Hastings, and after extensive alterations to add a Council Chamber, they relocated, only to move again to the present City Hall in 1936.

Today there’s a modest two storey building, first built in 1959 and altered in 1979. It’s no doubt a good candidate for redevelopment in future.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 447-298 and Vancouver Public Library

Posted September 14, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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False Creek North waterfront

Our view along the seawall of False Creek is just over 20 years old, we think. The 1984 BC Place stadium is still looking clean, but the 1995 GM Place next door has also been completed. The remnants of Expo 86 that became the Plaza of Nations are in place, but the seawall pathway hasn’t been finished yet.

Over the 20 years the Cooper’s Place residential towers, and Cooper’s Park have been developed. Across Expo Boulevard the new casino and hotel complex known as Parq Vancouver is close to completion, and closes off the last remnant of the view of the stadium, and it’s new roof. Next to Roger’s Arena (the renamed hockey and music arena) there’s a new rental tower.

In future the sliver of mountain to the east will disappear from this spot as the Plaza of Nations finally redevelops. It’s not clear if the cluster of forest trees will survive – but we suspect not as the plans are for a much more active and energized waterfront there.

Posted September 11, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, False Creek

1000 block Richards Street – east side

As in our last post, here are more old houses and a modest commercial building on Richards Street in 1981. There are four houses here: one is almost hidden by a billboard in the 1981 image, with a larger house to the north. Along with one of the other closer houses it has been moved and swung through 90 degrees to add to three others already standing on Helmcken Street. Today there’s a street edge of five houses, recreating the view that existed in 1910, but which was lost in the 1950s when the commercial box on the corner replaced two of them.

The houses that were relocated date from 1907 and 1908, a period where we have no comprehensive building records. The houses here were built speculatively, usually as rental properties. We know that the other three houses, (those that weren’t moved) were built by Wellington Brehaut. Richard Greenwell was the first resident of 108o Richards (the 1908 house that was moved, almost hidden by the commercial block). Richard was a fireman at the Hastings sawmill, and his family were also listed including sons Alexander, a cigarmaker, John, who worked for the CPR and Robert, an elevator boy for Manhattan Court as well as daughter Mary who was clerk for Dr Minogue. The Greenwell’s moved on and by 1911 had been replaced by John McKissock. New residents were shown in 1912. William Knight was a bar server who had only arrived in Canada in 1911 with his wife and three daughters, and to help out they had two lodgers, Mr and Mrs Marshall, also originally from England.

There would later be much greater stability of occupancy for the other house that was moved, 1062 Richards, dating back to 1907. It’s another modest cottage that was built in 1908, and like 1080 saw some changes of occupancy in the early days. The first street reference lists the occupants simply as “foreigners”. A year later John Fraser, a telephone operator moved in, staying for a number of years. He was from Nova Scotia, as was his wife. They had arrived in Vancouver from the USA, where their four year old son had been born. They also had lodgers in 1911, J B and Edith Moore. J B was born in BC, and Edith was from Alaska.

In 1962 Linda Rupa moved in, paying $16,000 for the house. She was a clerk at Safeway’s, who had initially worked at the Army and Navy store when she first arrived in the city, earning 99 cents an hour. She discovered the house had a poker table upstairs, and 17 phones, with to private lines to the US. The house had been a speakeasy for a bootlegger – a profitable enterprise in the area, especially during the war. Once development of residential towers took off in the 1990s, site assembly started. Richards on Richards, the nightclub, sold to developer Mark Chandler, who then offered Linda $3 million for the two lots she owned, one with the house on. She turned him down, and he soon had bigger problems as he was eventually run out of town for selling several units in an earlier project to more than one prospective owner. The Aquilini family acquired Chandler’s assets here, and finally succeeded in persuading Linda to sell, for $6 million. She planned to move to New Westminster, noting when asked what she would do with the money that “I bought myself a nice tube of lipstick. I’ll get a new quilt from Sears – they’ve got them on sale”.

The timing of the site purchase was unfortunate. The condo project planned here was called the Richards. Francesco Aquilini spent five years assembling the site, in an area where buyers were paying $800 a square foot for their new, yet-to-be-built condos. The units came to market just as the market crashed. A handful of the 226 condos and townhouses sold, not enough to start construction. “We opened the sales centre the day after the October 27 crash,” says Aquilini. “It was like opening after 9/11.” The site sat for a couple of years before the units were re-marketed, at prices around 25% lower than initially anticipated. Fortunately construction costs had fallen as well, and the project (designed by Lawrence Doyle Young and Wright) sold out and was completed in 2011.

Image Source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.26

Posted September 7, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

1000 block Richards Street – west side

These modest houses in the Downtown managed to last for over a century, although they had been cleared away several years before the new building that now stands on the corner of Richards and Helmcken. New Jubilee House is designed by GBL Architects, and was a replacement for Jubilee House, a modest non-market building to the south. The new building has nearly twice the units, and is concrete rather than wood-frame, so much more substantial.

The houses that were here in our 1981 image were first built around 1907, when the building permit records are missing. The first residents were Harry Gray, a clerk, who lived in the house closest to us, and Mrs Mary Vincent in the second house. There was a third, more imposing house on the corner that dated back to 1902 which had been designed by W T Whiteway for Robert Willis, although it was always tenanted; by Edwin Bridge, a teamster in 1903, and Frederick Mileson, an electrician, in 1908.

In 1911 George R Wilson lived on the corner, Robert L Erisman next door, and Mrs Vincent was still living in the third house. It wasn’t entirely clear why Mrs. Vincent, born in New-Foundland and 63 years old in 1911, was the name in the street directory. According to the census she shared the house with her family, including her husband Robert (also from New-Foundland) who was 67, and children Minnie, aged 19, born in BC, and William, who was 40 and also born in New-Foundland. It became clearer when their employment was taken into account. Minnie was a stenographer. Robert was retired according to the street directory, but the census said he was a ship’s carpenter,  while William was seaman. For the purposes of the street directory it was Mary and Minnie who counted as resident, although in earlier years (and also after he had retired) Robert was listed as a carpenter.

By 1915 all three houses had new residents, and there’s a continuous turnover of changing names suggesting these were probably rental properties. Later this part of town changed from being wholly residential. By the start of the second world war the corner had become the base for Eagle Taxi. Next door Mrs Robinson’s house was let as rooms, and so were Edgar and Elsie McKinnin’s house to the north. Just up the street businesses had moved in, with the Central Sheet Metal Works and the Heating and Ventilation Company of BC. The shift to business premises continued for decades, although houses like these continued to be scattered throughout the area.

Now almost built-out as the Downtown South residential area, thousands more people live here than at any earlier point in previous history.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E05.30 (wronly labeled as 500 block Dunsmuir Street)

Posted September 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

West Hastings and Howe – sw corner

This 1927 image shows the shiny new premises of Messrs Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland, one of the city’s more successful real estate companies. We looked at the history of the company when we posted about company founder J P Nicolls’ house. Nicolls, originally from Cornwall, teamed up with C H Macaulay in 1898 to found a real estate and insurance company. Charles Macaulay was from New Brunswick, and his wife Ethel from PEI. Only three years after the firm was formed, Charles could already afford to have a live-in domestic servant. In 1901 Charles was 32, Ethel was 24, his son Douglas was nine, Donald was two, and their domestic, Margret (sic) Featherstone from Quebec was 31, and her 17 year old daughter Ruby also living with the family.

This new building came after Ronald Maitland had become a partner in the company, in 1922. Ron seems to have come to Vancouver with his parents as a small boy; he was born in 1886, and already living in the city by the 1901 census.

The building was shown as being commissioned by Royal Securities Corp, presumably the Montreal based investment bankers, who had offices on West Hastings. It was designed by Sharp and Thompson. It’s just possible that this wasn’t accurate: Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland were also each a shareholder in the Royal Plate Glass Insurance Company of Canada, formed in 1926 with three other partners. However, it could be that the ‘Royal’ connection is just a coincidence – Macaulay was general manager of the West Hastings based insurance firm while retaining his real estate partnership.

In 1991 the site was redeveloped as Prime Capital Place a modest brick-clad office building from an era when red brick cladding and midrise office buildings were a popular preference in the business district.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N298