1259 Granville Street

This is the Vancouver Motor Supply Co seen 101 years ago in this 1919 Stuart Thomson picture. It was underneath a building which featured white glazed bricks and centre-pivoted windows, a trademark of Parr and Fee, who designed at least seven hotels in a few blocks of Granville Street all built to a similar design over two or three years. This one was built by Peter Tardiff, (sometimes Tardif), in 1911 at a cost of $60,000 was developed by W A Clark. He was a real estate broker from Ontario, and was one of two William Clark’s involved in real estate in the city, which must have been confusing at times. In 1911 he lived with his wife, May, their five daughters, and a servant, Tanda Ishira, who was from Japan. When it first opened this was the Newport Rooms, then the Newport Hotel, a name it retained for many years.

The retail space saw constant change many years, some of which we’ve researched. When the picture was taken in 1919 Vancouver Motor Supply Co the business had just been taken over by H J Arthur. The Daily World said he was “formerly of the Arthur and Hand Tire company. Mr. Arthur has a host of friends among the motorists of Vancouver, and his new enterprise should prove most valuable to all. He Is getting settled gradually and arranging the new stock, and announces that he is in a position to render the service that should be given to the public by a real up – to – date accessory house. A line of tires will be contracted for in the near future, making equipment for the motorists most complete. With one of the best years that the local trade has ever known In prospect, it is certain that Mr. Arthur will meet with the best of success in his new enterprise.” The business obviously didn’t take off. Herbert J Arthur became a wood dealer, and in 1921 was a salesman, living at Boundary Bay. In 1920 the store was vacant, and in 1921 it was the home of the IXL Cafe, run by John W Smithson and Chas Glazie. The store was split in two a year later, with Nick Kokinas selling confectionery next to the Bailey Cafe. By 1925 it had returned to motordom duty as the Consumers Tire Supply Co, run by E James and R J Beck, and by 1930 a more familiar name, the Vancouver home of Maytag. In 1940 Wosk’s sold stoves here, and in 1950 G W Ross, an Auctioneer had his sale room here. Five years later Mrs. R Macdonald had a used book store, and there was a furniture store in the other half of the building.

More recently it became the Granville Hotel, although it operated as a single-room occupancy rental property, with shared bathrooms. Acquired by the City Of Vancouver in 2003 for $2.8m, it’s still run as an SRO Hotel, the Granville Residence. The city spent over $4m to repair the building, including rebuilding the façade which was in a pretty poor state in the early 2000s. The room count reduced from 100 to 83, and each room is now self-contained with bathrooms, a small cooking area and average 160 sq. ft. in area. It leases to as low-rent housing for people age 45 and over, and for people age 35 and over with disabilities who may be working or on income assistance.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-701

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Posted 25 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

636 Davie Street

Here’s yet another example of how motoring-based businesses occupied large areas of Downtown. This 1925 image shows International Motor Trucks factory branch on Davie Street, near Granville. Today it’s a series of small restaurants, but the bones of the garage structure are clearly visible. George Trorey developed the site in 1918 for a different company. The permit describes the $5,100 development as “One-storey brick building, to be occupied by the Davie Vulcanizing Co.” Gardiner and Mercer designed the building, and Wallace & McGougan built it. George Trorey was a wealthy jeweller who had his own company which he had sold to Henry Birks, becoming Birks’ General Manager. We’ve seen several other properties that he owned, but this is the first that we identified him as the developer. George was born in Niagra Falls, and set up his jewellers business in Vancouver in 1897. He ended up owning this site because he bought the Golden Gate Hotel, on the same lot, facing Granville Street, in 1908, and still owned it in the early 1940s.

International Motor Trucks apparently moved into the property in 1924, and spent $400 on alterations. The company, still manufacturing today, started production in the early 1900s, and by 1925 were selling the recently introduced ‘S’ series trucks, manufactured in Akron, Ohio. Part of International Harvester, their Vancouver distributor was Mark Dumond, and he was their agent before they moved to this new location from the 1000 block of Main Street. They didn’t stay here too long; the business had a new manager by 1930, Frank Brewer, and a new location in the 1100 block of Seymour.

We haven’t checked all the changes of activity in this building, but it changed a lot. It was vacant for a while, and then D & D Automotive Service moved in, run by Frank Dean and Chas Draper. By the start of the war, D C MacLure was shown operating a garage here. That was Daniel MacLure who ran MacLure’s Taxi and MacLure’s Sightseeing Tours. They also moved to new premises; in 1947 Drake Welding Co were using the building, and in 1955 Douglas & Crawford sold auto accessories here, alongside the welding business.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3544

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Posted 21 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Strathcona School – East Pender Street

Strathcona School has seen several stages of development, and redevelopment for over a century. Initially called the East End School, the first building, designed by Thomas Hooper, was completed in 1891 – seen here on the left hand side of this Library and Archives Canada picture from the 1910s. A new larger wing was added in 1897, facing Keefer Street, to the south of the original building. That was designed by William Blackmore, and it was completed in 1898. It’s still standing today, and has recently been seismically upgraded in a $25m project, but it’s hidden today by the gymnasium (auditorium), completed in 1930. That too received seismic upgrading in the form of poured concrete buttresses on the corners of the building, and additional concrete shear walls internally.

The upgraded 1897 building on Keefer is load-bearing unreinforced brick and stone. It was upgraded using seismic (base) isolation technology. Completed in December 2016, this was the first base isolated building in Canada. It now sits on lead core rubber bearings with teflon-stainless steel sliders, designed to absorb the energy of an earthquake without the building shaking to pieces.

In the early 1900s classes were moved from the first building, which gradually fell out of use. It was eventually demolished in 1920, but the bricks were saved and recycled into the construction of a new building. The Primary building is beside the gymnasium, just off the picture to the left. Completed in 1921, it was designed by F A A Barrs. The Senior Building can be seen today on the right. It too has been seismically strengthened, and was built in two phases, starting in 1914 (designed by Charles Morgan) and completed in 1927. H W Postle designed the second phase, and the gymnasium.

Image source: Images Canada

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Main Street and West Broadway – south-west corner

Here’s a 1985 view that hasn’t really changed a lot in the nearly 36 years since our picture was taken. The building on the south-west corner of Main and West Broadway was still a branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Completed in 1953, we’re reasonably certain that McCarter and Nairne were the architects. They designed a very similar building for the bank in 1950, on West Hastings, and also designed a larger Downtown branch in 1957, on Granville Street. The first bank here had been built for the Bank of Commerce in 1921, designed by W F Gardiner. Most recently there’s been a Tim Horton’s here, but the building was also a loonie store and a showroom for condo developments in recent years.

To the south along Main Street was a single storey retail building that had been built in 1929. A fire destroyed it in 2011, and it was replaced with another single storey (and mezzanine) building, completed in 2013. They had originally been developed in 1911 by A F McKinnon. Further south the flanking wall of Belvedere Court can be seen, an apartment building built in 1912 to Arthur J Bird’s design for D E Harris. Along West Broadway there are a series of single storey retail buildings, the oldest from 1926, and the most recent (today), next to the bank, completed in 1994. The two storey building with a bay window that was replaced had also been developed by A F McKinnon, in 1906. He owned and developed several other properties in this part of Mount Pleasant, including the Broadway Rooms two blocks to the north.

We know he was a local resident as the Mount Pleasant Advocate, in 1904, reported that “Little Alice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McKinnon, while playing yesterday fell from a pile of lumber and broke her right arm. Dr. Brydon-Jack was summoned and put the injured member in plaster-paris.” Mr. McKinnon ran a confection manufacturing business, and lived on W 10th Avenue with Alexander McKinnon, who was in real estate. We suspect they were father and son, and both called Alexander. The 1901 census shows A F McKinnon, born in Ontario, aged 62, who was involved in lumber and his son A J McKinnon, aged 24, born in the US, and a book keeper. His son’s wife, from Ontario, was also listed as A J McKinnon, and they had two daughters, Alice and Francis. A F McKinnon’s other daughter, Fannie aged 28 and also born in the US, also lived in the household. The street directory shows A F McKinnon in real estate.

By 1921 Alice was a nurse, still living with her parents and five siblings. Her father, Alexander was aged 43; he was born in the USA, but his father was Canadian. His wife, Mary, was born in Ontario, and her father was English as were both their mothers. Alice was the oldest still at home, at 22, and had been born in BC, so the family had been in the Province from the 1890s. Alexander was shown arriving in Canada in 1897, and was listed in the street directory as ‘real estate’, but intriguingly in the census as ‘chauffeur, automobile’. 

All the buildings from Belvedere Court northwards will soon be demolished, including the ones along Broadway. In 2025 the new extension of Skytrain will have a station at the corner, and in the meantime the site will be a large construction site to allow the station construction. The tunneling will be carried out by two passes of a boring machine, so disruption should be less than when the Canada Line was built. 

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Posted 14 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Mount Pleasant

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Hornby Street looking north

These two pictures were taken in 1986, and there hasn’t been a lot of obvious change in the buildings since then. Even the street trees are the same – with an additional 34 years growth. On the edge of the picture, on the left, is the Mayfair Hotel, developed in 1964 and designed by Peter Kaffka. Next door is a 1980 office building that’s only 6 floors tall, designed by the Blackwell Design Group, and strata titled.

Beyond the tower (and seen on the left of the picture below), the First City Trust Building was completed in 1969, designed by Frank Roy with Thompson, Berwick Pratt and Partners. Now known by its address, 777 Hornby, in the 1990s it received a makeover that included redesigning the podium glazing, and adding rain protection for pedestrians. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is to the north. and across the street the Georgia Medical Dental Building is the only change. The art deco building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, and was similar to their Marine Building (if less flamboyant). It was replaced nearly 30 years ago by Cathedral Place, designed by Paul Merrick for Shon Georgia Developments (in a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong). On the street, Hornby street now has a 2-way separated bike lane.

The tower on the right in the upper picture is the North American headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). Designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners, and completed in 1986, it was the headquarters of W A C Bennet’s brainchild; the Bank of British Columbia. Designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses, it grew to have $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees but serious management problems led to the bank being taken over by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada in the same year it was completed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2662 and 800-2670

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Posted 11 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Robson Street – 1000 block, north side

There was a row of stores built on Robson Street in 1911, although in this 1950 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray it looks like they were probably remodelled at some point. This location was initially developed with houses, and in 1911 the owner, Harold Wilson, moved a house to the back of the lot and hired Parr and Fee to design retail stores costing $10,000 on the street, built by Baynes and Horie. We know what his middle initial was from one of the two permits submitted by H C Wilson, but we haven’t definitively confirmed his identity. It seems most likely that he was Harry C Wilson, a shoe merchant with a store on Granville Street in the 1910s.

Harry was initially a baker, in partnership as Wilson and Sugden, in Strathcona. He lived in the 700 block of Keefer Street, above the bakery, in a building still standing today. By 1912 he was listed as both a grocer at 733 Keefer, and ‘of the Wilson Shoe Co’, and he had moved to E14th Avenue. In 1909 he got married, and the wedding notice noted that he was originally from New Brunswick, and his wife from Nova Scotia. As a member of the International Order of Foresters, he took a continent-wide tour, starting in Los Angeles and then to various unidentified ‘eastern cities’, ending up at the convention in Toronto. Mr. Wilson intended to combine business with pleasure: “While I do not concede that other cities have anything on Vancouver In the line of shoe stores, an interchange of Ideas Is always profitable, and I will visit as many large shoe stores and factories as possible.”

In 1924 the Royal Trust Co owned the building, and applied to convert it to a garage, to be built by Baynes & Horie for $1,800. However, the street directory shows a series of service and retail stores, suggesting the garage never moved in, although that might be the date of the alterations to the appearance in the picture. The most consistent business here was a milliner’s store.

To the left of the stores, (before The Manhattan apartments at the end of the block), were two houses, and a small single storey store built in 1925. Over the years the numbers were changed – for some peculiar reason, when the block was first developed in the 1890s the last house on the block was 1041. The houses were 1031 and 1035 Robson, (renumbered from 1033). They were already occupied in 1894 by H T Lockyer and J R Seymour, and 1031 was the older, with Jenny Drysdale living here in 1892 and it’s possible the house had been completed a year earlier, but no numbers were assigned to the properties that year. They were replaced at some point by single storey retail units that in turn were redeveloped this year as a double-height shoe store.

In 1950 it’s just possible to make out ‘Cafe’ on the front of the end of the retail block. That’s the geographically inaccurate ‘White’s Corner Cafe’. The houses in 1950 appear to no longer have any residents. C M Hyde, a barrister, had his offices here, along with Alford and Hughes, bicycles, Robson Realty and Aqua Accounting Services. In the house next door Curtis Radio and Electrical shared the building with W Kenyon, a jeweler.

Today there are limits on the height of new buildings (and residential isn’t allowed to be added on this part of Robson) so that the street retains greater natural light. Most buildings on this block have been redeveloped as double-height retail stores, either with two floors (like Indigo Books) or a mezzanine floor. Francl Architecture have been responsible for the design of most of these new buildings.

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Posted 7 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Graphic Arts Building – West Pender Street

This International Style building was developed in 1947. Leonard Frank took this picture some time soon after an addition and parking garage had been added to the west in 1959, designed, as the original corner block, by John Harvey. The Vancouver Sun’s publishing division were based here, but the offices also had distinctly non-graphic related businesses like the offices of Allis-Chalmers mining equipment, R W Ginn, who was a barrister, and Canadian Laco Lamps – (wholesale). Based in Montreal, they offered Canadian manufactured ‘lamps scientifically and perfectly made to give the greatest service’

The building was demolished in 2004, and four years later ‘The Ritz’, a 34 storey residential tower was completed, designed for Pinnacle International by Hancock Bruckner Eng + Wright. Construction was delayed a little as during construction the spray-crete shoring of the hole for the parking levels collapsed, taking half the street with it. The podium includes a drug store and office space part of a local shopping centre added to the developing Coal Harbour residential area.

Image source: Jewish Museum and Archives LF.00288

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Posted 4 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street looking north from above

We’re pretty certain our before image was shot soon after Expo 86 was over, but before anything had been developed on the land acquired by Concord Pacific from the Provincial government. Our after shot was taken earlier this year, and is a very close match, although the helicopter’s elevation was slightly different to the 1980s shot, so the perspective is very slightly different.

To the west of Granville Bridge the Admiralty condos were completed in 1986, and further west Seawalk South in 1987, so that’s probably the accurate date, as the 1988 Granville House, next to the bridge, hasn’t started construction. The biggest building up Granville street is the Chateau Granville Hotel, (from 1977, built at a 45 degree angle to the street), and further north the Vancouver Centre with the Scotia Tower was completed a year earlier. The lone dark tower on the eastern edge of Downtown is 401 W Georgia completed in 1984. Next door is the Post Office, now getting two office towers added to the renovated heritage shell.

Today the Harbour Centre, with the rooftop viewing platform, still has a waterfront view, but the Marine Building is now almost lost in a sea of office and hotel towers. The cluster of early 1900s warehouses built on CPR land and known as Yaletown is still standing, with a few buildings having added a couple of floors, but the surrounding residential district has been given the same name and has seen dozens of residential condo and rental tower. The image captures almost all of the Downtown Local area. (Everything to the west of Burrard and south of W Georgia is the West End). In 1986 there were just 5,910 people living here; in the last census, in 2016, there were over 62,000 people, and there will be several thousand more likely to have been added in the recently completed towers, including the surprisingly colourful Charleson on Richards and Vancouver House next to Granville Bridge.

Image source: Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, published on twitter on 25 July 2020

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Posted 31 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Gilford Street north from Comox

The title of this 1965 picture in the Vancouver Archives is ‘[View from Comox] Street [in the West End showing] trees’. Fortunately there hasn’t been so much change that it’s impossible to work out where, from Comox Street, the image was taken. It’s looking north on Gilford, and the Park Gilford, the 13 storey rental tower on the left, was completed in 1962.

Beyond that was a house, that is no longer standing. It was replaced in 1982 by Gilford Mews, a 15 unit strata building which we think was designed by West Coast Modern architects Robert Hassell and Barry Griblin. The decision to keep some of the landscaping means that the trees have grown much bigger over 50 years, and hide the building in summer. The townhouses went on sale in 1982, priced between $170,000 and $189,000 each. The trees today almost hide the 1959 rental building to the north; Four Winds is 10 storeys, with 37 units.

The house had first been developed in 1908, although by the 1960s it was an apartment building. We know who developed the building. Christopher W Ford obtained a permit to build a house costing $8,500, and four years later added a garage. The design of the house is similar to a number of others designed by Parr and Fee – especially the corner turret and cupola, which were a feature of Thomas Fee’s first house on Broughton Street.

C W Ford was born in Morrisburg, (now part of Dundas), Ontario in 1856. He married in 1878 and by the late 1880s he was running a general store in Morewood, Ontario. Around 1894 he sold up, and moved to Vancouver, starting as a druggist’s clerk, and living on East Hastings. He opened a grocery store in 1900, and by 1904 had moved on to manage the grocery department in Woodward’s Department Store. In 1906 he was a director of Woodwards, but was also involved in real estate with another Ontario grocer, John Jackson. He established his own real estate firm, and in 1910 he developed The Princess Rooms on Granville Street, a $55,000 project designed by Parr and Fee. Christopher and Mary Ford had three sons, Harry, Clarke and Grant. Harry became a Vancouver physician and married Georgie McMartin, from New York, and they had a daughter, Mary, in 1909. He died in Jervis Inlet in 1910 of exposure, having been separated from the hunting party he was with. Georgia and her daughter moved in with her father-in law. Clarke trained as a lawyer, but worked for a firm of safe manufacturers, and was married twice, and Grant was a dentist, marrying three times.

Christopher’s wife, Mary, died in 1912, and two years later Mr. Ford remarried to Ethel Holland, a widow, and music teacher, originally from England. They moved out of the West End to a house he had built in North Vancouver. Christopher Ford died in 1945, and Ethel in 1955.

The house was occupied for short periods by different residents until 1920, when Harold Idsardi moved in, and stayed until 1948. He was a civil engineer and land surveyor, who arrived in Vancouver in 1910 and had married Loulie Aylett K. Fitzhugh, (born in Fairfax Virginia) in Los Angeles in 1912. He managed to have a mountain, and a valley on Vancouver Island named after him. They had three sons, none of whom stayed in Vancouver. In 1949 the house was split into 8 apartments and named the Elphege Apartments, and by 1978 the building was called the John Penrice Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-48

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Posted 28 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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English Bay from Above

Here’s one of the earliest aerial images we’ve been able to match to a contemporary picture. It’s an undated image, but is likely to be from the mid 1930s. The Marine Building is the tower on the left, completed in 1930, and the new Hotel Vancouver (the third) is standing to the left of its predecessor. The second hotel was completed in 1913, abandoned as a hotel in 1939 and demolished in 1949. The structure for the new hotel was completed in 1932, although it was another seven years before it was completed internally and brought into use. We think the block to the left of the new Hotel Vancouver must be the Hotel Georgia opened in 1927. The chimney, to the right of the second hotel was the hotel’s power plant, located behind the York Hotel which was originally an annex of the second hotel, completed in 1911.

On the waterfront, next to a jetty, and before the pier, was Englesea Lodge, and across Beach Avenue just to the east is the Sylvia, which was apartments before it became a hotel. Both buildings were designed in the early 1910s by W P White, a Seattle architect. In the 1930s the residential West End started just to the west of the Hotel Vancouver, and the mix of houses and apartments reached to the edge of Stanley Park. Even Burrard Street (which didn’t lead to the bridge until it was built in 1930) was predominantly a residential street outside the commercial core.

The shorter pier, originally built in 1907, was demolished in 1938. In a 1936 letter to the Vancouver Sun, W M Elgie Bland wrote “It looks like a cheap industrial wharf landing, unsightly eye-sore, ruining the whole aspect of English Bay and the fine view of West Vancouver and the mountains. I should have thought every West End resident would have jumped for joy at the prospect of its removal, the quicker the better.” Mr. Bland didn’t mention that he lived in Englsea Lodge, so had a personal benefit from the pier’s removal. The longer pier started out as a two-storey tearoom built in 1923 on shore by Llewellyn G. Thomas, who lived with his wife in rooms below. He built a 50- foot extension in 1925 with a Winter Garden dance hall, and the next year added a pier which extended 337 feet into English Bay. Thomas sold the business in 1927, and by 1932 the operation was bankrupt. New owners added attractions; in 1937 Dal Richards and his orchestra played there every Wednesday and Saturday and in 1938 a Hammond electric organ was added to  the Winter Garden and it became a roller skating rink for the next two years. After the war Theatre Under the Stars used it as rehearsal space and offices, but by the late 1950s the pier had been removed. Local residents opposed the idea of a replacement pier in the mid 1980s.

Our before image was taken by the RCAF, and is in the University of Washington Photo Archives. The contemporary view was published by Trish Jewison on 27 September 2020, who shot it from the Global BC traffic helicopter.

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Posted 24 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized