The building on the right of this 1981 image is also on our previous image. It dates from the mid 1950s, although that might have been a refurbishment of a $10,000 building designed and built by Bedford Davidson for the Pioneer Auto & Carriage Company in 1920. They were a firm of auto body builders run my William Alexander, Michael McLean and William Benson, and seem to have developed from the Pioneer Carriage and Shoeing Co, shifting from horses to horseless carriages.
The decorative building to the north was built in 1913, a $30,000 office and store designed by W F Gardiner for the North West Trust Co., Ltd. It too was part of Vancouver’s expansive motordom, occupied initially with the showrooms of the Albion Motor Co, (a Scottish vehicle manufacturer), the Albion Motor Express and the United Auto Agency of BC offices.
Off in the distance on the left is the first building on the block, the Pioneer Steam Laundry, built in 1908 and still standing today. While the steam laundry building remains, the rest of the block here is taken up by The Savoy, a 2000 condo tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng + Wright.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.11
This view of the east side of the 900 block of Richards dates from 1981, when the Downtown South commercial area comprised modest and generally unremarkable one and two storey buildings. There’s one exception in this image; the single storey structure in the centre of the picture started life as a “nondescript office-cum-warehouse” according to Exploring Vancouver 2, but in 1975 it was given a new life as the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Dalla-Lana/Griffin were the architects of the conversion.
Across Nelson Street were the almost windowless studios of CFOX (which had morphed from CKLG a couple of years earlier). CKLG became Canada’s first full-time FM rock music station in 1968.
In 2006 Tribeca Lofts replaced the AIBC building, with 52 condos in an 8-storey building designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright. To the north, on the left of the image, where Hudson Optical and British Columbia Industries operated in 1981, The Savoy, a 30-storey tower designed by Howard, Bingham, Hill was completed in 2000, while C-Fox (and the building’s resident mouse population – noted by former radio station staff) were replaced in 2003 by The Gallery, a 23 storey tower, also designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.12
We’ve looked at both the buildings flanking this modest 2-storey structure in earlier posts. 322 Water Street, to the left was designed by Townsend and Townsend in 1912, while 342 Water on the right dates from 1899 and was designed by William Blackmore for John Burns. The retail arcade building in the centre also dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, which presumably explains its name as the Homer Street Arcade.
As we noted in an earlier post, the Thompson Bros were really the Thomson Bros; listed as James A and M P Thomson who ran their stationers business from 325 West Hastings. An 1896 Auditor General’s Report noted that the company could be up to five years late in paying for publications they had sold on the government’s behalf; the report shows they also traded in Calgary.
Somehow the 1911 Census seems to have missed James (or we can’t find him), but Melville P(atrick) Thomson was living at 1215 Cardero, aged 51 with his wife Louise and their son, Melville F(itzGerald) Thomson who the street directory tell us was working for the Dominion Trust. Two more sons, George (a bookkeeper) and Donald were at home, as well as daughters Nora and Marcella, as well as a niece, A Finkueneisel, and their domestic. Melville senior was born in Ontario, while Louise was French. Louise seems to have been a second marriage for Melville; in 1888 he married Marcella Fitzgerald in Esquimalt. Melville died in 1944 aged 84, when he was living in Oliver. His death certificate says his wife was Marie Louise Kern, and that they had moved to the town in 1924. He had lived in BC since 1887, and we’re pretty certain he was born in Erin, in Wellington, Ontario, and that his brother James was three years older. The directory says that in 1910 James A Thomson was living at 1238 Cardero, so across the street from his brother.
The photograph shows the businesses located on Cordova Street included G.R. Gregg and Co. Ltd., The Borden, and Richardson Jensen Ltd. Ships’ Chandlers. The businesses in the Arcade were addressed from Cordova Street; The Borden was actually the The Borden Milk Co (so not a bar, despite the name). The heritage description for The Arcade says “The covered passage, with shops on both sides, served the bustling community with commercial and retail services.” In reality there was very little, if any retail – the building was full of commercial offices and some pretty specialized services. Here’s the complete list of businesses in 1914: Robt D Dickie – com agt, Alex Smith – accordion pleater, Searson & Russell – whol men’s furngs, Mendelson Bros – whol silks, A Olmstead Budd – produce broker, Walter D Frith – mdse broker, M B Steele – mdse broker, Hayward McBain & Co Ltd – com agents, corn, Dan Stewart – tailor (workroom), Hugh Lambie – com agt, Chas Schenk – tailor, Produce Distributers Ltd, Successful Poultryman, Excelsior Messengers, BC Assn of Stationary Engineers and Sandison Bros – mfrs agts.
During the 1970s the building was spruced up, with odd details that included facemasks of the entrepreneurs responsible for the revival of Gastown in the 1970’s. In recent years there have been a number of restaurants in this location, renamed Le Magasin, most recently the short-lived Blacktail. No doubt another concept will pop up soon.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-1
This small wooden building only lasted at most 14 years before it was redeveloped, but the replacement has managed to remain for 116 years so far. This picture of Charles Anderson’s store is thought to date from between 1892 and 1895. It’s certainly no later than 1899 when the current building was constructed by McDowell, Atkins & Watson and soon occupied by Stark’s Glasgow House. The new building was one of J E Parr’s first in the city (whether with or without Thomas Fee) and features a series of cast iron windows between brick piers.
Chas Anderson was a wholesale and retail grocery, fruit and fish merchant in 1891. Fortunately for historical research purposes, it looks as if he stayed in the city, switching to becoming a fish curer in 1896. He still had that job in 1901, when the census reveals that he was Scottish, arriving in Canada in 1891 with his wife Margaret and their two year old daughter, also called Margaret. By 1901 she was 12, and had two younger sisters, Jessie and Helen. That’s quite likely to be a young Margaret with her father in the picture, which would suggest it was taken closer to 1892 than 1895. Charles and Margaret had her parents living with them as well, John and Isabella Nicol, who were in their early 60s.
Charles continued to cure fish in the city for many years; his premises were at 1547 Main in 1919, when he registered a new Ford Truck (an event recorded in the British Columbia Record), and he was manager of Chas Anderson Fish Curing Co. In 1922 he gave evidence to the British Columbia Fisheries Commission on the state of the fishing industry. We can trace where Charles and his family were living before they moved to Canada: in 1917 his daughter Margaret Isabella married William Oswald, also a Scot. Her marriage record tells us that she had been born in Banffshire, Scotland. Margaret died in 1970, aged 81, still living in Vancouver.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P512
Here’s the same street that we looked at in the previous post just fourteen years later (in 1902). There’s been extraordinary change in that relatively short period. On the extreme right hand edge McDowell, Atkins and Watson have had John Parr design a building that’s still there today (as the Cambie Hostel and bar). Next door is a building from 1888, occupied here by James Rae’s boot and shoe store, that had been built in time to show up in the previously posted 1888 image.
There’s a two storey building next to the telegraph pole that also pre-dates 1888; next door is a 2-bay building that was built in 1889, the Grant Block at 148 Cordova. Beyond that is the building designed in 1887 by T C Sorby for the Hudson’s Bay Company – although by the time this picture was taken they had already moved up to a new Granville Street location.
Towards the end of the block (about where the Woodwards pedestrian bridge crosses the street these days) McLellan and McFeely, who would later build some impressive warehouse buildings, built premises for themselves on Cordova in 1891. The Daily World reported “This is one of the most enterprising firms in the city, as well as being the leading in its line. They are wholesale and retail dealers in and carry a complete assorted stock of hardware, paints and oils mantles, grates and tiling, gas fixtures and lamp goods, plumbers and tinners’ supplies, stoves and house furnishings, and are manufacturers of galvanised iron cornices, hot air furnaces, ate. They also do plumbing and gas fitting. The building they occupy, at 122 Cordova street, is owned and was built by the firm and is two stories in height, each floor ’25 x 132 feet.”
We’ve looked at the buildings on the left in an earlier post: the Wetham block built in 1888, designed by N S Hoffar and the Savoy Hotel, built as the Struthers Block, which was completed in 1889 and also designed by N S Hoffar.
Today it’s a virtually windowless telecoms hub, while on the right the Woodwards development with its 43 storey tower has transformed the neighbourhood.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2 – 143
We looked at this block (the 100 block) of Cordova looking east before, but that was looking at the north side of the street. This shows the south side, and this Vancouver Public Library picture is said to be from 1888, just two years after a fire destroyed the city and everything on Cordova Street. Cordova was rapidly being redeveloped as one of the most important commercial streets in the city (at the time), although this part of the street was still emerging, falling roughly half way between the C P Railway’s ‘new city centre’ at Granville Street and the original city centre which started as the Old Granville Townsite to the east around Maple Tree Square.
On the right are some of the fast-built wooden buildings that were created to accommodate the trade of the recovering and rapidly expanding city. Some of them lasted only a handful of years, including the offices of Douglas and Hargraves, the real estate agents on the far right-hand edge of the picture. That building, with the three to the east were redeveloped by 1899 by McDowell, Atkins & Watson designed by J A Parr – either with his partner Thomas Fee or just possibly Samuel McClure, and a few years later occupied by Stark’s Glasgow House (later the Carleton Hotel and today the Cambie Hostel).
To the east there’s a decorative 2-storey building, recently completed in this picture. So far we have failed to identify either the architect or the developer of that building.
Down the street, after a gap, is another new 2-storey brick building. That one we have been able to identify – it’s the first of two almost identical structures, also built in 1889. Robert Grant, who developed one (and possibly both) structures was a Scotsman who in partnership with Henry Arkell sold groceries, dry goods, hardware boots and shoes from just before the fire of 1886. Like many pioneers he had moved on to work in real estate by 1891, and was elected an Alderman five times between 1899 and 1905. He died in Los Angeles in 1930. His nephew, Major J R Grant was engineer for the Burrard Bridge.
Beyond the next gap are the twin peaked gables of the new Hudson’s Bay store designed by T C Sorby. Our earlier post shows it in greater detail.
In 1912 J M McLuckie obtained a permit for a $41,000 5-storey warehouse that he designed and built. On the permit it was shown shown at 1106 Helmcken, but we’re almost certainly it was really this building; 1106 Mainland Street. It was developed by Kelly, Douglas & Co, and the building here was initially used by the Kelly Confectionary Co, a company created by Robert Kelly. He was the son of an Irish tailor and was born in Ontario. He travelled to Vancouver in 1886, but finding things a bit slow, moved south and managed a general store and telegraph office in McPherson, just south of Los Angeles.
Kelly returned to Vancouver in 1887 and established a wholesale fruit and provision business with William McMillan on Water Street. Two years later he became a travelling salesman for Oppenheimer Brothers, leaving the job in 1895 and teaming up with William Braid to form Braid, Kelly and Company, wholesale grocers specializing in tea and coffee. Business was good, but the partnership lasted less than a year as Kelly’s loud style didn’t work with Braid’s more conservative approach to business.
Frank Douglas from Lachute, Quebec arrived in Vancouver in 1896. Douglas would be described a few months later by the Vancouver Daily World as “an able and progressive business man.” Despite their differing personalities, the pair created Kelly, Douglas and Company, wholesale grocers and tea importers. The firm prospered, helped by the Liberal political connections that Kelly established. Douglas spent each summer visiting the Klondike to meet clients and secure orders; he was on one of these trips in 1901 when the Islander, the steamer on which he was travelling, hit an iceberg and sank in Lynn Canal, Alaska. Kelly continued running the business, and Douglas’s brother became a partner a few years later.
The company’s Nabob brand was registered in 1905 and soon became known for the high-quality pre-packaged teas and coffees that are still sold, (these days as part of Kraft Foods). In 1906 the firm built a huge nine-storey warehouse on Water Street.
The Kelly Confection Company Limited was established that year to market confectioneries, and business was good enough for the firm to require its own warehouse, built in the area now known as Yaletown, that the CPR released a couple of years earlier. By 1941, as this VPL image shows, the Mainland Street warehouse was being used by Kelly Douglas for their Nabob branded foods. As in our 1970s image there was a smaller 2-storey building next door; that was replaced in 1989 with a new ‘heritage style’ office building that looks like a former warehouse.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-813