Granville Street south from West Pender

We’ve seen some of the buildings here, on the eastern side of the 500 block of Granville Street in a post from a few years ago, but looking northwards and in the 1930s. This ‘before’ picture is undated, but we’re pretty certain it was shot in the early 1970s – maybe 1972 – before any street trees had been planted. When the new vertical white lights were added to Granville Street a few years ago, and the surface redesigned and replaced, this short section of street was the only one where the existing street trees were considered worthy of retention, and so a taller, more mature canopy exists here.

On the left is Somervell and Putnam’s 1916 design for the Merchant’s Bank, expanded in 1924 by the Bank of Montreal to Kenneth Guscotte Rea’s designs. More recently, in 2005, Paul Merrick designed its conversion to the Segal School of Business for Simon Fraser University.

Next door, across the lane, is an 1898 building, still standing today. Designed by GW Grant, it was built for W H Leckie and Co and occupied in part by the Imperial Bank, (although that use ended decades ago). William Henry Leckie was born in Toronto in 1874, and moved west in 1896. Although he managed the family business with his brother, Robert, only he was noted in the city’s early biography, although by the early 1900s, R J Leckie and Company also had a successful boot and shoe manufacturing business in Vancouver. Robert had arrived in 1894 to run the Vancouver branch of the business established by their father, John Leckie, who had immigrated to Canada from Scotland. He established a dry goods store in Toronto in 1857 which evolved into fishermen’s supply store, selling oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. The firm began to manufacture its own goods, and the brothers continued that expansion by not only establishing this retail and warehouse building, but also owning a tannery on the Fraser River. Later they built a much bigger factory and warehouse on Water Street.

William Leckie didn’t constrain his activities to footware; by 1913 he was a Director of the Burrard Land and Improvement Co, the Capital Hill Land Co and of the Children’s Hospital.

Next door was a two storey building, completely obscured in the 1970s, and today refaced with a contemporary frontage. Originally it was developed by Hope, Fader and Co in 1898, and designed by W T Dalton.

To the south is a third fifty feet wide building. Today it has a 1909 façade, designed by Parr and Fee for owner Harry Abbott. The building dates back to 1889, when it was designed for Abbott (the Canadian Pacific Railway official in charge of the west coast) by the Fripp Brothers.

While the collection of buildings has retained the same scale for over a century, rumours suggest a development may see a new office tower that would retain two original heritage buildings facades.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-455

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219 and 221 Union Street

These two houses were built on Barnard Street, and demolished many years later on Union Street – (The street name was switched in 1911). The pink house on the left may be the older – there’s a house shown in the same position on an 1889 insurance map, and initially not numbered, although James Brooking was shown living here in 1890. A year later the compilers of the directory got thoroughly confused, listing the street as Bernard Street, and putting even numbered properties on the north side (which wasn’t generally the case). By 1894 they had that sorted out, and the numbering showed 213 Barnard on the left, vacant. and 215 Barnard on the right occupied by Sid and Levie Henry. A year later W T Farrall was in 213 and Amos Schorf in 215.

In 1896 John Rowell was at 213, and John Allen at 215. The regular occupancy changers suggests these were initially rented rather than owner occupied properties. For a number of years 213 disappeared completely, and the original house may have been demolished, or abandoned, but by 1901 that address was shown occupied by James Hogg, a teamster, then Robert Hogg, a laundryman a year later. The Hogg family are shown in the census; Robert was shown as a laundryman. The street directory said he worked for the Dominion Steam Laundry (which was on Powell Street). Before he moved to Barnard he was living on East Cordova. In 1901 he was shown aged 23 living with his wife Sarah, who was three years older. They were both from Ireland, and had arrived in Canada in 1899.

John Allen, now identified as a teamster, was still at 215. He was from Ontario, and was aged 50 in 1901. He had two daughters living at home with him, Bessie, who was 16, and Mary, 14. In 1903 number 213 became 219 with Robert Hogg still in residence, and John Allen still living next door, now numbered as 221. The Allens would stay at 215 for several more years, but the Hogg family moved out, replaced by Thomas Parry. The Parry family were from Wales, and all arrived in 1907, and this seems to have been their first home in Vancouver. Thomas was aged 45, and worked as a checker. His wife Alice was the same age, and their were four children at home aged between 15 and 21. Son Richard was a salesman, his sister, Mary, a bookkeeper, and the other two daughters, Dorothy and Gladys were all listed as ‘saleslady’. Gladys worked at David Spencer’s store – and it’s possible the other family members may have worked there too, as Spencer was also from Wales.

In 1911 John Allen was recorded by the census aged 55, and he now had a French born wife, Mary, 10 years younger. His daughters were no longer at home, but there were a lot of people sharing the house. Alex, James and Barney Paul, were roomers, and so too were Thomas Newland, James Watson and Alex Lambert. Lambert was the odd man out – he was English, and a prospector. The other lodgers were all Scottish, and all but one teamsters, like their host.

That year Barnard Street became Union Street, supposedly to avoid the potential confusion with Burrard Street. It nearly changed again seven years later when an Alderman proposed it should become Victory Street – but that change wasn’t supported. Why it got the name Union Street is unknown.

Over the years many other families occupied the houses, and the area changed character. Across the lane to the west a house that had been built in the early 1900s became a café – Vie’s Cafe, run by Vie Moore who was part of the city’s small black community, concentrated nearby including across the street to the south along Hogan’s Alley. The houses in our picture were however occupied in the mid 1950s by Chinese families; Lee Woo at 219 and Wong Hee Mun at 221. In fact, apart from a few commercial operations, this stretch of Union Street was predominantly Chinese.

Our before image dates from the 1970s, although it is wrongly identified as being Main Street in the Archives description. The site was cleared in the early 2000s, and in 2010 V6A was completed, a nine storey condo with retail along the street, including the Union Café that occupies the site of these houses.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-355

Posted February 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Callister Block, 30 West Cordova Street

The Callister Block, to the right, is the newest structure in this picture. The Dunn-Miller Block to the east was completed in 1889, and the McIntosh Block to the west, completed soon after. (The part of the Dunn-Miller block seen on the left of this image became a hotel in 1907, the Crown Hotel. Clarke and Stewart, stationers, occupied the main floor. in earlier years. It’s possible that Mr. Callister hired N S Hoffar to design the building.

John Callister arrived in Vancouver in April 1885, settled in the town of Granville, and a year later lost everything he owned in the fire that destroyed the city. He was born in Ballaugh in the Isle of Man and emigrated to the States and was a builder in Chicago and San Franscisco. In 1891 he was aged 40, a carpenter and builder. He never married, and was sufficiently successful to part own the Ellesmere Rooms in 1887, and to build this building around 1890. The earliest tenant on the main floor was L Davis, who ran a clothes house here in 1891. It appears the upper floors were initially a hotel, the Dufferin House, run by Miss Kearns.

For a few years the main floor were occupied by a furniture store owned by Sehl Hastie and Erskine Co, employing a cabinetmaker and an upholsterer, and by 1895 C Hach, who took over the business and also lived here. James Stark had his dry goods store here in 1898, moving on to new premises in 1904, replaced by Alexander Ross and Co, another dry goods merchant. Upstairs James Thomson & Sons were manufacturers agents for Stewart & McDonald of Glasgow, but in 1908 they moved to Water Street and two unions moved in: the Brotherhood of Painters Decorators and Paperhangers, and the Lathers Union.

A couple of years later they were replaced by the Apostolic Faith Mission from 1913 until around 1935. The other tenant was the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labour union started in Chicago and often referred to as ‘The Wobblies’. In 1912, when Vancouver authorities tried to ban street demonstrations, the Wobblies started and won a spectacular free-speech fight. Still operating today, the IWW’s website notes that “After building mass workers’ power, the arrival of the First World War saw the IWW declared a banned organization by the Government of Canada from 1918 until 1923, which debilitated the union for many years afterwards”.

The building was purchased by the Army & Navy Store in 1960. Initially it was used as the Outdoor Store (seen in this 1965 W E Graham photograph), but a remodeling of the building in the 1970s saw it incorporated into the main retail store, with new construction behind the preserved facades.

John Callister, seen here in the early 1900s, didn’t live in the city. He acquired land and built his home in a forested area covering about three blocks in 1904 at Hastings Townsite, some kilometers to the east, across from today’s PNE location. Upon his death Callister, a bachelor, left his property to two nieces. One of the sisters died and Mrs. Ada M. Stevenson inherited all of the property.

In 1920, sports promoter and tobacconist Con Jones entered into an agreement to purchase “lot 5, Town of Hastings, Suburban Lands” for $10,000 from Stevenson. According to the Vancouver city archives only three payments of $1,000 were made. In the space of a year, Jones supervised the building of a grandstand and field and Con Jones Park opened in 1921. Later the field was acquired by the City of Vancouver, and renamed as Callister Park.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-55 and Port P600

Posted February 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Burrard Street – 1200 block, north side (2)

We saw a different angle of this block in a much earlier post, as it appeared in 1914. Then the road was barely paved, and there were houses running down the hill beyond the three storey Burrard Court, built in 1911 by R Y Blackhall and designed for him by R V Pushaw, (who was also really a builder rather than an architect). Although Mr. Blackhall was identified in the 1911 census as a builder, he doesn’t appear to have obtained any permits to build anything except for himself. In 1910 Robert Blackhall was already shown as involved in real estate, rather than construction. He was aged 40, born in Caraquet, New Brunswick, like his wife Annie (born in Dalhousie Parish in Restigouche County). He hadn’t been in Vancouver for many years, as his daughters, aged 9 and 11 had also been born there.

While many abandoned the real estate business during and after World War I, Robert continued, partnering with Alexander Muir during the early 1920s, with offices on West Pender. By 1930 he was living in an apartment building on E 10th Avenue, and appears to have retired. Robert was nearly 80 when he died in 1949; Annie had died in 1923 aged 60. Burrard Court was replaced by Milano, a Paul Merrick designed condo building, completed in 1999.

On the corner of Davie Street today is the last operational gas station in the entire Downtown peninsula – and reported to have been sold for future redevelopment. Once upon a time there were at least 99 gas bars Downtown – including another immediately across Davie Street. Our 1981 image shows an earlier version of the Esso station here; the current version was built in 1995. Before the gas station was built there were stores with apartments above. In 1958 Cunningham Drugs occupied the corner store, as we saw in an earlier post.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W18.04

Posted February 4, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s).

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

835 Beatty Street

In July 1911, the ‘Contracts Record’ publication announced that “Plans have been prepared by Wright, Rushforth & Cahill, 709 Dunsmuir, street, for a 6-storey mill constructed warehouse building to be erected on Beatty street, at a cost of $60,000, by the Anglo-American Warehouse Co. Tenders closed July 8th.” The architects were from San Francisco, but had opened a Vancouver office, and won a few commissions; one for a substantial West End apartment building, and a few houses. This was their first (and as far as we can see) only commercial building in Vancouver. Either the publication was badly advised, or the plans were very quickly altered. That same month the building permit was issued, designed by the same architects, but for a 2-storey brick warehouse costing $30,000 for the Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company. As the company name was recorded inaccurately, it seems possible that the magazine (with a Winnipeg publisher and a Toronto head office) got the other details wrong as well.

Even reduced in scale, the market conditions of the early 1910s proved problematic, and the building didn’t appear in the street directories until 1914. William Napier Tofft was managing the warehouse business, and living in North Vancouver. He was born in Canterbury, in Kent, in 1878, and was still living in England in 1911, although he was shown as emigrating to Quebec City in 1907. We know he married Janet Thomas, and had at least two daughters, Joyce and Sybil, both of whom later married in California. William died in North Vancouver in 1968, and Janet in 1971. In the 1920s Mr Tofft was a manufacturer’s agent, and was briefly in partnership as Tofft & Peck with Tobias Lane Peck.

Harry Burritt Devine took over at Anglo-Canadian in the mid 1920s. He was Canadian, born in Vancouver in 1893. His father, also Harry, was English, Born in Manchester in 1865, but had arrived in Canada in 1884. He worked in Brandon, Manitoba as a photographer, becoming partners with J.A. Brock and coming to Vancouver together in 1886. The partnership dissolved a year later and Harry continued work as a photograph until 1889. He worked for ten years for the City of Vancouver as an assessment commissioner, but resumed work as a photographer, and was still recorded in that profession in the 1901 census. Some of the city’s most memorable images were taken by Mr. Devine, including one showing City Council holding a meeting in front of a tent “City Hall” and the ‘Real estate office in big tree’. He ran a successful real estate and insurance business in Vancouver, and died in 1938. In the 1920s both father and son lived near Deer Lake in Burnaby. H B Devine married Annie, from Liverpool, in 1920, and continued to run Anglo-Canadian until the mid 1930s. He stayed living in Burnaby, moving on to represent Ensign Products. His wife died in 1951, and when Harry himself died in 1973, in Langley, he had remarried to Dorothy.

Anglo-Canadian was known not just for the storage warehouse, but also for the cartage business, operating some of the city’s largest trucks and able to transport large items, like steel girders.

The trucks, and the company’s annual staff outing and picnic (seen on the right) were both recorded in photographs taken in 1925 and held by the City Archives.

By the late 1930s the building was occupied by a manufacturers agent, General Foods, and Coast Wholesale Grocers. A decade later Kraft Foods were using the entire warehouse, and in 1955 Pioneer Envelopes were here. By 1985 when our main image was taken there was a Design studio upstairs, a hairdresser, and Omni Glass, specializing in stained glass. Corporate Expositions Group were the most prominent tenant. Today there’s a law office upstairs, a gymnastics studio, a pet store and a ticket agency. It’s likely that a future development will add further office floors over the existing building.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 790-1839 and CVA 99-1311

Posted January 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Credit Foncier – West Hastings Street

This elegant office tower was built in 1913, at the tail end of a wave of new office buildings that saw the Downtown office area expand westwards from the area where the city had been founded. Costed at $350,000 the building permit (and the heritage plaque on the building) suggests it was designed by H L Stevens and Co for Credit Foncier Franco Canadian. The architects were from the US, based in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, and were known there for their hotel designs. They established an office in Vancouver around 1911, and designed several buildings, mostly offices, in the next two years as the city’s economy boomed. The Vancouver office employed a structural engineer as well as architect J Glenn Day, with Theo F Moorhead as the resident partner. However, the Contracts Record magazine in 1913 clarified that they were the contracting architects, and the design was by Barott Blackader & Webster, of Montreal.

A later entry in 1913 noted “This building is of reinforced concrete construction and the exterior will be finished with cut stone and terra cotta surmounted by a copper cornice. In the interior the floors will all be finished with rock maple. Marble wainscotting and terrazzo floors will be placed in the corridors. All the offices with the exception of those to be occupied by the Credit Foncier will be finished in oak. Mahogany will be used in finishing the quarters of the Credit Foncier. The Durham system of plumbing will be. installed throughout the entire building. Three passenger elevators will be at the service of the tenants. One of these elevators will be geared to carry 5,000 pounds weight. The plans for this building were prepared by H. L. Stevens & Company, Vancouver, in co-operation with Messrs. Barrott, Blackader & Webster, architects, of Montreal. Construction work is being carried on by H. L. Stevens & Company.” Construction had reached the 2nd floor by August 1913, had topped out in this December image, and the building was completed and occupied by May 1914.

Credit Foncier was a European funded mortgage lender. Headquartered in Quebec, the Annual Meeting took place in Paris as most of the company shares were in the hands of French, Swiss and Dutch shareholders. Founded in 1880, in 1979 a Moncton lawyer and Montreal investor tried to take control of the business, only to be thwarted by the Province of Quebec, who instead permitted the sale of the business to the Montreal City and District Savings Bank. The Corporation was finally dissolved in 1995, but fortunately the building lives on as office suites, now overshadowed by the Jameson House condo, office and retail tower completed in 2011. Our Vancouver Public Library image shows the building in 1927.

Image source: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives M-14-85