Archive for December 2011

West Pender – 500 block (1)

We’re on West Pender Street, and on the left, before Richards Street are the offices of the Confederation Life Association. In Toronto they occupied one of the grandest buildings in the city – in Vancouver their home was much more modest. These days it’s a parking lot (for now). Phillip Timms took this 1908 image now in the Vancouver Public Library collection.

Across the street is E W Maclean’s real estate office, possibly designed in 1888 by William Blackmore for T Prest. Alternately, Fripp and Wills were commissioned to build a commercial block for J.M. Spinks, R.G. McKay and Dr. Powell in 1892 also at Pender Street at Richards, and this might be the building. (We know who developed the other three corner buildings here).

Further down on the north side were a variety of trades and offices including the fisheries inspector, and the Monte Carlo Rooms (Mrs Lambert, prop.) At 521 W Pender Belding and Paul were silk manufacturers, perhaps suppliers to their neighbours, E and S Currie, neckware manufacturers. At the end of the block Mahon, Mcfarlane and Mahon had their offices. In 1919 they complied the survey when the City considered taking over the street railway system.

More change was coming to the block soon – on the corner a new office and store was designed by W A Doctor in 1909 for Joe McDonald, who also built it. At 532 in 1909 an $11,000 building was designed and built by Michael O’Keefe for Captain Pybus, and at the end of the block the Union Bank of Canada hired Waterson & Bryson to alter an existing building in 1910. Today there’s a 1990 parkade designed by Kingsley Lo, Captain Pybus’s building still stands, as does the former Union Bank building which may be Honeyman and Curtis’s design for ‘A St George Hamersley’ (more accurately, Hammersley) from 1905.


Posted 27 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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800 Main Street

Our 1968 picture shows the first London Drugs store on the corner of Main and Union Street. The company was established by a ‘flamboyant pharmacist’, Sam Bass who started in a 1,000 sq ft space and soon expanded his chain to become market leader in the Lower Mainland by 1970. Bass sold out to a US corporation in 1968, who in turn sold to local grocery chain H Y Louie in 1976.  Soon after this picture was taken the City of Vancouver moved to replace the ageing Georgia Viaduct with a new structure, completed in 1972, which required the demolition of the entire 800 block. (seen below when construction had already started).

The drugstore building, originally designed by W F Gardiner for the National Finance Co, Ltd and built by Adkinson and Dill for $30,000 in 1909 was part of the clearance, along with the Pioneer Junk Co whose building replaced a blacksmith’s shop. If a decision is taken to replace the viaducts, no doubt this picture will change again.


West Pender and Granville – sw corner (2)

Here’s another shot a few years later of the Granville and Pender junction in a 1906 Phillip Timms image at the Vancouver Public Library. The Post Office and Customs House is still there on Pender, and there’s a new building on the corner with Granville. It was home to F W Welsh, grocers, and P Burns, butchers. Just out of shot was a building shared by a dressmaker and tailor where Emil Guenther, an architect, had his office.

The building went up in 1899, and it could be by C O Wickenden who designed a building on Pender for a Mr Tompkins that year – although nobody called Tompkins appear living on Pender in the street directory that year or in the following years. It didn’t last very long as Somervell and Putnam’s Merchants Bank (later a Bank of Montreal branch) was built in 1915, and later converted to the Segal School of Business by Simon Fraser University. Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith’s Pender Place now occupy the Post Office spot. After the Post Office operations moved out, the building became the Dominion of Canada Assay Office.


Granville north from Georgia

Here’s a shot of the 600 block of Granville Street from the corner with West Georgia seen in a 1906 Vancouver Public Library image. The traffic is still driving on the left, and way down at the end of the street you can see the Canadian Pacific station buildings. The 500 block had a variety of businesses, including some apartments just up the hill from Pender Street, the First Church of Christ Christian Science Hall and the Bank of Montreal.

The 600 block had offices occupied by several physicians, the Grotto Billiard Hall, the Simpson Block with a baker and confectioner, the Seattle Rooms and the New York Block (a very early office building developed by CP Director Sir George Stephen, and designed by New York architect Bruce Price). There were offices of tea and liquor merchants and Frances Carter-Cotton of the News-Advertiser, and closest to us the Hudson’s Bay Company store. The store was built in 1892 and designed by C O Wickenden, but it only lasted to 1925 when it was demolished and replaced by the terra-cotta covered design still there today, designed by Burke, Horwood and White. The first phase of the current building had been built in 1912 on the Seymour and Georgia corner.

The rest of the block today contains The Hudson, a massive condo building with over 400 suites and some retail space below, designed by Stantec Architecture. It incorporates the facades of the 1892 Hunter Brothers block and the BC Electric Showroom by Hodgson and Simmonds from 1928.


West Pender and Howe Street – sw corner (1)

Here’s the corner of Pender and Howe in 1947. That’s the Pender Hall upstairs, built in 1903 to the design of W T Whiteway for James Reid, who built it for $19,000. These days it’s another mid-height (15-storey) office building from 1978, designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith.

James Reid was probably Senator James Reid, born in Quebec and an early developer of Quesnel, who was a partner in the steamship Charlotte (his wife’s name), that was the only stern wheeler on the Upper Fraser River. Reid’s business also included saw and flour mills, mining operations and the main general store in Quesnel. In 1901 he moved to Vancouver, to Melville Street, aged 60, with his family including two young sons, a niece, and the family’s Chinese domestic. For no obvious reason, the 1901 and 1902 street directories show his wife as resident, a widow, but that was corrected in 1903 and 1904, when Senator Reid died, and the entry was changed again. He had been a Liberal-conservative politician, elected to represent the Cariboo in 1881, and again in 1887. He was appointed to the Senate in 1888.

In 1908 this was the building that the Federal Deputy Minister for Labour, William Lyon McKenzie King, hired for $5 a day to hold his inquiry into the anti-Asiatic riots that heard submissions for damage claims from the property owners. It was the claims for damage to opium processing facilities that led King to introduce legislation to shut the trade down in Canada – before that he didn’t know the industry existed.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N209


Dunsmuir and Howe – sw corner (1)

The passage of 120 years has seen this corner change more than once. Back in 1892 William Blackmore’s design for the Manor House Hotel had been standing for three years. The owner, Joseph Couture was living at the Hotel Vancouver in 1889 when the hotel was being built. He was almost certainly the same Joseph Couture who was living in New Westminster by 1891, born in Quebec and still single at the age of 54. The hotel was sold in 1894


Clive Woolley apparently was the successful bidder. It later became known as the Badminton Hotel, and for a while was owned by James McWhinnie who had earned his money in the timber trade, removing bark from logs. These days the site is home to the Standard Life Building, a relatively modest 14 storey office tower built in 1977 and (we think) designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P402


Posted 26 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street – 1000 block (1)

Here’s an image taken in the year the 1000 block of Granville saw more construction activity than it probably has in over a century since then. It’s 1910 and three buildings are under construction – to the north are the Glenaird Rooms, in the centre are the Albany Rooms, and closest to the photographer are the Princess Rooms. Over time they became hotels – the Glenaird, Regal and Vogue, and these days the Regal and Vogue are both low-rent single occupancy rooms while the Glenaird is the Samesun Backpackers.

Just starting construction beyond the Glenaird is the Hotel Barron – that’s now the Comfort Inn. All four buildings, like the Royal Hotel on the opposite side of the block were designed by Parr and Fee who designed about thirty different buildings on Granville Street (or perhaps, looking at the picture, the same building thirty times!)

The Glenaird was owned and built by M C Griffith, the Albany Rooms built by Peter Tardiff for W A Clark and the Princess Rooms were built by M C Griffith for C W Ford. Each cost around $50,000 to build. Today you can see three towers from different eras – in the distance is Parr and Fee’s Vancouver Block of 1912 (showing they were capable of varying their design sensibility), the Vancouver Centre tower from 1976 is in the centre and the newest is the residential Capitol Residences by Howard, Bingham Hill built on the site of the Capitol cinema on Seymour Street in 2011.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives M-11-55


Royal Hotel – Granville Street

This is the Royal Hotel on the west side of the 1000 block of Granville Street, seen here in 1929. It was built in 1911 and developed by (the Building Permit says) Dr Boyle and Lewerke. The 1911 street Directory identifies two people called Lewerke involved in real estate, Alfred and Ralph (and only three people with that name in the entire city).

Robert C Boyle is identified as a physician, living on Robson Street and with an office on West Hastings. Parr and Fee were the architects (as they were for most of Granville Street – as the post above shows). The building was built by Hemphill Brothers at a cost of $60,000 and this 1929 Vancouver Public Library image shows it was a substantial building in a block of more modest scale. A 1911 lien on the property initiated by Fred Cunningham identifies the developers as R C Boyle and John Lewerke. Mr. Lewerke was a Dutch-born logger and mill owner who had apparently left Vancouver not long before the property was developed. Alfred was his son, who was christened John, like his father, but used a different name, presumably to avoid confusion.


Posted 26 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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East Hastings and Columbia – sw corner

Here is the Empire Hotel (the second we’ve featured with that name on Hastings Street) as it looked in 1931. Now it’s addressed as 92 East Hastings Street, but it used to be known as 401-and-a-half Columbia Street.  These days it’s a smaller building, the 1961 bank that’s now occupied by Pigeon Park Savings – at least for now, as the building was recently sold. We’re not sure how old the original hotel was, but it was given a major expansion in 1906 with Parr and Fee carrying out the design work. It’s one of a number of locations around the city where the existing building is actually smaller than what used to be there.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3885


Posted 26 December 2011 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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325 Howe Street (1)

This is one of favourite views showing how things change, and yet remain unchanged (if subtly disguised!). The image on the left shows The National Finance Corporation’s reinforced concrete building reaching the end of its construction in 1911 (pictured in the Contract Record magazine). Designed by Thomas Hooper, it very clearly shows the 3-storey difference between the Hastings Street grade and the bottom of the escarpment at Coal Harbour, with the road running in the foreground down to the beach level where the rail tracks were.

Remarkably, the building still stands almost unchanged (apart from the lost cornice), although the three lower floors are now beneath the new elevated street level of West Cordova Street. The red brick building on the left is the 1913 Customs Examining Building designed by David Ewart, which since 1986 has been part of the Sinclair Centre.


Posted 26 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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