108 West Cordova Street

In 1898 the Klondike gold rush was in full swing, and having a doubly important impact on the 12 year old City of Vancouver. While successful prospectors were already returning with enough money to commission investment buildings (like Thomas Flack), Vancouver merchants were making money equipping the miners scrambling to catch the tail end of the boom. William Kerfoot ran a clothing and furnishing business with his brother-in-law James Johnston (who had married William’s sister, Deborah, in Emerson Manitoba in 1881). They opened their store in G W Grant’s 1887 Wilson Block in 1890 or 1891 (when they appear in the street directory for the first time).

Like other city businesses they quickly cashed in on the massive upsurge in demand that accompanied the would-be miners, and this 1898 image shows a mule train about to head out loaded with supplies. In the background is Dougall House, built in 1890. Today this corner of the Woodwards development, designed by Henriquez Partners, is partly occupied by the Nesters Market supermarket, part of Jimmy Pattison’s retail empire, reintroducing a food store where Woodwards Food Floor used to be.

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