The Stock Exchange Building – 144 West Hastings

J S Helyer and Son were the architects of the Dominion Building, completed in 1910. A year earlier another office tower was completed to their design on West Hastings, within sight of the Dominion construction, and next door to the Province Building. The Stock Exchange Building was an 8 storey steel-framed building on a 25 foot wide lot, costing $75,000 to build.

In 1910 it was already full, with the offices occupied by financial agents, stock brokers, Securities Companies, and on one sixth of one floor, the Vancouver Stock Exchange. The Province had a couple of offices on the second floor, along with the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, among others. Higher up the building, among the various other financial and real estate offices were architects W Marwell Somervell on the fourth floor (called Somerwell in the directory of the day) and Campbell and Bennett two floors higher. They shared the floor with a timber company and the Giant Powder Co. On the top floor Coughlin and Co, Structural Steel had an office (but not the contract for the building, which went to Smith and Sherborne) as well as J S Helyer and Co – who could see their newly emerging tower from this one.

Five years later almost every company had changed – except the Vancouver Stock Exchange. The architects had gone, but P S Combs and Son, architects had moved in, and M D Campbell, architect had moved to the fifth floor. On the top floor Braunton and Leibert had replaced the Helyers. In the 1920s the arcade retail store took over the main floor, and the building next door, and the elaborate arched entrance was lost.  By the 1930s it was called the Ray Building, the offices were a much broader range of professions with a number of doctors, but almost no financial or real estate companies, and no architects at all.

In 1956 ‘Handsome Harry’ Hooper, Vancouver’s first cab driver (owner of a ‘wheezy two-cylinder Ford’ in 1903) died, aged 81, while living in his ‘office’ in the building. His residential use of the building pre-dated its official conversion to Single Room Occupancy in 1984, and improvement (by adding bathrooms and kitchens to each unit) to non-market housing (now called Regal Place) in 2000. Still in need of some external tlc, (and its fabulous lost cornice) the building functions as a significant slender beacon on the street.

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