929 Westminster Avenue (Main Street)

Initially we thought this must be where the Cobalt Hotel is today – the number on Main Street is nearly right, and the gap through to the yard looks just like that on the Cobalt -one of the few city hotels that still has an archway though to the ‘stables’ behind – although as the Cobalt is a 1912 building it was probably through to the parking. However, we were fooled by a renumbering on the street, and these two building stood further to the south of Westminster Avenue. Seen here in 1895, soon after the second buildings were completed, they were a feed store owned for several years by R V Palmer. The story of his arrival can be found in ‘Early Vancouver’, the City of Vancouver history compiled by Major Matthews. It’s well worth searching out, telling the story of his walking to Vancouver from Stoney Creek in 1885 with several hundred dollars sewn into his clothing, avoiding the Revelstoke gamblers. That’s the edge of Mr Palmer’s house at 931 Westminster on the left of the picture. As well as the feed store Mr Palmer operated as a teamster – he started hauling wood for the mill in 1886. At the back of the two buildings was a wharf – False Creek used to reach right up to this part of Westminster Avenue, and the street was a promontory that led to the bridge south to Mount Pleasant.

The building had been increased in size in the same year that the picture above was taken. This slightly earlier picture shows half an archway through to the yard at the back of the buildings. It also looks as if the house might have just been moved a bit further south when the expansion took place. The Palmer Brothers are still at the same address in 1910, but in the contracting business, as they were in 1920. Today the site is part of the Citygate project, and this part of Main Street has a non-market housing co-op designed by Gomberoff Bell Lyon and completed a decade ago.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2243



Posted February 18, 2012 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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