Tunstall Block – Dunsmuir and Granville – nw corner

Dr Simon Tunstall was born in Quebec, in 1852, qualified as a doctor at McGill University and moved to British Columbia in 1881. After practising in Lytton and Kamloops he moved to Vancouver in 1892 with his wife and family and seems to have gained a  favourable reputation which would extend to international recognition; when the American Medical Association met in Boston in 1906 Dr Tunstall was identified in the Boston press as a ‘distinguished visitor’ of the Association, and he presided at the Canadian Medical Association meeting in Vancouver in 1904.

In March 1902 G W Grant obtained a building permit worth $1,600 to build the foundation for a building on Granville Street for Dr Tunstall, and two months later another permit worth $22,000 to build a ‘stone and brick store’ which was built by D Saul. This is what’s shown in the image below; a three storey building on the north west corner of Dunsmuir and Granville. In 1909 Dr Tunstall spent a further $20,000 on adding to the building, Dissette and Dean carrying out the work and Grant again designing the building, by this time in partnership with Henderson. We think that may have been an additional along Dunsmuir Street.

Vancouver Archives identify the date of the image as between 1913 and 1920, but in 1912 an extra two floors were added at a cost of $42,000. The VPL image above from 1927 shows the completed building at five storeys.

Dr. Tunstall also had Grant and Henderson design a house for him on 5th Avenue in 1911, but it was for one of his five daughters, rather than for his own use.

In the early years of its existence the Tunstall Block’s tenants were (not surprisingly) doctors, including a husband and wife chiropractic team. The building was rebuilt as a 2-storey building in 1960, and then replaced again by the northern block of the Pacific Centre Mall, designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership and not completed until 1990. In 2007 the corner of the block had a radical redesign by Janson Goldstein of New York for the new Holt Renfrew store, incorporating panels of slumped glass in the design.

Image source: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 660-326


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