The Railway Club – Dunsmuir and Seymour

Harry Jones

In 1903 Mrs Thrythall was listed in the Building Permit Register owner, architect and developer of a frame store and dwelling at the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour. Her husband, William, was one of the earlier printers in the city, setting up shop in 1888 with his son, also called William. The 1903 insurance map shows the corner developed with a printers office (electric motor) with offices above. The additions seem to have been further east, along Dunsmuit Street. The family name is recorded as both Thrythall and Trythall, so there’s some confusion, but Trythall seems to be correct. The company was still operating from the Seymour address in 1920, although a year later they have moved to Homer Street. Most history associated with the family is connected to Mt Trythall’s cabin, halfway up Grouse Mountain – when a climb to the summit took three days to accomplish.

By the mid 1920s when this picture is thought to have been taken a new building had been erected. It’s identified by the City Archives as the Lawsen Building – although there don’t seem to be any residents of the city called Lawsen in the late 1920s or early 1930s. The street directory called it the Laursen Building. Viggo Laursen was already an important resident in the 1910s, solicitor to BC Electric, and it would seem likely that his family name was associated with the building. In 1927 he was living in West Point Grey, and was still solicitor to BC Electric; he was born in Denmark but had arrived in 1893 with his parents, John and Mary, joining his brother, Otto, a plumber, who had arrived two years earlier.

The building permit dates from 1920, although it doesn’t tell us who the architect was. It was built at a cost of $15,000 by Baynes and Horie for H A Jones. Harry Jones ran his real estate agency from the building (addressed as 592 Seymour) in 1922; another tenant was his son, Harold Jones, who was a manufacturer’s agent selling wire rope. In 1922 Harold lived on Trimble Street, but a year earlier in the 1921 Directory he was living at 590 Seymour, where Harry is shown living in the 1921 census, having moved from Cordova the year before. He was shown married to Madge, 20 years younger, and born in Norway. He didn’t occupy his offices here for very long, as he died in California in 1923. We’ve written more about Harry in other posts: he developed an earlier building in 1893 on East Hastings, and another around 1899 on West Hastings. He also founded the Vancouver Tugboat Company in 1898.

By 1932 The Railway Club began as a members only card club for railway workers. Known initially as the Railwaymen’s Club, it was one of many membership only workingman clubs opened in the city after prohibition was lifted. The club occupied space once occupied by the European Concert Cafe on the upper floors of the Laursen Building. The club operated with a rare “red circle” license where card clubs like the Marine Club and Logger’s Social Club were given a choice by the government, stop the cards or the sale of liquor. In 2012 when we posted this, the Railway Club still operated as a bar and live music venue with one of the most eclectic selections of music in the city. Sadly it closed a couple of years later.

Picture source, City of Vancouver Archives, 1927? Bu N350 (identified as the Lawsen Building)

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Posted September 1, 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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