Innes-Thompson Block – West Hastings Street

Across the street from the Thompson Ogle Building (as it was known in 1901, although it appears to have been developed by Innes and Richards), C O Wickenden designed a commercial building in 1889. It was a three bay building, mixing stone and red brick with a complex pattern under the cornice. The building stood for over a century before being demolished – here it is in 1981, dwarfed by the Standard Building next door. (And hasn’t that tree grown well in 30 years?)

The ‘Vancouver World’ published a supplement in 1890 which managed to illustrate it as the Innes-Thompson Block, and confusingly then refer to it in print as the Innes-Townley Block. F C Innes was undoubtedly one half of the development team. Like other important Vancouver developers R V Winch, G E Bower and Walter Gravely, Innes was a native of Cobourg in Ontario. He arrived in Vancouver in 1884 and teamed up in 1887 with Stephen O Richards (of Toronto) to operate one of the most dynamic real estate, insurance and brokerage firms in the city. Innes was third in line when the sale of Canadian Pacific lots was first offered. An 1890 profile said “They own and control some of the most desirable property in the city”. In 1888 he hired N S Hoffar to design a house on Hastings at Burrard.

We are no further forward in positively identifying the Thompson – if there was a Thompson associated with this building – than we were with the block across the street. However, circumstantially Philip Nairn Thompson looks a likely contender here too; In 1896 Captain P Thompson occupied an office at 512 West Hastings (part of the Innes-Thompson Block) with prominent architect W T Dalton. If Innes partnered with a Townley, J W Townley, superintendent of the CPR in Vancouver is perhaps the more likely candidate.

The building was not demolished until 1993, making way for the Delta Suites hotel in a massive project designed by Aitken Wriglesworth that included Conference Plaza and the retention of the Bank of Toronto next door, later to become the Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1311


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