Klondike Hotel – Carrall Street

Here’s the Blarney Stone (today’s name) as it was 99 years ago, by then called the Klondike Hotel and run by John Corrella (who seemed to be called Carralli in 1905, and while still in the building, was a tailor). In 1912 when the picture was taken it was already nearly 25 years old, having been built in 1889 as the Town and Robinson Block. We have featured a number of buildings designed by C O Wickenden – almost all of them now gone. This is one of the rare survivors, built by McGhie and McLuckie at two storeys, matching the other three buildings on the block (The AbramsGlory Hotel and Ferguson Blocks). (For some strange reason there’s a suggestion it was originally four storeys – there’s no evidence that it was ever bigger or any different from the building we see today).

Town and Robinson were almost certainly Henry Town and Isaac Robinson; both from England, and in Isaac’s case, as far as we can tell, never a Canadian resident. They developed several other properties including hotels on both Abbott and Water Street. The Daily World tells us Isaac Robinson was also a director of the Vancouver City Land Company, while Henry Town was of Arkley House, High Barnet. Both men were involved in a syndicate called the Vancouver Land Securities Corporation. Henry, who made his money in South Africa from diamonds, was married to the sister of prominent Vancouver realtors and developers the Rand Brothers, (from Nova Scotia) and towards the end of the 19th Century moved to the city.

In 1889 the insurance map identifies it as having a vacant unit in the north half, and a crockery store to the south. Later it clearly incorporated the Klondike Hotel (visible in the 1913 picture) although in 1901 the Klondike is shown (both on maps and in the directory) as being in the Abrams Block to the south. In 1901 the Town and Robinson building was called the King’s Hotel – by 1978 that name had moved back to the Abrams Block to the south. So basically the Klondike and Kings Hotel names appear to switch between the two adjacent buildings over the years. We don’t know if that actually happened, or the directory staff used the hotel bars to refresh themselves at the expense of accuracy.

Over the years the tenants changed many times. In 1895 Mrs Sarah Gorman, a nurse, lived in the building and Creamer and Langley operated a plumbing supply business. Once it became the Klondike (almost always listed in the directory as the Klondyke), it stayed under that name for many years. By 1925 Angelo Pallazzo had a tobacco store in the ground floor, and by 1930 it was the New Cafe. By 1935 it had become the Government Liquor Store – said to be the first in the city. More recently it has been an Irish pub, and has been established a lot longer than many of the other bars and restaurants that have joined it in more recent years.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 359-36

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