Here’s the Louvre Hotel as it looked in 1889 (the year it was built), and what’s left today. This somewhat anonymous building in the 300 block of Carrall Street has been the home of the Gospel Mission since the 1940s. The Mission has been in operation in Vancouver since 1929 and is one of the oldest missions in the city. The image shows the building’s first tenants at street level, the Vancouver Drug Company run by Dr. James Rolls and the Vancouver Tea and Coffee Company whose manager is listed as W A Cumyow. The 1889 Directory lists a Louvre Hotel as being on Pender Street – this building wouldn’t become the Louvre for a few more years.
Won Alexander Cumyow was the first Chinese born in Canada, in Port Douglas at the head of Harrision Lake. He was secretary of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association when it was founded in Victoria in 1884 and later its president in Vancouver. Cumyow would later become a court interpreter for the Vancouver Police and while in Vancouver he helped form the Chinese Empire Reform Association to promote the modernization of the Chinese monarchy. He worked in a variety of businesses including real estate and retail.
The Tea and Coffee company moved out and was replaced by a Robertson’s Men’s Furnishings, Hats and Caps. In 1891 Arthur Haines opened his real estate office next to the drug company and took rooms upstairs. Haines would remain in the building for the next six years. In 1896 the Brown Jug Saloon replaces the drug company and is renamed the Louvre the following year when Reinhold Minaty moves over from the Old Fountain Saloon on Cordova Street. Minaty advertised the Louvre as having the only circular bar in the province and suggested customers “call in and lubricate”.
The wall in the lane (once known as Louvre Alley) still features painted signs for the saloon and advertises clean beds for 20 cents a night at the Boston Rooms a few doors down the lane. The rooms above the store fronts seemed to be operated as a rooming house until 1898 when they are listed as the Louvre Hotel. Fire insurance maps of the period show the hotel had six fireplaces when it was built. On the ground floor a variety of businesses including cafes, confectionary stores, barber shops and tailors come and go over the years.
In 1940 the old Bijou Theatre next door to the hotel was torn down and, for some reason this included the demolition of a section of the Louvre Hotel that faced onto the CPR right-of-way at Carrall. It’s at this point the hotel disappears from the directories and when the Gospel Mission moves in. The Bijou may have been designed by James Donnellan (it was rebuilt in 1913 by Donnellan and Stroud) and for some reason his name appears (wrongly) as the architect of the Louvre on the city’s Statement of Significance. One possibility for the correct architects are Mallandaine & Sansom, who designed a block for Alderman McConnell on Carrall Street in 1889.