This building started life as the Traveller’s Hotel, as it was in this 1923 image. It only acquired the Metropole name when the original Metropole, which was on the other side of the street, was swallowed up by the ever-expanding Woodwards store in 1924. The Travellers was built in 1910 for Dr R C Boyle at a cost of $45,000 and was designed (like so many of the city’s buildings at the time) by W T Whiteway.
Dr Boyle was an active developer, but continued working as an MD as this 1909 cutting shows. He seems to have arrived in Vancouver around 1900, initially living at 811 Thrlow Street and in 1903 at 1076 Robson Street.
He was born in Ontario, but trained in Manitoba at the Medical College, then had a practice in Morden (where his daughter Mildred was born) before the family moved on to BC.
In the 1901 census he was aged 32 and living with his wife, Margaret, (apparently known as May), his five year old daughter, Mildred, a servant, Annie Davis, and his sister, also called Margaret. Dr Boyle’s wife was also born in Ontario, (in Ottawa) but Annie was from England, By 1911 the family had grown with the addition of 10 year old Bidwell – who must have been born within days of the 1901 census, and 3 year old Edward (who had been born in England). Annie has gone, replaced by Mary Smith who had just arrived from Scotland and 17 year old Nellie Stephens acting as nurse. (Nellie had arrived from England aged five).
In 1903 the doctor had Bedford Davidson build four frame dwellings in the 1100 block of Thurlow at a cost of $6,400 and another four on Broughton Street. In 1904 Davidson built a $6,000 home for the doctor on Robson Street designed by Honeyman and Curtis. After the hotel was built, in 1911 Dr Boyle appears to have been the joint developer of 1023-1027 Granville Street, a Parr and Fee designed hotel (The Royal) costing $60,000.
He was First Vice-President of the General Securities Co, capitalised at $300,000 in 1911 and active as brokers and bankers in the Lower Mainland.
The Boyle family was active in the city’s life. The Ladies Musical Club was formed in the Boyle home in 1910, and Mrs Boyle was also a member of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. In 1906 Dr Boyle was part of a large group of dignitaries from western cities (including Seattle and Tacoma) who toured California by train to identify opportunities for greater development of the north west. Dr Boyle died in 1935, and a rather inaccurate obitiary in the Winnipeg Free Press (wrong age, wife identified as neing from Winnipeg) suggests two of three of his brothers also headed to BC, to Penticton and Revelstoke, with another in San Francisco. At the time of his wife’s death in 1955 aged 86, her daughter was living in Seattle and her sons in Eugene and Portland, although two sisters were living in Vancouver.
Today the Metropole, like many of the remaining early hotels in the Downtown Eastside, is a single room occupancy hotel.
Image Source, City of Vancouver Archives Str N48