712 Richards Street

Here’s the block designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for E E Hewson in 1910, built at a cost of $36,000 by Baynes and Horie. It was at least the second building the architects had designed for Mr Hewson -  they designed another on ‘West Hastings between Cambie Street and Abbott Street’ in 1906. They also designed $1,200 worth of work for Mr Hewson at 120 West Hastings in 1913 – so perhaps that was the earlier building – (it is the correct block). The Richards building was called the St Regis (before the St Regis Hotel was built) – and seems to have been rooms rather than a hotel.

When we first posted, E E Hewson was something of a mystery – there’s no sign of anyone with that name in BC in any census around the turn of the century. Although Dalton and Eveleigh’s entry in a 1913 biography refers to them being ‘architects to the Hewson estate’, it doesn’t mention any other information about any Hewsons. We know there was an E E Hewson who was Vice President of the Hinton Electric Company in Vancouver - because in the year the St Regis was built he wrote rather cryptically to the Hon W L Mackenzie King against the introduction of an 8-hour work day, but that wasn’t the developer.

There was also another E E Hewson who was a partner in a huge woolen mill in Nova Scotia – but there was no obvious link we could find to Vancouver. We’ve recently been able to confirm through a family contact that he is the original owner of 712 Richards. Edgar Ellis Hewson was a barrister as well as an industrialist who apparently was always looking for an investment opportunity. Initially it was thought possible he invested in Vancouver because of family connections in California where there is a branch of the Hewson family, although there were also relatives in Winnipeg. However, we now have a more likely connection. E E Hewson was born in 1870 in River Philip, Nova Scotia and died in 1957 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. He built his home in Amherst in 1907, a gorgeous Queen Anne revival mansion, which is a provincially registered heritage property. Baynes and Horie built 712 Richards and William Horie’s family also came from River Philip, a small rural community, so that seems to be a likely link between Mr Hewson and Vancouver.

This photograph dates from the 1920s, and we aren’t sure how long the building lasted here. It was still standing in 1981, at which time it was known as the Burrard Hotel (not the first structure to have this name, by any means).  These days the site is one of any a handful left in the city with its current use – a surface parking lot. It’s part of Budget Car Rental’s parking which was next door to the streamline moderne car showroom built by Collier’s in 1948 which later operated as an outlet for Fido phones until it was demolished a few years ago.
 
Picture source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3098
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Posted November 27, 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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