Selkirk Block – 149 West Hastings Street

100 block W Hastings 1923

We’ve seen the building on the left back in 1890 when it was the YMCA Building and again in 1910 when it was The Hotel Astor. By 1923 when this picture was taken it had become the Astoria Hotel (and it still had that name in 1947).  It had a prominent awning, seen here in a 1938 Vancouver Public Library image. The building we know today as the Astoria on East Hastings only took the name in 1950 (in 1923 it was still the Toronto Apartments).

Next door to the east is the Selkirk Block. In this image Rae’s Shoes and The New York Outfitting Co are the retailers on the main floor. By 1926 F W Woolworth had taken over both units. Like the hotel conversion from the YMCA, at least half this building seems to have been designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for Crowe and Wilson. selkirk 1908The eastern half was given a permit in 1909 for a $15,000 building constructed by Bedford Davidson, while the western half which seems to be older was altered by the same owners. That suggests that it was built at different times, although completed to appear to be a single structure. We haven’t been able to find out when it first appeared (but this 1908 image shows it only 25 feet wide), or where the name Selkirk came from (although the mining town of the same name is an obvious possibility). In 1920 Davidson again carried out an addition to the building for Crowe and Wilson, this time  for a 1 story and basement extension to make a home for the Tip Top Tailors.

Woodwards construct and Astoria Hotel 1947 VPLWe have noted another of Wilson’s developments before, also using Dalton and Eveleigh to design a substantial block on Granville Street. His development partner on West Hastings, Sanford Johnson Crowe was from Truro, Nova Scotia, apprenticed as a carpenter and arrived in Vancouver in 1888. He partnered with Wilson in 1901, and a 1914 biography said “As a contractor he saw opportunity for judicious investments and from time to time added to his holdings until he now derives a gratifying annual income there from.”

He was successful enough to retire by 1910, aged 42, in order to enter politics. He was a City Alderman in 1909-15, He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1917 wartime election and ran as a Liberal-Unionist supporter of Sir Robert Borden’s Government defeating a Laurier Liberal opponent in Vancouver’s Burrard electoral district. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1921 by Borden’s successor, Arthur Meighen and sat in the upper house until his death ten years later. Crowe was married with two sons and lived in the West End.

Today both buildings have been replaced by the Woodwards development (the previous department store version  bumped into the Selkirk Block in 1947, as this VPL image shows).

Picture source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N52.1, VPL.


Posted 11 December 2012 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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