The Dick Block – 379 West Hastings

379 E Hastings 1926

Here’s part of William Dick’s clothing empire; his West Hastings flagship store in 1926, very soon after it opened. Townley and Matheson designed it with more of a restrained Chicago style than some of their more Art Deco designs. The building is covered in cream terra cotta and at one time featured a significant canopy, now lost.

Wm Dick 1908There were in fact two people called William Dick – father and son, and it was William Dick Jr who ran the clothing business. He was still living on Vancouver Island in 1908 (when he received his gold handled umbrella – a useful gift for a new Vancouver resident). In 1911 he was aged 31 and living in the same house as his parents with his sister and two younger brothers. (Ten years earlier when the family lived in Nanaimo there were seven children listed – William Dick Sr was a coal miner, but William Jr, shown as aged 18, and his younger brother James were both sales clerks). His father and mother were both Scots and his father arrived in Canada in 1885, but all four children had been born in BC. While William Jr was listed as a merchant, his brothers were salesmen, and his parents and sister had ‘none’ listed as their occupation.

William Dick Jr wore at least three hats – he ran a successful clothing company, he owned British Columbia Estates, a local real estate development company, and he was a Conservative Member of the BC Legislature for Vancouver City, elected in 1928.

Today the building still stands, and as the area slowly recovers from the decline that followed the closure of the major departmental stores, perhaps will regain its place in the area’s revitalised retail role.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2239

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Posted January 3, 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

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