Here’s a modest building seen in this Archives image when it was in its early working years – just 26 years old. Although it’s only two storeys, it’s still standing today and it would be eligible for a pension, as it turns 65 this year. In the image you can see a sheet music retailer, Modern Music and a Scottish Imports store.
When it was built back in 1948 the retail store included an E A Morris tobacconists store, while the rest of the building had a variety of office tenants, including Traders Finance Corpn Ltd, Precision Housing Co Ltd, J H Read construction structural engineers and a couple of stock broking firms. Precision Housing and J H Read shared an office and they shared with a third tenant, and it’s that tenant that gives the building some significance. CBK Van Norman, the architect, had his offices here, and he was the designer of the pre-fabricated Precision Housing system in the 1940s.
We’re reasonably certain that the Fraser Building wasn’t just Van Norman’s office – we think it was a Van Norman designed building. Although the plans, which are in the Archives, are still protected by copyright (as the building is still standing) they seem to match the building. The building doesn’t currently appear on the ‘Post 40s Register’ of important more recent buildings.
Today it’s had some changes to the store fronts, there are different screens below and above the windows, and the colour scheme has been reversed (at least, from the way it looked in 1974). But for the most part it’s still looking pretty good (for a pensioner).
Photo source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-402