27 West Pender Street is today’s address – when the building in our image was built it was numbered as 31 Pender (East Pender was still called Dupont). It was built for the Brackman-Kerr Milling Co, and designed by Townsend & Townsend in 1909. It was built to the west of the warehouse built by McLellan and McFeely, but later used by the United Warehouse Co, and by 1920 (as our photo shows) the McQueen Produce Co Ltd. In actual fact, Brackman-Kerr (the name on the building permit and the insurance maps of the day) was really Brackman-Ker. Henry Brackman (who made his fortune in the Cariboo Gold rush) initially partnered with James Milne, a Scottish miller and stonecutter in 1877 to manufacture rolled oats in North Saanich, but the company disappeared in 1879 and was resurrected when Brackman partnered with David Russell Ker in 1881. After Brackman’s death in 1903, Ker led the company in an ambitious expansion throughout Western Canada, including this Vancouver property. Their 1912 catalogue offered Grass and Clover Seeds, Seed Grain, Seed Potatoes, Fertilizers and Sprays.
We haven’t dug up much about D J Elmer; El Sidelo seems to have been a brand created by a Seattle company, while El Doro was a Canadian brand and the Van Loo Cigar Company were a Vancouver based manufacturer. They were fairly newly in the building, which might be why the photo was taken. For several years before the cigar company moved in the B C A Junk Co were in the building. By 1924 the operation was still there but called the Vancouver Tobacco Co. By the 1930s they had been replaced by Gough & Thompson Ltd who supplied electrical equipment. Then in the early 1950s, in a curious case of deja vu, Brackman-Ker were once again the building’s occupants. Perhaps they never sold the building, and the various companies through the 1930s and 40s were their tenants. (Brackman-Ker occupied a small modern building near the Georgia Viaduct in the 1930s).
Today the building on the site is Ian Leman Place, designed by Joe Wai for the Vancouver Native Housing Society. They are an organization dedicated to providing housing for the urban aboriginal community, funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and BC Housing Management Commission through programs such as the Urban Native Housing Program, Low Income Urban Singles (LIUS) and Homeless at Risk Programs. In addition they provide programs that enrich and enhance the lives of tenants and others in the community.
Photo sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1351 and CVA LGN 454