Archive for January 2013

Johnston-Howe Block – West Georgia and Granville (2)

Johnston-Howe Block 1928

We’ve already seen this building from a different angle, but here it is again on the Georgia side in this VPL image from 1928. The tenants included the Duffus School of Business (run by Henry Duffus who started the business in 1913, and eventually retired in 1972) in office space upstairs. Betty’s Hat Shop was next door to Romer’s Gown Shop and the New York Fur Company, with the Packard Cab Co and Thomas Cook and Sons.

Today there’s a retail frontage that forms part of the Pacific Centre Mall, with a dark bronze office tower above.


Posted January 13, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Standard Oil – West Georgia and Burrard

Georgia & Burrard 1935

We noted on an earlier post that Glencoe Lodge (or the Hotel Belfred as it briefly became) was replaced by a gas station. So here is that gas station – the Standard Oil station at the corner of West Georgia and Burrard, across the street from Christ Church (which gained Cathedral status in 1929). (note – contrary to our normal practice we have cleaned up the original photo a bit – it has deteriorated quite badly, but fortunately only in the sky portion of the image). We have been able to identify the architect of the gas station, as the drawings are in the Vancouver Archives. Townley and Matheson designed the structure in 1935.

There was a gas station at this important location for a surprisingly long time. Although it was given a contemporary makeover, it was still operating in 1971, and still by Standard Oil, as this slightly oddly angled image shows.

Georgia & Burrard 1971

Not long after this photograph was taken, the gas station must have been removed as the Royal Centre, including the Hyatt Hotel and the 38 storey RBC tower was opened in 1973. The architects were Dirassar, James, Jorgenson & Davis – a Vancouver company also responsible for designing the Chemetics Building and the now-demolished Capitol 6 Cinema. Associate Architects were Webb Zerafa Menkes of Toronto, and as we noted before, CBK Van Norman also advised on aspects of the design.

Photo sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-311 and CVA 447-363


Posted January 12, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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869 Hamilton Street

Lupo 869 Hamilton

For many years the Villa Lupo restaurant was on Hamilton Street, near Smithe. Now reopened as simply ‘Lupo’, the building is one of the last remaining houses in Yaletown. It started life as the home of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) carpenter Peter Roy who took out a building permit for it in 1904 (as owner, architect and builder). His “frame dwelling” had an estimated cost $1,600 and Roy lived in his house until 1913.

Peter Roy was already aged 53 when he built the house, and he had arrived in Canada from Scotland in 1886. His wife Elsie was also Scottish and had immigrated in 1892, the same year that they married. Despite – or perhaps because of – their ages (Peter was 41 and Elsie 33 when they married) they had three daughters in the following five years. During this time they also had lodgers including, bricklayer Samuel Millington, sign painter G. W. Doener and William Hopkinson who moved in for a year in 1909.

Born in the city of Allahabad, Hopkinson served as a police officer in Calcutta but took leave in 1908 and travelled to Canada. Though on leave, he was apparently still working for the Criminal Intelligence Department in India. He had became well known to Canadian officials and was appointed by the Governor General to the immigration department to report on the activities of the Indian community on the Pacific Coast. He came to Vancouver in 1909 after his appointment and took up residence at 869 Hamilton Street before moving to Grandview a year later with his new wife.

Hopkinson is remembered for his role in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, and his subsequent assassination at the Vancouver Courthouse two months after the ship had been escorted from the harbour. See this website for full details on the incident and Hopkinson’s biography.

Peter Roy lived in Vancouver until his death in 1935, aged 84 and Elsie died in 1952, aged 93. However, they had moved from the Hamilton Street house many years earlier. Peter Roy sold the house in 1913 to William McKay, but just a year later the directories list only William’s wife, Mary, as living in the house. She lived there until her death in the early 1960s when it took on new life as a restaurant. The house has survived with little alteration apart from the extension of the dining room into the front porch. A fire hall and a small commercial building replaced the houses at the south end of the block, while at the other end four houses were retained, rebuilt (and in one case reconstructed from scratch after a fire) and repositioned between two blocks of a condominium development.

Unfortunately, the City of Vancouver’s Statement of Significance for this property actually profiles a house long demolished – not the surviving Lupo. It’s somewhat understandable given the number of times the addresses have changed on the block.


Posted January 10, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Gilmore and Clark Block – Carrall and Cordova

Carrall & Cordova 1961

When this image was taken in 1961, our address in the title was correct. When the building was commenced in 1886 it was described as being at Carroll and Oppenheimer as Carrall Street was often spelled differently and Cordova was only the western half – David Oppenheimer gave his name to the eastern half. Designed by W T Whiteway for Alexander Gilmore (although he may have been christened Gilmour) and Robert Clark, it’s another example of the first brick buildings to be built after the fire (and at least one source claims it to be the first completed). The style matched Whiteway’s other building on the north end of the same block

Alexander Gilmore was born in Ireland in 1824 and made his way to Vancouver via Philadelphia (in 1849), San Francisco (in 1852) and Victoria (in 1858). He established a tailoring and clothing business there, and when the Canadian Pacific Railway came through, partnered with Robert Clark to open another store in Yale in 1881.  They established a Granville store in 1885, ahead of the railway’s arrival, and then lost it to the 1886 fire. They built the structure in the picture on the north-east corner of Carrall and Cordova, and a year later Gilmore retired, handing his active role to his nephew, Alexander Gilmore McCandless. Never married, he seems to have lived in Victoria even when investing in Vancouver. He was still in Victoria when he died in 1910.

Robert Clark was the younger partner, born in Scotland in 1845. He apprenticed as a grocer and then as a shipwright. He left for Toronto in 1870, building ships through a bitter winter and then heading west, walking to Winnipeg. A 1906 biography described his experience building steamers on the south shore of Lake Winnipeg. “He built the first steamer that sailed on Lake Manitoba. Going into the forest he picked out the trees, hewed the timber and with help whip-sawed the lumber. He then built and launched the boat and delivered her to the owners, a craft one hundred feet in length. The woods were infested with mosquitoes so numerous that they occasioned great trouble to the men. Their supply of provisions also became exhausted and Mr. Clark found it difficult to retain his helpers until the work was completed. They made a boat to cross the lake two hundred miles for provisions, but the day they intended to make the start help came to them, bringing them needed supplies. They had made sails out of their blankets and thus they sailed the boat across the lake.” 

He moved on to  Grand Forks (where his brother was ill), again building ships. The brothers headed to San Francisco in 1875, then in Seattle, up the Skeena River and then to Alaska and finally to Victoria in 1879. Partnering with Gilmore saw both men acquire land individually and jointly, as well as running the Yale business, which burnt out in the 1881 fire soon after they established it. Something similar happened in Vancouver, but after the Vancouver fire they rebuilt in brick. Clark is shown living at the Carrall Street address in 1887, the first year he was elected an Alderman. (He was re-elected on three further occasions) 1890 saw two big changes in Robert Clark’s life – his partnership with Alex Gilmore was ended, and his marriage to Frances Gilmore took place. We don’t know if she was related to Alex (she was 38 years younger) but she was also from Ireland. They had two children, Robert and Cuthbert who were aged 16 and 14 when their father died in 1909. Frances died in Vancouver in 1946.

The building was torn down around 1963, probably not long after the closing out sale shown in the picture. It stayed as a parking lot until the mid 1990s when Carrall Station was designed by Kasian Kennedy, a 81 unit condo project with five floors of lofts, completed in 1997.

Photo source: City of Vancouver Archives, Walter E Frost CVA 447-344


Posted January 9, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Customs House – West Pender Street

Customs House 1

We successfully lined up two images of this building. It’s another of CBK Van Norman’s buildings, built in 1955 and demolished in 1993. A solid ten-storey reinforced concrete building, it occupied an irregularly shaped site immediately to the south of the Marine Building at the junction of West Pender and Burrard Street. After various design iterations through 1949 and 1950 it was eventually completed in 1955. Aluminum framed windows alternated with granite spandrels and the composition was framed by end piers of Haddon Island stone.

Customs House 2The Federal Government decided to replace the building in the early 1990s, but the replacement building wasn’t completed until 2002. Designed by Architectura for Canada Lands and Public Works Government Services Canada, the 19 storey tower incorporates a number of energy-efficient and green building features and houses several Environment Canada activities as well as Department of Fisheries and Oceans offices. The building recycled some of the black granite from its predecessor, and the lower portion of the building along West Pender is almost a replica of the earlier structure.

It is now named after Douglas Jung, the first Canadian Member of Parliament of Asian decent (although Jung was born in Victoria). Although too late to change the decision on the Customs House, the move to demolish the building led to the creation of a Post ’40s register of buildings that can be considered for heritage status once they are 20 years old.


Posted January 8, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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The Burrard Building

Burrard Building

CBK Van Norman was one of Vancouver’s most respected architects of the International Modern style. He was born in Ontario in 1906, studied in Manitoba, and worked for Townley and Matheson in Vancouver from 1928-1930 and sometimes with McCarter Nairne from 1930 to 1950. From 1955 to 1968 he practiced exclusively under his own name and designed some important Vancouver buildings, some of them already lost (including the Customs House). Van Norman was also part of the design team for the Royal Centre; his contribution to the design was the buttresses on the corners being used for the air conditioning and other systems.

The Burrard Building, built between 1955 and 1957, is still with us. The architect described the building as offering “a modern functional office space, a prestige address, and a choice downtown location”. With no local firm capable of building it, Van Norman hired the Utah Company of America to build his 200,000 square foot building and then was met with delays as the complicated skin took longer to assemble than expected. The original curtain wall design was switched to allow air conditioning to be installed, and the replacement design involved 18 by 10 foot panels , eight inches thick, attached directly into the steel frame.

Burrard Building 1956 brochureIn 1988 Musson Cattell designed a new skin for the building which changed it from a strongly horizontal oriented tower into a more contemporary glazed box. Interestingly, this actually reflects quite closely what Van Norman showed on a 1956 brochure for the building – in some ways the building today more closely resembles it than the 1950s version as built.

The building is still popular with tenants, and vacant suites are generally leased quickly. Although the site is one of very few Downtown that has no viewcones crossing it – and hence no height limit for a replacement building – leases on the few suites on offer today are for up to 10 years, suggesting the owners are in no hurry to cash in on its redevelopment potential.


Posted January 7, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Glencoe Lodge – West Georgia and Burrard

Hotel Belfred

Across the street to the west from the Christ Church Anglican Church, B T Rogers built a hotel in 1906. To be more accurate, he assembled a hotel, at a cost of $30,000. He bought two houses, one of them the former home of J M Browning (the CPR Land Commissioner) that had been designed by Bruce Price and built in 1888. He then hired Grant and Henderson to design his hotel by lifting the houses, adding two storeys beneath, and linking them to create a rather eccentric looking building. Glencoe Lodge, as it was named, was run by Jean Mollison. She had managed the CPR’s Chateau Lake Louise so Rogers (a CPR Director) probably knew her well.

Rogers was the American entrepreneur who could arguably be called Vancouver’s Sugar Daddy. Born in Philadelphia in 1865, he enjoyed a privileged upbringing and family ties to important businessmen in the American sugar industry. While his father owned a refinery in Philadelphia, and later a sugar plantation in Louisiana, Benjamin learned the sugar industry the hard way, studying sugar chemistry in Boston, working in a refinery in Brooklyn and then headed to Vancouver in 1889 to establish his own business. It was an expensive business to create, but CPR directors bought shares in the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company. J M Browning, as chair of the finance committee of Vancouver City Council proposed the refinery should be given a site, a tax exemption on land and improvements for 15 years, free water for 10 years, and a municipal loan. In 1890 electors approved this package by 174 votes to 8. It didn’t hurt that Browning was also representative for the CPR Directors. Although the enterprise struggled to make money in the early years, and despite Chinese sugar being imported below cost, by 1895 the plant made a profit and has continued to do so to today. By 1916 the company’s assets had increased from an initial investment of $250,000 to $7.5 million and its daily capacity of refined sugar went from 30,000 to 900,000 pounds. When he died, Rogers was worth over a million dollars. He was a cautious investor, and Glencoe was one of only two property investments we know about.

Glencoe Lodge drawing room postcardGlencoe attracted classy visitors, and was said to more exclusive than even the railway’s own Hotel Vancouver – which might explain why Donald Smith – Lord Strathcona – the Scottish head of the CPR stayed here. Indeed, his full title may explain the hotel’s name ‘Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, of Mount Royal in the Province of Quebec and Dominion of Canada and of Glencoe in the County of Argyll’. Miss Mollison’s eclectic tastes were on view, including William Morris designed wallpaper.

The Whitehern Museum Archives have this wonderful 1912 postcard from Ontario resident Mary Baker McQuesten to her son Thomas From: Glencoe Lodge Vancouver

My dearest Tom

Here we are in most delightful quarters. We look out from one window on an ivy-covered church across the way and a little further over facing on out street the beautiful new court house with a point like the Parthenon all in pure white with grecian columns across entire front. M. [Mary] will try to get snap shot, there are no p.c as yet and further we see C.P.R. Hotel. Then from our other window we see the water (what particular part do not yet know) with steamers sailing along & ships beyond. We were pretty tired when we reached last night at 11 pm with gazing all day at the most magnificent scenery all the way through the Rockies till dark at 9 o’clock. But we slept right away till morning and took our breakfast after 9 o’clock of cream of wheat (fruit if we liked. M. had lovely oranges), tenderloin steak beautifully cooked & a pot of tea & coffee. Chinese lads wait and a particularly nice one born here runs elevator. We found Mrs. McLagan & Frankie in dining room, Grace Weir Hastings met us at elevator, lives here. Then we sallied forth to find directions as to Skagway trip. At the corner of our street & Georgia St. (the street leading to depot) are the Hudson’s Bay stores. We found a very pleasant young man at inquiry office at the Depot and heard that steamers only leave every Saturday night. The fare for four days there and four return including a room to ourselves with double berth is $60 each. The steamer is a new one the Princess Sophia. When we reach Skagway the Steamer remains long enough for us to make round trip to the summit of the White Pass by White Pass [?] Ry. & if sufficient number go will remain while the trip to White House is made. So it seems as if we would get the worth of our money. On the way back met Mrs. Steele who had been up to Glencoe Lodge, she told us Mrs. Henderson & Miss George were going same day up the Alaska trip so we will be alone. Then I spied sitting in an auto by the side of street Mrs. Gillard while I was speaking to her, up came Alice Smith, who was most cordial and I think owned the auto for she promised to call us up and arrange to show us things.

Must close, my one great regret is that you are not with us, my dearest boy. With fondest love.

Your mother

Glencoe also had many permanent residents; the 1911 Census showed 39 staff resident in the building, including 6 bellboys and 5 cooks (one who doubled as a waiter). In addition there were 48 boarders including a surprising number of families; Frederick Schofield and his wife Edith; Edgar and Lillian Lee and their 9 year old son Douglas; Gideon Robertson who was aged 70 and his wife Elizabeth and their 40 year old daughter Annie and the Calland family who had three daughters aged 5 to 12. Perhaps the best known family living in the hotel was W H Malkin, his wife Lillian and four children. Quite why they were there isn’t clear – they had a home on Davie Street but perhaps they were getting ready to move as they commissioned a grand new Maclure & Fox house on Marine Drive in 1912.

The hotel lost business in the late 1920s, and despite a name change in 1931 to the Hotel Belfred (seen in our picture) closed in 1932. Miss Mollison’s resident guests are said to have owed her $11,000 they were unable to pay. The site was redeveloped in the 1930s as a gas station, only to be redeveloped in the 1970s boom as the Royal Centre, with an office tower, the Hyatt Hotel and an underground shopping plaza.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N3