Archive for February 2013

1112 and 1114 Davie Street

1112 & 1114 Davie

This image was commissioned by City Archivist Major Matthews and was titled by him “The first house on Davie St. as it appeared in Aug. 1931. Vintage print attributed to Rowland J. Towers.”

fairview 1890

Elsewhere he noted that in this 1890 picture by W Chapman “The one at the top is on Davie Street; it is on the skyline. Today it is numbered 1112 and 1114 Davie Street, a three-storey building with balconies on the second and third floors, and stands on the south side of Davie Street, third building from the Capitola Apartments. Two large rowan or mountain ash trees, at least twelve inches through, which shows their age, stand on the lawn. It was built by Mr. Bouchier, who died in the spring of 1931. Walter Leek, president of the Vancouver Exhibition Association, once lived in it.”

A Frenchman, Mr. Bouchier, later employed by the late Senator S.J. Crowe, built it. He died in the spring of 1931.

The assessment roll, at the City Hall, dated 1888 of this property:

F.D. Boucher, Lot 2, Block 25, D.L. 185, (assessed) $275.00

Alfonse Moriw (?), Lot 3, Block 25, D.L. 185, (assessed) $275.00

From the street directories of the 1890s it appears that this may not have been the first occupied house on Davie Street, although it was undoubtedly one of the earliest, and from the picture above it was almost completely isolated. It looks as if it was completed in 1890 but was still vacant in 1891. By 1894 Mr F D Boucher (the correct name) was living there.

Ferdinand Desire Boucher was born in Quebec and arrived in Vancouver in 1885. He was a carpenter, working at the Hastings Mill and in 1898 the Vancouver Sash and Door Company. He married Allia, (or that’s what the name looks like) another Québécois and in 1891 they had May, Gracie and Albertine Labrecque living with them, described as daughters-in-law but probably actually Ferdinand’s step-daughters. The 1901 census calls his wife Mary, and Albertius and Grace (now aged 22 and 24) are still at home.

Remarkably, behind the added retail units of the Cotton Mouth Smoke Shop and Megabite Pizza the original structure gives every suggestion of still standing – one of the oldest building in the West End.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N63 and CVA 1376-204



Posted 25 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Altered, Still Standing, West End

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Burrard and Nelson

Burrard and Nelson

In 1915 the house on the corner of Nelson and Burrard, 1001 Burrard, was owned by T Harvie, who made repairs the year before (although the street directory records the occupant as Thomas Harvey). 1003 Burrard was occupied by the First Baptist Church (who had the church on the other side of Nelson Street). 1005 Burrard was the home of Oscar P Ziegler, a violin teacher. A group known as the ‘Spare Time Symphony’ conducted by Oscar Ziegler, was playing in the city in 1915 but was disbanded after his death ca 1919. Andrew J Drewrey was at 1007 and 1009 was occupied by Alex Adam at the front of the house and Alex Crawford, a carpenter was at the back. That year Mr Crawford designed and carried out repairs to 1007 Burrard for its owner, recorded as T Harrie or maybe Harvie – the clerk had a cramped cursive style that makes definitive identification difficult. In 1909 the same house (1009) had been repaired by J R Sharp for its owner T Harvey – so presumably the same person who was living at 1001 in 1915. It’s seems likely that all the homes were owned by the same person, Thomas Harvie, and his name was recorded by the building permit clerk as Harvey and Harrie. His name seems to have been spelled both as Harvie and Harvey between 1901 and 1915.

These five houses were not the first buildings on the lot. In the 1901 insurance map there’s a single, larger house shown facing Nelson Street. It was standing in 1896 but vacant and in 1897 occupied by Daniel McIntyre, lumberman. It was erected and demolished (or maybe moved) in a very short time frame; in 1905 it is still standing, and Abbie McIntyre, the widow of Daniel McIntyre is living there. Daniel was aged 44 in 1891, and Abbie aged 40 and they were resident in Cowichan North. Daniel was from Ontario and Abbie from the USA and he was listed as a saw-mill owner. The family had obviously previously been in the US as Fred (22), Arthur (14) and Harry (11) were all born there.

A year later in 1906 the Nelson Street address no longer exists. Instead the Burrard addresses have appeared; 1005 is listed as a new building, 1007 has Thomas Harvie, manager and 1009 Joseph Clark, warehouseman. In 1912 Thomas Harvie is identified as Manager of the BC Box Factory (which was on Front Street), and Andrew Harvie at the same address is a builder.

Thomas Harvie was in the city in 1901, and according to the census he was living in household of four, headed by Ruth Galloway and her partner Alice Harvie. He was aged 38 and recorded as married, although there’s no sign of a Mrs Harvie. The fourth member of the household was Harvey Galloway, aged 28, listed as a lodger like Thomas. All four had been born in Ontario.

It looks as if this 1901 household was recorded in a confused and inaccurate way, because the 1911 census shows Thomas Harvey, now aged 48, living at 1007 Burrard with his wife Alice aged 47 and their son Andrew aged 20. They also have a maid, Jessie Hillier. While Andrew had been born in Ontario, Alice and Thomas were shown as born in Quebec. Thomas was a box manufacturer, as was Andrew. There’s no sign of either Ruth or Harvey Galloway in 1911.

In 1925 the houses are still standing, and A Harvie is living at 1003 1/2 (R Lackey was at 1003). In the late 1920s some of the houses are listed as vacant and Mrs A C Harvie is living at 1001 in 1929 and 1930. In 1931 1001 Burrard has gone, and St Andrews Wesley is under construction and by 1932 it was complete.  The church was designed by Twizell and Twizell and was constructed from Nelson Island granite and Haddington Island stone. The style of the building was far from contemporary – it’s Gothic to look at, although it is actually of reinforced concrete construction with a stone skin.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-292


Posted 23 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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325 Howe Street (2)

325 Howe 2

We’ve seen this building from a different angle. From this position it’s easy to see how much of the building has ‘disappeared’ from sight today – the street level today is three storeys above the ‘beach level’ below. If you look in the foreground you can see the expansion joints on what are really a series of bridges. If you walk up to the railing you can see in front of the building, you can look down the three floors that are still there. It was designed in 1911 by Thomas Hooper for the National Finance Corporation (a Vancouver business), in partnership with J W Horne.

In 1920 when this image was taken the building was known as the Pacific Coast Fire Building, and was home to a wide variety of companies including the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company and Adkinson and Dill, contractors, who had built the Thomas Hooper designed building back in 1911, and completed it a year later at a reported cost of $108,000.

Greenshields were one of the tenants to get their name on the outside of the building. They had originally built a warehouse for their dry goods company on Water Street in 1902. The most intriguing company here was the Canada Witch Co who were in Room A (B R Harrison was company president). We finally discovered what they did – “The Canadian Witch Co., Vancouver, B.C., are marketing the Witch Soot Destroyer and Chimney Cleaner. They state this effectively cleans chimneys without taking down pipes, covering up furniture, taking down curtains, etc., and having the air of the rooms laden with sooty particles, besides other numerous annoyances. The manufacturers of this pro- duct claim that it will clean chimneys if directions are followed and thus the expense and bother of chimney sweeping is eliminated.

B B B Co (Can) Ltd were in Suite 401 where George Horton was manager. They weren’t the better business bureau, or the Bangkok Beer and Beverage Co, but a wholesale tobacco company.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3307


Posted 19 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Caroline Court – 1058 Nelson Street

1058 Nelson

We’ve written in greater detail about the owner and developer of this building on another blog. Caroline Court is over a century old, being built in 1911 to J P Matheson’s design for James Pattullo by Dominion Construction at a cost of $150,000. It was built as a rental building, and it still fulfills that function today. The context it sits in has changed – the two houses to the north were replaced with a strata building, The Nelson in 1980. The Star Garage, seen in our 1939 VPL Leonard Frank image is these days another strata building, Kelvin Court, built in 1986 and designed by Robert Burgers. The tower beyond that is the rental building developed by St Andrews Wesley in 2002. The other large tower, behind Caroline Court, is the somewhat inaccurately named Heritage Court, dating back to 1971 and designed by Eng and Wright.


Posted 17 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1014 Homer Street

1014 Homer - General Motors

In 1931 Dominion Construction built this 3 storey building on Homer Street. It’s a reinforced concrete structure, a technique Dominion were familiar with building. but it was the financial structure of the developer that was novel. While the recession hadn’t really bitten, Dominion’s boss, Charles Bentall, started to use the recently created New Building Finance Company to keep his construction workers employed. General Motors wanted a new building, but they wanted to lease it, and Dominion were the contractors and designers and were prepared to help finance the construction. When the time came, rather than the New Building Finance Company funding it the building ownership was taken on by the Selman family, owners of Canadian Wood Pulp and Tank Limited.

Our photo shows the building a year after construction, and General Motors continued to occupy the building until 1950. They had offices for their finance division as well as their warehouse (presumably for parts). A couple of years later Barr and Anderson, plumbers, moved into the building, and at some point it became known as the Stall Building.

Eighty years on the building looks remarkably similar to when it was built, but the occupants are quite different. Today the tenants, among others, are architects, a book publisher and a computer store. And somehow, (possibly during a 1986 renovation) while almost every building that had a fancy cornice has lost it, the Stall Building managed to acquire one it never had.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4156


Posted 15 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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1028 Hamilton Street

1028 Hamilton

We now know a bit more about this Yaletown warehouse than has been recorded anywhere else. We know who designed it – it was Raphael A Nicolais, an architect about whom we can find very little information. Sometimes he partnered with Richard Perry, and his name was as often as not recorded as Nicolas, or as Nicholais, although we think it was most accurately (and mostly) written as Nicolais. Unlike some blog subjects, he can be found with his wife and family in the 1911 Census, living in Point Grey on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Trimble. There he was recorded as Ralph A Nikolias, he was only aged 28 and he was born in Italy, arriving in Canada in 1910.

The builder was George Baker, and the owners were Buckley and Baker. They don’t seem to have ever built anything else, so are hard to track down. George B Baker also built the Gray Block, and the most likely Buckley is Frank L Buckley who had a new house built on Osler Avenue in 1913. He was recorded in the street directory as Managing Director of the British Canadian Labour Corporation, a position he continued to hold over a number of years. We think he must have been the Frank Buckley who in 1911 was the American manager of B C Lumber Mills, and lived with his American wife Rosa and two children, James and Helen, and their Norwegian domestic, Bertha Ostrom.

The original proponent of the building, J A Conkey, was John Conkey, a salesman for BC Securities in 1911 and not an obvious developer, but a year later he had partnered with his brother Robert, who was a broker, as manufacturers agents for hardware. They occupied space here until 1916, when the moved to Granville Street. They were obviously successful; John took delivery of a new Nash Six in 1918

The building was built in 1911, at a cost of $27,000, and is recorded on the 1912 Insurance map as the King Warehouse when it was apparently numbered as 1050 Hamilton. In 1924, as our picture shows, it was used by the Consolidated Exporters Co. During the 1940s and 50s it was home to Crawford Storage, where Mrs M M Crawford was company president. More recently it continued to be a warehouse for clothing, but now operates predominantly as office space.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3487


Posted 15 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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1008 Homer Street

1000 Block Homer 2

The 5-storey warehouse on the corner of Homer and Nelson Street was owned, designed and built by R Bowman in 1909. There was a well-known Vancouver architect, Joseph H Bowman, but R Bowman was somebody else (and no relation, as far as we can tell). Heritage Vancouver have found the Vancouver Sun description of the development. In October, 1909 they reported that “A building permit was this morning taken out by Mr. R. Bowman for a five-story block located on the southeast corner of Nelson and Homer streets, the site having been recently acquired from the C.P.R. The building will be of brick construction throughout, and is designed for warehouse and factory purposes. It is understood that before it was planned a ten-year lease of the premises was made to representatives of a local industry which will employ 50 hands as soon as operations are started“. The ‘local industry’ mentioned in the article was the Vancouver based Bogardus Wickens & Begg Glass Company (formerly the B.C. Plate Glass Importing Company).

In 1901 Richard Bowman’s Trade or Occupation is described in the census return as storekeeper and the 1911 Street Directory clarifies that he was storekeeper for the CPR shops. However, in 1911, the single word entry for Mr Bowman’s occupation says ‘Income’ and the 1912 Directory (which reflects what he was doing in 1911) refers to him as a commercial agent. He arrived in Canada from England either in 1875 or 1881 (the two census records show different dates). By 1901 He had a wife, Nancy (who had also been born in England but arrived before Richard either in 1866 when she was only aged four or 1870 when she would have been eight.), Their son, Oscar, is listed as being born in Ontario in the 1901 Census, and England in 1911, and was born in either 1883 or 1886. As far as the 1911 census is concerned he had not arrived in Canada (as an immigrant at least) until 1907 although he was living with his parents in Vancouver in 1901. James H Bowman, Richard’s nephew, was also living with the family in 1901. The Bowman family lived in a turreted house at 1101 Harwood before moving to Osler.

We don’t know if Mr Bowman really designed the building. F H Rayner was architect for the added floors on Bowman’s warehouse on Beatty Street, and a house for him on Osler Avenue, but that was in 1913.  He only has one other building listed, also in 1913, so he probably wasn’t in Vancouver in 1909.

Richard Bowman’s son, Oscar and his nephew, James were shown running Bowman Storage by 1911, but Oscar died in 1923, and in the 1920 US Census Richard and Nancy Bowman were living in Long Beach, California. Richard died in Vancouver in 1926 and Oscar’s widow, Beatrice, ran the company from 1926 to her death in 1941. Beatrice married Oscar in 1913 and became bookkeeper for the Bowman company.

At some point – apparently quite early in its history – the building added office uses to the upper floors. While today there is a Shoppers Dug Mart on the main floor and a TD Bank beneath it, in the early 1950s it was the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Today there are a number of office users upstairs, including several mining exploration companies, acupuncture, aromatherapy and a yoga studio. In 1952 it was the Canadian Mercantile Insurance Co, the Commerce Mutual Insurance Co and C R Padget’s real estate office.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E12.30 (1981)


Posted 12 February 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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Lacey Johnson house – Seymour Street

Lacey R Johnson

This is one of the earliest houses built in the city, in the newly cleared CPR land one block off Granville Street where they were developing their hotel and office buildings to create their new city centre away from Gastown. We know a fair bit about it because the owner’s daughter gave a detailed interview to Major Matthews, who recorded it in the early City Archives.

The owner of the house was Lacey R. Johnson, V.D., first Master Mechanic, Pacific Division, Canadian Pacific Railway. Mrs Evans, the daughter in question recalled “As Mother and my brother, now Col. R.E. Johnson of Montréal, and two sisters, Grace and Julia, were travelling westwards on the train, a telegram reached us from Father which read in part, ‘Vancouver in ashes’ (13 June 1886), “so we got off at Yale. We had closed up our home at Carlton Place, Ontario, so our furniture en route went to Vancouver. Whilst at Yale, we lived, first, in a furnished cottage belonging to Dan McDougall” 

“We remained at Yale, and then came on to Vancouver in Father’s railway car, September 3rd , 1887, and lived in it for about ten days on a siding at the foot of Granville Street until our house, 455 Seymour Street, west side, close to Georgia Street, and now part of the site of the Hudson’s Bay store, was completed. Father had started to build before the Fire; the lumber was on the ground, but the fire destroyed the lumber; it had to be replaced.

“I recall that when we first went there, there were no buildings near; the view down the slope towards Water Street was unobstructed; then, later, the nearest building was the No. 2 Fire Hall, on the east side of Seymour, south of Georgie Street.”

“This photo of our first house, 455 Seymour Street; Father is on the steps with my brother Ernest, and I am looking out of the window. I remember it so well. Here is the Durham Block, on Granville Street, where Christ Church held the first service—in the evening—in one of the stores on the ground floor. You know that after Christ Church was built, the sheriff was going to seize the church for debt, and Mr. H.J. Ceperley, W.J. Salsbury, H.J. Cambie, and Father, four of them, contributed one thousand dollars each to ‘save it.’ I know that Father mortgaged our house to get his one thousand dollars. No, it was never returned to him.”

Georgia St 1917 The Bay #2 and #3 CVA 260-1043The family stayed in the house for three years, then moved to a new house on Beach Avenue. (Note that 455 later became 677 Seymour Street). The House stood until 1912, and must have been bought by the Hudson’s Bay Company as it is where they built the first phase of the existing building in 1913. (The first Hudson’s Bay store was in Gastown, and the second at Georgia and Granville. The expansion in 1913 was on Seymour, and then the second building was demolished and replaced to match the Seymour building in 1925. For a while both the 1893 building and the 1913 building stood side by side as the 1917 image on the right shows).

The architects were Burke, Horwood & White and the contractors Rourke, MacDonald & Moncreiff, and the first Seymour and Georgia phase of the construction cost $900,000. The architects were from Toronto, and specialised in designing large commercial 10 storey Baybuildings using historic styles but contemporary materials (favouring glazed terra-cotta, steel frames and fireproof construction methods). Although it was considered a new technique, the building had a reinforced concrete frame rather than steel (which had to be shipped from the east at considerable cost). Although a substantial building, at six storeys, the design included the possibility of an additional four storeys at a later date.

The design in part referenced Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s store in London for American retailer Gordon Selfridge. This has been called a ‘decorated warehouse’ – which is in a sense what all the big departmental stores have been from that point on. The Vancouver design was deemed so successful other Hudson’s Bay stores were designed in the same style, starting with Calgary (which actually completed ahead of Vancouver) and Victoria.

Recent restoration of the terra-cotta, and the removal of a solid metal canopy with lightweight glazed weather protection have given the newly revitalised Bay building a new lease of life.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P119 and CVA 260-1043


The Percival Building – Hamilton Street


The Percival is one the more dramatic transformations from when our 1981 photo shows that this Hamilton Street warehouse facade was mostly blocked up. The concrete window infill was added to the 1912 building after a fire in the 1950s. The building structure today is a mix of poured in place concrete, reinforced concrete floor beams and masonry brick walls which was how it was designed by G P Bowie – being described as a “six-storey brick & concrete warehouse”.

Although it’s sometimes called the Stewart and Cromie Warehouse, and that was the name of the owners on the permit, it appeared in the Street Directories from the year it was finished as the Percival Building. The most likely candidates for having built it are Robert Cromie, who was Manager of Foley, Welch and Stewart who were railway contractors based in the Winch Building. Mr Cromie was later well connected, as his wife was the daughter of Vancouver hardware magnate Edward McFeely. He was originally from Quebec and only 25 years old when the building went up. There’s also a connection to the Vancouver Sun, as this 2012 article by John Mackie explains

“The Sun was launched on Feb. 12, 1912, at the crest of a boom that had seen Vancouver’s population quadruple in 10 years. But the boom went bust as foreign investment stalled around the First World War, and the paper floundered financially. In 1915, The Sun was rescued by an infusion of cash from railway contractors Timothy Foley, Patrick Welch and John Stewart. Foley, Welch and Stewart had cut a shady deal with the provincial government to fund the Pacific Great Eastern railway, and thought a newspaper might be useful in advancing their interest in the PGE. But the deal became a scandal, and they had to repay $1.1 million to the province. In the midst of the scandal, running an unprofitable newspaper wasn’t a priority, and the trio gave control of the paper to Stewart’s secretary, Robert Cromie. One story has it that Cromie fished out some Sun stock that was being thrown out from a wastebasket, which gave him control of the paper. Robert Cromie’s grandson, Ron Cromie, says “family legend” is that Cromie was “given The Sun in lieu of wages owed him for a construction company McConnell [or Foley, Welch and Stewart] also owned that had gone bankrupt.” In any event, Cromie managed to make the paper profitable after acquiring financing from the owner of the Seattle Times and then buying up some competing Vancouver papers (The News-Advertiser and The World) to increase circulation.”

In 1995 the building was given a comprehensive restoration and converted to residential uses on the upper floors. Marshall Fisher Architects and Acton Johnston Ostry were the architects of the newly named ‘Del Prado’ – although these days as often as not is known by its original name – The Percival Building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.32


1110 Hamilton Street

1100 Mainland 1

1100 Hamilton 1

These pictures from 1981 show how Yaletown has seen a dramatic transformation over 30 years – some buildings are on their second (or more) rebuild, and there has been a shift in the past few years from residential conversion to adding commercial space on upper floors of older warehouses.

These days 1110 Hamilton (on the corner of Helmcken Street) is the home of the Yaletown Brewpub, part of the Mark James Group. Back in 1981 it was in the middle of a substantial rebuilding to change it from purely warehouse to add some office use. Because it had been stripped back, a concrete shell can be seen on the Mainland Street side – although the building dates back to 1910 and was built as a ‘brick and stick’ structure. We assume the Hamilton Street image was shot a little later that year when the work was complete. It was originally designed by Smith and Goodfellow for R A Ogilvie. Sholto Smith (despite the Gaelic name) was an English-born architect who practiced briefly in BC and married Charles Woodward’s youngest daughter, thus ensuring that (for a while) he obtained commissions for their building projects. His partner, William Goodfellow, was a local, coming from New Westminster. Their client, Robert A Ogilvie would seem to have been a manufacturer’s agent who (like a surprising number of the people featured on this blog) seems to have managed to evade the 1911 Census. We think he was born in Grey County, Ontario and died in Vancouver in 1935.

In 2009 a much more dramatic remodelling was carried out. Two extra office floors were added in an uncompromisingly contemporary style. Designed by Simon Bonnettmaker at Gower, Yeung & Associates, the building uses corten steel plates on its new floors, a material that, despite looking as if it is rusting away, exhibits increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion compared to unalloyed steels. This is because it forms a protective layer on its surface under the influence of the weather. The building had substantial seismic upgrading during the restoration process. The substantial old growth wood frame timbers were in some places noticeably deteriorating, so the intervention was timely.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.28 and CVA 779-E13.30