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, J 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 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 joined him in running Bowman Storage, but Oscar died in 1923, and in the 1920 US Census Richard and Nancy Bowman are 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)

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Posted February 12, 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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