We don’t know who designed the Golden Gate Hotel (on the corner of Davie Street) but the possible architects are on a relatively short list, as it dates back to 1889, making it around the same age as the Yale Hotel a block away. In fact it’s slightly older than the Yale (which was then called the Colonial Hotel), as it was connected to the water system in March, while the Colonial wasn’t hooked up until July.
The Colonial Hotel and the Golden Gate first appear in the 1889 Directory and the Colonial was designed by N S Hoffar (as was 1286 Granville nearby) so he may have designed this building as well.
O S Bergland is listed as proprietor of the Golden Gate in 1889, (offering First Class Board, Pool and Billiards) although in 1890 and 1895 F G Twigg is the listed proprietor (and the building is also called the Holman Block for some of this period). In 1894 Captain Tatlow had addressed a friendly crowd in the hotel in support of the government. In 1896 it’s listed as being vacant, and there’s no sign of it in the 1897 Directory either. This may have been connected with a pair of unfortunate incidents recorded in the Times Colonist. On the left you can read how Mr Twigg lost $265 and a gold watch when he was held up as he was stabling his horse.
To add insult to injury, two days later his horse and buggy were stolen. Note the somewhat random use of initials in the 19th century press.
In 1898 and 1899 the Golden Gate Hotel is back in business, McHugh and Kelly, proprietors. From 1899 to 1904 Samuel J Teese, an Irishman who had arrived in Canada in 1881 is back running the hotel. In 1901 the Census shows us there were a number of boarders – four Americans including two carpenters and a car repairer, another car repairer from Cape Breton, a carpenter from Ontario, a barber from Ontario and a fireman, also from Ontario and a labourer from Nova Scotia. (we assume the car repairers worked at the CPR yards nearby – many earlier tenants of the hotel were CPR employees too). William Hinson was the cook and Anne Vincent the waitress.
By 1905 the hotel’ proprietor changed again to George Mottishaw, and in 1906 Quintin Trotter bought the hotel. A native of Bobcaygeon in Ontario, Mr Trotter took 3 months to remodel it (he was a skilled carpenter having worked at the sash and door works and on fitting out the Princess Victoria). Mr Trotter renamed it the Tourist Hotel and sold it to George Trorey in 1908, who retained ownership to at least 1941.
In 1908 the Tourist cafe was listed – but the hotel was not mentioned. In 1909 the Tourist Hotel has Montagu Gladwin as the barman along with James McIsaac, Phillip Hacquoil was listed as proprietor and only 2 boarders were mentioned. In 1911 and 1912 J Montgomery Reeves is listed as proprietor, but we know the hotel was owned by G E Trorey, who used W H Pawson to design alterations in 1911 carried out by Western Sheet Metal Works. George Trorey was a wealthy jeweller who had his own company which he had sold to Henry Birks, becoming Birks’ General Manager. Presumably the hotel was an investment and the various ‘proprietors’ listed in the directories carried out the day-to-day management of the hotel and bar.
Staff changed frequently and comprehensively: in 1911 Clyde Gladwin was the bartender (Montague Gladwin was now at the Yale, a block south) . In 1912 Mr Reeves was still shown as the proprietor, Fred Dunn was the bartender with James McIsaac, Joseph King and Hector Ross clerks, Minnie Donovan and Margaret Elder were waitresses, William Wilson the steward, John Conroy and Jeremiah Maroney, both stonecutters were resident along with John Glasgow a checker with a dairy and William Haley (who worked for the Western Sheet Metal Co) and a fitter and carpenter.
A year later the proprietors were Tony Cianci and Joseph Feren and barmen Ernest Appleton and Thomas Barry had joined James McIsaac. Herbert Carr was clerk, Nellie Reid and Anna Wachholtz were waitresses, J H Simpson who operated the Canadian Film Exchange was the only listed resident. In 1915 there were only two residents, James Wilson and John McNeil, both loggers and Rebecca McNeil was the maid. James McIsaac was still at the bar, joined by John Smith.
By 1920 the building was no longer a hotel; there were 6 apartments as well as Dr Geer and Dr Gibson in the Tourist Block, with the Bank of Nova Scotia occupying the ground floor. That arrangement was still in place in 1925, although the doctors were no longer there. By 1931, when our VPL image was taken, the main floor was listed as vacant, the bank having moved, but all eight apartments were occupied.
Today it has almost the same arrangement – there are eight rental units (self-contained, renovated in 1974) and retail below – these days the Two Parrots Taverna.