West Pender and Burrard – sw corner (1)

Pender & Burrard

Here’s a 1956 picture of a two-storey building on the corner of Burrard and West Pender. If it’s looking a bit shabby, that’s because it’s heading for demolition. It was built in 1910 by owner, and supposed architect E W McLean, and built by R P Forshaw at a cost of $50,000 as stores and apartments. This was not the only project developed by the same owner / builder combination – there was also a $5,000 house on the corner of Nelson and Bute. While Mr McLean’s skills were surprisingly varied, architecture wasn’t something mentioned by his biographers, despite his claim to be the architect on the Building Permit. This is confirmed by an entry from a 1910 copy of the Contract Record that notes the construction of a “commercial block for Arthur E. McEvoy and E.W. MacLean” designed by J S Helyer, the architect of the Dominion Building and Stock Exchange Building.

MacLean 2There’s a bit of confusion about how Mr Mclean spelled his name. The Building Permit, and the 1901 census both have McLean, but his Biographer spells it MacLean – so that’s what we’ll stick with. Ewen Wainwright MacLean was described in 1914 as “one of the most prominent capitalists in Vancouver and on the Pacific coast of Canada, has been engaged in the real-estate, loan, investment and insurance business for about two decades and is an active factor in the control and management of various enterprises.” E W’s father was Scottish, his mother from Canada (born in PEI into a Scottish family) but E W was born in Nagasaki, Japan, where his father acted as superintendent of the lighthouse service. He was sent to school in Hong Kong, so was fluent in Chinese, explaining why his 1901 Census entry gives his employment as a Chinese Interpreter.

MacLean 1He left college aged around 14 and went to San Francisco for ten years before moving on to Victoria in 1886. He worked there as a fur sealer until that practice was banned, at which point he moved to Vancouver (around 1890). He initially ran a coal business, which he sold after a few years to become a broker, involved in insurance, stocks and real estate. He also obviously used his language ability as a number of items of correspondence between Chang Toy, the Chinese merchant who ran the Sam Kee Company, and other businessmen were routed through Mr MacLean. This would also explain an entry in Chang Toy’s biography “During the night of 6–7 September, following a rally organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League, a mob rampaged through Chinatown. Chang responded by sending his two younger sons to stay in the homes of prominent Vancouver citizens Ewan Wainwright McLean and John Joseph Banfield

Mr MacLean had significant property development interests in addition to the modest building at Burrard. He was vice president of the Exchange Building, Limited (hence the connection to J S Helyer as architect). In association with J. W. Weart he organized the Investors Guarantee Corporation, Limited, where he was vice-president, and built the fifteen-story Weart building at the corner of Hastings and Richard streets. (although a deal with tenants ensured it became The Standard Building). He also had a railway interest as vice-president of the Southeast Kootenay Railway.

Arthur McEvoy had arrived in Canada in 1889 from England, and the 1901 Census says that at the age of 26 he was already a barrister (having been called to the bar in 1899). There’s a Sam Kee connection to Mr McEvoy as well. In 1908 the company the company purchased standing timber in the Hastings Townsite and then approached Arthur McEvoy to offer the cut wood to City Hall, the City Hospital, schools, churches and “any other big buildings” to clear the stock before the summer. A Director of a number of companies including the Howe Sound Development Co and vice-president of the Howe Sound Northern Railway, in 1913 Mr McEvoy acquired the Coalmont Colliery and as president of the company saw 4,850 tons of coal hauled from the mine in 1914 before the war put a temporary halt to operations.

Both developers of the building were members of the Liberal Party and members of the Terminal City Club. While Mr McEvoy and his family lived across False Creek at 1290 West 12th Avenue in 1910, but a year later was at 1147 Nelson Street, while Ewen MacLean lived at 1184 Nelson Street. (Actually there were two Ewen MacLeans at that address as Ewen MacLean junior was an assistant cashier in his father’s company, but was still living at home in 1911).

The building that replaced the MacLean and McEvoy investment was Bentall’s first office tower downtown (although not the first office building). Charles Bentall was present in 1965 (aged 83) when the ground-breaking for the 21-storey tower took place, and exactly a year later he was present with the mayor when the final concrete was poured to ‘top out’ the building. The Bentall family construction company, Dominion, moved into the building on its completion in 1967, the year that Tower Two started construction. Both were designed by Frank Musson who worked until 1965 with Dominion Construction, and then founded Frank W Musson and Associates, later the Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership, responsible for designing the other two towers of the complex.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-336


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