Clarke & Stuart – 28 Cordova Street

28 Cordova

Clarke and Stuart’s store occupied the last bay at the western end of the N S Hoffar designed Dunn-Miller Block – so in the Miller end of the building – at 28 Cordova. They started up in business early in the city’s history. H P McCraney in conversation with Major Matthews in the 1930s recalled General J. Duff Stuart and Harold Clark as both being clerks working for Seth Tilley, the owner of the stationery company that was established in Granville, before the great fire and the name change to Vancouver. Tilley had the first telephone in town (which if you think about it had somewhat limited utility) – although his telephone number in 1890 was ‘3’. (Nobody had ‘1’, but somehow A G Ferguson had managed to get ‘2’). After he rebuilt after the 1886 fire, Tilley’s store was at 11 Cordova Street.

If his name was initially misprinted as Clark, Harold Clarke arrived in the city in 1890. He apparently arrived in the province from his native St Andrews, New Brunswick, in 1888 when he was aged 26. James Stuart arrived in 1889 and showed up in the directory in 1891 (although there was another James Stuart already in the city, working for Oppenheimer Brothers). Stuart was born in Dufftown in Scotland and 1891 Clarke was working for Thomson Brothers, booksellers and Stuart was a bookkeeper, although we don’t know who for. Clarke married in 1891, and Stuart in 1893, and each had three daughters. Stuart had four sons, Clark had three. By 1894 both men were working for Thomson Brothers, but in 1895 they had established Clarke and Stuart, booksellers and stationers in 11 Cordova Street, so presumably had bought out Seth Tilley who was still in town, but in retirement. In 1896 they were at their new address, 28 Cordova (the building seen in this 1898 picture). Thomson’s continued in business too, but moved a little further up the street.

Harold Clarke became President of the Recreation Park Amusement Co, a Licence Commissioner, and a member of the Vancouver Club and the Yacht Club. He lived at 1246 Haro Street. James Duff Stuart, who was four years younger than his partner, became the lieutenant-colonel commanding the 6th Regiment, later a General and at his death (in 1936) a Brigadier-General. In 1933 he spent $35,000 to buy equity in the Gleneagles golf course on the north shore. He was a member of both the Terminal City Club and the Vancouver Club. He lived at 1220 Georgia Street.

By 1904 the company had moved past just supplying typewriters – they went one step further and provided the stenographers as well. Later they diversified into property development – to our surprise they seem to be the clients who developed the now demolished Devonshire Hotel on West Georgia Street. We’ve also seen the building they built for their printing works and store  in 1906. The company continued in business for many decades – Al Purdy, the poet, remembers Clarke and Stuart printing an early volume of his poetry in the 1940s, and the company were still trading in the 1950s.

As we noted when looking at the other end of the building,  the Army and Navy store now occupies the space, although only the first few metres of the store are original construction, the remainder having been rebuilt in the early 1970s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N283.1

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