Archive for June 2013

West Cordova and Granville (1)

West Cordova and Granville 2

We saw another angle of this corner in a much earlier post. The single storey stores built by the Allen Brothers and designed by W P White saw a number of different occupants over the years. In this 1926 picture the corner was occupied by Stan’s Express – although it’s not completely clear what Stan (who was Stan Collins) did so speedily. Next door was a cafe called the Burnaby Lunch (run by Mrs Lydia Brazee, who lived a few doors down in the Almer Hotel), and McIver’s Garage was at the back. Pacific Coast Taxis also operated from here (run by S T Cann and C W Cote) – that’s their office underneath the Coca Cola sign.

West Cordova and Granville 3

Here’s another 1959 view of the same corner. Lando’s Furs now feature prominently, (and around the corner was also Lando’s Indian Curio store) but you could also pick up cigarettes from Wilson’s News-Stand or stop for a haircut from the Principe Brothers. All this was about to change – the signs on the windows show the tenants were being ‘FORCED OUT’ and warning patrons of Trute’s Dry Cleaners not to forget to collect their laundry.

The 1969 structure that replaced the stores is now a little closer to becoming another lost parkade – a proposed replacement office tower has now been redesigned to the approval of the city’s Urban Design Panel and can now proceed to rezoning.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2252 and CVA 447-325



Posted June 11, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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East Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (1)

100 block E Hastings

The building on the right of this 1938 VPL picture is 100 East Hastings, inaccurately identified as the McDonough Hall. Next door, 106 East Hastings was initially built in 1911 at a cost of $17,000 by J J Dissette for W Clark (designed by Kenneth Fraser a fairly obscure architect who was sometimes in partnership with Dissette for development) – but at that time it was described as ‘one and a half storeys’. The building we see today was completed around 1920, and it’s actually L-shaped, wrapping round behind the hall to face Columbia Street as well. At the end of the year Mr Clark spent another $2,000 in making alterations to the property, and a year later other alterations including one worth $1,150 on a permit listed as “Office/store; alter shooting gallery” designed by R Grant and another to “alter pool room”.

Vancouver Auto & CycleBefore the building was built the site was empty, as this 1905 picture shows. Once it was complete it had quite the array of businesses. As well as the East End Cyclery at 108, there was also Borland & Trousedale’s real estate offices, the Wellington Theatre (Lathan and Saborne, props) and the Wellington Pool Room (with the same owners as the theatre). There appear to be no references to the theatre’s operation, and by 1914 it has become the Wellington arcade run by H N Wolfield – presumably a shooting arcade (a  fate that befell the Bijou Theatre five years later)

The low wooden building was occupied in 1905 by Vancouver Auto & Cycle, but a year earlier J F Ristein had spent $320 on ‘alterations to stable’ confirming that was the earlier use for the building (as a livery stable). The company was the first auto dealership in the city, and were bought by Fred Begg who moved on from selling Oldsmobiles (in the picture) and Cadillacs to Ford vehicles, and later Chryslers and Dodge motors. By 1912 they had moved to Seymour Street and it looks as if there was a rooming house upstairs at 110 run by Mrs Minnie Olsen, called the Crescent. There were three shops beneath; a tailor (Thomas Kee), Max Moloff’s jewelery store and an auction company that a year later was occupied by a wholesale cigar company. The arcade, the tailor and the Crescent Rooms were still all in operation through to the 1920s, and in 1925 The Modern Company was at 106. By 1930 The Dominion Furniture Co were at 106, Mac’s Minute Lunch was at 108 and the Washington Rooms were upstairs. Ten years later 106 is a cafe – the Muir Cafe, 108 is a rival, the Radio Lunch, and the Washinton Rooms are still upstairs.

The five storey hotel to the left of the picture is the Hotel Seward, Howard Hotel, Empire Hotel and today Brandiz (our very first blog post here). It was built in 1913 for Seabold and Roberts and designed by H A Hodgson. The two storey retail and office building at 108 today was built in the early 1980s.

Image sources Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver City Archives Trans P47


Posted June 9, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street from Columbia Street (east)

Hastings from Columbia

Here’s a view of East Hastings Street, looking east from Columbia Street, taken in the late 1900s. It’s shot after Crowe & Wilson built their new block in 1906, but before the three much taller buildings were added to the east; the Balmoral,  the Washington and the Dawson Building, all in 1912.

The building on the right is sometimes identified as the McDonough Hall, (although it probably wasn’t actually called that, as our post clarifies) and this picture makes greater sense of the curious projecting corner window, which originally served as a porch over the doorway. On the left, the three-storey building behind the tram is identified on the insurance maps as the ‘Crowe and Wilson Building’. We’ve already seen buildings developed by the same partners, the Selkirk Building, Crowe & Wilson Chambers, and one by Wilson on his own on Granville Street. This was built in 1906, and while we haven’t been able to confirm an architect, we’re betting it was Dalton and Eveleigh who seem to have designed many of the other Crowe and Wilson buildings.

As well as creating a sizeable property empire, both men were elected aldermen on Vancouver City Council, and Crowe was appointed to the Senate. Sanford Johnson Crowe was born February 14, 1868 in Truro, NS, moved to Vancouver in 1888 and became a contractor. He retired in 1909 to enter politics (although his name stayed on the firm, which continued to be active as developers) and was elected an alderman on Council from 1909 until 1915. He lived on Pendrell Street in the West End, and was elected to the House of Commons in 1917 as a Liberal-Unionist. He was appointed to the Senate in 1921 where he sat until his death in 1931, aged 63. Crowe was important enough in the construction industry to represent the employers in a 1907 strike by carpenters. The employers meetings were held in the Crowe and Wilson Block.

Charles H Wilson arrived in Vancouver three weeks after the fire in 1886 from Wingham, Ontario and joined the real estate boom as both a contractor and real estate broker. He was successful enough to have an area called Wilson Heights named after him (and 41st Avenue was Wilson Avenue for a while). He was elected Alderman from 1902 to 1905, and lived in the West End on Nelson Street.

The area the building first appeared in changed. By 1947 the Western Sports Club were in the building, the year that 142 people were arrested for gambling. Seventeen men were charged as ‘gaming house keepers’ and the rest were charged as ‘inmates’. John Mackie at the Vancouver Sun recently reported the story: “It was the second-biggest raid of its kind in Vancouver history, and the police station wasn’t prepared for the flood of prisoners. Police headquarters was a scene of confusion and overcrowding today as the accused appeared in court,” said The Sun. “Prison cells were overflowing, corridors were jammed with prisoners and spectators.” The raid was conducted by 30 policemen, who found 15 gambling tables in operation, seized gambling paraphernalia and confiscated $400 in cash. “Under their provincial charter, card clubs are not allowed to take more than 10 cents an hour or 50 cents a day from each member,” The Sun explained. “The ‘house’ is not permitted to sell cards or take a cut from the ‘pot.’ At a trial of the Western Sport Club’s five owners in the fall of 1947, the club was reported to have taken in $163,290 in “general income” in 1946. A jury found the men guilty of operating a gaming house, and a judge imposed a fine of $100 each, or 30 days in jail.”

Up to the 1990s the building was used as a rooming house, last known as the West Inn. Since 2003, after extensive renovations to the building designed by S R McEwen Architects, Insite has operated from the building, the only legal supervised injection site in North America. Upstairs is Onsite, a drug treatment program managed, like Insite, by the Portland Hotel Society.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-649 1906, Philip Timms


100 East Hastings Street

McDonough Hall

This is not the oldest wooden structure still standing in Vancouver – that’s probably 385 East Cordova, a house built and occupied in 1887 by Thomas Dunn. The Alhambra Hotel was also built that year, so that’s a contender for the oldest building, although we think there’s an earlier building developed by Ben Springer and Captain Van Bramer on Cordova Street, and we shouldn’t overlook David Oppenheimer’s warehouse either. However, we acknowledge that this building – previously wrongly identified as the McDonough Hall – is one of the oldest wood-frame surviving commercial buildings in the city. We have no idea who designed it – or even whether anybody did, other than the carpenter who constructed it.

In 1931, when this picture was taken, Major Matthews, the City Archivist, interviewed W F Findlay, an early arrival in the city who recalled “It is at the southeast corner of Columbia and Hastings Street, and is, I believe, the oldest building in downtown Vancouver, a wooden building approximately fifty feet facing on Hastings Street. The first big ball in Vancouver (later corrected to the first of the St. Andrews and Caledonian Society) was held in the McDonough Hall.  It was a really ‘grand’ ball, the supper was on the upper floor; the lower floor, even at that time, was stores, or rather, a grocery store. The building is now used for some sort of a mission, that is, top floor, with stores of various sorts on the street level.” That ball was said to be held on November 30, 1887.

“It was built in the fall of 1887, and finished in 1888. (Mr Findlay clarified later that it was built in 1887 by Mr. McDonough, afterwards for a short time proprietor of the Oriental Hotel). He described it as “practically the only very early building on Hastings Street; I know of no other so early. At the time people remarked, as they saw it in process of erection, ‘Why did he go out in the woods to build it?’. At the time it was built, and for a long time, it stood alone as the only building in the bushes of Hastings Street; there were some Chinese shacks on Dupont Street near it, but on Hastings Street it was the only building.”

There’s some doubt if Mr. Findlay’s memory was all that good. The Past Tense blog checked a picture from around 1890 taken from the roof of the city’s Market Hall near here, looking along Hastings, and there doesn’t seem to be anything built on this site. There’s also nothing showing in the street directories until 1894 when Hesson & Irving’s Grocery was operating here. Mr McDonough has also proved to be elusive. There’s Irishman Charles McDonough living in New Westminster in 1887, a widowed retired dry goods dealer aged 44 in 1891, but nobody called McDonough in Vancouver in either 1887 or 1888. The 1888 Directory described Hart’s Opera House under ‘Amusements’ but doesn’t mention McDonough’s premises. The St. Andrews and Caledonian Society met monthly at Gray’s Hall on Cordova Street. Later there was a P McDonough who was a general agent at the Granville Hotel (on Water Street) in the 1889 Directory, and E M McDonough who was proprietor of the Richmond House at 318 Carrall in 1892. He may be the American Edward McDonough who sold sewing machines according to the 1891 Census, and who was charged, (but acquitted), of dubious financial practices associated with that occupation in Vancouver in 1888.

So it would seem likely that this is actually an 1893 property – but still one of the oldest remaining wooden structures in the city. The application for a water permit was submitted by H A Jones in 1893. Henry Albert Jones was a pioneer real estate agent who lived in Columbus Ohio for some years, where he married Jane Richards and had two daughters. He moved to Vancouver before the 1886 fire (in Vancouver he generally seems to have been known as Harry), and lived in the Leland House hotel in 1890 before moving to a house on Pender Street and then in the early 1890s to a new house on Georgia Street at the corner with Bute. In the 1891 Census he was listed as Harry Jones, living with Clara (from Ohio)and his mother-in-law, Louise Shafer who had been born in Germany. He had divorced Jane and remarried in Ohio in 1889.

In the 1901 census he was called Henry, born in England and  as well as Clara there were two children, Ruth, aged 8 and Harold aged 6 and Laura Drake, their domestic. Both children had been born in the US, although there’s no sign that the family weren’t living in Canada for any extended period. We are fairly certain that Harry developed another building around this time, on West Hastings Street. In 1911 he was living with his daughter (from his first marriage) and son-in-law, and was shown as being called Harry and born in Wales.

In 1921 he was living on Seymour Street in another building he developed, (most recently known as the Railway Club) with his Norwegian wife Madge. They had married in Santa Ana in California in 1913, where he was described as divorced with 2 previous marriages, and she was a widow who had also been married twice before. He was born in Liverpool, but his father, James, was Welsh. He died in Capitola, Santa Cruz, California in 1923.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA STR N9


Posted June 5, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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West Pender and Burrard – ne corner

Pender & Burrard ne corner

This 1924 image doesn’t have an architect associated with it – it was the Chevrolet car lot. The single storey building on the right of the picture occupied by the car company was built by Purdy & Henderson for R T Harvey in 1911 at a cost of $7,000. The house on the left dated back to before 1901, (apparently back to 1892), but there don’t seem to be any records readily available of who built it. The Hotel Abbotsford was being run by John McLuckie, who had also built it.

Five years later there was still a garage here run by the improbably named partnership of Mutch and Little; (John I Mutch and Milton H Little), and a decade later in 1940 it was still a garage run by Bell Motors. In 1946 there was a Shell Shell station Burrard & Pender 1949service station on the corner, but as the sign on the forecourt shows, by 1949 it had been bought by Charles Bentall’s Dominion Construction. A year later there was a new building – the Bentall Building – a contemporary design with five floors of offices occupied by a series of Insurance companies including Northwestern Mutual Fire Assurance, Travelers Insurance and Eagle Star, and the headquarters of Canadian Forest Products. Bentall Building Burrard & Pender 1950The building only took 22 weeks to build, and we don’t know who designed it. Frank Musson, who would design the Bentall Centre towers on the opposite side of the Pender and Burrard junction didn’t reach British Columbia until 1957. Charles Bentall had lost a court case brought by the AIBC to prevent him from designing his own buildings without being a qualified architect, so another architect must have been associated with the new structure.

The first Burrard Building only lasted a matter of thirty years. In 1984 a new office development was started, again by the Bentall Group, for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. We’re a little unsure of the correct architectural credit: Musson Cattell Mackey claim the design on their company website, but it’s also attributed to another company, Waisman Dewar Grout Carter.

The hotel Abbotsford is still standing – and it’s still a hotel. Today it’s the Downtown Day’s Inn.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3478


Posted June 3, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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East Pender – 500 block

500 block E Pender

Our 1978 image shows the north side of the 500 block of East Pender Street. Although the whole block had once been full of businesses and houses, with the threat of comprehensive redevelopment in the 1960s, by 1978 (when the threat had passed) just two houses remained standing on this stretch of East Pender. They were designed and built in 1909 by Thomas Angus, a builder who was active in the city from 1909 for several years. Angus was aged 35 when he built the houses; he was born in Ontario but had probably been in Manitoba before moving to Vancouver (as his daughters, Gertrude and Elva aged 5 and 3 in 1909, were born there).

The owner of the houses was William Dick, so they were built as investment properties, costing $3,200 to build. We’ve seen his Hastings Street clothing store, built a few years later, in another post. In 1913 he also built an apartment building on East Pender Street, designed by H B Watson that became the home of the Mah Society of Canada a few years later. His home was in the West End, on Nelson Street.

The two houses these days are exactly the same as they were in 1909 – two houses. To the east the almost vacant land we can see in 1978 was redeveloped in 1983 as Jackson Gardens, a 26 unit strata development with a mix of apartments and townhouses, designed by H Hou. Because it’s only two storeys high the built density is actually lower than the two 1909 houses next door.