J & H Hadden & Co were a successful hosiery company in Nottingham, England, from around the turn of the 19th century. Frederick John Hadden died in 1881, leaving his estate to his children including his son, Harvey, who took over running the family business aged 30. He obviously was successful enough to travel, and in the course of his travel visited the relatively new city of Vancouver. If the anecdote recounted by city archivist Major Matthews is to be believed, he was on a train leaving the city when he got into conversation with Harry Abbott, Superintendent of the CPR who persuaded him to return an invest in the fast-growing city. Whether this really occurred is impossible to verify, but Mr Hadden undoubtedly returned at some point and acquired considerable property, including corner lots on the north side of West Hastings at Cambie, Homer and Granville. (A different version of his history says he arrived by steamship from San Francisco in 1891. Both could, of course, be true).
It is suggested that the land started to lose value, and Mt Hadden decided to develop buildings to generate a return. The choice of architect to develop the property was Sydney Eveleigh, who had worked initially for N S Hoffar and then C O Wickenden, although he is said to have had the main hand in designing the Hadden buildings. Eveleigh was originally from Bedford, another Midlands English town that, like Nottingham, was noted for its lace industry. We know of at least three other Hadden buildings built before this 1901 commission for a substantial building (for the time) on the much-photographed corner of Granville and Hastings. This time he attached his name to the Hadden Building, (as he had before when developing Harvey’s Chambers).
It appears that this might be the first building erected on this site – there’s nothing obviously bearing the street address in the 1899 Street Directory. Although Eveleigh is said to have designed the building, he was working at the time as a draftsman for W T Dalton, who is therefore credited with the building. A year later Dalton and Eveleigh became partners, and went on to design a series of important buildings across the city. One of Eveleigh’s designs was for a palatial mansion in 160 acres of North Vancouver, set in dramatically landscaped gardens with 500 roses imported from France. This was Harvey Hadden’s Vancouver home, Hadden Hall, built in 1903 when he had been married just two years to Madelina, a woman less than half his age. “The nature-loving industrialist built Hadden Hall as his country home on a solid rock ridge 700 feet up Hollyburn Mountain near the current location of Capilano Golf Club, and enjoyed many summers at his idyllic west coast retreat before the outbreak of the First World War. Hadden returned to Vancouver just once more after that period, and the beautiful home he built was left unoccupied for 15 years before burning to the ground in an accidental fire.”
Among Mr Hadden’s tenants, as this early 1900s image shows, was jeweller George Trorey who placed his famous clock on the sidewalk in front of the building. In 1912, just 11 years after its completion, Mr Hadden sold the Hadden Building at what must have been a tremendous profit. We haven’t found the cost to build the Hadden Building, but it couldn’t have been over $100,000. The Royal Bank paid $725,000 for the site for their new headquarters.
And then they sat on it. The First World War interupted the city’s economy and the pre-war boom (in fact things fell apart from 1912 on). So the Hadden Building stayed on the extraordinarily expensive site right through to 1929 when it was eventually demolished, and the Royal Bank’s art deco skyscraper – or more accurately, half a skyscraper, was built to the designs of S G Davenport, a Montreal based architect who was the Royal Bank’s staff architect.
Although designed to be built as a wedding cake tower, Vancouver still has only just over half a cake as the eastern second phase was never built – although you can’t tell that looking from the west.
Mr Hadden’s marriage apparently didn’t work out well; despite the addition of two children, Doris and Harvey, in 1920 Madelina sought a legal seperation, and the ensuing case was reported widely, owing to the rather unusual grounds. “Mrs. Hadden said that while they were staying a Budleigh Salterton her husband was absent from her a good deal. “He was away all day golfing,” she added. Mr. Justice Shearman – That raises a serious question whether continued absence on the golf course amounts to legal cruelty. Mr. Holman Gregory, K.C. M.P., who appeared for the husband – If so, I am afraid some lawyers are bad husbands. The Judge – I know the golf course at Budleigh Salterton, and it has considerable attractions.” We don’t know the outcome, but it would seem that the separation went through as there is no mention of his family following Harvey’s death in 1931 when he was living in Claridge’s Hotel in London. Despite his absence from Vancouver over many years, he spent $44,000 in 1928 to fund the purchase of today’s Hadden Park in Kitsilano (the home of the Maritime Museum) which he handed over with an additional $5,000 for its completion.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-647