Pender Chambers – 522 West Hastings

Pender Chambers

Based on its name, we thought this was the last building that English investor Harvey Hadden built in the city. Unlike the other three that were on Hastings Street, this was on Pender Street, and was appropriately called Pender Chambers. And unlike the others, it appeared to have lasted quite a bit longer. It was reported to have been designed in 1895 by W T Dalton soon after S M Eveleigh had joined as a draftsman (although the partnership between them was only formalised in 1902). The building on the site was still standing in 1974 when this image was taken. The second floor was occupied by the Duffus School of business (which it had been for around 25 years). We saw their earlier premises on Granville in an earlier post. On the main floor in 1974 was the White Rose Cafe, a Chinese restaurant, the Vancouver Coin and Stamps Co, and Wilson and Kofeod’s real estate and Insurance agency.

The problem we have is that there’s no building on this site on the 1903 insurance map – or in the street directories. In 1905 there seems to have been a house with Mary Casher, a widow living downstairs, Thomas Slaughter and Martin Goodenham at the rear and a miner, a longshoreman and a carpenter elsewhere in the building.

Pender Chambers don’t appear until 1907 when several real estate agents, a barrister and the Capilano Flume Co had offices upstairs. All eight offices had different tenants just one year later, including architect Henry B Watson, shipping agents, an osteopath and the Swayne Copper Mining Co among others. The main floor also seems to have been exclusively office uses.

Whether this is Hadden’s building, designed by Dalton (and maybe Eveleigh) we can’t be sure. It has the same name – Pender Chambers – and Hadden continued to have an active interest in the city, so it is quite possible he only finally got round to developing the site many years after he had the initial plans drawn up. Its appearance, with white bricks and centre-hung windows looks much more like a Parr and Fee design than anything W T Dalton would design. McCarter & Nairne were hired to carry out a $10,000 repair and alterations for R P Baker in 1926. The owner spent another $500 adding a parking station at the end of the year. We assume that was at the back of the building on the lane, as it apparently only took up half the depth of the lot.

The stores and office tenants have, as with most Vancouver buildings, changed many times over the years. In the 1950s the Lion Cafe, Pender Shoe Renew and Lennie’s Luggage and another real estate company, Spencer Busch and Co were here. A decade earlier the cafe was Ford’s cafe, there was a tobacco store and the Art Engraving Co. The upper floor had a wholesale woolen merchant, a jewellery manufacturer, a tailor and the offices of the Amalgamated Civil Servants. In 1930 several units were empty, but the cafe was the Waldorf and Keir and Doig had a tailors store, with their workshop upstairs.

The site was redeveloped in 1990 as a parkade – one of the last to be built in the Downtown area.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-281

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Posted 11 August 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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