Archive for October 2013
Here’s the Hotel Winters on a postcard, probably from around 1910. It’s a hand coloured black and white photograph, so the bricks haven’t really changed colour. You can see that most of the building looks as solid today as when W T Whiteway designed and supervised the construction in 1907. These days it’s a Single Room Occupancy residence for low-income residents.
There’s been some confusion in the past over who built the hotel. There’s general agreement it was a Mrs Winters, and Avis Winters, wife of Richard was living with her husband in the city in the 1891 census (he was aged 37 and she was 28). Richard Winters was from Nova Scotia, and Avis was from Ontario. Richard was a barber in Victoria in 1884, but was on the Vancouver voting list in 1886 as a tenant of Jonathan Miller, and in 1888 applied for a licence for a saloon on Dupont Street (today’s East Pender).
In 1906 Mrs Winters was listed as the widow of Richard, and living on Hornby Street. Some references suggest her husband, William, built the hotel for her, but there’s no sign of a William Winters in the city – it’s probably a confusion with William Winter who owned the Granville Cafe. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s diligence we now know the December 1906 building permit confirms that Mrs Alice M Winters was the owner, William Tuff Whiteway was the architect and the 3 storey hotel would cost $45,000. From the postcard it’s obvious that the building ended up as 4 storeys. (We still don’t know why in the census she’s Avis, and in most other contexts she’s Alice).
The advert for the new hotel suggest the proprietors were C N Owen & Co – but they probably just ran it on for Mrs Winters. In 1908 and 1909 she ran a tobacco shop and a pool room in the retail space under the hotel with her nephew, Thomas Stevenson.
In 1908 the hotel was described in glowing terms in the Greater Vancouver Illustrated publication.
“Hotel Winters was designed and was erected specially for a hotel replete with every modern and up-to-date convenience known to the business. It is constructed of red pressed brick, with cut stone trimmings. The lobby, buffet and reading room are laid with mosaic tiling, the lobby having a lofty ceiling and being a spacious and well-lighted room. The furniture is of golden oak, with which the trimmings are In perfect harmony.
There are one hundred and twenty luxuriously appointed rooms in the hotel, a part of which are en suite, fifty of the apartments provided with private baths. All rooms are exceptionally well lighted and airy, are provided with steam heat, hot and cold water, telephones and such other modern conveniences as are usually found in the best and most modern hotels.
The dining room is large, beautifully lighted and elaborately decorated, and has walls and ceilings paneled with heavy plaster staff relief work. The service is of the very best, and guests pronounce this one of the most satisfactory places to dine that can be found In the city.
The hotel is conducted on the American plan and rates are reasonable, considering the high class accommodations secured. The proprietors of this excellent hostelry are A. M. Winters who built same, and after whom It Is named, and Thos. Stevenson, the latter being the active manager.
Mr Stevenson was for several years manager of the Dominion Hotel, Victoria. Of Scotch decent, he posseses many qualities which make him most popular with the traveling public, and there Is probably no hotelman In Western Canada who possesses a larger acquaintance. nor one more efficiently equipped to conduct a thoroughly modern, high-class hotel.”
Mrs Winters seems to have done well enough with the hotel, which was $1 a day on the European Plan but $2 on the American Plan (with meals). In 1911 she had Somervell and Putnam design a house for her in Point Grey, although successfully avoided the census that year.
McLennan, McFeely and Company Limited were the city’s most successful importer of hardware and building supplies at the turn of the 20th century. In 1906 they built themselves a massive new warehouse on the corner of Columbia and East Cordova, hiring E E Blackmore to design it; (the son of William Blackmore who designed the adjacent Commercial Block).
Both McLennan and McFeely were in the city before the 1886 fire: Robert Purves McLennan was from Pictou, Nova Scotia and had run a hardware store in River John before moving to Winnipeg in 1882 aged 21. Edward John McFeely was from Lindsay, Ontario, was two years younger than McLennan and also sought his fortune in Winnipeg in 1882. The future partners met there and worked together, but the boom ended quickly (his biography calls it ‘the real estate reaction’) and he headed to Minneapolis. McLennan had gone to Victoria in 1884, establishing an ornamental ironwork and tin cornice company that expanded rapidly. He invited McFeely to join him in business and they bought a lot on Powell Street in Vancouver to build a warehouse. The frame was up when the fire destroyed the town, but apparently the lumber it was built from was still wet, having been floated in a raft, so it didn’t burn and they were able to complete it quickly (covering it with corrugated iron) and cash in on the building frenzy that followed. During the 1890s the firm’s focus shifter from roofing and tinsmithing to wholesaling. In 1891 McLennan had 13 people working with him in Victoria and McFeely 17 in Vancouver.
Further buildings followed; in 1889 their business ‘stoves, tinsmiths and plumbers’ was in a 3 storey building designed for them in 1887 by Elmer Fisher, on the 100 block of Cordova, the main business street of the day. It was apparently extensively covered with the company’s own decorative metal trim,and the city’s library was for a while in a rented room upstairs. In 1900 GW Grant designed a new warehouse on Pender, and in 1905 E E Blackmore and W T Whiteway designed a new warehouse on Water Street that was completed, but never occupied by the company. Hardware and Merchandising magazine explained “McLennan, McFeely Company, Vancouver, have leased the block that Contractor J. McLuckie is erecting on the corner of Water and Abbott streets to the Fairbanks Company. The block will be three stories high, and the estimated cost is $30,000. It will have a private siding from the C. P. R. and, being right on the waterfront, is well located.” Instead they commissioned this massive (150,000 square feet) warehouse on Cordova at Columbia in 1906. In fact, they commissioned two buildings for this site – Parr and Fee designed the building on the left for Cordova and Columbia at some time before 1900 – as far as we know it was never built.
Our top image shows the building in 1910; the one below shows it in 1920. Both McLennan and McFeely became important members of the city’s business establishment. Both were associated with the Board of Trade, and Robert McLennan was also on the School Board, a member of the Board of Governors of UBC and President of the Bank of Vancouver. Edward McFeely owned a motor yacht, the ‘Jolly Mac’ in which he cruised the BC Coast. Robert McLellan owed a 330 acre farm on Gambier Island with extensive orchards and a prize dairy herd. McFeely was mostly responsible for running the Vancouver operation; McLellan supervised the Yukon operations for five years from 1898, his family joining him every summer. He even became mayor of Dawson for a year in 1903 (having sold the retail side of the business in 1902), but in 1904 the remaining operations were sold and McLennan returned to Vancouver. A third partner, E G Prior, was added in the late 1920s to create McLennan, McFeely and Prior Limited as the company continued to expand after Robert McLennan’s death.
Edward McFeely was married in Victoria in 1889 and there were six children. Robert McLennan married in Nova Scotia in 1887 and had ten children, including one born in Dawson City in the Yukon. McLennan died in 1927, and McFeely in 1928, one month after retiring.
In the 1970s the Koret clothing company from San Francisco occupied the building, and the residential conversion completed in 2006 still bears their name. The Koret Lofts has 118 live-work units with an extra floor added to the building with the conversion and restoration designed by Simon Bonnettemaker at Gower Yeung and Associates.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Str P419 and CVA 99 – 3275
The Commercial Block was one of the most advanced buildings in the city – when it was built in 1893. Welsh entrepreneur Jonathan Rogers teamed up with James and Thomas Hunter to build a two-storey and basement building on Columbia Street near Powell Street. It was the first building to have an electric elevator – and it had three of them. Each three bays of the building was a separate warehouse, although there was no indication of this arrangement on the facade. William Blackmore designed the building in a robust brick and stone design and once it was complete Thomas Hunter became the owner.
When it was first built the earliest tenant was a hardware company. By 1900 the building inexplicably took even numbered addresses (although it was on the odd side of the street) and had the Toronto Type Foundry, VW and FW Mitchell, brokers and merchants, and the Parsons Produce Co. In 1906 Cosens and Kindon, commercial merchants, had their warehouse here, along with the Terminal City Rice Mills and Western Oil and Supply Co. Sometime around that time a 3-storey extension was added to the north (although the architect is unknown). It was completed by 1908 when McLennan McFeely & Co (who had a massive warehouse next door) started using the rear of the property as well. M R Smith & Co were in front, manufacturing biscuits. McLennan McFeely would eventually use the entire premises in the late 1930s when they built an overhead link over the lane.
In 2002 Arcadian Architecture supervised the restoration of the building, and today it houses a variety of office users.
Image source City of Vancouver Archives LGN 481
Today they’re the Palace Hotel and the Chelsea Inn – a pair of apparently mis-matched Single Room Occupancy Hotels. When it was built the whole property was one – the Palace Hotel (so the lack of symmetry is puzzling). In 1907 Schmehl & Muller were the proprietors – William C Schmehl and Charles G Muller. Muller lived at 1127 Robson and Schmehl at 1749 Davie Street. They were the proprietors of the Palace Hotel in 1906 as well – but then it was in a different location at the corner of Hastings and Carrall, with the Palace Restaurant at 345 Carrall. That building – although substantial – was demolished for a new bank. Muller was first seen in the city in 1901, a boarder living (presumably in the Palace Hotel) who had arrived from Germany in 1895 aged 21, and who already was listed as proprietor of the Palace Hotel in 1901 when he was aged 26.
That same year Schmehl appeared in the city for the first time as Schnell, and then Schnehl, in 1902, although he missed the 1901 census in Vancouver. As William has a grave in Mountain View Cemetery, we know he was born in 1876 so was slightly younger than Charles. In May 1901 he married Kathleen, eight years younger and born in Galway in Ireland, and from the marriage licence we know that William was born in Dodge County in the United States. Kathleen was living with her married sister, Phyllis Bailing, in Vancouver two months before her wedding, and had arrived in Canada with her family when she was only 3 years old in 1884. The 1891 census shows her family were already in Vancouver, and her father, Henry Avison, was the park ranger, living in Stanley Park. Kathleen’s early life must have been unusual; her father captured an orphaned black bear cub and chained it to a stump ‘for safety’ in 1888. Avison was subsequently named city pound keeper, and his collection of animals formed the basis for the original Stanley Park zoo. Some reports say he died in 1896, but a recent history of Stanley Park says he actually quit to go to search for Klondyke gold – in 1901 he was still living in the “Unorganized Territories”.
The 1911 census shows that Charles Muller has married Matilda, from Prince Edward Island, and they have three children aged 6, 4 and 1. They also have a domestic servant living with them, and William and Mata Schlitz (William was a grocer) were lodging with them. William Schmehl once again seems to have eluded the census takers, although he’s still listed in the street directory, in the same house on Davie. He’s no longer associated with the Palace; he has a new partnership with Lorenzo D Wright as Schmehl & Wright supplying liquor on E Hastings. Wright had previously been in the tobacco and cigar trade.
From 1912 the hotel seems to have a new proprietor at least every year. Norman Herman was running the hotel in 1912 (and Albert Herman had architect J S Pearce design $10,000 of improvements that year). The next year it was Pennebera and Masilotto; in 1914 it was D F Pennebera on his own who was proprietor. The only change to the advertisement in the street directory was the name of the proprietors – although in 1913 the Excellent Cafe was noted, with Marino’s Orchestra In attendance. In 1915 Samuel Albert was running the hotel, and a year later Horace Robertson was manager (for 2 years running) while it was owned by Lawrence Reda of North Vancouver. In 1918 it became the Palace Rooms, and John Cameron was managing, and in 1920 the owner was listed as Lorenzo Reda. The hotel itself seems to have become Allen’s Rooms, a second building operating under the same name and management of Robert Allen (who also ran Allen’s Cafe and Rooms at 814 Granville Street). That’s the year our VPL image was taken.
After a period when the building was apparently vacant, by 1930 there were two separate operations (as today) – the Oxford Hotel and the Palace Hotel. Today both buildings are still rooms; the Palace owned until very recently by a controversial landlord who was prosecuted for a number of breaches of tenancy law. Our picture from 1978 below shows that there have been very few changes to the buildings over many decades.
Although there’s no known architect for the building, it’s quite possible Emil Guenther designed this version of the Palace – Charles G Muller hired him to design an apartment block in the West End in 1912 on Robson, near Thurlow. Guenther was almost certainly German (although he seems to have changed his name) and practiced in Vancouver up to 1907 when this building was designed, before heading to San Francisco for five years, returning briefly in 1912.
Here’s the Edward Hotel (or Hotel Edward when it was first completed in 1907). It replaced the Regina Hotel – the only substantial structure to survive the 1886 fire). We haven’t found an architect, but thanks to Patrick at Heritage Vancouver Society who dug up the details, we know it was built for Charles Edward Beckman at a cost of $21,000. He was a Swede who arrived in the city in 1899. In 1901 he was a mining engineer, living alone (as a lodger at 512 Seymour Street). There are several other Charles Beckmans, all Swedish, scattered around BC and Manitoba at that time as well, and another engineer at a mill called C E Beckman. In 1906 he was still a mining engineer, with a house at 528 Seymour, but he appears in 1907 as proprietor of the Hotel Edward. A year later he’s no longer in the city and the hotel was being run by John W Deptford. It looks like Beckman may have returned to Europe as he seems to have emigrated to New York in 1913 via Hamburg.
Mr Beckman had initially run into a few problems with obtaining a licence for the new hotel as Mr Wallbridge, the previous owner of the Regina had apparently sold the licence with the hotel, but also transferred it to Thomas Foster who was the lessee of the Regina, and who therefore thought he controlled the licence. The Board controlling the licences appear to have agreed to grant two – one to Foster and one to Mr Beckman. In 1908 Mr Foster was running the Oxford Hotel at 38 West Hastings.
The new owner who bought the hotel from Mr Beckman, John Deptford, was a police officer before he took over the hotel, living on Barnard Street in 1907. He had the right background to run a successful bar and hotel. John came from Upwell in Cambridgeshire where his father (also John) ran a public house. His other advantage was that as a former Vancouver policemen he knew exactly what he should – and should not – do to avoid falling foul of the law. In 1906 the new board of police commissioners tried to enforce the observance of the Sabbath by hotel and saloon owners – in theory the bars were closed. The police were reluctant to enforce the law, claiming they couldn’t see if a bar was open or not. A new by-law was immediately introduced requiring a light over the bar and a peephole to view it from outside. It was suggested that the police – presumably including Constable Deptford – might have been helped financially to not look into the bars, but now they had little excuse. Nevertheless, when the proprietors of the Columbia Hotel were charged with supplying after hours drinks the charge was ‘providing an inadequate peephole – as the slot they created in the shutters didn’t allow a view of the bar. In their defence they suggested Constable Deptford could have seen in if he had stretched his neck – “only if I stood on a box” he is said to have replied. The magistrate remanded the case but required a bigger hole.
In 1909 J W Deptford hired E E Blackmore to make $700 worth of alterations to the hotel – so that might be who designed the building a couple of years earlier. J W Deptford and his wife Ellen both arrived from England in 1899, and the 1901 census shows John working as a labourer. The couple married in Vancouver in 1900; Ellen was from Salisbury in Hampshire, was five years older than her husband, and had no complications with changing her name as she was already Ellen Deptford before she married. In 1891 she was working in London as a servant. In 1911 Ellen was listed a hotel proprietor. and in the Street Directory John is identified as owner of the Alexander Hotel (at 1 Water Street – originally the Alexandra), and they were living on 7th Avenue. We don’t know what happened to John, but Ellen died aged 90 in Cambridgeshire. Both John and Ellen travelled out of North America, through Quebec in 1905 and New York in 1910.
Today the building looks much as it did when it was built. The Water Street Cafe is downstairs, and there are offices rather than hotel above. In 1919 it was given a new storefront, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh, and what’s there today looks very similar. Our 1920 VPL picture shows the building when R S Ford, importers, had taken over the building (around 1919 – presumably when the new store front was added).
We know who designed the older building in these pictures – or at least how it looked in 1958 when Cunningham Drugs had the corner lot at Burrard and Davie. The Daily Building Record in early 1912 reported the contract to alter and add to the existing buildings with stores and some apartments above, designed by J P Matheson for B B Brown at a cost of $5,500 and built by Alonzo Smith. A year later there was a further alteration to the stores at a cost of $1,000 by the same architect for the same owner. There was a house standing on this spot in 1901, one of four that faced onto Burrard Street, so perhaps that was the building that was altered and added to – it would explain the somewhat unbalanced symmetry of the facade.
B B Brown was almost certainly Bliss Blair Brown, a grocer who in the 1911 census was shown born in New Brunswick (as was his wife Ella) and who lived at 1193 Burrard, just across the street, and managed Brown’s Grocery at 1195 Burrard. The family included three children at home aged 8 to 14, all born in British Columbia, so the family had moved further west before the turn of the century – son Alvin was born in Vancouver in 1898. (Oddly, Bliss’s wife was called Alice in the 1901 census when the family lived on Hornby Street, but that’s an error as he married Ella in 1895 in New Westminster). Ella was an only child but Bliss was one of 14 children. There were several remarkable names in the family; as well as Bliss there were Arletta, Amasa, Tressa and Eldon.
The family apparently moved to the building, living at 1008 Davie in 1914, although there’s no sign of the grocery business. Bliss died in 1919 aged 56 and In 1920 Mrs E F Brown was still living at 1008 Davie, and died in 1938. Cunningham Drugs was started in Vancouver in 1911 by former Woodward’s pharmacist George Cunningham. This store appears to have been opened in the late 1920s and in 1939 the company absorbed rivals the Vancouver Drug Co. By 1941 there were 37 stores – and this was Store No. 4 – although it wasn’t the fourth store to be opened. Eventually there were over 100 stores and Cunningham became chair of UBC’s Board of Governors. He died in 1965 and in 1970 the chain was sold to Shoppers Drug Mart.
Today it’s an almost extinct Downtown species – a gas station. The Esso station here was built in 1995 – it’s one of only two left in the entire Downtown: there were once 99 gas stations on the peninsula.
Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P508.17
As you can see from this 1944 image, the Yale Hotel has been called by that name for many years. When it was first built in 1889 it was called the Colonial Hotel, and it was hooked up to the water system in July of 1889 a few months after the Golden Gate Hotel a block to the north, although the Yale wasn’t advertised as complete until 1890. It was designed by N S Hoffar who seemed to have designed eight or nine projects a year in the city at this time, and built for J W Horne, a keen investor in land and buildings with a close connection to the CPR. At one point his assets were said to be second in value only to the CPR themselves.
While it’s been stated that the building survived the fire having been built as a bunkhouse for the CPR, there’s no evidence that this is true. The construction of the hotels coincided with the construction of the electric streetcar on Granville Street. H P McCraney, in conversation with Major Matthews, recalled the first year of building the railway. “In the spring of 1889, I commenced operation in building the first street railway in Vancouver. The first track was laid on Granville Street, a little north of Pacific Street, perhaps a hundred feet north, where the slope runs up to a level. We started just at the level so that the horses may have an easy start when they pulled. The track was to run from bridge to bridge through the town. At that time, the Granville Street vicinity was mostly stumps, although down in Yaletown, a couple of hundred yards east or so, there was quite a little settlement.” When it was being built it was to be a horse-drawn railway; the decision to electrify the line was taken while construction was underway.
Yaletown was a small area with a collection of houses further east, on Seymour and Richards. It took its name from the town of Yale, the CPRs interim base while the tracks were being laid to the coast. Several of the houses were older than the city itself; 1371 Seymour for example was carried in pieces as lumber and re-erected. Some houses came ready-built on rail company flat cars. The CPR built their new Drake Street Yards and Roundhouse in 1887 – which was fortunate as the Yale machine shops burned down in 1887.
In 1907 the hotel name was switched to ‘The Yale’, which it has been ever since. The eastern addition to the hotel was built in 1909, designed by W T Whiteway for Marquis de Biddlecope, who we introduced when he built the St Francis Hotel.
Today the Yale has just undergone a comprehensive restoration and seismic repair that will see the SRO rooms upstairs and to the east reopened, and the bar noted for its blues back with a new sound system. The store fronts have been rebuilt to match the original building far more closely than before the makeover, and the 1950s neon sign reinstalled.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-624