Edward Hotel – Water Street

308 Water

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).

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