Winters Hotel – Abbott and Water

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.

Province Oct 5 1906 WINTERSThere’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.

A fire broke out in a suite in April 2022, spreading throughout the building, and gutting it. The building was subsequently deemed unsafe, and it was demolished a week later.


Posted 28 October 2013 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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