Archive for October 2013

Stark’s Glasgow House – Cordova and Cambie se

Cambie & Cordova 2

In 1887 James Stark erected a combined grocery store and residential apartment at 12 Northumberland Street, Ayr. That’s not so surprising as James, and his wife Julia, were born in Scotland. However, the Ayr that James built his store in was in Waterloo, Ontario. James arrived in Canada aged 20 in 1865 and worked for a dry goods store in St Catharine’s Ontario, then in Brantford, Toronto, and then for 8 years in Ayr. He arrived in Vancouver in 1892 aged 45 with his wife and five children aged from 7 to 18. He opened a dry goods store at 226 Carrall Street, then moved a few years later to 32 Cordova Stark's Glasgow House, Cordova Street, 1897 CVA SGN 1076Street in the Callister Block. By 1897 (when this picture of the storefront was taken) the business was known as Stark’s Glasgow House – although it’s not entirely clear why as James was born in Dundee. In 1901 he was living at 1027 Robson Street with his wife and all five children. The business offered both dry goods and millinery and two sons worked with their father, joined by the youngest son William in 1903.

James Stark had one of the earliest vehicles in the city – nicknamed somewhat strangely ‘The Rolling Peanut’ by its owners. It was an Oldsmobile that was delivered in May 1902. The sons of the family extended their interest in motoring by running a bicycle store in a former livery stable on Hastings Street with W J Annand that also sold cars as the Vancouver Cycle and Auto Co – the first business to do so. The picture below shows the Rolling Peanut with other Oldsmobiles in front of the store in 1904 or 05. Son William remembered the car “single cylinder, four and a half horsepower; under the seat; single tube rubber tires; no inner tube, no fender, no lights, no horn, but a bell on the dashboard which sounded when a foot button and ratchet were kicked. Originally, it was intended for a delivery van for ‘Glasgow House’ on Cordova Street, and had two seats in front and a box at the back which could be lifted off, but we put two seats at the back; then it held four; two back to back. The foot brake was on a ratchet on the back wheels.”

Oldsmobiles outside Vancouver Auto and Cycle at 108 East Hastings CVA Trans P47Mrs H Sacret recalled riding in the car in a conversation with Major Matthews who added a few notes. “Automobiles would never run in those days; they would get stuck, and people would pass remarks; call to us, ‘Get a horse,’ jeeringly. They called the first little one we had the ‘rolling peanut.’ I used to stop at the store” (Vancouver Auto and Cycle Company) “on Hastings Street, and they” (Mr. Annand or Mr. Stark, partners) “would send me home to Mount Pleasant in the car. It used to bump up and down, especially when going over a crossing” (when Vancouver had macadam roads, and the crossings at street corners were three boards, twelve-inch planks side by side, and the earth used to wear away on each side of the crossing.)”

“I had to sit in the only seat beside the driver, and there was nothing to hang onto, and I did not like to hang onto him; oh, it was terrible; you couldn’t hang onto a man out in the street with passing pedestrians on the sidewalks to watch. They used to say at the shop, ‘Take Miss Louie home in the peanut,’ and I did not know the ‘boys’ who drove; it was terrible.”

In 1904 the business moved to their third location in 12 years; the one in our picture: the five-year old building initially built by McDowell, Atkins and Watson, on the south-east corner of Cordova and Cambie. In 1905 the business was incorporated under the name of James Stark & Sons, Ltd., with James as president and sons Walter as vice president and stark 1910Earnest as secretary and treasurer.

They stayed in the building until 1909 when Stark’s Glasgow House moved to Hastings Street and became a full-scale department store. The family moved to 1201 Harwood Street, although only Earnest was living with his parents; Walter lived on Davie Street. By 1912 James had moved to Shaughnessy Heights and Earnest and Walter had moved to West Point Grey.

The VPL photograph shows the building around 1905 soon after Stark’s first moved in. By 1910 it was the Carlton Cafe, and soon after the Carlton Hotel. During the 1960s there were four partners running the hotel, including Maurice St Cyr, and you could get a room for $40 a month. The building became a single room occupancy hotel known as the Cambie Hotel and the Gastown Inn, but in 1997 it became the Cambie International hostel with over 120 beds and the Cambie pub downstairs.


Posted October 9, 2013 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Cordova and Cambie – sw corner

Cambie & Cordova

Here’s an 1888 image and the 1913 building that replaced the earlier buildings. The older photograph shows  a boarding house and Dr. Beckingsall’s office, E.V. Bodwell and Gravely and Barker Real Estate Offices, Dr. Lefevre and Dr. Robertson’s surgery and The Palace tobacco shop. The buildings were erected soon after the 1886 fire, and appear to have been wooden rather than the brick that was favoured for more permanent structures (like Dr Whetham’s Arlington Block built later in 1888 that’s just visible to the right of the modern image). We’ve seen both sets of buildings in a long view up the street, and they’re across Cambie Street from the Cambie Hostel (the former Carlton Hotel).

The Panama Block that replaced the wooden structures was named to acknowledge how important the construction of the Panama Canal was in 1913. The building came late in the boom for the city – compared to the previous years relatively few buildings were added to the city in 1913, and even fewer for several years after that. The building is triangular, without a lane, and it was designed by fairly obscure architects (Wallington & Wheatley) who only appeared in the city in 1912 for the owners (McConnell, Abbott & Drayton) and cost $10,000 to build. It’s apparent that Arthur Wheatley left the city early in 1913; Edmund Wallington operated from 615 W Hastings, and stayed in Vancouver through to 1915 but his only other significant commission for the Sisters of Good Shepherd in Point Grey was delayed indefinitely in 1913. He seems to have practiced again in Seattle in 1920.

The Drayton in the consortium who built the Panama Block was Charles Drayton, manager of the Vancouver Financial Corporation. The Abbott was almost certainly Harry Abbott, the Chairman of the same company. The most likely McConnell would be Gilbert McConnell, a clothing and footwear wholesaler who developed several other buildings. Harry Abbott was co-proprietor of a wholesale and retail liquor company based on Granville Street. He was born in Ontario, and in 1911 lived on Robson Street with his American wife, Elizabeth, their 8-year-old daughter and domestic servant, Maggie Jack. Charles Drayton (who was born in the West Indies) was also in his 30s, lived on Burnaby Street with his wife Lilian and twin 7-year-old sons, a governess and a Chinese cook.

The Panama Block took a while to get many tenants – five offices were still empty in 1915 although there was a contractor, a pennant manufacturer and on the top floor Israel Baumgart, a tailor. Mr Baumgart was still in the building in 1925, along with several other tenants including the National Sailors  & Fireman’s Union. In 1930 Mr Baugart was there along with the Shasta Lunch, the Federated Seafarers’ Union and the Cambie Tailors. In 1940, Mr Baumgart was still in business, and he shared the upper floors with a signmaker, R G Berry and a printer, Lawrence Campbell. Mr Baumgart, who with his wife Bertha Blythe had been born in Poland, continued to work in the building through to 1948, although in 1940 he had lost his son, Morey, a car salesman who died in Vancouver General Hospital. Today Mr Baumgart’s legacy continues; M.C. Tailors & Cleaners operate from the main floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str P22


Posted October 7, 2013 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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McDowell, Atkins & Watson – Cordova and Cambie se

Atkins, McDowell & Watson

Henry McDowell initially started his working life as a school teacher and then learned the trade of a chemist in Milton, Ontario. He arrived in Vancouver aged 26 almost immediately after the fire had destroyed the new city in June 1886. He set up his store on Cordova Street and in 1891 moved to Granville by buying A W Draper’s business and partnering with Harry Watson, another Milton born Ontario pharmacist who had arrived in 1889. A Daily World souvenir publication from 1891 said “They have a large sale of patent medicines and are proprietors and manufactures of McDowell’s Syrup of Linseed and Hoarhound, McDowell’s Beef Iron and Wine, McDowell’s Embrocation and McDowell’s Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides.”

Henry McDowell was connected with the Vancouver Street Railway and Electric Light Co., the Union Steamship Co., the Vancouver City Foundry Co, and was a prominent member of the Board of Trade. In 1895 Atkins and Atkins, another Vancouver druggist merged with McDowell and Watson. The combined company, McDowell, Atkins & Watson, druggists, built this store and office building in 1899. They eventually had 11 stores including one at Hastings and Homer in Harvey’s Chambers.

Atkins and Atkins were Thomas and John Atkins who were from Truro, Nova Scotia. Thomas was a druggist in Londonderry, Nova Scotia, before setting up in Vancouver in 1889, initially in real estate and then six months later as a pharmacist. His brother joined him in 1892. In 1907 the partners sold out to the National Drug Company, and Thomas Atkins retired although Mr McDowell retained an active interest in the business. He retired in 1909, living at 1900 Barclay Street with his wife and three children. Harry Watson also continued with the firm – in 1910 he was President while also representing Vancouver as the MLA for Vancouver Centre. In 1913 he lived at 1230 Barclay Street with his wife and daughter.

For a while, while the National Drug Co were owners in the early 1900s, the building took its Cordova address.  From 1904 to 1909 this became Stark’s Glasgow House, selling Dry Goods. In 1910 the property became the Hotel Carlton (with the Carlton Cafe downstairs), and in 1914 it had become the Carlton Hotel, a name it retained for many decades. Max Crowe was the proprietor in 1912. Today the building is the Cambie Hostel, but our 1900 image is from a publication called Vancouver Architecturally produced by five of the city’s architects including Parr and Fee, who claimed credit for the design of the building, although some sources suggest Samuel McClure designed it with J E Parr. The building is one of Parr’s first in the city (whether with or without Fee) and features a series of cast iron windows between brick piers. Unlike their later trademark centrally pivoted windows, this building had more traditional sash units.