1461 West Georgia Street

1461 W Georgia

This big house, and the office building that is there today are something of a double mystery. The house is the last one on the north side of the street, and seems to have been built speculatively in 1896. There are five houses shown on the block that year, but only one has an occupant (next door to this house). The insurance map for 1901 shows that the four at the western end of the block were almost identical – often a sign of investment property.

In 1898 Robert Hamilton had moved into this house. Hamilton was the Manager of the William Hamilton MFG Co who built engines, boilers, milling and Mining Machinery. A year later Hamilton had moved to Burrard and the house was vacant again. In 1900 John R Greenfield, an employee with the Post Office was briefly in the house. It was vacant again in 1901, and a year later J O’Sullivan, an assayer moved in. and stayed for several years. John wasn’t alone; his wife Bridget and their five daughters, aged from 7 to 20 (Gertrude, Bridget, Minnie, Katie and Mary) were with him. John was from Wales, arriving in Canada in 1896; Bridget, who was born in Ireland, arrived with the children (who had all been born in Wales) in 1898.

John was from Swansea and was sent to Canada by the British Columbia Agency Ltd of London; he was their chief chemist until 1900 when he set up his own business as Assayer, Analytical Chemist and Metallurgist, with offices in the Arts and Crafts Building on Seymour Street. He was succesful enough to move to the West End, living on Broughton Street in 1906 and at 1649 Barclay Street by 1909.

In 1906 George Weeks, a grocer had moved into Georgia Street, and in 1909 another grocer, James Henderson moved in. He was still there in 1911, living with his wife Annie, their seven-year-old daughter Myrtle, five-year-old son James, their Domestic, Margaret (who at 33 is the same age as Annie) and three lodgers. James, Annie and Margaret were all Scots, although the children were born in BC. Their lodgers were a German butcher and two Swedish machinists, all recently arrived in Canada. They stayed until 1917, and a year later Mrs A L Reading moved in. She only stayed a year; in 1919 Alfred P Morris was resident, a bookkeeper with the City Wharf Co. He stayed for several years, but once he left the familiar pattern of regularly changing names can be seen; by 1925 Alex McG Fraser had moved in, and in 1927 W A  Blais, who worked for Dominion Bridge and who stayed until 1930 to be replaced by A Martin.

Our 1956 image shows the house was somewhat worn. By 1955 it appears the house had been split, with William A Latimer, a labourer living with his wife Nellie, and Mrs M E Young, a widow, living there. We almost didn’t notice the store, which is addressed to West Pender Street. In 1955 it was occupied here by Commercial Marine Supplies, run by F N Ross. The store address seems to have been created (presumably from the building’s basement) around 1926, but it was vacant to 1930, although by 1935 J H Pratt had opened a confectionery store there.

Today there’s a modest office building, (for now, anyway) The Lea Building – dating back to 1967, architect unknown.

 Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P508.56


Posted December 9, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

%d bloggers like this: