Archive for December 2013

The Brunswick – West Hastings Street

31 W Hastings

The Brunswick was one of the earlier, and initially more isolated, hotels in the city. If it was still standing today it would be in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, but a description in Major Matthews’ City Archives records Mr W F Findlay’s memory of the hotel, owned and operated by Pat Carey and his wife. “It was built in 1888, and although on the fringe of the woods, did a good business. It was on the north side of the street, between Carrall and Abbott, about the middle of the block.” It was designed by Allan McCartney, born in the Bahamas and a civil engineer, architect, and land surveyor in the city before 1881.

“Pat was a rough diamond, an Irishman, and a character; he died in Prince Rupert about 1927. In the winter of 1889, the police were ordered to clean up Dupont Street; some of the women scattered, one landed in the Brunswick House. Pat found out. At first, he would not credit it; it was proven; then followed a scene which everyone talked about but no one mentioned in polite company; some caustic remarks were passed by Pat. Pat saw her off in a hurry, in one of Adam Hick’s cabs.”

Another conversation with Fred Alexander, son of the Hastings Mill manager in the 1870s, suggests that the Brunswick (or a version of it) was built even earlier than 1888. “Pat Carey had to pour water on the ashes so that he could get started rebuilding on Hastings Street, north side, between Carrall and Abbott. Hammers and saws were going all night, and long into the moonlight.”

The hotel didn’t last too long – the image shows it in 1891; the last record in the street directories is 1896. It seems to have become a furniture store, with rooms above. In 1900 the site was recorded as vacant, and in 1902 it was a Japanese boarding house, while the 1903 insurance map shows a Chinese barber. The building to the east was redeveloped around 1899, and added to in 1903. The former Brunswick hung on to 1908 – it’s still just visible in the 1908 picture of the Wood, Vallance & Leggat building. (although we wonder if that isn’t really a 1907 image).

31 W Hastings

It was replaced by a simple, impressively light fully glazed warehouse and store, initially occupied by Frederick Buscombe’s ‘The Fair’ in 1908, seen in this VPL image. A year later Stark’s Glasgow House moved in, who previously had been on Cordova Street. Today it’s still a department store – part of the Army and Navy store like the site of the Rex Theatre that replaced the Wood, Vallance and Leggat warehouse to the east.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-5


559 Granville Street

559 Granville

One of these two buildings has completely gone; swallowed by the Pacific Centre Mall. The other retains part of its facade, rather oddly hoisted slightly higher into the air and changed from a store front to what looks like a canopied emergency stair outlet to the street.

Back in the 1960s or 70s when this picture was taken, the building to the south was the home of butcher James Inglis Reid, ‘The Larder of the Wise’ who also offered the slogan “we hae meat that ye can eat”

The Vancouver Archives have the full history of the company on their website, (and there’s a display from the store in the Museum of Vancouver as well). “James Inglis Reid (1874-1952) was a Scotsman, born in Waterside, Kirkintilloch Parish, who immigrated to Vancouver in 1906. Reid found employment with Edgett s Grocery; however, he soon established his own business. He sold hams and various types of bacon, including Ayrshire, which he cured himself. Following the commercial trend of Vancouver at the time, Reid moved his place of business to 559 Granville Street in 1915. Reid incorporated the business as James Inglis Reid, Ltd. on December 24, 1930. It was at the Granville Street address that Reid achieved financial success, wide renown, and a permanent place in the history of Vancouver.

After Reid purchased the property situated at 559 Granville Street in 1922, he began an extensive renovation. The building comprised three stories and a basement. The top floor was converted to a baking area and a kitchen for the production of fresh sausages and other products. The second floor included a business office, locker room, lunch room, storage area, and a space for maturing cheese. The basement was home to the smokehouse, curing operations, coolers, and storage for supplies. The ground floor of the building remained the retail area; however, it was enlarged and the counters and floor were transformed by the installation of white and black marble during the renovation. The lane side of the ground floor had a receiving dock for deliveries, a cooler large enough to hold whole sides of beef, and the main area for meat cutting. The two year renovation was completed in 1924. Nine years later, Reid installed a structural awning over the Granville Street sidewalk. The awning featured (in neon signage) the phrase, adapted from Burns Selkirk Grace, we hae meat that ye can eat that was closely identified with the business.

The multitude of on-site operations and a skilled staff allowed James Inglis Reid, Ltd. to offer a wide selection of fresh meat, hams, bacon, and sausages. These operations included the daily cutting of sides of beef, hogs, and lambs; the curing and smoking of hams and bacon in the purpose-built, fire-brick enclosure ( the smokehouse ); and the production of sausages in the third floor kitchen. In particular, the employment of Horatio Nelson Menzies, a fellow Scotsman and experienced butcher who was hired in 1917, helped James Inglis Reid, Ltd. become very well known for its house-made Scottish specialties such as white puddings, black puddings (blood sausage), and most notably, haggis. Production figures indicate that four to six tonnes of haggis was made and sold annually. Reid s haggis was prepared and shipped to townships throughout British Columbia, other Canadian provinces, and to customers in the United States.

Reid was proud of his Scottish heritage and did much to promote its traditions in Vancouver. He was a founding member of the Scottish Society of Vancouver. In addition, the shop served as a gathering point for those interested in Scottish traditions and culture. The celebration of Robert Burns birthday was an annual event. Haggis was supplied to fraternal organizations, churches, businesses, hotels, steamships, and individuals throughout British Columbia for Burns Night Suppers. In addition, the left front display window of 559 Granville Street was decorated with Burns portrait, selected quotations from the poet s work, and memorabilia.

Following the retirement of James Inglis Reid in 1945, Gordon Young Wyness, Reid s son-in-law, became manager of the business. Wyness, an engineer by profession, had gained management experience while working for Burns & Co. Ltd., a meat packing firm, and Canadian Industries Ltd Ammunition Division. He had an understanding of the demands of running a small business since his family had owned and operated a general store in Saskatchewan. James Inglis Reid Ltd., under the guidance of G.Y. Wyness, prospered for another forty years. Throughout his stewardship, the business refined its operations while maintaining its traditions ( Quality First, Value Always ).

By the middle of the nineteen-eighties, commercial patterns had shifted away from the factors that decades ago had attracted Reid to the Granville Street location. The shop was now an anomaly among the financial institutions and large chain stores that dominated downtown. Consequently, the decision was made to close the business when Cadillac Fairview Corporation began the expansion of the Pacific Centre Mall north of Dunsmuir Street. James Inglis Reid, Ltd. ended retail business operations in 1986.”

Both these buildings were built by the same builder for the same owner. That builder – and owner – was Bedford Davidson, who sometimes designed his own buildings. Here he employed GW Grant to design both, spending $10,000 on the first building to the north in 1902 and $8,000 on the one beside it that would be occupied by Mr Reid four years later. The earlier (by 3 months) building was completely altered with the addition of a highly decorated tera cotta art deco facade in 1930 for what was then called the BC Lease Holders Building, soon to be the long-term home of the Hunter-Henderson Paint Company.

In 1990 the Townley Matheson facade was incorporated into the Zeidler Roberts Partnership final phase of the Pacific Centre Mall, with three floors of retail and an 18 storey office tower.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-786


527 Granville Street

527 Granville 1

In this 1945 image the office of the Canadian National Railway can be seen on the corner of the building, which has a lane beside it. We’ve already seen the building in an earlier post about its larger neighbour, the Bower Building. Back in 1920 the VPL image below shows it was also a railway office for the Canadian National Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. This was the new name for the Grand Trunk Pacific, intended to be a rival to Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, but which was bankrupt only 15 years after its creation, and handed to Canadian National to try to make the assets work in 1920.

In 1920 they weren’t the only occupants of the building; there was a silk manufacturer’s showroom upstairs, and the Irish Linen store alongside. By 1945 the downstairs store was one of E A Morris’s tobacconists stores and Dunne & Rundle offered photographic supplies. The upper floors were known as the Morris Building, and the railway company’s freight office was there with an optical lab.

When the building was first constructed in 1902 it was built, designed and owned by T A Fee – Thomas Fee who partnered with John Parr to design many of the city’s buildings at that time, especially on Granville Street. He may have held the property very briefly, as by 1903 it’s shown as Brown’s Building, with the Canadian General Electric Co on the corner, Des Brisay’s clothing next door, and a physician, a publisher, a dressmaker andthe Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Co on the upper floor.

527 Granville 2

Today there’s a building that was built in the mid 1980s, and occupied by Ingledew’s shoes store. It was designed by Charles Bentall, Architect, which would suggest it might well have been developed by the Bentall investment company.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1863


Posted December 11, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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46 West Pender Street


The Texas Lake Ice and Cold Storage Co occupied a shed on land between Hastings and Pender from the early 1890s. Here’s the three horse-drawn rigs that helped the company to be the first suppliers of ice in Vancouver. The ice came from an ice house making artificial ice, built at Texas Lake, near Hope. In the year the photo was taken the company increased its stock from $25,000 to $50,000, and a year later new owners took over, the Cleeve Canning, Ice and Cold Storage Co. Ltd. The company operated both in Vancouver and on Front Street in New Westminster.

The company’s premises were identified in the street directory as being on Cordova Street in 1892, and on Carrall in 1896, with the Archives identifying this building as being located at West Pender, on a stretch of the north side of the street. For several years we had a wrong image her, because 46 W Pender should be on the south side of the street. A closer look at the 1889 insurance map shows that the north side of this block of West Pender was numbered with both odd and even numbers, and that the ice shed was shown. The opposite side of the street was the Canadian Pacific freight yard, with neither legal parcels or street numbers.

John A Foley was the company secretary and treasurer of the ice company, living at 311 Keefer. He was from Tignish, Prince Edward Island, and at his death it was said he was born in 1855 – he was described on his 103rd birthday in Vancouver in 1959 as a ‘real estate man’. His 1891 census entry says he was aged 31, so he may not have made the age of 100 in reality; in that census he was a cigar retailer. The family seem to have left the city (and possibly Canada) for a few years in the early 1900s, but by 1908 they have returned when John is listed as an agent for real estate brokers Haywood Brothers, living on East Hastings.

In the 1911 census he was shown as being born in 1856, although his wife, Bridget, stuck to 1863 for her birth year as she had 20 years earlier. John was now in business on Richards Street as Foley, Gillis & Co, real estate and timber brokers. The couple had a large family, mostly girls; John is mentioned as ‘father of the bride’ on at least seven marriage records, and on the death record of his 24-year-old daughter, Frances.

By 1911 the ice shed had gone. The BC Electric Railway built a new larger office and depot to the north-east in 1911, and also owned the land here along West Pender, where a row of stores and Chinese Lodging houses were built in the early 1900s, although they were cleared away again many years ago. Today there’s a parking lot for the 1911 building, with Joe Wai’s design for Aboriginal non-market housing fronting the original CPR right-of-way that cuts diagonally across the site.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P151.


Posted December 10, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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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

Howe and Nelson (2)

Howe and Nelson nw

We saw the house built in 1901 at the corner of Nelson and Howe as it looked in 1928 in our previous post. Here’s the same corner in 1962, although the building now looks very different. Downtown has changed a lot, and what was a family house has become a store – although the house is still in use on the upper floors. In 1936 the house was occupied by Mr Watt, a carpenter, but around the corner 997 Howe St was a newly established confectionary store run by Mrs M Mayahara.  They were both still there in 1940, and ten years later James H Morrison, a switchman with the Canadian Northern Railway lived in the house with his wife Mary while at 997 Howe, Lil and Bill’s grocery was operating (Lil and William Woo).

In 1955 Mrs Oswald was leasing rooms at 805 Nelson, and the grocery store was run by J F Rose and T Genovese. The Reliable Grocery must have been a continuation of the use, as this VPL image shows. By the mid 1970s the site had been acquired and cleared for the new Courthouse complex – although earlier versions of the plan for the site called for a massive tower, designed, like the current structure, by Arthur Erickson.


Posted December 6, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe and Nelson (1)

Howe from NelsonHere’s a rather fine house on the north-west corner of Howe and Nelson – generally addressed as 805 Nelson Street. It was built in 1904 at a cost of $2,500, the permit crediting Mrs M Post as both developer and architect, with S J Steves as the builder. There was nobody called Post living in Vancouver at the time, but in Victoria 59-year-old Margaret Post was living with her contractor husband Jason, and her son, Gilbert, aged 41. The Posts, and their son, had been born in Ontario. We haven’t found much about the family, or why Margaret (assuming she was the developer of the house) should build in Vancouver. There were two other houses alongside on the same double lot (facing Nelson Street) built in 1901 by W T Farrell. We assume this is the same W T Farrell who built the first suspension bridge over the Capilano Canyon in 1903.

In 1907 Jason Post was reported to have travelled to Vancouver to attend a meeting of the Supreme Orange Lodge. Jason and Margaret’s son, Gilbert, was a carpenter, and had suffered a personal tragedy in 1896 when his wife and child (also called Gilbert) died in the Point Ellice Bridge disaster when a streetcar packed with holidaymakers celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday fell into the harbour, killing 55 people; the worst accident in Canadian transit history. We know Gilbert had a brother as he was able to identify Gilbert junior’s body.

The first resident of the house in 1905 was William Shannon, who was in real estate. In 1911 it was occupied by Wallace G Browne, a tobacconist on Granville Street. Our VPL image shows it in 1928 when W J Long, a clerk at the Hotel Vancouver was living there.  Today it’s the corner of the Arthur Erickson designed courthouse, with an impressive cantilevered planter and a double row of street trees.


Posted December 5, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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