In 1922 when this image was shot, the building was the Vancouver home of Ames, Holden, McReady, a Montreal based shoe manufacturer. They were an early example of a company created by a financier rather than a family business: two existing family businesses were merged and completely reorganized in 1911. McReady’s was started in the 1860s by three leather merchant brothers. By 1895, James McCready & Company was considered one of Montreal’s major factories, producing 12,000 to 15,000 pairs of boots and shoes for men, women and children per week, which was considerable at the time.
At least one of the pre-merged companies was located in the city by 1910, but were on West Hastings. The newly combined Ames-Holden-McReady initially located on Cordova, and Damer Lumsden Co were in this building, a rival shoe wholesaler. Before that it was vacant for a while, and from its construction until 1911 it was occupied by the company who developed it, Henderson Brothers.
When it was built in 1902 it was built for Mr Henderson and designed by G W Grant; built at a cost of $25,000. As there were three Henderson brothers, we can’t be sure which of the three was referenced in the permit; Thomas, Joseph or William. All three came originally from Quebec, and they ran a wholesale drug company. In 1901 Thomas lived with his wife Margaret, son and two daughters, and his brother Joseph. While the census said he lived in Vancouver, the street directory said he was in Victoria.
The earliest reference to Henderson’s in Vancouver we can find is an advertisement from 1897, when it shows they were partnered with an earlier company with Mr Langley, a Victoria based druggist. A J Langley, originally from Staffordshire, founded his drug supply company in Victoria in 1858. Thomas and Joseph Henderson originally partnered with him around 1886. Victoria Illustrated in 1891 said the company’s business “extends North far beyond the mark of civilisation”.
The brothers obviously did well. By 1908 the los Angeles Herald was reporting “J. N. Henderson of the firm of Henderson Bros., wholesale dealers from Vancouver, B. C, registered yesterday at the Lankershim. Mr. Henderson and his brother and partner, T. M. Henderson, with their nieces. Miss Muriel and Miss Evelyn Henderson, are passing the winter season in California. The brother and nieces are now at Redlands, but are expected in Los Angeles today”. In fact Joseph had been visiting California regularly for health reasons.
By 1912 Henderson Bros still exist, but Thomas, living at 1844 Barclay Street, was a director of National Drug & Chemical Co who were listed as occupying the West Pender warehouse. Henderson Bros are described as “Associated with the National Drug & Chemical Co” and only William and Thomas are listed as being associated with the company.
Like 137 West Pender, this building was demolished (in fact much earlier; before 1945), and eventually replaced in 1989 by Pendera, a 113 unit non-market housing building developed by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.
Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 99-3506