Archive for March 2014

700 block Hornby Street

700 block Hornby

Here are the last houses on the 700 block of Hornby Street not long before they were demolished in 1956. The house on the far right appears to date back to around 1894. F W Boultbee lived here; around the time the house was built he started as the clerk to the water company (initially a private company). He later continued with the city when they took over the water responsibilities, retaining the role for 21 years. He was later Lt Col F W  Boultbee, commanding the 6th Regiment, Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles. He had arrived with the railway, building snow sheds on the CP Railway route before arriving in the city a little before the fire. He seems to have been named Frank Washington Boultbee, (although for some strange reason known as ‘Tom’) born in Ancaster, in Ontario, in 1864. He died in 1933. He had married Beatrice Cora Boultbee ten years earlier – although they had the same surname Beatrice was from Sheffield in England, so probably a distant relative. Frank’s older brother was John Boultbee, the city’s first magistrate who negotiated the city’s incorporation in 1886.

The house on the far left was also built around 1898, and was occupied by the Haddon family, headed by Rev Thomas Haddon the Reformed Episcopal Church minister (although the census just put ‘Church of England’). Rev Haddon was from England, as was his wife Isabella. He seems to have taken over the church in 1896, and seems to have been in Victoria before this – an 1894 Times Colonist piece records him delivering “an interesting lecture upon travels in many lands, the address being handsomely illustrated by means of stereoscopic pictures”.

While he had arrived in Canada in 1868 (so aged 26) his wife arrived in 1872. From the 1901 census we know that they had two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who, if the records are to be believed were born in Quebec, seven months apart, both in 1874. Next was another daughter, Nellie, also in Quebec, a son, Robert, born in Ontario in 1879, and George, born in BC in 1885. (There was apparently at least one more son, William, not listed as living at home). Rev Haddon had retired by 1901, died in 1903 and was buried in Mountain View cemetery.

The house in the middle was added by 1900, and the earliest occupants were H W Findlay (who was an insurance agent who became advertising agent at the Province newspaper) and William Duke. Both had apparently moved on by 1901; that year Mrs Celine Exteater was listed as living in the house to the north. The clerk compiling the directory had a hearing problem or the typesetter was trying for a more intriguing name – actually she was Selina Extence, aged 59 who a year later was running ‘The Georgia’ boarding house (on Georgia Street) and living with her 11 year old son, Harry, and 3 boarders including Herbert Findlay who was listed in the Hornby house in 1900. Selina was from England, but her son had been born in BC.

M Lewar – or Lewer, a clerk with the Bank of British North America in the house in the centre of the picture. He  seem to have been missed or identified with a different name in the 1901 census, and left the city soon after. The occupants – so we assume tenants – of the two houses to the north changed constantly. In 1903 John C Rolston, an artist lived in the house on the right and Alexander McDonald, a conductor had rooms in the other. Isabella Haddon stayed in the house following the death of her husband, and all three houses had the same residents in 1905 as in 1903.

Today the site is part of 777 Hornby, a 1969 office block designed by Frank Roy.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P508.101



Posted 29 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Robson and Hornby – nw corner (1)

Robson & Hornby nw

This is the corner of Robson and Hornby in 1945. The Richmond Apartments, developed by Edward Hunt in 1910 are on the corner. A Spencer and Company were selling real estate from the store on the corner. The O’Neil Company (selling glass and tiles to builders) were next door in a building later used by Williams Bros, photographers.

Next door was the Famous Kitchen Cafe, which somewhat confusingly advertised ‘Famous Steaks’ with a huge neon chicken. (The Hotel Vancouver is in the background). 785 Hornby opened as The Devonshire Cafe, and in 1928 it was recorded in the street directory as the Richmond Arts Building. Richmond Arts Co obtained the permit in 1927 for a $15,000 building built by Dominion Construction. Before this there were houses here, similar to the houses further down the street next to the hotel. They were built before 1901. By 1938 the cafe was Helen’s Tea Room, and one of the houses was being used as a government health laboratory.

Today there’s an office building addressed as 777 Hornby. It’s been there for a while – having been completed in 1969. It’s divided into many small offices, with several lawyers and medical offices. According to a brochure in the Archives the architect was Frank Roy. He’s an architect with an extraordinarily low profile for such a large building. We can find for him as the designer of the glu-lam curved Safeway supermarket recently replaced on Granville in Marpole.He also designed St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Steveston.

The architectural practice who supervised construction of the Hornby office building was Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and partners.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4162


Hornby Street – north from Robson

Hornby from Robson n

On the immediate left are the Richmond Apartments. On the right is the Court House, and beyond is the Devonshire Hotel. The Richmond was a substantial building, with a steel frame costing $70,000 in 1910. It was designed by W T Whiteway for Edward Hunt.

There were four people called Edward Hunt in the city in 1911, but only one lived at this address (915 Robson Street). He was aged 57, a retired merchant born in England and it looks like he had arrived in Canada in 1876 (although the handwriting on the census form leaves something to be desired). His wife in 1911, Florence, was born in the US and only arrived in Canada in 1903. While Mr Hunt was aged 57, his wife was 30 years younger.

Ten years earlier Mr Hunt was living in Richmond (perhaps the source of the apartment’s name). We assume it’s the same Edward Hunt as the year and month of birth match, both were born in England, and in 1901 he’s described as a merchant. In 1901 there was an earlier family; his wife Louisa, born in England was also aged 47, their son, also called Edward and born in Ontario was 17 and there were four lodgers; David Davidson, Charles Edwards, Arthur Parker and William Quinn. The family – but without any lodgers – were living in the city of Vancouver in 1891.

It’s a reasonable bet that this Edward Hunt is the same Edward Hunt who was with working for the Steveston Cannery Co in 1894, set up a general store there in 1895, expanded it in 1896 and was one of three owners of the Steveston Cannery, capitalised at $50,000 in that same year. He was a magistrate in Richmond in 1900, and the first to sign a requisition to call out the militia to prevent violence during a strike by Fraser fishermen. (The decision to call out the militia was the subject of a government inquiry).

In 1912 W T Whiteway designed a $9,000 single storey store for Edward Hunt at the corner of Pacific and Howe. We think that’s likely to be the same owner as the apartments, as it shared the same builder and architect.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2008-022.057, photographed by Leslie F Sheraton in the 1950s


Posted 24 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

262 East Georgia Street

262 E Georgia

Recently there have been comments about how streets like East Georgia are losing their Chinese character – but much of the Chinese character of some parts of Chinatown is relatively new. Here’s a house built on East Georgia in 1903, back when it was called Harris Street. This house was built by someone recorded in the building permit as architect, builder and developer; Jna Curell. He was probably more accurately named John Currell, as that’s who was living there in 1904.

He was a saw filer working at 65 East Hastings (and there was another saw filer in the city called Joseph Currell who was eight years younger than John, and also from England, arriving in Canada a year earlier than John). John was born in England in 1841, and he arrived in Canada in 1869, as did his wife, Alice. In 1901 they had a son, William, said to be born in the USA in 1885 living with them, which would suggest the family had moved south before returning to Canada. However, that attribution may be incorrect. Before he built the house John had worked as a cutler and lived on Front Street, and before that in 1899 he was both a cutler and a saw filer and lived at the 200 block of Keefer Street. In 1891, the earliest we can find where he lived, he was living at 25 E Hastings. He was included in the census, that year, which might give a better sense of his movements before arriving in Vancouver. He was a cutler, and his wife is recorded as Mary, not Alice. They had five children, a 16 year old daughter born in Ontario, two sons aged 14 and 12, James and Joseph, also born in Ontario, and two daughters, Mary Ann and Lily May who were seven and five, born in Manitoba. A year later the family were listed at 31 E Hastings.

In the 1911 Census John was retired, and had moved to 635 Keefer. Alice was with him, but William was elsewhere in the city. Elizabith Bufton, Alice’s 90 year old mother was living with them. (There’s only one Alice Bufton born in England with a mother called Elizabeth, so we think it’s likely that Alice was born in Herefordshire). Joseph Currell was still a saw filer, and so was James Currell, (presumably John’s son). In August 1911 the Sunday Sunset announced that “Mr. and Mrs. John Currell have left on a four-months trip to Australia, during which time they will visit Mr. Currell’s sister in Sydney.” In 1914 John Currell took out a permit to add a floor to his home on E 11th Avenue, but the following year he appears not to be living in the city, and the house on E 11th was vacant.

We’re not completely sure when this picture was taken – it’s somewhere between 1960 and 1980 according to the Archives. It was replaced by a 2-storey restaurant and retail building in 1999 designed by Scott Gordon Architect.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-359


Posted 19 March 2014 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with

West Cordova Street – east from Cambie (1)

Cordova east from Cambie

The ‘after’ shot in this image was taken a couple of years ago, but nothing much has changed here recently. The ‘before’ was dated as 1899 and the Savoy Hotel is down the street on the left, and Stark’s Glasgow House is on the right. Closer to the camera, on the left (behind the tram) was the Whetham Block, developed by Dr Whetham who also built a building across the street known today as the Arlington Block that we’ve caught a glimpse of in other posts. We think this building was developed a little after the Arlington, and was completed in 1889. It was designed by N S Hoffar, who moved his office to the first floor of the building in 1890.

Whetham, like many early Vancouver developers, came from Ontario. His father had been a flax and hemp manufacturer in England, who moved to Canada, established himself as a general merchant and then died, leaving a widow and three young children. His son, James Whetham is said in an early biography to have taught, then headed west, farming in Manitoba in 1878. Somehow he managed to study medicine (his biography says ‘in winter’) in Toronto and then Portland, Oregon, while living in Spokane Falls. He only practiced medicine very briefly before moving on to develop real estate, initially in Spokane Falls and then in 1887 in Vancouver.

By 1889 James Whetham had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. He was boarder in the Hotel Vancouver. That year he founded Whetham College on Granville Street with backing from David Oppenheimer, Henry Cambie of the CPR and James G Keith, manager of the Bank of British Columbia. James’s brother, Charles, had married in 1886 when he was Modern Language Master at Upper Canada College, Toronto after two years at Johns Hopkins University became the headmaster. (He had actually moved to Vancouver before 1889 and opened a real estate office in the Whetham Block). The recession of 1893 saw the college’s demise, the first post-secondary teaching institute in British Columbia. Charles moved back to become a fellow in the French Department of the University of Toronto, but returned in the mid 1890s to a farm he had bought in Whonnock. Dr James Whetham died in 1891, aged only 37, of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever.

In 1969 the almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the first of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown bulldozed to create a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. This rather more modest structure was home to CNCP Telecommunications – perhaps the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. CNCP was created as a joint venture between the CP and CN in 1967, replacing the different networks used by the two railway companies. The company became an early telecom business, was bought by Rogers in the 1980s and renamed Unitel and was later acquired by AT&T Canada (now called Allstream).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P209


Posted 17 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

Tagged with ,

500 block Seymour Street – west side (1)

500 blk Seymour 1936

Here is a small section of the west side of Seymour Street with two very different scales of building. The office building to the north is Somervell & Putnam’s design for the Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation Ltd in 1912 – later renamed as the Seymour Building.

The three small houses are earlier than we expected, and older than any useful records could tell us who built them. They were shown on the 1901 insurance map, and although the addresses on this stretch of Seymour were changed from the 300 block to the 500 block in the early 1890s, and renumbered again around the turn of the century, we’re pretty sure they were there as far back as 1887. In 1898 Silas Sweet, a contractor and William Stickney were here. Sweet had been in the same location since at least 1892, when he was living at 521, the Illingworth family were living next door at 525 and T T Black, a lawyer and agent of the Queen’s Insurance Company was at 529. We know the street numbers changed because in 1889 Mr Black was in the same location but at 331 Seymour. He was listed, rather comprehensively as ‘Black, Thomas Thompson, solicitor, notary public, commissioner to administer oaths in the Superior Court of B.C.’ He had an office on Oppenheimer, and lived on Seymour. From 1887 to 1892 he was the police magistrate and City Solicitor, (a contract job), who denied bail to the three arrested anti-Chinese rioters (only to have the magistrate overturn that decision).

Assuming the houses dated back to 1887, they lasted around 40 years. Although the Vancouver Public Library record says this image is from 1936, the houses were replaced with the current building in 1929, so the image must be earlier. The houses were used as businesses which are said to include the Wong Kee Laundry and G.A. Roedde Ltd. We can’t find any record of Roedde actually being based here, but Wong’s Laundry was here in 1928.

The new Georgian style building had two occupants in 1931; the Sunken Garden Golf Course and the Georgian Club (who developed the building). The mysteriously titled golf club didn’t seem to last very long, but the club were here for several years, joined in the mid 1930s by the Georgian Garage (presumably at the back of the building) and BC Upholstery. The building, which is on the heritage register, is now home to MTI Community College, a restaurant, and the International Language Schools. It was designed by Sydney Eveleigh, one of the few buildings we know he designed on his own after ending his partnership with W T Dalton (when Dalton retired in 1922). Georgia Estates developed it and Baynes & Horie carried out the $60,000 of work.


Posted 14 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with , ,

Davie and Hornby Street – ne corner

Davie & Hornby ne

Here’s an apartment building on the corner of Davie and Hornby, addressed to Davie Street, and built around 1909. We couldn’t dig up a permit, so all we had was a name – the Elcho Apartments. Then we came across a reference to The Echo Apartments on Davie Street, designed by Grant and Henderson in 1909. While it’s completely possible there was an Echo Apartments, we haven’t found any reference to it, so it seems more likely to be this building. It appears on the insurance map in 1912, the year it appears to be occupied, with the residents of the 20 units being listed a year later. The retail units took a while to lease up – there was a recession – but by 1915 there was a shoemaker, a furniture store, the Elcho Dry Goods Store and R Wallace Robertson, who sold teas (and also lived in the store).

Our 1981 image shows the building not too long before it was demolished, replaced by the Swan Wooster Building, designed by Romses Kwan and Associates and completed in 1984. It started life as a 9-storey office, but 3 more floors were added before it was completed. There’s a rooftop ball court on the northern portion of the building, but there was also a proposal to add more offices there some years ago. As the area rapidly densifies and new tall condo towers are built around it, it will be interesting to see how long the economics of retaining a reasonably modest office building that’s 30 years old make sense.


Posted 12 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

1376 Hornby Street

1376 Hornby

We previously identified one important architect’s own-designed office that’s still standing last year. Here’s another that, given its modest size, is even less likely to be still standing. How much longer that continues to be true remains to be seen. This was Townley and Matheson’s office, built in 1941 (although not featured in the RAIC Journal until 1948, and so attributed to that date in some sources).

Fred Townley, born in Winnipeg and brought up in Vancouver, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department in 1911 and had his first designs built here a year later. Robert Matheson was born in PEI, but the family moved to Vancouver where Robert started work as a carpenter before he too headed to the University of Pennsylvania to study architecture, graduating the same year as Townley. On his return to Vancouver he joined his architect father in partnership, and they designed several buildings still standing today – some featured on this blog. Townley and Matheson joined forces in 1919 and became one of the most active architectural firms in the city. Although both were designers, Townley carried out more of the design work while Matheson was said to manage the business and liaise with their clients. They designed the Stock Exchange tower, several schools including Point Grey School, many commercial buildings Downtown and on West Broadway, houses – particularly in Shaughnessy – and of course the new City Hall on West 12th Avenue.

At the height of their success, as City Hall was nearing completion in 1935, Matheson fell ill and died aged only 48. Townley was forced to take over running the company as well as acting as head designer. Matheson’s name was retained on the business (right through to 1974 after both founding partners were dead). This new office was modest in scale but showed the company’s strength in designing clean, modernist structures – continued in many buildings designed by the firm for the Vancouver General Hospital. Townley died in 1966 having helped design over a thousand buildings, almost all in Vancouver.

Today the building is recently abandoned – last used for many years as part of Umberto Menghi’s il Giardino restaurant. Although that business is reported to be reopening elsewhere, it’s reported that the old premises have been sold, and rumours suggest redevelopment will be proposed, although the 1888 Leslie House (just visible on the edge of the photo) is on the Vancouver Heritage Registry.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-411


Posted 10 March 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with

West Hastings Street – 400 block, south side

400 block W Hastings 2

We’ve previously looked at this view as a postcard. We’ve found this slightly larger version of the image that shows the block in better context, in the early 1900s. The corner building was most recently part of the Vancouver Film School (apparently they’ve now moved on), but it started life in 1903 as the Royal Bank of Canada. Dalton and Eveleigh designed the first classical bank in the city at a cost of $27,000, built of poured concrete with steel reinforcements for the foundations – an innovation which allowed construction of secure vaults with walls over half a metre thick. It was constructed by Vancouver pioneer, Jonathan Rogers although the  owner of the building was technically Jonathan’s wife, Elizabeth. In 1909 he hired Parr and Fee to carry out alterations that cost even more than the original building at $30,000, and again he was the contractor for the work.

Mr Rogers also developed the building next door, It was started in October, and a huge umbrella was raised over the site to allow work in the winter rain. The small building next is the 1904 Bank of Nova Scotia, covered in a recent post. At the end of the block is the Bank of British Columbia, designed by T C Sorby in 1891, and almost unchanged in over 120 years.

400 block W Hastings 3

This 1974 image shows the block looks better now than it did 40 years ago, when it might have been expected to redevelop; at least in part. Fortunately, apart from a 1930s rebuild, the block is almost intact with early buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-621 and CVA 780-22


Bank of Nova Scotia – West Hastings Street

Bank of Nova Scotia W Hastings

This is the Bank of Nova Scotia building, built in 1904 and seen here not long after it was completed in a Vancouver Public Library picture. It was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Edward Lewis, a Welshman – or maybe he was from Quebec – whose history we detailed in a recent post. W T Dalton lived next door to the Lewis family. The builder was G Horrobin, who also built the Granville Street building designed by Mr Dalton for Mr Lewis in 1902.

There was also another Lewis development designed by Dalton & Eveleigh on the next block of West Hastings, developed in 1903. This building had the neo-classical details that it seems Mr Lewis liked – the Granville Street building had a similar classical pediment. It appears that the upper part of the building wasn’t as solidly built as the stone columns that held it up – which might be a consequence of the $9,000 budget. At some point it was rebuilt with the curved arch we see today.

Looking at the street directories, it appears that when it was first built this wasn’t just the Bank premises; a banking hall and the basement with their vaults. The street directory for 1904 shows Vancouver Hotel had their sample room here as well, and G A Roedde operated his book bindery here. This is incorrect – they were both in the building to the east, 414 W Hastings. (Mr Roedde moved around – we’ve featured two other buildings where he operated his business).  By 1910 the street number had changed (from 418 to 422) and the Bank were still here, as they were in 1918. In 1920 the building isn’t included in the directory, and the bank had moved a couple of blocks to the west. In 1922 it had become 424 West Hastings – and it was still vacant. Finally by 1924 it was occupied by A G Spalding & Bros – the US athletic and sporting goods company whose Vancouver manager was W Bentham. The company stayed there until 1930, but by 1934 it was Goodman’s International Import jewelers and in 1940 it was home to Robinson’s Men’s Clothes store. A decade later it was still a clothing store – Bill Smith’s men’s wear. Today it’s still looking good, and occupied by the Bonchaz Cafe – a company who evolved from the Vancouver Farmers Markets.