Here’s Nelson’s Corner as shown by drugstore proprietor and postcard published Charles Nelson at the turn of the last century.Nelson’s Drug Store Limited was founded in Vancouver around 1886 by Charles Nelson who was born in Manchester in England in 1862 (according to the census – although 1861 in a biography). He initially came to Winnipeg in 1882, and to British Columbia in 1886. He founded a drug company, located at 100 Cordova Street on the corner with Abbott Street in the heart of Gastown, and lived in the West End on Melville Street through the 1890s. At the end of 1899 or early in 1900 he added this second store at 801 Granville. We haven’t been able to trace the architect of this new structure, or confirm whether Mr Nelson developed it for his own occupation, although we’re almost certain he did.
In 1901, Nelson formed the Nelson, MacPherson, Sutherland Drug Company with seven stores, but by 1903 the partnership had failed and Nelson only retained the Granville store shown here.
In the year the new store opened Charles Nelson was aged 38 and his wife, Edith, 26. The census in 1901 says she was born in Nova Scotia – which she was – but she’d been in the city longer than most residents. She was born in 1874 in Cape Breton but her father, Peter Cordiner moved to Granville in 1879. In 1900 Charles and Edith had a six year old daughter, Beatrice, Winifred was 4 and a new baby, Gordon, had been born the year before.
Charles Nelson seems to have constantly looked for ways to expand his business. He added a seed company for a while, and he published postcards sold in his stores. This image of his new store, which makes it look like it’s located in Gastown’s angled grid, was published as a Nelson’s postcard very soon after the building was occupied.
Image MSC130-5845 courtesy of the British Columbia Postcards Collection, a digital initiative of Simon Fraser University Library