Here’s the south-east corner of Burrard and West Hastings (looking east) in 1974. The simple, modern looking 2-storey building was occupied by the Bank of British Columbia. We’re reasonably sure this was a McCarter and Nairne design from 1949 for Burrard Building Operations Ltd. In 1952 it was called the Burrard Building (the name was moved once the new much bigger building was completed a few years later to the south). The early tenants included stock brokers and insurance companies, including the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. The bank show occupying the building in 1974 was the second business with that name, and they were entirely unrelated. The first bank premises are still standing, and we featured them earlier in the life of this blog. The second bank was the creation of W A C Bennett in 1966, designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses. By the mid 1980s there were $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees, but serious management problems led to the bank being absorbed in 1986 by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada (today’s HSBC).
Across the lane to the south the edge of the first Bentall Building can be seen – a five-storey concrete building that was the first substantial office to be built in the city after the Second World War, in the early 1950s. It was almost certainly designed by Bentall’s Dominion Construction, probably with input from Charles Bentall.
Today it’s Commerce Place, a silver reflective office complex designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter and completed 30 years ago.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-15