This Water Street warehouse was commissioned by hardware merchants the McLennan and McFeely Company. It was completed in 1905, although they never occupied it as by then they had already started building larger premises on Cordova Street. The architect of both warehouses was E E Blackmore, who worked with the more experienced W T Whiteway on this building. This was an unusual arrangement as up to this point Blackmore usually worked with his father, William, who had designed many of the city’s early buildings, but William had died in 1904.
McLennan & McFeely leased the Water Street building to the Canadian Fairbanks Company; at the time the largest machinery and mill supply company in Canada. They didn’t only use the building as a warehouse, they had a wonderful machine shop – there’s a beautiful picture of it in the City Archives, dating from 1905 like the picture above.
By 1930 the building was occupied by Thompson Elliott Limited, wholesale grocers, as this VPL image shows. They moved into the building in the early 1920s, replacing David Spencer Ltd who used the warehouse in conjunction with their rapidly expanding retail emporium.
Like many of the buildings on the north side of Water Street, (the water side), the Canadian Fairbanks building was built on piles driven into infilled water lots. By the 1980s the foundations had decayed to the point where collapse seemed imminent. Fortunately, extensive renovations in 1987 reclaimed the building for office and retail use.
Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P504.4 and Vancouver Public Library