Here’s a view of the north side of the 400 block of West Hastings around 1910, looking at the corner with Homer Street. On the corner (on the right of the picture) was A E McMillan’s ‘Head Quarters for Diamonds’. Next door in the same building was a branch of the Dominion Bank, while the building to the west was home to Johnston’s Big Shoe House and Ladywares American corsets. Next door is the Lady Stephen Block – later known as the McMillan Building (although as the photo shows, McMillan’s were originally located next door). We’ve looked at the building already – it’s one of the earliest in the city still standing today, designed by T C Sorby in 1887. It was once obscured by a contemporary façade, but has since been restored.
The same cannot be said for the corner block. Underneath the mirror glass is at least the frame of the 1905 building designed by Maclure and Fox for Stephen Jones. The only Stephen Jones in Vancouver at the time was a sawyer, and it seems unlikely he was the investor. There was a Stephen Jones in Victoria who is a much more likely candidate. He was a hotel keeper – but also a real estate investor, both in Vancouver and Victoria. A 1933 obituary notice included the following: “For forty-three years Mr. Jones had operated the Dominion Hotel which he took over from his father, expanding it as the city grew. The successful operation of the hotel was the basis of the Jones fortune, but it was added to from the first of the century when downtown real estate in Vancouver, which Mr. Jones had acquired when Granville Street was only a trail through stumps, became valuable.” Mr. Jones was born in Ontario into an Irish family, but they moved to Victoria when he was an infant. He was a prominent Freemason as well as being active in both local politics and the Chamber of Trade in Victoria.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 560