1200 block Homer Street (2)

1200 block Homer 2

We saw the building on the right of this 1981 picture in the previous post. It was built in 1910 as MacPherson & Teetzel’s hardware warehouse and designed by Parr and Fee.

The more substantial building next door was built in the same year for W R Arnold by Adkinson and Dill for $48,000. It was designed by H S Griffith and described in the permit as a reinforced concrete warehouse. The first tenant was Hamilton Smith’s ‘Smith Biscuit Co’. Mr. Smith lived in the Hotel Europe, on Powell Street, along the street from one of his rivals, the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co, based in Stratford, Ontario. In 1907 Mooney’s advertisement claimed they were ‘the fastest growing business in the Dominion’, and had added a fleet of their own rail cars to ship their ‘Perfection Cream Soda’ biscuits around the country.

H S Griffith was based in Victoria, having moved from England, and he established his Vancouver office in 1910. This warehouse, and another in Yaletown, were both issued with permits on the same day, and appear to be the first issued to Griffith. William Arnold was, in 1910, the Managing Director of the Dominion Trust Company who had also built a West Pender building through another subsidiary, also designed by H S Griffith, as well as the Dominion Building that they took on when the Imperial Trust ran into financial problems. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Arnold developed this warehouse as a personal project, or on behalf of The Dominion Trust Company. In a later court case (after Mr. Arnold’s death), the judge described him as ‘a man of endless speculations’.

A couple of years after the construction of Dominion Trust’s portfolio of buildings the economy went into a ‘severe financial re-adjustment’ (as it was described at the time). The final straw may have been over-extended company finances on a planned harbour scheme on Lulu Island (that was never built), and the company’s liquidator concluded that Mr. Arnold had advanced a series of unauthorized loans that were very risky. The $5,752,232 of book assets were estimated to actually be worth under a million dollars. W R Arnold shot himself, aged 31, in 1914 in what was initially reported as ‘a bad accident’. An initial court judgement agreed that it was an accidental death, and his insurance company was to pay $100,000 to the Dominion Trust. However, the insurance company won on appeal, and the death officially became a suicide.

In 1912 the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co acquired the Smith Biscuit Co as part of their Canadian-wide expansion, allowing them to bake their branded biscuits in the west coast market, rather than having to ship them from further east. The First World War may have caused something of a problem for Mooney’s – by 1916 they were in receivership (which may be the reason for the VPL having a photo of their empty ‘melting pots’ from that year). The building was apparently vacant for several years, but in 1919 the Canadian Nut Co were here, and in 1920 they were joined by the Mainland Confectionery Co, managed by Chas. Rimmer.

By 1924 the confectionery company were still here, but the nut company had been replaced by Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. Ltd. The Montreal-based millers retained the location (and soon replaced the confectionery company) for over two decades. (The archives have some great images of their delivery trucks for Royal Household flour at the warehouse). By 1944 they shared the building with a wholesale confectioners, McBride Jackson Ltd, and a commercial artist and printers, R H Storer & Co.

By 1981 when these images were shot, Moore & Middleton occupied the building. The company was a manufacturer of knitting yarns for Cowichan and Icelandic sweaters and North American distributor of knitting yarns, needlepoint, sewing supplies, laces, trims and hobby crafts; it was dissolved in 1985. Today the building has office space on the upper floors and Yaletown’s last billiard hall on the Hamilton Street loading dock side of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.16

 

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: