303 West Pender Street

303 W Pender

We’ve featured this building in a slightly later incarnation, when it was home to the Morning Star newspaper in 1929. What we hadn’t fully appreciated until we found this Vancouver Public Library image is that the newspaper shared the building with an industrial user – the Universal Knitting Co Ltd, whose signage in this 1922 image totally ignores the presence of the 303 W Pender 1927newspaper (although they were in the building at the time, and many years earlier). The 1927 image of the building on the right shows that the Knitting Company and the Star shared signage a few years later, although by 1929 the mill was no longer in the city. In 1922 universalThe Universal Knitting Co was managed by A C Cohen.

Abraham Cohen was American by birth, and operated a second knitting mill in the building in 1927 which was called the Jantzen Knitting Company. The company history of Jantzen explains how that came about “It was during the year 1924 that the Universal Knitting Mills of Vancouver, B. C. approached us with a proposition to manufacture our swimming suits in Canada, and on December 16, Jantzenwe passed a resolution to enter into contract with them. The contract provided for the manufacture and sale of suits in Canada on a royalty basis“. (The 1927 Directory entries for both companies are shown here). In 1928 the Canadian company moved to a new 40,000 square foot factory at “10th Avenue and the great Pacific Highway in Vancouver… The building enables the Vancouver plant to carry on most of the operations on one floor, which has been found to be more economical than operating a factory on several floors, as was previously the case at the Vancouver factory.” The new factory was only identified under the Jantzen name, but the 1929 Directory shows that the company were still producing garments under the Universal label as well. There were dozens of employees working in the new factory, many women identified as either machine operators or finishers, but all the knitters seem to have been men. The manager, Walter Teetzel was probably from Ontario and a relative of Archibald Teetzel who was associated with a Homer Street business.jantzen 1928

The Jantzen factory at 196 Kingsway continued to produce swimwear at the factory for almost 70 years, finally closing in 1997.

Mr. Cohen was married in 1911 to Miss Weaver, whose parents lived on Beach Avenue. A year earlier he was newly in the city as manager of a knitting company called Mackay Smith Blair & Co whose premises were at 206 Cambie on the corner of Water Street. In 1915 he was manager of Pride of the West Knitting Mills at 848 Cambie Street. By 1918 he’d established Universal Knitting at 624 Smithe Street, moving to this building by 1920.

We previously identified the architects of the building as likely to be Dalton and Eveleigh in 1907, with Thomas Hooper designing $1,000 of additions for the News-Advertiser in 1910. Most recently it was occupied by Pappas Furs, but for now it awaits a new office tenant.

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