Depending on what time of day you’re reading this (or how long since it was posted) the ‘today’ version of the picture is changing as the 1990s buildings are being demolished. As they’re in the ‘private lands’ of South East False Creek, we can safely predict that there will be a mid-rise condo tower proposed here, although there are no details as we write this.
The ‘meanwhile’ auto businesses that were here were in building built in 1993 and possibly designed by Allan Diamond & Associates. Before that the site was home to a big – really big – wooden shed; the Vancouver home to Martin and Stewart, hide and skin merchants. The company – still in business today in Montreal – operated in Vancouver for many years. The Heritage Vancouver newsletter in commenting on the demolition in 1991 noted “An interesting wooden edifice atop stone foundations, the Martin & Stewart Building has been used for generations for the storage and processing of furs and hides; this sharply limited its potential adaptive re-use because of the aromatic nature of that enterprise.” There was an agreement made with the workers union in 1954, a couple of years after the firm established a base in Vancouver, and as late as 1990 the company were the main brokers for BC sheep hides (paying $2 a hide to the farmer). This image was taken in 1977.
It looks as if Martin and Stewart expanded their Vancouver operation in the early 1950s by buying out the company already operating in this building, Bissinger & Co (although sometimes wrongly recorded as Bessinger). They had operated in the city for decades, at this location (although until 1926 the street was known as Dufferin rather than W 2nd). We can find them on Granville in 1912 and on Dufferin in 1914, although a little further east, at Yukon St, and by 1916 they were operating at this location. This wasn’t a tannery, so the site isn’t toxic. it was used for the sorting, grading, salting and storage of hides.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-243