Archive for November 2014

Cordova Street and Water Street

Water & Cordova v3

The initial street grid of the Old Granville Township, which followed the shoreline along Water Street, meets the (almost) east-west grid surveyed by the Canadian Pacific Railway on West Cordova to create an acute flatiron corner. This 1895 image shows the 1892 Holland Block designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an early real estate developer. The building borrowed from both Italianate styling and the bay widows of San Francisco, and in the early days the Queen’s Hotel occupied the upper floors. The building incorporated cast iron columns that show the BC Ironworks mark.

There’s another flatiron building a bit further east. It’s actually two buildings, each designed by N S Hoffar and completed in 1888. The one we can see the complicated turret on is for J W Horne; beyond it is the Springer-Van Bramer block developed for the partnership of Ben Springer and James Van Bramer, both connected to the north shore Moody’s sawmill, and the developers of an earlier building on the south side of Cordova. J W Horne also developed a number of other buildings nearby, including one on Cambie Street also designed by Hoffar in 1890. Today the only additional building on this block is the Buscombe Building, built in 1899 as a 3-storey building for John Burns and later acquired by importers Buscombe & Co.

The only significant building at this end of the north side of Water Street was the 3-storey warehouse for the Hudson’s Bay Company, built in 1894. It’s still standing today, but with two extra floors added in 1903. In the distance today the Woodward’s development adds a new flatiron building, a 43 storey tower designed by Henriquez Partners.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P392



Hamilton Street – north from West Pender

Hamilton north

When this picture was taken in 1899 the new courthouse was on the right, the lawyers had their offices in the Inns of Court Building at the corner of Hastings (on the left) and across the street was The Arcade, John Parr’s design for a two storey investment by Harvey Hadden (there were 18 stores on two levels, presumably taking advantage of the slope here). We saw the office building and The Arcade from a different angle in an 1896 image. The Flack Block hasn’t been built on the corner of Cambie yet, but the Commercial Hotel was completed in 1895, and is still there (although the cenotaph blocks the view from this position).

The one mystery is the 3 storey turreted building north of the Commercial Hotel. Today it’s still standing as an SRO hotel known as the Melville Rooms, numbered as 322 Cambie; BC Assessment suggest it was built in 1900 (although clearly it’s older than that). In 1901 it was shown as offices, and was numbered as 334 Cambie. In 1899 property brokers and developers B B Johnston & Co had their offices here, with Mr Johnston and Mr Howe, as well as Atlas Insurance. We know that Johnston and Howe hired G W Grant to design a new office on Hastings in 1899 and another on Granville in 1900, but it looks as if this building pre-dates Grant’s arrival in Vancouver in 1897, and Johnston & Howe were based in another building on Cordova Street at that time.

Garden, Hermon and Burwell had their offices here in 1897, (and a year or two earlier), a firm of civil engineers and land surveyors founded in 1866. J F Garden was Vancouver’s mayor from 1898 to 1900. It’s most likely this is an N S Hoffar designed building: J F Garden commissioned a building from him on Cambie Street in 1894. We can tell from other images that the turret was still on the building in 1937, but had been lost be 1946.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2036


Posted 24 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing, Victory Square

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YWCA – Burrard and Dunsmuir (1)

YWCA Burrard & Dunsmuir

We saw the 1970s YWCA building in the previous post. Here’s the first version of the building – or at least an earlier version, seen here in a 1906 Vancouver Public Library image. It was very new, as it wasn’t located here until that year. From 1904 to 1906 the organisation was located at 591 Howe Street, and Mrs. Armitage was listed as the matron. The YWCA first opened its doors in the city in 1897 to provide housing and services to women coming to Vancouver in search of education or employment

W T Dalton designed it (although Dalton and Eveleigh were credited in the Daily World), and Beam and Halford built it, apparently to higher specifications than the tender required. It featured a gymnasium where Miss Hillyard, described as physical culture trainer at the high school, offered classes. The building décor was described as paneled with green, ‘the effect being most cool and picturesque. Each of the top storeys was furnished with bathrooms’. The building was opened in June by lieutenant-governor James Dunsmuir (the former premier) and the Daughters of the Empire assisted in entertaining the guests.

Dalton and Eveleigh went on to design a $21,000 brick addition in 1909 built by Baynes and Horie. In 1906 he sidewalks were still planks that covered the ‘drainage’ along the street. As we noted in the previous post, the corner today has the plaza for Bentall 5, a large office tower that also has a Cactus Club restaurant alongside, designed by Musson Cattell Mackey.


Posted 20 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Dunsmuir Street from Burrard

Burrard from Dunsmuir south

The YWCA residences was a substantial building that lasted a remarkably short time. Opened in 1969, it closed in 1995 and was imploded in 1997. Designed by Vladimir Plavsic & Associates it was added to an earlier 1950’s smaller building by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick & Pratt. It was replaced on an adjacent site on Hornby Street, and the original site became part of Bentall Five, a new office tower built in two phases – the top 11 floors were added several years after the first 22. To enable that to occur, a staging area had to be retained, and that’s where Musson Cattell Mackey’s Cactus Club Café was built once the office tower was complete.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.22


Posted 17 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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311 Dunsmuir Street

311 Dunsmuir

Here’s another gas station that you won’t find today. The Dunsmuir Service Station was opened in 1931 by Roach and Rosbotham at the corner of Hamilton Street. L A Roach and Thomas Rosbotham had another service station at 680 Beatty Street. In 1926 Thomas was the attendant at a Union Oil service station, and a couple of years earlier he was an orderly at the Shaughnessy Hospital.

Photographer Jack Lindsay took two picture of the station in 1946 when it was managed by William Krikau. He had moved to Vancouver from Rosthern, Saskatchewan during the war, initially working for Dominion Bridge, then moving to Silverdale in mission in 1950 to run his own garage.

Today the site is part of BC Hydro’s 1992 new office, with the supposed theme of water flowing down the mountains (the roof of the tower) to generate power. The Delmar Hotel, behind the service station, still stands behind the recently planted rainforest in the park, designed by W P White in 1911. Dalton and Eveleigh’s larger Alcazar Hotel, to the left of the gas station was built a year later, and is now part of the tower site.

Image Source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 1184-1738


590 Hornby Street

590 Hornby (at Dunsmuir)

The Downtown of Vancouver was once a driver’s consumer choice. Today there are just two gas stations remaining – but there were once 99 (and maybe more). Here’s one of the earlier ones at 590 Hornby Street in 1920. It had been built that year on the corner with Dunsmuir Street, and was billed as a Gasoline Service Station – this was Imperial Oil’s Auto Filler #4, although they actually only had three, and this was the only one Downtown. We wondered initially if it was because City Archivist Major Matthews had worked for Imperial Oil that he was able to identify several of the people in the picture. “Men identified (left to right): Alfred Huggett, J.E. Hayden, unidentified man in car, Stan and Jack Duggan” – then we noticed that Mr. Hayden donated the image to the archives in 1960. In 1920 he was a clerk with the CPR who lived on Drake Street, Alfred Huggett was a clerk with Imperial Oil. There’s no sign of either a Stan or a Jack Duggan in the city then, although there was an A Duggan who drove a truck for a living.

Major Matthews said that Imperial Oil, although a Canadian Company was controlled by Standard Oil, so even apparently rival filling stations were feeding the same profit stream. At the turn of the 20th Century all the garages received their supplies of gasoline from Imperial Oil, at 20c a gallon, and then resold it at 35c. Imperial decided to sell directly to the motorist at 20c marking the start of oil company owned filling stations – and significant animosity with the independent garages. After the war a wave of new premises opened – J W Horne opened one in 1916 only two blocks from this corner.

Today there’s a bike lane and an anonymous 1968 office building on the corner.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA LP 295


Posted 10 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Birks Building – West Georgia and Granville


The Birks Building ranks, we would suggest, alongside the second Hotel Vancouver as the greatest loss of a heritage building in the city. Unlike the hotel, there haven’t been any suggestions of shoddy construction or any deal that it had to be closed because a newer version had been constructed. It was a “10-storey reinforced concrete office/store” costing $550,000 in 1912, designed by Somervell and Putnam for “Birks, Hy. Ltd” as they were described on the building permit. Henry Birks and Sons were based in Montreal and their Vancouver store was veneered with white terra-cotta. It was one of the most elegant and carefully proportioned office buildings designed for the city, still looking good in this 1946 image, and its loss was compounded by the simplistic replacement – the Vancouver Centre.

Birks were complicit in the demolition; they teamed up with the Bank of Nova Scotia to redevelop the north end of the block with an office tower, a parkade, and a store (now occupied by London Drugs) completed in 1974. The parkade has a redevelopment proposal as a second office tower, but the prominent Georgia and Granville corner has yet to see anything better proposed than what’s there now – the design of the Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership of Toronto.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 586-4399


Posted 6 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Burrard Street from Dunsmuir

Georgia from Dunsmuir

We’re looking across the street, almost due south from Dunsmuir Street. It’s 1981, and work is starting on the site hoardings for Daon Development Corporation’s Park Place office tower. It will be big; taking the developable floorspace from Christ Church (on the site next door) allowing a restoration of the cathedral while preserving and enhancing the surrounding are with a park and water feature. To the left of the third Hotel Vancouver is the back of the Georgia Medical Dental Building. Initially the plans for spending some of the $17m involved some quite contemporary changes to the cathedral, designed by Busby Bridger (including a glass roof), but ultimately the historic structure remained unchanged.

The Medical Dental building was a McCarter and Nairne designed art deco fifteen storey office building completed in 1929. It was the first office building to include a parking garage, and was full of physicians and dentists. Interestingly, the 1930 street directory showed there were a few other tenants besides over 150 doctors – the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Dentists each had their offices there, but there was also the International Club of Vancouver, the BC Dental Supply Co and both clinical and x-ray labs.

The website for its replacement says “opened in 1991, Cathedral Place was developed through a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong under the company name of Shon Georgia Investments Ltd. With the formation of this new corporate group, Mr. Shon saw an opportunity to realize a long-time dream of his father, Charles Shon, to redevelop the Georgia Medical-Dental Building site creating an enduring architectural landmark. The celebrated and respected architect, Paul Merrick, was asked to head the design team. The office Tower is now known as Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place.” Given the more recent completion of an entirely different tower called the Shaw Tower, it’s no surprise that the replacement is generally known as Cathedral Place. The office is still owned by Shon Group Realty.

Early versions of the scheme were designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore Owings Merrill of Chicago. Heritage Vancouver’s newsletter at the time described it as having “a kind of 1920s or 1930s stepped back Skyscraper Gothic style“, which is pretty much what the Merrick design has as well.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 779-W04.35


Posted 3 November 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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