Invermay Hotel – 828 West Hastings Street

800 W Hastings south

We saw this 1906 hotel in the previous post. It started life in 1906 as the Hamilton House, built by Frank Hamilton (of Calgary) and designed by C B McLean. After a series of name changes over the years, including the Fairmont Hotel, it became the Invermay Hotel. It was still the Invermay Hotel in 1930, at that point run by Merritt G Gordon who was also President of the Gordon Hotel Co, and lived on W15th Avenue. He was one of seven brothers born in Quebec but raised in Minnesota, three of who bought the Commercial Hotel in Harris, Saskatchewan in 1910. The brothers had previous experience mining in Butte, Montana, and a prospector brought some ‘rubies’ into their bar which they promised to look after, and then quickly filed a mining claim. Like many of the sharpest profiteers they made a fortune, once word was out, running the hotel, and building a camp at the instant mine townsite. It was populated almost instantly by over a thousand ruby-seekers; they operated a saloon, a restaurant and other entertainment in three large tents. It took quite a while before it become known that the rubies were almost worthless garnets. Once the hotel burned down in 1923 the family split up, with Merritt heading to Vancouver where he ran a series of hotels over the years. In 1940, 514 Richards was the Merritt Gordon Beer Parlour and 518 was the Merritt Gordon Hotel; that’s the former Marble Arch Hotel that has recently been renovated and has now reverted to it’s original ‘Canada Hotel’ name.

The Invermay Hotel name continued until 1971, when it became the Invermay Inn, as it was in this 1974 image. The final name change came when it was renamed the Jolly Taxpayer, and was painted a deep cherry red. Although it has been demolished for over 5 years, you can still find a website that say the hotel “has twenty-seven rooms with all modern facilities. Each room has ensuite bathroom facilities and private shower. The hotel also provides large screen sports, satellite televisions, pool, darts, golf games and more. It also serves fish, chips, juicy burgers, sizzling steaks, chunky chicken wings and a daily drink special.”

On the sites to the west are two other older buildings. While the hotel has gone, they survive – one as a façade, one completely intact. The façade that was retained belongs to a building known as the BC and Yukon Chamber of Mines. Actually, they were a later tenant, the building was erected to J C Day’s design for the Royal Financial Trust Co in 1926, but they went bankrupt in the depression. After a number of other brokerage and insurance tenants the building became home to the Chamber of Mines, an information and publicity organization for the BC and Yukon mining industries. In 2007 the façade was retained while a deep hole was dug for a new office and condo project. Out of shot to the right is the Ceperley Rounsfell Building that was also incorporated into the project underneath the dramatic overhang of the new building. It was retained in its entirety, chocked up laterally and suspended over the excavation before being given a new foundation and a heritage restoration.

In 2011 the new building that was completed here showed some unusual international design flair: Jameson House is an office and condo tower squeezed onto a 100′ site in the middle of the block. Designed by Foster and Associates in London (lead architect Nigel Dancey) with Walter Francl of Vancouver, the development ran into some financial and sales problems and Bosa Properties stepped in to complete the project.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-178



Posted 9 February 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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