61 Alexander Street

61 Alexander

This modest warehouse was built in 1907, and we can find no record of the builder or architect. The first tenant was the A R Williams Machinery Company of Vancouver. Thanks to a 1907 publication, (A history of Ontario : its resources and development), we know that the Vancouver operation was part of a larger Toronto company, with a partner owner from another machinery company, Gourlay’s of Galt (who in 1900 opened the only factory in Canada that manufactured pins).

“The business conducted under the above name was founded in 1883 by A. R. Williams, and embraced operations not only in the purchase and sale of machinery, but also in the conduct of a repair shop in addition to the manufacturing department. This was organized as a limited company in 1894, capitalized for $300,000, with a subscribed capital of $188,000. The company handles iron and metal working machinery of all kinds, tends to the outfitting of machine shops, agricultural implement shops and railway shops; also handles wood working machinery, covering complete outfits for planing mills, furniture factories, sawmills, stave, lath and shingle mills, and in fact covering every process for working up wooden and iron products. They likewise furnish power machinery,  including engines, boilers, gas and gasoline engines, gas producer plants, electric generators and motors, water wheels, water motors, etc. As far as possible they handle Canadian made goods of all kinds.

A branch house is conducted in Montreal under the name of Williams & Wilson ; at Winnipeg, as the A. R. Williams Machinery Company, of Winnipeg, Limited, and at Vancouver, under the name of the A. R. Williams Machinery Company, of Vancouver, Limited. About twenty-five traveling salesmen represent the company on the road, and an enormous business is transacted annually. The house is the largest of its kind in the Dominion, and the business has been greatly appreciated by manufacturers of Canada by reason of the special facilities afforded them for the exchange of machinery, enabling them to dispose of old-time machinery and obtain new and up-to-date machinery. The second hand machinery is disposed of to people starting smaller enterprises on limited capital. The trade has also increased on account of the large amount of machinery and supplies carried in stock for immediate delivery in case of emergency. The company acts as special agent for the McGregor, Gourlay Company, Limited, of Galt, Ontario, which company is also interested with Mr. Williams in the Vancouver branch.”

In 1909 Williams built new premises on Railway Street, and for a while occupied both, but by 1915 this building was vacant. In 1916 Hallman & White, machinery (Emil Hallman and Conrad R White, Machinery & Belting) moved in. They stayed a very short period, in 1918 and 1919 it was vacant again (a new partnership of Hallman & Cleghorn were dealing in machinery on Hastings). In 1920 the Crossman Electrical Machinery Co moved in, and stayed until 1941. The company was founded in 1911, and is still in business today, based in Burnaby supplying electric motors, processing and conveyors just as it was in this 1921 Vancouver Public Library picture.

From 1942-44 the directory says this was “Dom Prov Sch” – which turns out to have been the Shipbuilding Training Centre for the Dominion Provincial Youth and War Emergency Training Plan. In 1946 the War Assets Corporation was here – Its mandate was to manage the surplus moveable assets disposal program for the government. In 1948 the address disappeared, along, we assume, with the building.

Today it’s part of a larger site developed in 1999 with an eight storey condo building designed by Rositch Hemphill for Cressey.


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