58 and 62 West Cordova Street

58-60 Cordova

We had our attention drawn to this image of buildings on Cordova Street by one of our readers. The picture was taken in 1938, and the Vancouver Public Library image shows protesters headed back from the occupation of the Post Office (photographed for the Province newspaper). From the Past Tense blog  “Unemployed protesters occupied the main Post Office (now the Sinclair Centre) for a month in June 1938. Because it was a federal building, it was up to the RCMP to kick them out, which they did with the help of clubs, tear gas, and a gauntlet of city police. The occupiers were demanding work and wages after the relief projects were shut down leaving thousands destitute. In total, 42 people were hospitalized, including five Vancouver Police constables.”

We’ve struggled to identify the buildings, as they’ve been gone quite a while. However, we think we’ve pinned them down: on the left 58 and 60 West Cordova was a building that we think was designed by Allan McCartney as the architect of a block for F.A. Boehlofski. There’s an 1889 Vancouver Daily World notice announcing the project, located between Carrall and Abbott and in 1886 Boehlofski (or Boechlofsky as he was identified then) was a tenant at this address, with no owner being identified on the voter’s list that year. If we’re right that he was the developer, we’ve come across the owner before – he was running the International Restaurant here in 1889, the International Hotel in 1890 across the street and a block to the west, and in 1898 the Boulder restaurant, also across the street in the same block. Frederick Avon Boechlofsky was born in Hungary around 1935, and he was in the city before the fire. He had two daughters (who worked as waitresses in his restaurant) and two sons; all the children had been born in the US, the youngest in 1879. His daughter Ivy Freda married in 1889 at aged 19, and had been born in Marysville, California in 1870. Cecilia, born in 1873, married in 1899, and her birthplace was listed as San Francisco. In 1880 Frederick was in Portland, Oregon, working as a hotel cook (aged 41) with three daughters, all born in California, and two younger sons born in Oregon. His wife, Margaret, was shown as coming from Germany, although later Canadian census records showed Hungary. A third daughter, Hannah, married at least three times but her birthplace was never identified.

Allan McCarney was born in the Bahamas, West Indies and travelled with his family to New York and Montreal before moving to British Columbia where he worked as an engineer at the Hastings Sawmill. We’re not sure whether he had any qualifications to design buildings, but he had completed quite a few before he died ‘a comparatively young man’ in 1901.

Hugh Harvey ran the Harvey Boot Factory – a successful logging boot facility (competing with Leckies) at this location, after moving from the Dominion Hotel on Water Street in 1921. Mrs Peterson sold jewelery from the adjacent store, and upstairs were the offices of the Relief Project Worker’s Union.

We thought the building next door, selling ‘Pride of the West’ overalls was built by pioneer trader Richard Winch in 1889, with Thomas Hooper supplying the design, perhaps his first commission for a commercial building in the city. We think that’s still quite possible; the 1889 newspaper description is for a 44 foot wide building, two storeys, just east of the Dougall House (which was on the corner). There’s a smaller building to the west of this one, next to the Dougall House, and that was built in the same year for Arthur Sullivan. Winch had a store slightly to the east of here in 1893, which made us initially think that was his development too – but it was only 25 feet wide, and not that close to the Dougall House. The overalls were made at a factory on Cambie Street from before the Great War, and E J Smardon was selling them in his men’s furnishing store in 1938, with the Pacific Rooms upstairs.

Today there’s a new residential building designed by Henriquez Partners for Westbank, who built 96 low-cost home ownership units here in 2012 in a 10 storey building that also has 12 units of non-market housing over a retail base.

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Posted April 16, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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