We’ve see a number of these buildings (or their store fronts) in several recent posts. The building to the left is 36 West Cordova, and today it’s part of the Army and Navy store, but it started life as the Hayes & McIntosh block – a butchers store founded around 1889. The entire staff and the delivery horses from the company feature in this 1893 image. Next door were a series of buildings that were undoubtedly built very quickly after the fire (probably by 1887, when 56 Cordova was home to the Central Hotel) The hotel was run in 1887 by Thomas Quann, and he continued to run it through to 1892 when the number was switched to 42 Cordova. We know it’s still this building because Hayes and McIntosh are shown in the street directory being located next door, although in 1892 he was listed as Thomas Quamm. His census entry identifies him as Quann, born in New Brunswick and aged 46 in 1891 with his Irish wife, Mary, and his children, 18 year old twins, William and Mamie, and John Henry who was 16, all of whom had been born in the US. There were at least 25 lodgers, showing that the Central had a significant number of longer term residents, most of whom seem to be working in construction trades, or as miners. They were a mixture of Irish, English, American with one from Wales, two from Quebec and two from Scotland. By 1896 the owners were listed as Quann brothers, with Thomas joined by WH and JH – presumably his sons William (Billy) and John (Jack) who had now taken over running the hotel. They went on to build the Rainier Hotel in 1905 on the site of their wooden Balmoral Hotel (which started life in 1886 as the Burrard House, run by John Burrard) as well as running the Rose Theatre, the Maple Leaf theatre, and at one point also the St Francis Hotel.
In 1898 Powers and Farron had taken over running the hotel – James Farron who lived on Melville Street and Thomas Powers who lived at the hotel. They only stayed a year or two; in 1900 Newland and Farron were listed, and in 1901 Arthur Newland on his own. Arthur was English, aged 44, living with his Australian wife, Teresa, (who was 30), and they had just 3 lodgers. A year later the premises were empty, and in 1902 it became the Electric Theatre. This was Canada’s first permanent cinema – before this they were travelling shows run by people like the Electric’s founder, John Schuberg. The Electric cost 10c to get in – and seats were free. There was an usher to see that Ladies got the most Desirable Seats. Schuberg sold the Electric and moved to Winnipeg in 1903.
In 1909 the site was developed with a new hotel, the Hotel Manitoba, run initially by the Quann brothers (although Jack Quann died in 1911, and Billy Quann a year later.. It retained this name until 1953, when it became the Hildon Hotel, the name it still operates under today (as single room occupancy accommodation these days). The ‘official’ heritage statement says it was designed by W T Whiteway. We cannot find a single reference to substantiate that attribution. The design, using white glazed bricks is much more reminiscent of Parr and Fee, who used the material extensively on hotel buildings at this time, especially on Granville Street. There are two building permits for Parr and Fee for this address, both in 1909. The first was in April, for Evans, Coleman & Evans, Ltd who commissioned $25,000 of alterations to the William Block. Two months later another $7,000 permit for the same address, with the same architects for further alterations was approved. Both projects were built by Baynes & Horie. The expenditure suggests something substantial in the way of alteration, but perhaps there’s a part of the structure that pre-dates the 1909 construction.
Today there’s a 25 foot wide gap in the street that had a modest 2-storey building that in this image is occupied by R V Winch who sold fruit and meat, having moved from further east on the block when his previous premises were redeveloped for the Dunn-Miller block. This would suggest the building he is in was built in 1888, but we haven’t successfully pinned down a develop or architect – it’s possible that Mr. Winch developed it himself.
Further down the street are two buildings that we think date back to 1899 – one developed by F A Boehlofsky and designed by Allan McCartney, and the second right on the edge of the picture that we think is R V Winch’s investment designed by Thomas Hooper. Today the Hildon Hotel – built as the Hotel Manitoba is here; built in 1909 – we think by Evans, Coleman and Evans (Percy Evans George Coleman and Ernest Evans) who had extensive merchant interests from docks to steamships with side interests in property (including two hotels on Cordova Street). Beyond is a 2012 residential building designed by Henriquez Partners for Westbank.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P552