We identified a building in a previous post as probably being Thomas Hooper’s building for grocer and meat and game dealer R V Winch. We thought that this photograph showed the same building, although we weren’t certain (although the street numbering and the insurance map from 1901 suggested they might be the same). Clearly this is R V Winch’s store, photographed in 1890 and in the Vancouver Public Library collection. (They have another version of the same picture dated as 1888, but that date is less likely to be accurate).
We’ve charted Mr. Winch’s progress in the city on another blog, because he ended up building one of the finest buildings in the city’s early history. His first store was on the same block as this, but further east, at 20 Cordova Street. That was redeveloped as part of the Dunn-Miller block now occupied by the Army & Navy store, and Mr. Winch moved to this new property a bit further west in 1889 – initially numbered as 52, although by the time this picture was taken in 1890 it appears to have become number 66. We couldn’t find any directory records that show him in any building address numbered as 66, it was either 52 or 58 Cordova, but then we noticed way off in the background of our previous post (photographed in 1893) that this building could be seen, just past the wooden hotel buildings that were replaced in 1909 by the Hotel Manitoba.
In 1889 the Vancouver Daily World identified the location of a development by Mr. Winch’s as a 44 foot wide building ‘just to the east of Dougall House‘ which was on the end of the block, several lots to the right in this picture. As this is a 25’ building, we now think Mr. Winch built that investment further down the block, but kept his store here.
R V Winch initially had a business partner – Joseph Shupe – but that partnership dissolved quite quickly. A few years later in 1894 he had another partner, his brother-in-law G E Bower, who was from the same town, Cobourg Ontario, and who started out as a salesman with company in 1892. He was no longer associated with the Winch businesses by 1903, and a few years later built one of a number of investment properties.
W A Grafton, in conversation with Major Matthews recalls selling game to the company. “You see, I used to sell all the fish and game—deer and grouse—to the Hotel Vancouver at first, or to Coughtery, the butcher, and then I changed over to Dick Winch” (Winch and Bower.) “The biggest lot I ever sold to Winch was thirteen deer and sixty-seven brace of grouse all shot by my brother and myself on Bowen Island, and in two days; deer were ‘thick’ then. Winch gave me sixty-eight cents a brace for the grouse, and five cents a pound for the deer.
“You could sell the deer only at the opening of the season. After that, you could not sell them; the market was glutted; they did not want them. After the Comox started running, they brought in too many from up north, but you could always sell blue grouse.”
By 1902 the Winch store had moved to the Flack Block on Hastings Street, and a few years later a new building went up on Pender Street. Richard Winch took a gamble on shipping canned salmon to England, was successful in the hugely profitable enterprise, and on the strength of his expanding business empire became wealthy enough to acquire a Rolls Royce and built the Winch Block, now part of the Sinclair Centre.