Not all the buildings in the West End are in as quite as good shape as they once were. The Broughton Apartments have unfortunately lost their cornice, although the street is in much better condition than in this supposed c1910 picture. The earliest the picture can really date from is 1912, when the building was completed. The building permit for the $100,000 building was approved in December 1910, with Parr and Fee responsible for the design for owner, and builder Peter Tardiff. Although his name appears as contractor on many projects in the city, including a number on Granville Street that we’ve featured elsewhere, this seems to be the most valuable building that he constructed. His other significant investment was the Family Theatre on the 900 block of Granville Street that he built in 1910 as a cost of $25,000, with Parr and Fee also designing that for him.
The building started life as the Broughton Apartments, although today it’s known as Gainsborough Place. The site was initially occupied by a house owned by George Stevens. Peter Tardif, as he was recorded by the census, was living at 1121 Bidwell Street in 1911, age 43 with his wife Marie Louise and their eight children (six of them girls) aged between 15 and one, with his 24-year-old cousin, Yvonne Lafrance. His wife was a few years younger, and although both parents had been born in Quebec, all the children had been born in British Columbia. In the 1901 census he was also shown as Tardif, which suggests that the more commonly recorded Tardiff was probably wrong. He was listed as a house builder in 1901, and a contractor in 1911. He appears as the architect of some of the buildings he worked on, but as with many of the city’s contractors these were generally smaller jobs. He worked a lot with Parr and Fee on larger contracting jobs, which may be why he chose them to design his investment. In earlier census records, from 1871 to 1891 he was recorded as Pierre Tardif, one of 19 Pierre Tardif’s in Canada – all of them in Quebec. He was married in 1893, in British Columbia, to his wife Marie-Louise Labrecque.
When it was newly built this was clearly a smart building. Unlike many of the West End buildings the tenants all seem to have been couples, (or possibly men living alone). The apartments were big; there were only 37 altogether. Among the residents were the architect of the building, J Edmeston Parr, Samuel H Henderson who was manager of the Vancouver Table Supply Co, Charles Boldrick, who was secretary to William Holden, Robert Creech who worked for Geo A Campbell & Co, a real estate broker, E Crockett and George Kidd who was comptroller of the BCE Railway. Like so many of the city’s rental buildings, turnover was considerable; a year later half of these six tenants had moved on.
In 1913 Mr Tardif sold the building to a consortium of businessmen, Morden, Thorton, Kilroy and Morgan for $140,000 – which was a pretty successful return in a very short period – especially in an economic slowdown. Mr. Tardiff continued to build projects through to the 1920s, and we know he was still around because he was at the wedding of his son Raoul to Ivy Flack in 1929, and his daughter Jeanne Louise in the same year. We think Peter died, or possibly retired and moved away in 1933: that’s the last year he appears in the street directory: still listed as a building contractor, living on Blenheim. It appears that neither of his sons worked with their father; there’s no sign of the company name after this, although several of the children were still in the city.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-98