Archive for August 2015

Colonial Apartments – 589 Burrard Street

589 Burrard

The Colonial Apartments, seen here in 1917, were six years old when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot. The building permit describes the building as ‘Apartments/rooms (also 1008 Eveleigh Street); five-storey brick & steel store & apartment’. We saw it in a larger context in an earlier post. The architect was listed as Kennerley Bryan, and the developer B T Rogers, the American sugar baron who ran the Vancouver sugar refinery and also developed the city’s first up-scale ’boutique hotel’. J H Vickers was the builder of the $50,000 investment property.

There’s surprisingly little information available about the architect, who designed several buildings for Rogers at the sugar refinery between 1912 and 1917; buildings for Sam Kee including the famous ‘narrowest building in the world’ on the edge of Chinatown as well as the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in Stanley Park in 1910. From the 1911 census we know that he was an American, living with his English wife, Cecilia, 18-year-old daughter Margaret, and his sister-in-law Harriet Ruddock. They moved to Canada in 1908 – his wife is in some records shown as Cecelia; she was from Aston, near Birmingham; (her birth and christening records confusingly show her as both Celia and Cecila). It appears that in arriving in Vancouver Mr. Bryan reinvented himself as an architect – before his arrival he was an engineer. Perhaps this explains why he favoured steel frame buildings, even when they were relatively small – although surviving the San Francisco earthquake could also be a factor.

Records suggest he was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1867 and he appears to have been a civil engineer, rather than an architect when he was in The US. The first reference to anyone called Kennerley Bryan was attending the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1892, and working in New York. As Kennerly Bryan we can find him in Chicago as an engineer in 1888, and in New York in 1889 as a junior engineer at Otis Engineering. The chief engineer of the Hale Elevator Co of Chicago in 1893 had the same name and moved to the Winslow Bros Elevator Co in Chicago in 1894 “As Consulting Engineer we are fortunate in securing Mr. Kennerley Bryan, who leaves his important position as an engineer of Otis Brothers & Co., of New York, to assist in our enterprise. Mr. Bryan has had the advantage of years of experience with the Otis Company, known throughout America and Europe as manufacturers of elevator machinery of the most approved type. He now has the reputation of being one of the most skillful and experienced engineers in the art of elevator building.

In 1900 he was shown by the US census to be living in Manhattan in New York when his son, also called Kennerley was aged 10. That same year he was living in Brooklyn when he obtained a patent for the ‘main operating valve for hydraulic elevators, etc’. He took charge of the Otis Elevator Co in San Francisco in 1900, and was running the Bryan Elevator Co there in 1906 when the earthquake devastated the city. He arrived in Vancouver in 1908, and was responsible for a series of buildings through boom and bust. The last time we can find Mr. Bryan as an architect in Vancouver is in 1919, when he represented the Architectural Institute of BC at a national meeting of architects with S M Eveleigh. He was in partnership with W Gillam that year (as he had been for several years) and was living on Broughton Street. In 1920 the architectural partnership had folded, Gillam was now in a new partnership and this was the last time Kennerley Bryan was living on Broughton Street, (recorded as an engineer, rather than architect). Kennerley Bryan junior was married in 1920 in New Westminster, moved to Ohio in the 1930s, and returned to Point Roberts in 1940. He had an older brother, Cecil, who was born in Brooklyn, New York two years before him, in 1888, and an earlier sibling also christened Kennerley who was also born in 1888 and died in 1889.

We think it’s possible the architect returned to New York, and returned to being an engineer. The record of his son’s wedding confirms that “Kennerley Bryan, 29, engineer, Titusburg NY, Vancouver, s/o Kennerley Bryan, engineer & Cecilia Ruttick, married Jean Christine MacEwen, 29, teacher, Paisley Ont., New Westminster, d/o Peter McEwen, clergyman & Christine McEwen, witnesses: Mrs. P.H. MacEwen & Cecilia R. Bryan, 19 Jan 1920 at New Westminster”. A Mr. Bryan was lodging in New York in 1920 where he was recorded as ‘Kennersly’, and an engineer called Kennerley Bryan in 1921 commented on the design of the Holland Tunnel – although we’re not sure if this is father or son. Although the death record refers to ‘Kennerly Bryan’, we’re pretty sure the architect died in Sacramento in 1935, and his son in Kitsap, Washington in 1970.

Today Eveleigh Street is no longer here and the site of the Colonial Apartments is home to a bank, part of the Bentall Centre designed by Frank Musson & Associates; (we think this part was built in 1971).


Posted August 6, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

518 and 522 Keefer Street

522 Keefer

The description of this 1962 Archives image is “Two one-and-one-half storey houses with pseudo-brick facades”. The house in the centre sold a few years ago, and the realtor’s description clarifies that there are really three storeys here: a two bedroom suite on the top floor, a two-bed suite in the centre of the house, and a three-bedroom main floor. The pseudo-brick facades description was, and still is, correct. The hard-wearing material is printed onto asphalt – asphalt building siding was a popular building renovation alternative to painting weathered or rotted wood clapboard or wood shingle siding as early as the 1930’s and particularly in the 1940’s and the 1950’s in North America where it was used both for low-cost housing and for covering the deteriorated exterior walls of older homes. Coloured mineral granules are bonded to an organic or wood-product base with asphalt. The material seems durable for a surprisingly long time (as we don’t think it’s been replaced).

When the house on the left was initially photographed it was almost exactly half as old as it is today – it was built around 1908. The first resident was Captain Henry A Young in 1909. Captain Young was 38 when he moved in with his American-born wife and their daughter, Violet (aged 16). In 1911 we learn that Captain Young had been born in BC (relatively unusual at the time for Vancouver), and captained a tugboat. He was shown as being 41 years old. That year there were three lodgers in the houses as well as the family; George West, an English-born painter, Harold Perry also English, and an architect and Samuel Leonard a Russian tailor. Ten years earlier the census shows Captain Young to be 28 years old, and a decade earlier he was 19. That year, in 1891, he was living with his family in New Westminster, and was an engineer. His father, also Henry, was listed as an asylum keeper and the family lived at Sapperton; we assume this was Woodlands, opened in 1878 as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum.

Fortunately for us the street directory even tells us which ship Captain Young commanded: he was master of the Sea Lion. The Sikh pioneers website gives a full description of the tug. “Charles Robertson’s shipyard, at the foot of Cardero Street (now the site of the Bayshore), launched Sea Lion into the waters of Vancouver’s Coal Harbour on May 25, 1905. Her one-piece keel, cut from a 120-foot long fir log, had been curing on the way since 1904. The completed tug, with a length of 114 feet overall, a 22 foot beam, and a moulded depth of 19.5 feet, registered at 218 Gross Tons, was powered by a single Mckie and Baxter triple expansion marine steam engine that delivered a reputation for being one of the best pullers on the coast.

Sea LionRobertson built the tug for Captain George H. French, the first independent log tower to operate out of Vancouver. Ken Drushka’s Against Wind and Weather: The History of Towboating in British Columbia called Sea Lion “ the classic log-towing boat”. In addition to her power and her seaworthiness, the boat was designed with the comfort of the crew in mind. She had a spacious salon, equipped with a piano; and the whistle had a sliding scale upon which the crew played a somewhat haphazard repertoire of songs, learned and practiced during the long tows down the coast”. Drushka also records some less colorful, but significant details; “ she had a number of unusual features for a tug at that time: steam-powered steering gear and towing winch, a steel towline, dual steering and engine controls on the aft deck, and, somewhat later, the first ship-to-shore radio and searchlight in B.C.”

After first working for French and British Canadian Lumber Company , Sea Lion entered the fleet of Young and Gore, a towing firm founded by the tug’s first captain, Harry Young, and her first engineer, Lloyd Gore”. While under charter to Young and Gore in 1914 the Sea Lion was hired to escort the Komagata Maru out of Burrard Inlet, sending 376 East Indian Migrants back to an uncertain future. More recently the Sea Lion also faced an uncertain future: still afloat in 2008 she was sold at auction to a Winnipegger who planned to move her to Victoria – we can’t find a more recent reference to her than 2012 when she was sold by Living Planet Experiences, and was still based in Victoria.

Captain H V Wilbur lived next door in the identical house at 518. He was president of the Vancouver Shipmasters’ Association on at least five occasions, and represented the association on various Boards over the years. Hamen Wilbur was from New Brunswick, and in 1901 was shown as aged 47. His wife, Edith was two years younger, and his daughters, Georgie and ‘Hattie’ were aged five and three. He married ‘Eddie’ Nickerson from Nova Scotia in New York in 1878 when she was 19 and he was said to be 22. Georgie was born in August 1896 in New Brunswick, her sister – recorded on her birth certificate as Hallie, (and also on her marriage certificate)  nine months later in June 1897.

Glenboro In 1911 he was shown by the census to be aged 50, (actually he was five to seven years older – his birth date moved around between 1854 and 1856 on different records). Edith was 47 and the girls were 15 and 13. Rachel Fullerton, Edith’s mother was also living with the family in 518 Keefer and so were six lodgers; four of them carpenters, a labourer and a sheet metal worker. It was a United Nations in the rented rooms – two Swedes, an Englishman, an Irishman, a Swiss and a German.

Although he’s identified as a master mariner, we couldn’t find any specific ships associated with Captain Hamen Wilbur. However, as Hamen is such an unusual name there are many records that ‘correct’ it – wrongly – to Herman. (The street directories did even better – they almost always showed him as Heman Wilbur). The records tell us that Captain Wilbur, like Captain Young next door, operated a towing company. His ship, the Glenboro was smaller than the Sea Lion – she was only 64 feet long, built in Vancouver in 1912. She was shown to be owned by Herman Wilbur & Mrs. John H. Speedie, Vancouver BC. In 1918-1919 she was owned by Herman Wilbur and John Speedie, Vancouver BC. In 1927-1929 she was owned by Herman Wilbur, Vancouver BC. From 1930-1936 she was owned by Wilbur Towing Co. Ltd., Vancouver BC. She was still afloat, in Victoria, in 2014.

In 1916 Hallie Wilbur, aged 19, born in Albert City, New Brunswick married Harold Truswell from Suma in British Columbia. Heman Wilbur (sic) is shown in 1918 as a steamship agent, living on West 5th (daughter Georgie was there too, working as a bookkeeper) with a business address at Heatley Av Wharf. In 1920 he was Herman Wilbur once more, living on W 6th and described as ‘tugs and boats’. In 1925 he was in partnership with S S McKeen operating a towing company where Georgie Wilbur was the accountant and Leonard Wilbur the marine engineer. (We think Leonard was a nephew: his father was called Armon Spurgeon Wilbur, and he was born in New Brunswick in 1899). Hamen was still listed as proprietor in 1929, Georgie was a bookeeper and still living at home, and Leonard was master mariner. There’s no mention of Mr. McKeen. Captain Wilbur died in 1929, aged 75, and his daughter, Georgia took over running the Wilbur Towing Co and Edith lived with her in the family home. Leonard Wilbur became a baker, before becoming a mate with the Standard Towing Co, and eventually moving to Seattle as a tug boat captain. He died in 1954.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 170-24 (Copyright: City of Vancouver)


Posted August 3, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,