Archive for September 2015

511 East Georgia Street

511 e georgia

This small retail store used to sit next to the Jackson Apartments that are on the corner of Jackson and East Georgia. It was still standing in 1973 when the picture was shot, although the store looks like it had closed down, and there’s a request to not park in front of the garage door (which had no curb crossing associated with it). The Jackson was built in 1910, designed by E E Blackmore, and the owners were Jim Lim and Ying Lee. It cost $35,000 to build, and the land to the east remained undeveloped for a while after it was built. There were often Chinese businesses in the Jackson’s retail units: in 1920 for example the Wing Ty Lung grocery was on the corner. (It was addressed as East Georgia, although when the Jackson was built it was known as Harris Street).

We assume Jim Lim is the same person who owned a building on East Pender Street; the 1912 street directory identifies only one Jim Lim; he was branch manager for the Carrall Street branch of the Bank of Vancouver. Ying Lee doesn’t appear – although there is a merchant called Ying Kee on East Pender in the street directory that year, and there’s a Wing Lee as well, so we can’t be sure if it’s either of these gentlemen, or someone missed by the directory compilers.

In 1927 the corner store became the Harris grocers, presumably as a reminder of the former street name, and by 1937 Harry’s grocers, with the Italian Worker’s Club was in the adjacent retail space (just showing in the picture). In 1950 the Panda grocers was on the corner, and in 1952 this structure is built – recorded as ‘new store’. However, it didn’t open as a store, but rather W J Mesco operated here as a welder. A year later in 1954, McKenzie’s Linoleum Cement mfrs are in the retail unit on the left, and Superweld Co casting repairs and Excelweld of Canada are in the single storey building Mr. Mesco was running the businesses. Superweld was described as a “New and Guaranteed way of mending cracks in motor blocks and cylinder heads without heat” This could be achieved without stripping or pulling the motor.

We’re not sure how long the structure lasted – it’s been gone several years: today there’s a recently installed garden built by the current owners of the Jackson Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 808-30



Posted 29 September 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

800 block – East Hastings Street

800 E Hastings south side

On the right of our 1965 image is the Rice Block. We looked at Mr Rice’s earlier history, and his architect, Otto Moberg, in the previous post. The block, built in 1912 was initially called the Thistle Rooms, with the Thistle Restaurant, which was one of the retail units in the building on Hastings Street, run by Mrs. Lily Muir from 1913. The Thistle Rooms in 1914 were run by Joseph Duminie. He was born in Ontario, and in 1911 was still living there.

By 1920 D H Rice had started yet another career – he was General Manager of the International Advertising Co, living at 800 E Hastings (the alternate address for 404 Hawks). T Ozaki was running a grocery store at 804, James Haughton had a drugstore on the corner, and the Scottish Ham Curers were at 802 East Hastings. Strangely, there’s no mention of the rooms above, although there are residents listed in the directory giving their home address as 800 E Hastings. A year later the Ham Curers have become Sweid Produce, D H Rice is now “gen mgr Internatl Moving Bill Board”, and had moved again, to 1232 W 15th.

In 1922 he appears to have cloned himself – there’s an entry for “Danl H of Rice Inv Co” living at 1041 Comox (but oddly, cross checking there was nobody called Rice listed there – the Bonaventure Apartments, so maybe that was an error). That company had offices at 321 Pender, and there was also a listing for “Danl H agt Natl Life Assce Co r 800 E Hastings”

In 1923, Danl H was a broker, home was  now 1663 Robson. Lorne Rice was a dentist living at the same address: we identified Lorne aged 1 in 1901 when his parents were in Rossland where his father was a grocer. Lorne had moved out again in 1924, and in 1925 Daniel was now a salesman with Paddon & Vogel, real estate brokers at 445 Homer.

In 1926 he has a new business partner and yet another new home address: Danl H Rice of Rice & Nickerson h 2870 Laurel. Another Rice was living at home; Angela was a stenographer with Fleisehmann Co. Lorne was a dentist on Robson Street, and had his own home on Nelson Street. W D Nickerson and Dan Rice were now selling real estate from an office at 441 Homer Street – two doors down from his previous employers, Paddon & Vogel. Things stayed the same for the next few years: by the late 1920s Angela had left home and Daniel’s partner was no longer involved, but he continued in the real estate business, as did Mr. Paddon (but not Mr. Vogel) two doors away.

Once things started getting difficult in the real estate business and the 1930s recession set in, Daniel switched businesses once again. By 1932 he was manager of the Pacific Mutual Benefit Association, still living on Laurel. Lorne Rice had moved his practice address, and his home several times, but he was still a dentist, now on Granville Street. In 1933 Angela Rice still had the same job, but was living on W 13th. The Laurel Street address appears, but now the resident was Olive Rice, widow. The death certificate is confusing – it says that Daniel Rice was born in Ireland (which is quite possible, but it doesn’t match census returns describing him as American, or his brother’s birth in Minnesota). He was aged 62, described as retired, and living with his son, Lorne, on W 36th Avenue for 27 years (which as we’ve seen is very inaccurate, as they had both moved several times over the years). A year later Angela had moved in to live with her mother. Olive Catherine Rice, born in Ontario in 1874, wife of Daniel Henry Rice, died in St Paul’s Hospital in 1955. Her death was registered by her daughter, Angela Berts. A year later another of the Rice’s children, Lawrence, died in Golden aged 57. We assume this is Lorne Rice’s real name, born in Toronto in 1899, and married to Mary McDonald from Boston in Vancouver in 1924.

Two doors up the street is the Hastings Dance Studio, home to the Vancouver Table Tennis Club. It started life as an Italian venue, a hall for the Venetian Benefit Association, designed by R T Perry in 1928. Opening as the Silver Slipper Club, Stevie Wilson outlines in Scout Magazine how in the 1930s The Celestial Gents (Canada’s first modern Chinese swing band) played here, as did The Pony Pals, an early version of the 1940s BC country band The Rhythm Pals. After a period when it was called the Hastings Auditorium, (as in this 1965 image, with dancing on Wednesday and Saturday) in the 1980s it became the Viking Hall. It was home to concerts by punk bands including the Pointed Sticks, who played here in Dennis Hopper’s movie ‘Out of the Blue’. Now located in a part of the city where developers are eyeing up opportunities, and where the recently adopted Downtown Eastside Plan anticipates redevelopment, it’s long term future is probably in peril.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-20


Posted 28 September 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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The Rice Block – 404 Hawks Avenue

Rice Block 1

The Rice Block is another of the city’s ‘1912 boom’ residential buildings. Sitting on the corner of Hawks and East Hastings, it’s history is surprisingly unpublished. Originally known as the Thistle Rooms (in the Street Directory) and the Rice Block (on the 1912 Insurance Map), the recent restoration plan was written without the development history. It was designed by Otto Moberg for D H Rice, cost $30,000 to build, and was built by S J Lund. Moburg was a Swede who was working in Washington state in the early part of the 20th Century and came to Vancouver having won a design competition for buildings at the Pacific Exhibition. He also designed the rustic Tea House in Stanley Park, as well as several residential blocks including this one and today’s Ramada Hotel on West Pender. A couple of years after he arrived, when it became apparent that there was a building recession, he headed south, ending up in San Diego. The building contractor, Sefanias Johnson Lund was a Norwegian, born in 1879 or 1880, and he had also recently arrived in Vancouver from Seattle. By 1920 he had returned to King County, and in 1930 (and until his death in 1956) he was in San Bernadino County in California.

We weren’t completely sure about Mr Rice’s early history. There’s a Daniel H Rice living in Grand Forks in 1900, running a grocery store with James E Rice. There were three Daniel Rice’s shown in the 1901 Census; one was 26, boarding in Chilliwack, originally from England and working as  CPR Labourer. The other was in Rossland in the Kootenay, aged 30, married to Olive with a one-year old son, Lorne. He was a grocer, and listed as an American. We’re reasonably certain the developer here was the American grocer. The English Daniel Rice was still working as a CPR Labourer when he was identified in the 1911 census – (although then he was aged 42). (There was a third Daniel Rice in British Columbia in 1901, a 29-year-old miner, living in Milford Creek. He unfortunately died that year; his death certificate recording the cause: “a blow from a bear”).

The first time we can find Daniel Rice in Vancouver is in 1905, as an Insurance Agent for New York Life, living at 552 Granville. A year later he’s manager of the Pacific Land Co, and has moved to 1255 Seymour, and in 1908 he’s living on Hornby Street. As well as the Land Co he was still acting as the BC agent for an insurance company; the Western Canada Fire Insurance Company. In 1911 he had offices on Homer Street, and was shown living at 404 Hawks Avenue – so we assume he redeveloped the site of his house with the apartment building.

Although his death notice says he was Irish, our belief that the Census records showing Mr. Rice was an American (and born in Minnesota) is strengthened through the fact that James E Rice was born in Chatfield Minnesota, and was Managing Director of the Western Canada Fire Insurance Co in 1912. He had been a telegraph operator with the CPR, was Chairman of the Finance Committee in Rat Portage at the turn of the century and moved to Calgary in Alberta in 1903. It would be a remarkable coincidence if he wasn’t a grocer in Grand Forks in 1900. He was eight years older than his brother, Daniel, who was 9 in the 1880 US Census, both members of a large family whose parents had emigrated to the US from Ireland.

Mr. Rice was mis-named on the 1911 Census as Daniel Rise, and his children were shown as Lorne and Angila. As in 1901, he’s shown as being American. The Daily World in the same year reported “D H Rice, formerly of the Pacific Land Company, Is located at 401 Homer street.” He owned motor vehicle licence #1881 in 1912, where he was shown registered to 924 Granville Street, which was the address of the Dissette Motor Co. In 1912 he had a partner in D H Rice & Co, Frank J Fitz Simmons. In that same year he built this building and also hired Halloran Construction Co to move and alter a house on Pender Street. He had moved again, this time to 1054 W 10th Av. A year later his partner is no longer associated with his company. In 1915 the Rice Block is listed for the first time, and Daniel H was shown living there, listed as a notary public and as an insurance agent. By 1917 he has given up the other business interests – he’s shown as Dan Rice, managing the furnished rooms as well as running the Thistle Café. His death was recorded in 1932, showing him born in 1870. His widow, Olive, from Ontario, was 80 when she died in 1955.

Our 50 year-old image shows that the building is in better shape today than when it was 54 years old. That’s because it’s just been comprehensively restored as part of the $144 million program where BC Housing in conjunction with several partners is restoring thirteen SRO non-market housing buildings. For the first time in many decades the building has a cornice. It’s modeled on the Woodbine Hotel nearby, as there are no early images of this part of East Hastings. Barry McGinn, the architect responsible for the restoration plan noted “The building’s pronounced cubic massing was originally relieved by an attractive projecting sheet metal cornice, and an articulated storefront complete with its own sheet metal cornice. The removal of the upper cornice, insensitive alterations to the storefront, painting of the red brick masonry and random replacement of the wood double hung sash with aluminum fixed/slider sash has rendered this, originally, attractive building a poor facsimile of its former self.” That’s no longer the case; the restoration has created an attractive anchor for the corner and the basis of another century of residential use, these days managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-23


Posted 24 September 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Woodbine Hotel – 786 East Hastings Street

700 E Hastings south

The Woodbine, like many of the remaining hotels in this part of East Hastings, was built in the city’s dramatic development boom around 1912. This was built for George Woodcock, and designed by A J Bird. Despite the sign on the cornice looking like it’s been on the building for it’s entire life, the name only dates to the 1960s – and not even the early 1960s – it wasn’t on the building in this 1965 image. When it was first built (at a cost of $35,000) it was called the Oak Apartments.

George Woodcock was said by the 1911 census and the street directory to be a builder, the census adds that he was originally from England, as was his wife Mary, and they lived with their five children (including 11-year-old twins) on East 9th Avenue . They’d arrived in 1901, so all five children would have been aged under seven, so George had either done well in the following decade to build the rooming house, or perhaps he borrowed the money with the intention of selling off the completed building. In 1908 he was shown as a bricklayer. In 1910 he designed and built his house on East Broadway (E 9th) which cost $2,700 to build.

H C Woodcock was listed as the builder of the property – although George was listed as a builder in the census, Hubert Woodcock was the more experienced if later building permits are to be believed. From their daughter Gladys’s wedding in 1923 and Florence’s in 1924 we know her mother Mary Woodcock was originally Mary Etherington, and so we know George and Mary married in Tamworth, in Warwickshire, in 1892. There’s a Hubert C Woodcock living in Tamworth in 1901, aged 19, so he’s almost certainly a relation of George – possibly a younger brother. Hubert married in Tamworth in 1906, and had been born in Wooton Wawen, also in Warwickshire. He first shows up in the Vancouver street directory in 1912, although the permit for the hotel was issued in December 1911, so he must have arrived in the second half of the year.

Either Mr. Woodcock sold his investment, or he allowed somebody else to manage his property. In 1914 Mrs L McLeod was proprietor of the apartments.

George and Mary Woodcock stayed in the East Broadway house. George worked as a bricklayer until he was 75, and Mary died in 1939, aged 66, just as he finally gave up working.  George died in 1948, aged 85. Hubert and Edith Woodcock settled in Vancouver, had a family, and they were living in Victoria, with Hubert still alive when Edith died, aged 90, in 1971.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-22


Posted 21 September 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Holy Rosary Cathedral – Dunsmuir Street

Holy Rosary

The area around this part of Dunsmuir Street was once the location of several churches – Holy Rosary is the only one still standing. The multiple denominations found here may be why this is wrongly labeled in the Archives as St Andrew’s Presbyterian which was on a corner of Richards Street on the same block as Holy Rosary, but at Georgia Street. This image dates to around 1900, when the church was a very new structure. It was the second church built here; the first was much more modest. The construction of the church began in 1899 on the site of an earlier structure by the same name, which only lasted 12 years before being rebuilt in the French Gothic Revival style, designed by T E Julian (with H J Williams). This view only lasted a few years – by 1908 David Gibb was planning the Dunsmuir Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee.

The project was managed by the parish priest, Father James McGuckin, who took over the project in 1897, and despite the parish already being in debt managed to see it completed; the religious order McGuckin belonged to (the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) mortgaged their headquarters in France to pay for it. It was initially known as “McGuckin’s folly” because of the financial strains that accompanied the construction, but the rapidly growing city ensured that the Church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was an appropriate scale for the congregation.

It was elevated to a cathedral in 1916, and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate withdrew in 1927 (partly due to the financial circumstances that continued to cause them problems). A Catholic church can only be consecrated when it is free from debt – so the cathedral did not have its rite of consecration held until October 3, 1953, fifty-three years after it first opened. The construction is Gabriola sandstone on a granite base: the sandstone isn’t tremendously well bonded and the cathedral has needed repairs as details of the carving have been lost and some parts threaten to break off.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 466-23


Posted 17 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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420 Dunsmuir Street

420 to 456 Dunsmuir

We saw this location, but with a different building, in the previous post. Between the demolition of St Ann’s Academy (the city’s first Catholic School) in 1947, and the construction of 401 West Georgia, completed in 1984, there was one of Vancouver’s favourite structures of the 1950s and 60’s – a parkade. This was a modest building; the designer, (we don’t know who was responsible), squeezed a layer of retail and office uses along Dunsmuir Street with cars above, with a furniture store and the offices of a credit union along Homer Street.

The design for the new office tower that replaced it, by Aitken, Smith, Carter Architects – a precursor to Architectura and Stantec, put the 22 storey office tower closer to West Georgia and a low pavilion with a significant setback on Dunsmuir, allowing a view of the Holy Rosary Cathedral from the east.

600 block Homer 1

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-73 and CVA 779-E10.08


Posted 14 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

St Ann’s Academy – Dunsmuir Street

St Ann's Academy 406 Dunsmuir 2

Dunsmuir was a street with a concentration of institutional buildings. The High School, Athletic Club and YMCA were all close to St Ann’s, the city’s first Catholic school. It was opened in 1888 by the Sisters of Saint Ann and was also known as Sacred Heart Academy. We’re not sure who originally designed the building, but in 1903 William Blackmore & Son designed additions to the premises. Our 1900s Vancouver Public Library image must be taken after that, as it looks the same in the 1947 picture below, when it was being demolished.

The Catholic Congregation purchased three lots separated by a narrow lane from the Church property on Dunsmuir Street. Sisters Mary Alexander, of the Infant Jesus, and Teresa of the Sacred Heart made up the first group of Sisters for the school. In 1901, two Sisters staffed the Boys School. In 1904 additions to Sacred Heart Academy allowed for more students and the name of the school was changed to that of St. Ann’s Academy. The school closed in 1946. The sister’s weren’t local -the early school records were written in French.

Today there’s a low podium associated with 401 West Georgia, a mid 1980s office tower. The building was kept low, and set back to allow a better view and more open setting for Holy Rosary Catholic Church, although now there’s a new office building replacing it.

St Ann's Academy 406 Dunsmuir v2

Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver Archives Bu N201


Posted 10 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Athletic Club – Dunsmuir and Beatty

Athletic club

The Vancouver Athletic Club was conveniently located across the street from the recreation ground known as the Cambie Street Ground. The Drill Hall was also on Beatty, so the city lot sized Ground served double duty. The Club also served multiple purposes as both a gymnasium and indoor sports hall. There’s a 1909 postcard of the interior showing the Jack Johnson vs. Victor McLaglen exhibition boxing match. Johnson was black and had just become world heavyweight champion; McLaglen was white. After the match the club’s resident trainer, George Paris, (who was black) had to offer Johnson and his female companion (who was white) a room in his house after all the hotels in town refused the couple a room. McLaglen went on to become an actor; Johnson would open a Harlem jazz venue that evolved into the Cotton Club.

The building was erected in 1906 when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot. In 1905, Albert Larwill was listed in the street directory on the other side of Dunsmuir. Albert was keen to help the creation of the Athletic Club in 1906, although contemporary sources show he wasn’t a director of the club as some histories suggest. Those roles were held by businessmen in the city including Charles Woodward, presumably on the basis of their ability to raise the money needed to repay the $6,000 debt for the land, $12,000 for the building and $2,000 in fees and expenses. F R McD Russell was the President, and E O’Callaghan the Secretary in 1906 when the building was being constructed. The permit shows an “Athletic building; gymnasium 50×120-ft surrounded by a running track; 1600-persons balcony; assembly hall 20×65-ft. Alex McLean was responsible for the concrete work of the footings and William Twambly the carpenter who erected the building.

The Cambie Street Grounds were eventually named after Albert – the Canadian Pacific Railway initially cleared the land, and subsequently sold it to the Park Board in 1904. In 1946, in a complex land deal the site was leased as the bus depot, and more recently it has become a parking lot, curiously still known officially as Larwill Park (a name the Park Board eventually bestowed in 1943). If the Vancouver Art Gallery successfully find a way to develop on the site, the Larwill name association is probably likely to fade.

Albert’s 1911 obituary noted the thousands of youngsters he had coached in lacrosse, baseball, cricket and football. He was originally from Chatham, Ontario, and having arrived in 1886 he built a shack on a piece of land that became the Cambie Street Grounds, and lived there for 20 years, establishing in the process (the Daily World claimed) ‘squatter’s rights’. On taking control of the land the Park Board named him caretaker, and built a new home for him (and the associated changing rooms for the facility) in the same location his home had always been, in the corner of the grounds across the street. An Archives picture of the Cambie Street Grounds from 1897 show the Athletic Club site with nothing substantial constructed here, and one in the mid to late 1900s show a snow-covered construction site. According to the permit it was designed by an architect we’ve never come across before – A Clive.

There are no residents – or architects – called Clive that we can find; we’re thinking this is more likely to be Albert Cline, a builder who frequently called himself an architect and drew up plans for projects that were built by other contractors. For example there are several building permits for substantial buildings in 1911 in the same year that Albert, an American with a Canadian wife, described himself in the census as a carpenter. He was new in town in 1906, so it’s understandable that the newspaper might make a mistake with his name. He described himself in the street directory as a builder: there was one other person called Cline in town, William, who was a contractor. He didn’t get to build the Athletic Club: the contractor of the building was listed as W Twambly, and Alex McLean was responsible for the concrete work of the footings. William Twambly was a carpenter, and Alexander McLean was a mason.

Like the YMCA next door (to the west) the site today has the Amec office building – although where the Athletic Club stood is now mostly open space as the tunnel running under the site limits the ability of the location to take the weight of a significant structure.


Posted 7 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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YMCA – Cambie and Dunsmuir

YMCA Cambie & Dunsmuir ne

We’ve seen the earlier building occupied by the YMCA on Hastings Street in a post from a few years ago, and their new 1940 premises more recently. Here’s where they moved to in the interim; a wooden building built in 1905 on the north-east corner of Cambie and Dunsmuir Streets. By the time this picture was taken in 1941 the organisation had moved on to their new Burrard Street building. Initially this building was designed by E E Blackmore, and A E Carter built it for $8,500. It replaced two houses that had been built very early in the life of the new city.

Even when it was built it had neighbours. The High School had been built a few years earlier to the west, and the recreation ground was across the street with the Drill Hall on the other side of Beatty Street. The First Baptist Church was across Dunsmuir, and within seven years would be described on the insurance map as ‘Old & Vacant’. The lot to the east, across the lane became the home to another new building for the Vancouver Athletic Club.

In 1941 the newly vacated building was quickly adopted for the war effort, the Canadian Government Department of National Defence Support Column moved in, later replaced by the Armouries. After the war the Glad Tidings Pentacostal Assembly took over the premises and stayed until at least 1960, by which time the recreation ground had become the bus station. In 1994 the site was redeveloped as the Seimens Building – now known as the Amec Building, designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates.

The corner of the new building was cantilevered out to allow the building’s base footprint to miss the tunnel for the SkyTrain which angles across the site from the station on Beatty Street, and picks up the abandoned Canadian Pacific rail tunnel further west. The tunnel was originally cut in 1931, and allowed the trains from Waterfront Station to be moved to the Drake Street railyards to be cleaned, supplied and made ready for the trip back to the east. Before it was built, full scale steam trains could block the Downtown streets they crossed for up to 20 minutes. Eventually CP’s use ceased in 1979.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N151


Posted 3 September 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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