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 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