418 West Georgia Street

418 W Georgia

This 1933 image shows a gas bar and two car sales buildings. Perhaps surprisingly, one is still standing. Already 20 years old when this image was taken, the building at 418 W Georgia dates back to 1913. The developers were the London & British North America Co, associated with several buildings in the city, including the London Building on Seymour Street developed the year before this one. Like other investment businesses in the city they raised their capital in London, with directors based there, but with a locally based board managing the portfolio in Vancouver. The architects were stettlerSharp and Thompson and Bruce Brothers built the $20,000 investment.

Initially the Forshaw-Ford Auto Co moved in, but a year later they had gone. The Ford was for Bert Ford, the managing director and co-owner – they actually sold Studebaker and Cole cars. Hamilton Read, a Vancouver lawyer, was the president of the company and Thomas Forshaw was the sales manager. Bert Ford joined the expeditionary force fighting in Europe, and was killed in action in 1916. That year the Model Service Garage moved into the building. Soon after the garage moved in the owner, William Tulk, reported that there had been a break in and two tires had been stolen.

Stettler cigarsBriefly after that the building was home to the Stettler Cigar Factory – described at the time as ‘the largest cigar factory west of the great lakes’, from 1917 to early in 1919. There’s a picture of the building when it was the cigar factory: titled “Group in front of the Stettler Cigar Factory, Vancouver Branch, Factory No. 10 at 418 West Georgia Street”, the Vancouver World article suggests this was the main (and perhaps only) factory, and Factory No. 10 (although it appeared on the façade) was a rather misleading title. The factory was moved from Stettler, a town in Alberta, and it appears that the company may have received financial support from the BC Government.

Stettler’s main product was the Van Loo cigar, sold at two for a quarter. F D (Fred) Carder ran the company, at least until it became bankrupt in the early 1920s. He arranged for O R Brener to buy the company, and was then hired by Brener as manager at $300 a  month. That deal went sideways when Mr Carder filed for damages, claiming he was also to receive shares in the new company, the Van Loo Cigar Co (we saw their product for sale on West Pender Street in an earlier post). We’re not sure who won the case, but the company factory in the early 1920s was on Water Street.

Knight-Higman Motors moved in after the cigar factory in 1920, and stayed until around 1923; they sold Ford cars. In 1923 Ray Knight bought all the company’s shares and it became the Knight Motor Co. The Daily World reported that “The same department managers and staff will be retained. A feature of the Knight Motors, Ltd., that will appeal to Ford owners is the service station and repair shop that is now in operation. Plenty of modern machinery to take care of Ford work and a flat Knight Higman Motorslabor charge that enables the customer to know In advance exactly what the cost of any repair work will amount to. Mr. Knight came to Vancouver in September, 1919, from Calgary, where he managed the Machin Motors, Ford dealers of that city.” He had initially bought out the interest of a Mr Ferguson on the Ferguson-Higman Motor Co. The October 1923 article claimed that the company had sold over 650 Fords so far in that year.

When this image was taken Stonehouse Motors were here: the painted sign on the wall of the building says they were Ford dealers, while the signs hung on the front say they offered both Oldsmobile – product of General Motors, and Chevrolet sales and service (also a GM brand after 1915). They’d moved in around 1926, managed by S B Stonehouse, and they initially took over the Ford dealership.

In 1945 the company was still known as Stonehouse Motors, but the President and General Manager was S G Collier, and they only sold GM brands. By 1947 the company was known as Collier’s Motors, and they built a new streamline moderne style showroom (now demolished) on the Georgia Street lot to the west of the lane that runs alongside 418. Budget Rent-a-Car has been in the building since Collier’s left here in the 1980s.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4373, CVA 1376-336 and Trans N12,

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Posted October 22, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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