815 West Hastings Street (1)

815 W Hastings

The Merchant’s Exchange Building was completed in 1923. Designed by Townley and Matheson, it sat on a corner lot (on Hastings and Howe) between two much taller neighbours, the Metropolitan Merchant's Exchange interiorBuilding to the west and Thomas Hooper’s Pacific Coast Building across the lane to the north. We even know what it looked like inside: the Archives has an interior shot, also from 1923 titled “Men working in office of Vancouver Merchants’ Exchange building at 815 West Hastings Street” – although “Men sitting around in a rather stiff self-conscious manner in office of Vancouver Merchants’ Exchange building at 815 West Hastings Street” might be more accurate. When it opened the Daily World announced that “Grain merchants and other tenants are already moving in, and it is expected the building will be fully occupied in a few days”. The developer was A Melville Dollar, son of Robert Dollar who created a shipping line that ran across the Pacific and to Europe. Mr. Dollar managed the Canadian arm of the business, which had a dock in the Great Northern Dock.

It was purchased in 1927 by G A Stimson & Co who subsequently developed the Marine Building. (Although based in Toronto, Stimson’s vice-president was Joe Hobbs, a man described by Eve Lazarus as the founder of “Hobbs Bros, a ship holding company and front for his smuggling activities” who then “went about converting luxury yachts into rum running vessels” during prohibition. The local press reports identified Hobbs Brothers as the purchasers, for $400,000. The building stood for around 50 years: in 1975 it was replaced with a modest 9-storey red brick office designed by Eng and Wright. The building was designed with the top floor windows curved to match the Metropolitan Building next door – which was very soon demolished and replaced with the Terminal City Club.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N67.1 and Bu N67.2


%d bloggers like this: