Surprisingly, we haven’t published an image of the second Bay store that sat on a prime piece of CPR land at the corner of Granville and West Georgia. The first Bay store was closer to the early city, built on Cordova Street around 1887, a location they only retained for eight years. Presumably, once it became apparent that CP’s efforts to move the centre of the city’s action westward to Granville Street were paying off, the Bay decided to join in. In 1892 C O Wickenden was hired to build a new store on Granville Street, near the CP’s Hotel Vancouver, their opera house, and many other office buildings developed by CP Directors. Some were involved in the Hudson’s Bay Company – so that probably helped the decision, and the new store was much bigger, so a larger site was needed as well (although initially only two floors were going to be occupied).
The Daily World described the plans in April 1892 “As mentioned in The World a few days ago C. P. Shindler has been awarded the contract for the new building to be put up by the Hudson’s Bay company on the corner of Granville and Georgia streets. The designs prepared by C. Osborne Wickenden show what will be a very handsome structure, four storeys high. The building will be of brick with stone dressings and after what may be called the Romanesque style of architecture. The basement will be divided and half used as a store room with a small section taken off to accommodate the furnaces, and the other half as a liquor store. On the ground floor will be the grocery and dry goods departments, and in the second storey will be put the millinery and carpet departments. The third and fourth storeys will for the present remain unfinished. The dimensions of the building are 50 x 100 feet, which affords ample accommodation in every department. The contract price will total up to about $25,000, but it will take more than that if the third and fourth storeys are to be finished.”
This 1908 Vancouver Public Library shot shows the store had an array of large picture windows on both Granville and Georgia. Very quickly the growth of the city ensured that all four floors were needed – and then more. We’re unclear when the building became 100′ wide on Granville – it must have been after 1898 (when the image on the right was taken), but before 1901 when the insurance map of the day shows the building above, and it seems likely that Mr. Wickenden was still the architect. In 1913 a new addition, quite a bit bigger in scale and grander in design was added to the east, running down Seymour Street. Even that proved inadequate for the stores’ needs, and in 1926 the brick store was demolished and a further enlargement of the 1913 store was built, designed by Burke, Horwood and White (who had also designed the 1913 store).
The creamy white terra cotta design referenced the Selfridge department store in London, and similar buildings went up in Victoria, Calgary and Winnipeg, all designed by the Toronto based architects. The 1926 Vancouver store expansion took just six months to build after demolition of the 1893 structure; the five reinforced concrete floors were erected in just two and a half weeks.
Image source Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives Bu N417