722 Keefer Street

722 Keefer

The title of this image – taken in 1st January 1962, is “Small narrow one-storey house (ca 1900) at 722 Keefer Street”. It looks as if that’s not completely correct: there was a house here some time before the 1901 insurance map was published, although the 722 Keefer address appears for the first time in the street directory that year, listing the occupant as “Gray”. The year before the house looks as if it was standing, but addressed as 708(a) as the street had been renumbered, so there were two properties knows as 708, and no actual sequence on the block (708a came after 710, and before 720!). That year Henry Brown was living here, in 1898 “Wood” and “Hewton” were shown – only one was given a clearer identification: Frank W Hetwton, a baker. The City Archives have wonderful 1900s photographs titled “Franklin W. Hewton and others climb “The Ridge” on Mount Garibaldi” and “Franklin Walter Hewton overlooks mountains”.

In 1896 George Wood, J Wood and Miss  A C Brewster lived at 708 Keefer, and while Miss Brewster’s occupation wasn’t identified, J Wood was a joiner, while George was a master mariner. Either the street was renumbered again in 1895, or more likely that was when this house was built, as Captain George Wood lived at 724 Keefer that year.

In 1902 the street numbering had settled down, and Captain William Summerville lived here. He commanded the S S Vulcan – a tug that was referenced a few times in the local press and towing logs on the Columbia River a few years later when the engine cylinder heads blew out. Clearly the Vulcan was a wooden boat – a little later the boat burned to the waterline, but was rebuilt – only to catch fire and burn out again.

The captain was still living here in 1905, but a year later William Currell, a teamster had replaced him in the street directory. In 1909 a pipeman, George Skinner was here, and as he was still here in 1911 when the census was held, we know that he was by then aged 44, born in England and listed as a labourer, with his wife Emma who was six years younger, and from Ontario, and their two children, James, 16 and Alice, 14, as well as Emma’s 29-year-old sister, Dorah Keil (actually Dora) and a 12-year-old nephew, Lewis Keil. If the house was cramped, it was because there were two more living here as well, Thomas Bugbee, an American lodger, and also a labourer, and William Currell (still a teamster) who was from Manitoba and George Skinner’s brother-in-law. Both the children had been born in Manitoba, so that was presumably where the family had moved from before heading further west. Dora Keil was a widow; she was born in Winnipeg and was called Dora Crack before she was married Charles Keil. She married again in 1920 to Frank Peacock, four years younger and born in Liverpool. Lewis was her son, actually James Lewis, born in Regina in 1899. At 33 James married Elsie Beale, aged 18, from Galiano Island, although when he died in 1982 he was recorded as being single.

A survey of housing was taken in 1962 for the ‘Redevelopment Project’ that was intended to remove the ‘slums’ of the East End – that may well be why there’s an image of the house. It was shown as being in ‘fair’ condition – as were many on this block. Nevertheless, the entire block was bulldozed for a relocated Maclean Park – the earlier version of the park having already been developed with new non-market housing a few years earlier. The park is named after the first Mayor of Vancouver, M A MacLean and was the first park to have a supervised playground in 1911.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 170-25


Posted February 11, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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