The Winchester is another venerable West End apartment building. Perhaps not quite as venerable as a few of the buildings we’ve looked at nearby, but a very respectable 90 years old, and now with heritage status. It was designed by father and son team of Enoch and George Evans, originally from Walsall in England. They arrived in Canada in 1912, just as the development industry turned very sharply downwards. George went off to war a few years later, but returned to rejoin his father in a successful architectural practice that could turn out both traditional designs (like this) and more contemporary moderne buildings.
Alliance Estates Ltd were the developer; the permit was issued in October 1925, and Fred Davies was the contractor. There’s no sign of a company called Alliance Estates in the street directory of the day, but there was an Alliance Finance Co, managed by W J Albutt – although some directory entries refer to W J Albert – who was also listed as the proprietor of the apartments in 1929. It looks as if the 1921 census found Mr. Albert living on the opposite side of this block of Jervis Street, an Englishman working in insurance, earning $1,080 a year and living with his English wife Winifred. He was recorded in the census as J W Albert – although the same home address, 909 Jervis, shows Walter J Albutt in the 1921 street directory – and in the 1911 Census he was also called that, although then his spouse was called Edith. In 1911 Mr. Albutt was a traveller. As Mr. Albutt is shown with his name spelled correctly intermittently from 1911 to 1929, we suspect all the references to ‘Albert’ are errors based on hearing the name and not checking the spelling. There were two possible builders: Frederick S Davies ran his contracting business from E 15th Avenue, while Frederick Davies ran his from his business address on West Hastings – we think he’s more likely to be the builder here.
There’s nothing of note in the building’s history that we’ve discovered. The earliest residents were a cross-section of the part of Vancouver society who rented a new apartment in the late 1920s. A clerk in a real estate brokerage; the president of the Bowen Utilities Corporation; a wage inspector with the B C Government; a music teacher; a Hudson Bay salesman; a Romer Gowns saleswoman; John Damer of John Damer and Son, Wholesalers of Fine and Staple Footwear; managers, clerks and stenographers.