Archive for April 2016

48 – 56 Water Street

48-56 Water St

This modest two storey structure dates back to 1906; according to the heritage statement it was built for Jacob Kane. Unusually, the construction used pre-cast concrete blocks that look like stone. There’s a 1906 news piece that says that J Kane had obtained a permit for an $11,000 building on Water Street. In the same paper it noted that Dan McPhail had bought the property with Mr. Kane with a view to adding an addition to the existing building at the back, and building a new front – so the bones of the building were probably older. Earlier that year J Kane of Kamloops was staying at the Dominion Hotel, just up the street from here. There was a J Kane who owned mining interests in the province in 1894, but beyond those disjointed pieces of information we haven’t managed to pin down a developer, or identify an architect for the building. J Kane was listed in the 1901 census as a lodger in a location we haven’t managed to identify yet – he was born in Ireland, a businessman and had arrived in Canada in 1899 aged 33. His location may have been waiting to sail on board the Empress of India: most of the household are ship’s crew. He was probably christed Jacobus, and came from a family with Italian origins; there are a surprising number of Jacobus Kanes born in England and Ireland in the 19th Century.

The first tenants in the building seem to have been a fruit and confectionery dealer, F Baiocchi and Elias Healman was selling clothing next door. In 1910 Richard Johnson, a shoemaker was here with Weinrobe & Cohn’s clothing store and the Vancouver Employment Agency upstairs. In 1916 Tomlinson & Cook hired Hugh Murray to design and build a $400 brick addition to the building. That year it was a different shoemaker, Samuel Goodall was at 50 Water Street, the Mainland Rooming house was upstairs and Benjamin Wolfe, a second hand dealer in 56 Water Street. In 1920 Mr. Goodall was still in business and a branch of the Great North Western Telegraph Company were also located here.

In 1926, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, H Brown and Son, wholesale meat merchants had the eastern half, and H M Nugent (who made tents and awnings as well as waterproof clothing), the western half. They were right next door to Edward Lipsett’s tent and awning company, so presumably you could comparison shop without difficulty. The Canadian National Telegraph also had their office here. Henry and his son Myer Brown were Hungarian; The 1911 census suggests they had arrived in 1898 (older children like Myer were born in Hungary, four younger children were born in British Columbia). Henry Nugent was an American who arrived in Canada in 1906. He was married to Lilly, from Ontario (where their son had been born in 1909) and in 1921 lived with her parents James and Mary Nairne.

Remarkably, all three businesses were still in the same location in 1940, although the upper floor (52 Water Street) was vacant. In 1942 the Beulah Rescue Mission occupied that space. The mission served meals twice a day to the city’s indigent (while saving souls at the same time). It continued to operate here for at least 30 years.

In 2006 the building was effectively redeveloped, although the façade was retained with a new ‘old’ store front. Virtually every existing building element was replaced, including the structural, architecture, mechanical, and electrical systems. Busby and Associates, designing the project for Neils Bendsten’s Inform furniture store used heavy mass concrete, brick, and wood materials to restore as many original architectural features as possible. A green roof, complete with a skylight, was provided as well. A vertical geo-exchange system has been installed below the existing structure which, combined with a radiant heating and cooling system and exhaust air heat recovery, significantly reduces the building’s energy consumption.



Posted 28 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Oriental Hotel – 306 Water Street

Oriental 306 Water

The Oriental was an early wooden hotel quite a bit to the west of the main action of Maple Tree Square. It sold itself on its proximity to the railway terminus, and first appeared in 1888 with an addition built in the same year. It was a couple of doors down from the Regina Hotel – the only building that survived to fire of 1886. In 1889 it was numbered as 208 Water Street, and was run by John Crean and Richard Fleming (who had been a clerk at the Regina a year earlier). In 1890 they got the first big hotel omnibus. As Major Matthews recorded: “Prior to that most hotels had busses which met the C.P.R. trains and C.P.N. and U.S.S. Co. boats—then the only things to meet—but they were comparatively small, with a seat fore and aft along the side, and black canvas side and roof; the side flaps could be rolled up in fine weather. The Oriental Hotel had a big bus.”

William Edwards, who used to drive the bus told the Major: “We used to haul twenty-five persons in that bus; great big bus, make three trips down to the C.P.R. station; seventy-five from one C.P.R. train. There was not room at times in the house” (hotel) “to accommodate them, but we bunked all just the same. We had little cots, and we used to push the regulars out of their rooms into the hallways, set them up in cots, and keep them there until the rush was over, then let them go back to the rooms the transients had pushed them out of.

Gabriel’s Thomas’s son, also called Gabriel, talked to Major Matthews about the picture “This is the Oriental Hotel on Water Street; next door west, south side, to the old Regina Hotel which escaped the ‘fire,’ on the southwest corner of Cambie and Water Street. John Crean and Gabriel Thomas (that’s my father), proprietors. Father is on the balcony with his hand resting on the railing knob. John Crean is in front of the halyards of the flag pole. I don’t know who the man in the middle is.”

Jimmie’ Edwards drove the bus—horse-drawn bus. Met every C.P.R. train and boat, and also Evans, Coleman Evans to meet the Joan coming from Nanaimo. That was all the trains and boats there were to meet in those days. The bus used to be crowded sometimes and sometimes had to return for those they could not pick up the first trip. The first Oriental was the tall building in the middle with gable end roof; then it was extended to the west, but, on the east side, what appears to be an extension is actually only a store front—a blank wall for show. The lower part is the saloon, what we call beer parlour now.”

Richard Fleming sold his part share to Gabriel Thomas in 1891. That year’s St Patrick’s day saw a report of the dining facilities in the Daily World: “The fervent love of the ould sod, characteristic of Paddy’s boys, was never better evidenced than last evening, when the Ancient Order of Hibernians invited their brethren and sympathetic friends to a banquet at tho Oriental hotel. This hostelry has the reputation of being excelled by few in its cuisine, and the dinner, served at 9 o’clock, set before the large number of assembled guests fully sustained the reputation of the House.” The next day the hotel appeared again, in somewhat different circumstances “Only one case, that of a Chinaman charged with stealing underwear from a room in the Oriental hotel, was up in the Police Court this morning, He was dismissed.”

In 1892 we get confirmation that Gabriel Thomas lived at the hotel “Capt. Pittendrigh, coroner, came over from Westminster to – day, in the absence of Dr. McGuigan, and empannelled a jury to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of William Baylis, who was found dead in his room at the Oriental hotel yesterday with a bullet hole in his head. The only feature that was brought out beyond what was told in yesterday’s Woki.p was the statement of the young son of Mr. Thomas, one of the proprietors of the hotel, that he heard a pistol shot at about 4 o’clock in the morning. The jury brought in a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane.” This wasn’t the only death at the hotel that year. In November “Angus Fraser, C.P.R. section foreman at Cherry Creek, was found dead in bed at the Oriental hotel shortly before noon on Sunday. The deceased was well known throughout the Province, having been in the C.P.R. employ for the past nine years. He had been ailing for some time back of heart disease, his medical attendant being Dr. Tunstall.”

Crean and Thomas held the hotel until 1897, when Blanchfield and Grieves took over. An 1896 report suggested “The work on the construction of the new Oriental hotel, to be erected by Mr. Costello, on part of his lot, corner of Cambie and Hastings street, will be begun in a few days.” That new property never obtained the Oriental name – Gabriel Thomas ran the Commercial Hotel here. In 1898 John Meikeljohn owned the Oriental, with W E Fowler as manager. Mr Meikeljohn was reported to have sold the hotel after two years of ownership in November 1899, but Mr Fowler was still manager (and Richard Fleming was the clerk), and Mr Meikeljohn appears to still be the owner until June 1900 when it was sold at auction. In 1901 Mrs Caroline Norgood was the owner, and in 1902 the hotel is shown as ‘vacant’. It then became the Mission Evangelistic Science Hall to the east, although the Oriental Hotel name reappeared in 1906, with Mary Knight as proprietor. The Knight family lost two infant children while they ran the hotel; the funeral of their 4-month-old son was held at the hotel in November 1906. In 1910 Selby Baker was shown as the proprietor, and in 1911 the hotel had gone.

Paul Yee has published the details: “Sam Kee owned five hotel sites and buildings in central Vancouver and leased from German entrepreneur Edward Stolterfoht two sites on which it then constructed hotels for sub-leasing.  In managing its hotels, the firm dealt firmly with civic officials through its lawyers R. R. Parkes and W. A. Macdonald, K.C. In March 1911 the city health inspector condemned Sam Kee’s Oriental Hotel and ordered it demolished. The company, however, argued that its solicitor and architect had consulted earlier with two civic aldermen and the building inspector, and they had all agreed to let the building stand for another five years. Sam Kee ordered its lawyer to appeal the decision, but in vain.”

In 1911 W and E C Taylor hired Grant and Henderson to design a warehouse here. They were owners of the Empress Manufacturing Co, which dealt in imported coffee and locally produced jams and jellies, but they sold out their involvement in 1911. In 2003 it became a stratified residential building with 22 units designed by Acton Ostrey.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P50


Posted 25 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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Malkin Warehouse – 55 Water Street

Malkin Water St

This is the Malkin Warehouse on Water Street, and if you had any doubt about what W H Malkin traded in, they added a huge sign to make sure you knew they were wholesale grocers (very obvious in this 1929 Vancouver Public Library image).

William Malkin arrived in Canada from Burslem in Staffordshire in 1884, joining his brother James in Grenfell, Saskatchewan. Not doing well as wheat farmers, William went to work with a hardware importer, and after selling their homestead, James went off to work in Lethbridge, Alberta. A few years later they both ended up in Vancouver, James moving independently first, then William with the wholesaler he was working for, listed in the street directory as ‘O Percy Skrine’ who acquired premises on Water Street. In 1891, Osmund Percie Skrine was a farmer and general store owner in Grenfell; (the Archives have a photograph of his sheep farm), who had previously managed a tea estate in Ceylon. A third brother, John, joined them, also working for Mr. Skrine.

In 1897 W H Malkin bought out the Skrine business, (the owner was no longer living in Vancouver in 1898, and doesn’t appear in the 1901 Census. He settled in Bradford upon Avon in England in 1905, and died there in 1924.) The name of the company was changed to W H Malkin & Co, with both his older and younger brother joining the company. The Malkins built a 5-storey warehouse at 137 Water Street in 1897 (where the Skrine warehouse had been located), and in 1903 moved to a new bigger warehouse at 353 Water Street, built by J McLuckie. Finally, growing even more to meet demand from the mining boom in the Kootenays and the Klondike Gold Rush, they built this building in 1907 and extended it eastwards in 1912. The first building was designed by Parr and Fee; its twin’s design was claimed by the owners and built by J M McLuckie at a cost of $55,000. It’s unclear what Parr & Fee thought about their design being replicated without receiving payment, (if that was the case), but it wasn’t exactly a complicated project in the first place – certainly far less advanced than the warehouse on the same block that they designed, completed in 1909. It’s a huge structure constructed on the tried and true ‘brick and stick’ basis, with huge structural timbers making the frame (decreasing in size, and weight, the further up the building you go) and a brick skin, often barely attached to the frame.

Like many of the successful merchants the family were involved in civic and professional organisations. W H was a Director of both the British Columbia Permanent Loan Co and the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Co. He was President of the Board of Trade in 1902 and 1903 and was a member of the royal commission on provincial assessment and taxation in 1910 and 1911. He was very involved in the Methodist Church, and also a Freemason.

malkin labelsThe company grew significantly, and specialised in importing grocery from England. They were the importers for Peek Freans biscuits, Chivers of Cambridge and Cadburys of York. Their 1897 premises were 5,000 square feet in size – with the addition to their 1907 warehouse in 1912 they had 116,000 square feet of space. The company sold a comprehensive line of spices, jams and tinned goods, some as ‘Malkin’s Best’ and some under the ‘Malko’ brand.

In 1929 W H Malkin became mayor, partly on a platform of reform to clear up what was seen as a corrupt police force (a perennial Vancouver issue, but on this occasion with some justification) and partly on a return to prohibition, backed by the Christian Vigilance League. Curiously, although as a staunch Methodist, W H Malkin was in favour of prohibition, (and donated $1,000 to the cause), his company were accused of selling ‘Malkins Best’ extract as an alcohol substitute during prohibition in the early 1920s.

He ran a city that had added 50% to its population overnight, as South Vancouver and Point Grey merged that year into Vancouver. It was a difficult time for the city, as the economy faced a huge downturn after the Stock Exchange crash and unemployment rose sharply. While he laid the foundation stone for the Marine Building, started construction of important infrastructure for the city like sewers and the CPR tunnel from Coal Harbour to False Creek, Mayor Malkin also faced the occupation of the relief office by the unemployed and by year’s end 7,000 were receiving assistance, with no help from Victoria. W H Malkin lost the 1931 election to the east side supported L D Taylor (who had been mayor before 1929 as well) – although his regime was no better able to respond to a collapsed economy than Mayor Malkin had been.

James (Fred) Malkin died in 1950, in his 90s. He had been the first family member to propose moving to Canada, had ridden the Hope-Princeton trail on horseback, driven a model T Ford to New York from Vancouver, and enjoyed blowing up stumps on his Bowen Island property. He had married the much younger Julia, ‘the prettiest girl in Vancouver’

John (Philip) Malkin died in 1952, the youngest and most gregarious of the brothers who travelled widely in the service of the company. He was president of Neon Products of Western Canada (so indirectly associated with the highpoint of Vancouver’s illuminated past). He was a member of the Terminal City Club, a keen, (but self proclaimed ‘rotten’) golfer and listed his hobby in earlier years as yachting. He had come out of retirement during the war to work as director of purchases in the Department of Munitions and Supply in Ottawa. He had four children.

W H died in 1959 – a successful businessman who had been elected mayor, helped create the Burrard Bridge, taken on the role of ‘Colonel Malkin’ as the head of the BC Regiment and become a generous philanthropist who had funded the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, was the first Chair of the BC Cancer Foundation and funded the outdoor pavilion that would be called the Malkin Bowl in memory of his wife, Marion. He listed his hobbies as riding, driving and motoring (an interesting distinction).

The warehouse was successfully converted to live-work rental units in 2002, designed by Paul Merrick. The Old Spaghetti Factory, which has operated here since 1970, was not affected. Next door was a remarkable site – fifty feet of prime development potential on the city’s first street, that stood undeveloped until 2005. Reliance Holdings, who also carried out the conversion of the Malkin Building (as it is now known), got Bruce Carscadden Architects to design a contemporary but sympathetically designed new rental residential building, with 58 units over retail in a 10 storey structure.


Posted 21 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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The Leckie Building – Water and Cambie Streets

Water St east from Cambie

We saw this side of the 100 block of Water Street looking in the other direction. We also saw a small part of the huge building on the corner in comparison to an earlier building that was originally on the site, the Stag and Pheasant Hotel. The building we see today was built in several stages. The Leckies built the first part of the building in 1908, hiring Dalton and Eveleigh to build a new 7-storey leckie adstructure to produce industrial boots and shoes, aimed mostly at the fishing, mining and logging industries. The company tanned the leather at the Fraser River Tannery and manufactured the footwear here.

The first Leckie building had been built on Granville Street, in 1898, and still standing today. Richard and William Leckie opened a branch of their family’s Toronto based business there, initially selling fishing supplies, oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. Noticing a limited supply of footwear suppliers they bought a Nanaimo tannery and moved the operation to Vancouver.

It appears the initially this new building was bigger than the company needed – the 1912 insurance map shows John Leckie and Company had their premises on the northern half of the Cambie frontage. Mackay, Smith Blair & Co had the other half of the building which occupied the corner. In 1913 they added the additional section to the east (it’s possible to make out a change in window width on the addition). This cost $50,000 to build, and Dalton and Eveleigh designed it as they had the first structure. The 1914 image above shows it newly completed, with Mackay, Smith Blair’s Dry Goods apparently occupying the bottom three floors on the corner.

Leckie Building

The building is one of the city’s biggest ‘brick and stick’ buildings – a wooden frame with brick skin. Extensive renovations in 1990 included seismic upgrades – a complicated steel cross-brace was installed running diagonally through the building attached to ‘ground anchors’ sunk 90 feet below the building. The building now offers office and retail space.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 991 and Vancouver Public Library


Posted 18 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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71 to 83 East Hastings Street

Unit block E Hastings 1

There are two buildings in this 1934 Vancouver Public Library picture that date back well over a century; although one has been partly rebuilt in recent times. Today it looks like three buildings because half of the 1902 building on the corner with Columbia has retained (for the most part) its original appearance, (without the cornice) while the other half was extensively altered in the early 1930s, and was rebuilt again a year or so ago, with an additional small set-back third storey. The three storey building on the left (west) side of the image also dates back to 1902, and shares an architect with the other building. This 1934 Vancouver Public Library shot shows the renovation completed for long-time occupant of the building, BC Collateral.

T A Fee designed the three storey building to the west (on the left edge of the picture) for Thomas McWhinnie. We’ve looked at a Granville Street property designed for the same client by Parr and Fee, and the hotel further north on Columbia Street that he co-developed in 1911. We’re not sure if there was a delay, or poor recording by the street directory company, but it doesn’t seem that the rooming house on the upper floors was in operation here before 1905. Borland and Brown developed the wider 2-storey building, and they hired Parr and Fee as architects. We’ve seen other Borland investments in earlier posts, including a four storey building on Granville Street (where we looked at his history) and the Maple Hotel a little up the street from here. This is another reminder that Parr and Fee designs are by no means obviously identifiable; this building has traditional sliding sash windows, and no shiny white bricks.

The subdivided building took on a significantly different appearance after the 1930s renovation. The windows were smaller, and squarer, and a distinctive canopy was added. In the 1960s BC Collateral expanded into the three storey building, with a huge revolving sign being added a few years later to the three storey building. The two buildings were painted to match, creating even less coherence from the original disposition of the lots. BC Collateral first started operations in 1918.

In the 16 years before they moved in, the buildings shown here went through several iterations. The 2-storey building started life as the Horseshoe Saloon on the corner, and the Horseshoe Restaurant next door. In 1905 there was a rooming house above the Horseshoe Restaurant (the saloon having apparently closed). The restaurant was run by Peter Bancroft, and Mrs. F McElroy was running the rooming house. The Fidelity Real Estate Co. was next door to the saloon. By 1912 Mrs. John C Gillespie’s Horseshoe Rooms were above the unnamed saloon run by Phil Hacquoil and John Trachy, with a cigar shop and candy store also having store front space. The Horse Shoe Hotel was shown on the corner, run by A Pauche, J H Pates and W Murdoch.

The heritage statement for the building needs to be revisited. It says “The BC Collateral and Loan Buildings are of heritage value to the downtown east side for the business’ continuous local entrepreneurship for nearly 90 years. They are also valued as examples of commercial buildings that have been adapted to continuously suit the needs of one business.” That was once true, but BC Collateral no longer operate here. Instead there are newly rebuilt rental rooms above two retail stores. The 1970 revolving sign has been restored, although it no longer references BC Collateral (as they’re no longer here).


Posted 14 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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65 – 69 East Hastings Street

65-69 E Hastings

This two storey building on East Hastings is another that we haven’t succeeded in identifying a development history. There was an earlier property here with a plumber, W A Brown occupying a streetfront building in 1903, and a double row of cabins behind. Before 1903 the property was numbered as 51, but around 1903 it appears to have been renumbered as 69.

In 1906 Rolston Hardware Co, were located here with R F Greer, physician, and the Wellington Rooming House upstairs. That confirms that the building in the picture was completed around this date – in the short period that Building Permits are no longer available. James Matthews was running the Rooming House. Two years later it was the Dawson Hardware Co and Hill & Kerfoot’s gents furnishings store; both stayed in this location for three years. J B Bradshaw was running the Rooming House in 1908.

According to the insurance map of 1912 The Wellington Building was to the west (numbered as 53-59 E Hastings), and the Horse Shoe Hotel to the east, but there’s no name for this property. As we noted in our previous post, we’re pretty certain that this was the Wellington, wrongly located on the insurance map. The Princess Theatre was to the west, later replaced by the Lux Theatre, (just visible in our 1978 image).

The street directory for 1911 says it was occupied by the Independent Liquor Co Ltd, who owned the premises (or at least, they did in 1915 when they carried out some repairs). That year they were offering Concord port, guaranteed five years old, from the Niagara Peninsula in Eastern Canada, 25c Per Bottle $1.25 Per Gallon Delivered to your home. The Wellington Rooms upstairs were run by T Bernard that year.

In 1919 A E Tulk appears to have owned the building, at least he claimed to when he carried out repairs that year. He was a barrister, and the street directory identifies ‘Can Dry Goods Co’ as the main floor tenant – Canadian Dry Goods was run by Samuel Krasnoff. By 1930 the Rooms had been renamed as the Anyox Rooms, later changed again to the Gus Rooms, and finally the Walmar Rooms. In 1924 it cost between $3 and $5 a week to stay here – 75c and up for ‘transient’ visitors. In 1920 at 65 E Hastings were the Hastings Shoe Co, who stayed for several years in this location.

The building caught fire in 1995, and the remains were cleared away in 1996. The site remained empty for 12 years, when the then City of Vancouver owned site was developed as The Lux, a 92 unit nine story non-market housing building, run by RainCity Housing and designed by Gomberoff Bell Lyon for BC Housing.


Posted 11 April 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Hastings from Columbia Street (west)

Hastings w from Columbia

This 1905 image helpfully identifies a vacant site where the Wellington Building was being constructed. On the right hand side of the image was the Horseshoe Hotel with the Horseshoe Rooming House in the three storey building alongside. Next door was the site for the Wellington; we don’t know who wrote the identification on the image, but it was very helpful as it makes more sense than the 1912 insurance map, that (wrongly, we think) put the Wellington next door, to the west. That site had an early wooden false-front building here in 1905. The site was acquired in 1907 by Angelo Calori, as we described in an earlier post. In 1910 the Princess Theatre was built here – a movie house with a pipe organ.

Beyond the Wellington Block, and the Horse Shoe Hotel is a three storey building that has recently been demolished. We haven’t managed to identify the original developer: by 1919 it was owned by William Dick, the clothing store magnate who had a store there, then became home to ‘The Hub” a men’s clothing store run by Max Freeman. It was known for many years as the Universal Rooms, converted to an SRO hotel in 1945 but was closed in 1974 after failing to meet the fire code. Most recently United We Can, the binner’s collection point operated here. It’s now a development site for a 14 storey building being built with nearly 200 units market and non-market housing by Atira.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2107


Posted 7 April 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

East Hastings and Main – north east corner

Main & Hastings ne 2

This supposedly 1930 image shows the corner of Main and Hastings where today’s building is quite a bit smaller than the earlier one. There’s a 1905 picture that shows the site part built, but it may not have been completed until early in 1906. In 1899 Miss McLennan, a dressmaker and Captain Garthley, a master mariner, lived here, with a Japanese boarding house to the east. A year later, George Wilson, a clerk lived on the corner and H Hamamura’s boarding house was next door. H J Stubbs, a jeweler had moved into the corner house in 1901, and a year later Mrs Bourgeois a dressmaker replaced him, and a year after that Mrs. E J Coleman, another dressmaker. (We’re assuming that these dressmaker’s made dresses, and were not offering other services that some ‘dressmakers’ offered on Dupont Street). Dan Nicholson, a tailor lived on the corner in 1904 and 1905, with the boarding house now run by a Mr. Yuchmi. J S McLeod, a merchant, had premises to the north, on Westminster Avenue.

Main & Hastings 1905-06 (Timms)In 1906 the new property on the corner was occupied by J S Mcleod, Macbeth & Co, selling dry goods. They’re clearly the occupants in this 1906 Philip Timms image; their name is prominently displayed on the corner. The company described themselves as Importers of Dry Goods, Mantles, Millinery, Ready to Wear, Carpets, and House furnishings. They could have been responsible for developing the property, but we haven’t found a record to prove that. They were only located here for five years, moving again in 1911 to Granville Street. William Charles Macbeth, a Scotsman from Buckie in Banffshire had partnered with J S Mcleod in 1903, although the company claimed to have been founded in 1894. Before joining J S McLeod he worked for grocer William Walsh. In 1911 he moved (as so many Vancouver businessmen did) into real estate with the company of Macbeth and Brown.

In 1911 the Union Bank of Canada occupied the corner premises, with a side entrance on East Hastings, There were several other offices in the building, occupied by tenants that included Hindi Realty Brokerage and the Socialist Party of Canada. In 1914 it was listed for the first time as the McArthur & Harper Bldg, and while the Realty Brokerage had gone, the Socialists were still here, joined by the Halibut Fishermen’s Union. Harper & McArthur had owned the building from at least 1911 when it was enlarged at a cost of $35,000 to Parr and Fee’s designs. We initially assumed that represented the addition of two floors – it was a substantial sum to spend, but the building was already three storeys in 1905. It would seem that the addition might have been at the rear, down the lane.

Over the years there were many alterations made to the building – around 20 different building permits, sometimes only referencing Mr. McArthur, but usually the company, McArthur & Harperwhich more frequently was known as McArthur & Harper. As with Vancouver merchants they made their fortunes in mining – not by finding gold (which was obviously much more of a gamble), but by the more assured route of supplying the miners with the provisions they needed – based in Kamloops – as this 1897 advertisement shows. That doesn’t mean they were entirely averse to gambling;  J.H. Morrison, A.S. McArthur and J.M. Harper in 1906 had an interest in the Evening Star group of mineral claims in Galaxy Mine, about eight kilometers outside Kamloops. It doesn’t appear that ore was ever mined successfully, although there have been repeated attempts to exploit the copper and gold deposits. (The only reported production was A S McArthur extracting 902 grams of silver and 2,552 kilograms of copper from 53 tons of ore in 1916). There have been extensive further reports, tests, surveys and attempts to restart mining, which continue to this day.

Mr. Harper stayed on in Kamloops, and continued to be associated with the McArthur & Harper store. He was still resident in 1918. In 1911 Mr McArthur was living on Burnaby Street with his extended family. As well as his wife, Maud, and their three children, his brother, parents and mother-in-law were all resident as well as their domestic, Alice Winwood. Mr McArthur was aged 45 and had been born in Quebec like his parents, although his mother-in-law was Scottish and his wife was from Ontario.

The reason we question the accuracy of the suggested 1930 date on the photograph is that the construction of the replacement was started at the end of 1929. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects of three different new branches for the Bank of Montreal; another was only a few blocks south of this one, at Prior Street and the third further south at East Broadway. With all three they favoured a classical style, here featuring Corinthian columns and the bank’s crest carved over the doorway. This one cost $95,000 and was built by Smith Bros. & Wilson.

Next door (across the lane) was the Empress Hotel. Built in 1913 for L L Mills it was almost certainly inaccurately described as the ‘world’s narrowest tallest hotel’ when it was built. Mr. Mills had acquired the older hotel next door at 237 Hastings Street in 1910, and the new building was called the “New Empress Hotel”. Lyle Mills was American, almost certainly born in Iowa. His father was a hotelier, and so was his brother, Oscar, who also worked at the Empress. The hotel is the only Vancouver design by F N Bender. He was an American too, working in Independence, Kansas, and he almost certainly got the job because he was married to Lyle and Oscar’s sister. The last reference to Mr. Mills as proprietor of the Empress was in 1917. He disappears from the street directory that year, and seems to have moved to Seattle.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-293