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

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Posted April 18, 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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