156 West Hastings Street

Trocadero Grill 156 W Hastings

We looked at a 1940 image of this building in an earlier post. We also featured the building next door, 152 West Hastings to contrast the state it had got into by the early 2000s to how it is today, following restoration. Our earlier post noted the information contained in the Heritage Statement “In 1939, E. Chrystal & Co. changed the east half of the facade to match that on the west; the cornice on the west half was removed as well and replaced with a single continuous cornice”. As this 1914 image shows, that’s not accurate. It was the western façade (closest to us) built in 1901 for Jonathan Rogers at a cost of $10,000, designed by Parr and Fee, that was altered. The second floor windows were originally a shallow wooden bay window; today both facades match 152 West Hastings built in 1904 and designed by William Blackmore and Son. It cost $8,000 and the developer was listed as E Rogers – Elizabeth, Jonathan Rogers’ wife (who he married in 1902). E. Chrystal & Co were a sash and door manufacturer. Jonathan Rogers went on to develop the Rogers Building at Pender and Granville

There aren’t too many passing references to the Trocadero, which was here for many decades from at least as early as 1911. Delbert Guerin recalled that his mother Gertie, of Squamish and English lineage, was hustled into a corner table to be hidden from other customers, and as a result the family never ate there again. In 1936 the restaurant was the scene of a sit-down strike by waitresses who were fighting for unionization, better pay and working conditions. The Women’s Labour History Collection at SFU interviewed one of the strikers, Marion Sarich, who noted that “I was a bus girl, I was working seven days a week at, I don’t know I think it was 25 cents an hour … they weren’t allowed to work us over eight hours but they did … So we started organizing and had a strike. The CP’s Housewives’ League, the Women’s Labor League, and the CP Women’s Auxiliaries supported the stnke, as did much of the general public.” Anita Anderson, another striker and bus girl at the Trocadero remarked that “the police were sympathetic to the strikers because they ate there and got to know the bus girls and the waitresses. The customers became just like a family because they were eating there everyday and you saw them everyday“.

trocThere were 138 covers at the Trocadero Grill, which although known in the 1930s as a Greek restaurant with its own bakery, didn’t start out that way. It was initially owned by Donald D McKinnon, who advertised in ‘The Kilt’ in 1916 as ‘A Café for Highlanders, run by a Highlander’. Donald McKinnon was living on Melville Street in 1911, aged 34, with his 24 year-old Ontario-born wife, Kay and their five year old daughter, Kate. He had arrived in Canada in 1901 and the family had four lodgers, Juliet Cooper, Cassandra Walker, Mabel Hutchinson and Ethel Eggar. Before he ran the Trocadero Mr McKinnon appears to have managed the Winton Motor Car Co showroom. In 1914 he acquired the mineral rights of a property in the Peace Valley. By 1919 the Trocadero was run by J Makris, A Ziongas and H Mavris, an had presumably changed to its Greek manifestation. Donald McKinnon had become a manager of the Kincaid, Water Wheel and Power Company. (We know it’s the same Donald McKinnon, because his home address stayed the same). The McKinnon Water Wheel and Power Company as it then became offered a small, powerful wheel attached to a generator for mining operations that was said to be far lighter and easier to utilize than gasoline generators of the day. This was not the only application: the BC Government powered the electricity for the town of Squamish using a McKinnon wheel, and the 1919 report of the BC Department of Railways commented “This may be said to be the first special wheel of this or any type to be manufactured in the Province, and it has proved most satisfactory during the trials, – only a few minor alterations and adjustments requiring to be made.” The company survived well into the 1920s.

Today there’s a restaurant again where the Trocadero once operated – part of the Warehouse chain.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1271

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