The Hazelwood has just emerged from a cocoon of scaffold looking better than it has for many decades. Comprehensively restored and repaired, it’s one of the BC Housing acquisitions that’s been given an internal makeover and an external facelift. Years of paint have been removed, aluminum windows replaced by new wooden sashes, and the cornices restored. There’s even a new sign that looks just like the one in the 1940s. (There was a different sign in the 1926 Vancouver Public Library image (above), but you can see the one now replicated in the 1947 Archives image below.
The Hazelwood started life in 1911 when Thomas Hooper obtained a building permit. J J Frantz was hired as contractor for the $75,000 building, which had 120 rooms, main floor retail and a basement that was intended to be fitted out as a barbers (although it never was). The façade of the building sits on a pair of huge steel ‘I’ beams, embedded in concrete doric-style columns. They haven’t been visible for many years, hidden behind a tiled false front. The conservation plan for the building, written by architect Barry McGinn, draws attention to the innovative construction. “A combination of concrete-encased steel wide-flange steel columns supporting I-beams and heavy timber posts supporting timber beams frame the 2″X6″ laminated timber floor. The second floor above the original retail tenancy was framed in concrete encased steel columns supporting twinned concrete encased I-beams. To reduce the presence of columns across the retail floor, every other second floor beam is framed into a longitudinal beam running the length of the building between steel column supports on alternate bays. This steel framing design, intended to open up unencumbered retail floor space, demonstrated a level of structural design sophistication quite unique for this building type at this time. Solid lumber load bearing walls align with the second floor beams and extend up through the four upper floors, supporting the solid 2″X4″ laminated lumber floor structure and also serving as room demising walls. Beams span the corridors and the light court walls are constructed of solid laminated 2″X4″ lumber with wood headers over openings.”
Perhaps this unexpected engineering and design attention was due to Thomas Hooper’s clients: Thomas Hooper and S B Snider. This was apparently Mr. Snider’s biggest investment, and as far as we can tell Thomas Hooper’s sole property investment, so getting it right was obviously important. Sanford Snider was shown aged 67 when he developed the hotel, (he was actually only 56, but the 1911 census doesn’t appear to have had the most diligent census clerks) and although the census gave a one word description of his occupation – ‘mines’, the street directory described him as the inspector of the National Finance Co Ltd. Sanford was from a family of German origin; his wife Sara was from an English family, but they had both been born in Ontario as had the two children still living at home in 1911, Lorna aged 26 (a schoolteacher) and 17-year-old Ronald.
They had been in the city a decade earlier when Sanford was a ‘traveller’ and there were more children at home, (three daughters, Bertha, Emma and Elva, as well as Ronald) and his wife had been called (accurately) Sarah. There was one other son, also called Sanford, who had died as a child. Sanford had married Sarah Hutchcroft in 1880 in Newmarket, Ontario.
Thomas Hooper was two years younger than Sanford Snider, and arrived from England in 1871 when his father brought the family to London, Ontario, where Thomas became a joiner and carpenter. They moved west to Emerson, Manitoba in 1878, where Thomas married in 1880, then moving on to Winnipeg where he worked with his older brother, who was an architect. Thomas moved further west in 1886, walking the last 500 miles of the journey (as the train wasn’t yet reaching Vancouver), and arriving a few weeks after the fire destroyed the city. Ne quickly established himself as an architect, achieving significant commissions like the Homer Street Methodist Church as early as 1888. His workload expanded, and at one point he had the largest practice in western Canada, with three offices in different cities. The dramatic downturn in the economy in 1913 saw work dry up. By 1915 Hooper had given up and moved to New York, where work started to come his way only to stop with the US entry into the Great war in 1917. He eventually returned to Vancouver, virtually broke, in 1927. He died on New Year’s Day, 1935 aged 77, and was buried in the family plot of the McCauls in Mountain View Cemetery. Sanford Byron Snider died in Penticton in 1948 aged 92.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-2679