600 block Seymour Street – east side

600-block-seymour-east

Our 1944 Vancouver Public Library image description says it shows the McLachlan Building – New England Hotel. The architect of the hotel was Fred Peters, an American who was mostly active in Seattle, but who practiced in Vancouver for a while when the boom of the early 1910s saw the city take off. This appears to have been the biggest commission he received, although he designed at least one $15,000 home in West Point Grey. He returned to the city in the 1920s when he was the supervising architect for the Orpheum Theatre’s construction.

The New England Hotel was described in the Daily Building Record in 1912 as “Apartments/rooms; four-storey brick & mill construction store & rooms; wall built to carry two additional stories. Steel beams across store w/ pressed brick & terra cotta face”. It cost $70,000 and the owners were shown on the permit as D J and N S McLachlan. One of Fred’s few Vancouver commissions was to design a $2,000 garage for D McLachlan in South Vancouver in 1913.

Dugald James McLachlan (listed in 1912 in the street directory as Dougal) was 46 when the hotel was built, living with his wife Mary Ellen and son (also Dugald James). Both Dugald and Mary were born in Ontario. He was shown as a merchant, living on Chilco Street, a partner in McLachlan Brothers who that year sold hardware, stoves and grates at 878 Granville Street. His brother, Charles McLachlan was listed as the other partner. Charles was at least ten years younger than Dugald. By 1913 Dugald was associated with the Scoullar Sheet Metal Co, who had premises on Hamilton Street. Ralph and Edwin Scoullar worked there, and Dugald was a partner with Edwin in running the business.

In 1910 McLachlan Brothers were operating on West Hastings – Dugald, Charles and Donald McLachlan were all part of the company. Early in 1911 they closed those premises, and reappeared on Granville Street. The Daily World carried an advertisement: “ROCKEY & KERNAN have taken over the entire stock of McLachlan Bros., Ltd., Hardware Co., 131 Hastings street west. This stock will be placed on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. We have but sixteen days in which to sell $35,000 worth of highest grade hardware, paints, oils, tools, stoves, etc. Having bought at about 50c on the dollar, we shall sell for less than wholesale cost. Go and look at the window displays, then be on hand Wednesday morning.”

Thomas Hooper had designed a $25,000 warehouse on Hamilton Street for McLachlan Brothers in 1911, and Charles McLachlan was still shown involved in the retail business in 1913, so it seems that the brothers diversified, retaining the hardware business and adding the sheet metal operation. The third brother, Donald Stewart McLachlan who was living in West Point Grey in 1914 was also part of McLachlan Brothers, with Charles. He was two years younger than Dugald. As we can’t find any N S McLachlans in the city, we suspect one of the two brothers was Dugald’s partner in building the New England, and the initials ‘N S’ were inaccurate. A July 1912 newspaper report suggests  it was D S McLachlin who was the partner.

The family appear to have moved to Vancouver around 1904; before that McLachlan Brothers operated their hardware business in Nelson, arriving there in 1900. They took over from the Vancouver Hardware Co, as a notice in the Nelson Daily Miner explained: “We wish to extend our thanks to the people of Nelson for their valued patronage during the past three years, and also to express the hope that it will be Continued to our successors, Messrs. McLachlan Bros., who we are satisfied will leave nothing undone to please and satisfy all who favor them with a share, of their business. Very gratefully yours, Vancouver Hardware Co., Ltd.”

Before their move to Nelson,, Donald and Dugald worked for Vanacouver Hardware in Vancouver. In 1895 they were living at the same address, with D J as a clerk and D S a salesman. That year Dugald married Mary Ellen Allen, who was the daughter of a contractor born in Madoc, Ontario. The brothers were brought up in Horton, Renfrew County, Ontario. Dugald died in 1931, and Mary a decade later.

The New England was initially leased as rooms, rather than a hotel, and Alex Audet ran it. We’re not sure whether the VPL title identifies the McLachlan Block as being different from the New England Rooms – as far as we can tell it’s the same building, but it’s possible that they also developed the smaller building at 648 Seymour: we haven’t found any reference to that being built. The New England in the 1950s became the Bay Rooms and then the Bay Hotel. It was replaced by the Bay Parkade in 1959.

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Posted October 31, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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