Archive for October 2016

1014 Granville Street

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Arthur Griffith and his son Malcolm were carpenters. Arthur arrived in the city before 1894, and lived on Richards Street. His son Malcolm shows up in the street directory at the same address in 1898. Arthur was still shown as a carpenter in the 1901 census, aged 64, and Malcolm was a contractor. There were two lodgers living in the household as well in 1901, Annie Montgomery and Mary Neil. The family also had a live-in servant.

In 1902 Malcolm Griffith married Annie Jeannie McKenzie Montgomery, who was born in Peebles, Scotland. Malcolm was born in South Durham, Quebec. His father, Arthur, was also from Quebec and still head of the household in 1911, aged 74, and living on his investments. Malcolm was shown as a contractor, aged 40, married to Annie, and living with his two-year-old son, John and his sister, also called Annie, who was born in Prince Edward Island.

The year before Malcolm had built this hotel; the Glenaird Hotel for himself at a cost of $55,000. An experienced contractor, he also built one of the other hotels on the same block, but this one was for himself, as were twenty houses, most in the West End. Altogether we’ve tracked over $350,000 of work he was responsible for building, including several Shaughnessy mansions, including one for his family in 1911. He hired Parr and Fee who gave him a version of their standard white glazed brick product with centre-pivoting windows – one of three on this block.

In 1906 the family were involved in the tragic wreck of the Valencia; a liner involved in the Seattle to San Francisco route that struck a reef off Vancouver Island with the loss of over 100 passengers and crew. “M.C. Griffith of Vancouver enquired as to his brother-in-law, John Montgomery. Mr. Griffith described him as 5 feet 10 inches in height and 175 lbs. in weight, smooth-shaven, with heavy shoulders, and having tattooed arms and scars on his chest and temple. 

Victoria’s Daily Colonist for February 6, 1906, reported that the tug Lorne had returned from the search the previous day with the bodies of 9 men and 3 women. Four bodies had been definitely identified and two tentatively. One of the latter was likely that of quartermaster John Montgomery. The description was similar to that given by Mr. Griffith: ‘Male – 5 feet 8 inches, long hair, features unrecognizable: no clothing. On left arm a British and Danish shield tattooed in blue and red, also a star with blue border tattooed on same arm. On right arm, three cross fishes tattooed in blue.’ Montgomery’s naval record showed his actual height to be 5 feet 7 inches which is very close to the description of the recovered body. The most distinguishing feature, however, is that of the tattoo showing three crossed fish. This unusual feature is actually the coat of arms for the Town of Peebles, Scotland where John was born and raised. This evidence strongly implies that the body was indeed that of John Montgomery”.

mcarthurs-window-1910sOur 1926 image by Stuart Thomson  shows the main floor occupied by William Thomas McArthur’s hardware store. He was born in New Brunswick, and sold an eclectic mix of ranges, furnaces and children’s cycles and tricycles (seen in the upper windows of this more detailed image). The company occupied this space in 1920, replacing Cunningham’s hardware store, who had occupied the space since the building had been completed. W T McArthur came to Vancouver in 1907 as the representative for Fisher Bros. Foundry (makers of Enterprise stoves and furnaces) in Sackville, New Brunswick. He had a warehouse on Homer street as well as this retail store. In addition to business interests in Vancouver, He purchased land in Pitt Meadows and established a large herd of Ayrshire dairy cattle which became the basis of a commercial dairy business in Vancouver, Meadowvale Creameries Ltd. He was the chairman of the Dairy Products Marketing Board, and a prominent member of the Liberal Party.

In 1921 he was identified as part of a group of Liberal Party members controlling liquor licences, and the public accounts committee heard from a failed licence seeker “I went to see McArthur, and he asked, ‘What pull do you think you have to get a licence over me?’ I replied that I had the promises of four Cabinet Ministers. McArthur replied, ‘I don’t give a _____ for all the Cabinet Ministers in Victoria. I’m running Vancouver and will see who gets licences.’ McArthur denied everything and the Conservatives couldn’t prove anything, but a few years later Henry Reifel gave evidence to a commission into smuggling. In December 1926 he stated that over the previous eighteen months he had made nearly $100,000 in political contributions, including $40,000 to Liberal bagman William McArthur in Vancouver; some of the payments were “in the nature of loans and donations to fight prohibition.” The Liberals lost the 1928 election, in part because of the scandals over liquor. McArthur died of pneumonia in 1940 after crashing into a water-filled ditch in Pitt Meadows.

Today the Glenaird Rooms have become the Samesun Backpacker’s Hostel, converted in 1999. In the conversion rooms were converted to bathrooms, which were necessary because there are an advertised 220 beds available in the property.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1434 and CVA 99-5415

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Posted October 6, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Englesea Lodge – Beach Avenue

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We’re looking along Beach Avenue in the 1960s in an Archives image that was shot by Leslie Sheraton. On the right is the Sylvia Hotel, and on the extreme left is the last remaining building on the water side of the street; Englesea Lodge. Like the Sylvia Hotel, Englesea Lodge was designed by W P White, a Seattle architect. In some ways it had a similar design, with brick cladding although it’s the base rather than the upper story that has a white finish. It was smaller than the Sylvia, two storeys shorter, and cost less to build – the Permit was issued in 1911 and E Cook built it for $115,000.

The developer listed on the permit was Annie Davidson, although the Province newspaper said it was built for A A Davidson. The Davidsons arrived in Vancouver from Victoria, where Augustus Alexander Davidson ran the jewelery store that traded as Davidson Brothers. His brother, Cicero Davidson, ran the Vancouver store, and also invested in real estate, building an apartment building and a retail building, both still standing today.

It looks as if Augustus (although he seemed to have been known by both of his names at different times) and Annie arrived in the city around the turn of the century. They were first shown in the 1900 Street Directory when A A Davidson was a partner with his brother in the jewelery business, and also had a real estate office. The family briefly lived on Melville Street, but then moved a block away from Cicero on Burrard Street. The 1901 Census shows Alexander aged 38, born in New York and coming to Canada in 1864. That birth date is at odds with his marriage and death certificates, which are more likely to be accurate, which show him born in 1864. He married Annie McKeil Adams, aged 21 who had been born in Victoria in 1893 when he was shown to be born in Lockport, New York. According to the 1901 census his brother Cicero was born in Ontario 1859, but the 1871 and 1881 census records only show Augustus living with a brother called Freman, born in 1862 in the US. Augustus was shown living with his mother, Mary Jane (34) and older brother Freman Davidson in Guelph in 1871, and both boys were shown born in the US. Augustus and Freman were still in Guelph in 1881, but living with John Davidson aged 49 and his wife Elsie, who was aged 39. That makes us think that Cisero may have changed his name (from Freman, or Freeman) when he moved west, abandoning the even more unusual father’s mother’s family name.

 In 1897 both Augustus and his brother, Cicero were two of the four owners of a $250,000 mining company, Winchester Gold Mines of Fairview, Victoria, formed to purchase the Winchester claim in Yale. The same year they were also partners in the $250,000 Shamrock Mining Co with the intent of taking over the Shamrock claim in Osoyoos. Cicero was also briefly a defendant in a case against the Orphan Boy Gold Mining Company on McCulloch Creek where the owners (including C N Davidson) were accused of defrauding shareholders. Augustus seems to have maintained active involvement in the region’s mining activity, but there’s no mention of Cicero retaining an interest.

In 1911 Augustus and his family were living at 2030 Beach Avenue, which is where the lodge was built a year later. The notoriously unreliable 1911 census shows A A Davidson was aged 44, born in 1867 (five years older than the previous census held ten years earlier had suggested). Annie was shown as aged 40, (so she had added eleven years in a decade). While in 1901 they had a son, Randolf aged 7 and another, Douglas aged 4, ten years later there was John, aged 18, Douglas aged 14 and a daughter, Elsie, who was 7. (We assume John and Randolf are the same child, following the family preference for name switching to try to confuse future historians).

Augustus died in 1950 aged 85; Annie was 88 when she died in 1960. Eve Lazarus chronicled the end of the Lodge in 1981. The City of Vancouver had acquired all the property along the waterfront, and while the houses had been cleared away and the park extended to the street, the Lodge was too big to treat in quite the same way. It cost the City $375,000 in 1967, and although rents covered the cost of purchase, by 1975 it was decided to demolish it anyway to complete the undeveloped park. Then that decision was reversed and in 1980 29 of the 45 apartments remained occupied, and there was talk from the city of investing $1.3 million to turn the building into senior’s housing. In February 1981 a suspicious fire was set, the fire brigade were said to have been instructed to let it burn, and with the lucky outcome of no injuries or deaths the Park Board had a contiguous park along the foreshore.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2009-001.106

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Posted October 3, 2016 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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