These two buildings are immediately to the north of the previous post looking at the west side of Richards Street’s 500 block. The building on the left is 569 Richards, and unusually, it started life as a residential building, but today is office space. With a 1912 completion, the Oakland Rooms appear first in the 1913 directory, when S R O’Neal was the proprietor, followed in 1914 by William Jureit. In 1915 there was another proprietor listed, Mrs. H Chappell (and confusingly, another Oakland Rooms on Main Street).
Haley & Sutton were the owners of the building; Braunton and Leibert were the architects and Davis & Saunders built the $28,000 investment. In an earlier post we had understood that Haley & Sutton had sold out their business to Gordon Drysdale in 1893; that’s what early biographies state. However, it seems that a company with that lived on, although not in Vancouver for several years. The earliest mention of Haley & Sutton we can find is for Walter Haley aged 23 and William Sutton aged 21, both merchants in the same household in Dufferin, Marquette, Manitoba. Walter H Haley of Haley & Sutton was running a general store in 1884, in Nelson. However, this wasn’t Nelson, British Columbia, but rather Nelson, Manitoba. William Sutton ran a store in Milton, Manitoba that year.
Both partners relocated to Vancouver in the 1890s. They first appeared in the 1892 directory, with premises on Cordova Street and in New Westminster, with William Sutton living in rooms at 1031 Robson Street and Walter Sutton at 1033 Robson Street. However they were here a little earlier; Walter Haley was living in Vancouver in time for the 1891 census, aged 32, a dry goods merchant born in Ontario, as was his 19-year-old wife Cora Belle. (Strangely, there’s no mention of their son, born in 1890). William Sutton was also recorded living in the city, aged 30, born in Ontario and described as a dry goods merchant. His wife, Harriet wasn’t shown to be with him, but that might be because their first daughter had been born earlier that year in Ontario.
Having sold their business to Gordon Drysdale, the partners’ movements become a little confusing. There was a William Sutton in the city directory until 1895, but we’re pretty certain he was a different person with the same name as he was a commercial traveler. William and Harriet’s second child, William, was born in Brandon Manitoba in 1894. The Manitoba Directory of that year showed Walter N Haley and W J Sutton running the Haley and Sutton dry goods store in Rosser, Manitoba. In 1897 Haley and Sutton were recorded in Morden, Manitoba as bankers, where they were still based in 1905 described as ‘private bankers and real estate’. Walter and Cora Haley were recorded in the 1901 census living in Lisgar, Manitoba with their three sons aged 9, 7 and 5. William and Hattie Sutton were living at the same location with their two children aged 10 and 6, and a domestic to help the household. (A third child, Ruth, was born in 1911 when Harriet was aged 45.)
In 1906 Haley and Sutton reappeared in Vancouver as real estate brokers, with offices in Davis Chambers and Walter Milan Haley living initially on Haro, then in 1907 on Barclay, and a year later on W3rd. William J Sutton was first living on Beach Avenue, then Nelson Street, and then in 1908 on Comox. The 1911 census showed Walter Haley aged 51, his wife aged 39, both from Ontario, and their three children; Herbert aged 19, born in 1890, Reginald, 17 and Walter, 15. Herbert was born in BC, but Reginald and Walter were born in Manitoba. Walter Haley had Gamble & Knapp design a $5,500 house on West 1st Avenue in 1911 (redeveloped in the 1980s). William Sutton and his family remained for many years on West 5th Avenue, where they had moved by 1914. He died in 1931, and his wife, Harriet, in 1952. Although both Haley and Sutton were listed in 1914, with W Haley still in real estate, the company doesn’t seem to have survived the 1913 crash. Walter Haley died in 1943, aged 84, in Chilliwack. The main floor tenants of the building they developed changed several times over the years, but the Oakland Rooms continued to operate upstairs until at least the 1950s, but probably changed to office use before 1970.
Next door, 555 Richards is a more recent building, completed in 1928. Harvey & Gorrie, auctioneers, appraisers and furniture dealers were the first occupants of the new building. They had been in business on West Pender before moving here. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s efforts we now know that according to the building permit D J McPhail & J M Livingstone commissioned Scottish-born J S D Taylor to design the $21,000 investment, built by veteran builder Bedford Davidson. We suspect that the clerk recorded the name McPhail incorrectly, and that it’s more likely that he was Daniel J MacPhail. There was obviously a lot of confusion generally about the spelling of his name. In the 1891 census there isn’t a single MacPhail in the country, but 8,300 McPhails. In 1901 it gets mixed between the two spellings. The 1910 street directory listed both John McPhail and John MacPhail as a tinsmith, living in the same house, but as there was only one tinsmith with that name in every other year they were presumably confused as well.
We’re not sure whether this D J McPhail is the Dan McPhail who acquired a building on Water Street with Jacob Kane. We know that in 1912 a D J McPhail built an expensive house for himself in Shaughnessy, and there was a Daniel MacPhail who was a real estate broker living at 633 Broughton Street with his sister Christina, a nurse, in the 1911 census. They were both born in Ontario; Daniel was aged 30, his sister was 27. The first time Mr. McPhail appeared in the street directory was in 1909 when D J MacPhail, real estate was living at 1242 Burrard. In 1910 he opened an office in the Dominion Building. D J McPhail apparently hired Twizzell & Twizzell, architects to design a house in Shaughnessy (according to a report in the Province newspaper). He also hired MacKenzie & Ker to design an $11,000 house at the same address – we’re not sure which version he built, although to us it looks more like a Twizzell design than MacKenzie & Ker, and there’s a permit to build a garage that was designed by the Twizzells.
We’re not sure where Mr. Macphail got the capital to become a property broker and develop such a grand house. There was a silver miner from Ontario working in Kaslo, but he appears to have been older. It may be that he was a successful broker in the right place at the right time – in 1911 for example he identified a large site to sell to the City of Vancouver for their isolation hospital (built in Grandview).
In 1916 Daniel McPhail was still listed at the Shaughnessy address, but in 1917 Fred Begg had moved into the house. In 1919, although Daniel still wasn’t in the city, Christina McPhail, a nurse, was living at 1297 W Broadway and a year later a block away at 1351. In 1921 she was still at the same address, but called MacPhail. In 1925 Don J McPhail was at 1149 W 27th Avenue – in 1926 he was identified as Daniel J McPail, ‘retired’. In 1927 he was still Daniel J and in 1928 he was back to Don, but associated with real estate in both 1927 and 1928. So we’re reasonably sure that Daniel J McPhail (or MacPhail) was back in the real estate business in the 1920s, and it seems probable that it’s the same Daniel who had left the city during the war.
We have a clue about why he may have left town. In 1917 he fought – and lost – a court case where the YMCA accused him of offering to give them $5,000 towards their new Georgia Street property, and then not fulfilling that promise. The Daily World, in reporting the court case described him as ‘a prominent resident of Vancouver’. We don’t know whether he paid up.
His partner in the development might have been John M Livingstone, manager of the City Dairy Co and then the Vancouver Creamery Co until 1927. We haven’t managed to trace him after that; he may have retired and moved away from the city.
Today both buildings are office space; with the investment cost of the properties recouped many years ago this block is a candidate for assembly and redevelopment, Whether the old, but not heritage buildings would survive as anything other than facades (if at all) is doubtful.