Archive for December 2016

Granville and West Pender – northwest corner


Here’s another early and substantial (for the time) Downtown office building. It’s the Fairfield Building, designed by William Blackmore, although there’s just a tiny part of the adjacent Dunn Block to the north showing (on the right). When Walter Frost took this picture in 1946 it wasn’t going to be standing much longer; the replacement buildings that are still standing were built in 1949 and 1951. The three storey ‘New fairfield-1899Dunn Block’ was erected around 1893, and the Fairfield in 1898. The image on the right (which we can’t reproduce as a ‘before and after’ because the photographer stood on the vacant site up the street) shows the building at completion, and the adjacent earlier structure to the north. Blackmore used almost identical design elements for both buildings, and Thomas Dunn also had a hand in the Fairfield. We know he certainly supplied many of the materials because William Blackmore chose to feature the building in a promotional brochure called ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’.

We also know the building was developed by the Fairfield Syndicate, as work started on August 8th and was reported in the Daily World. Earlier that year the paper reported that “the buyers of this property from Thos. Dunn were the Fairfield Company, of London, and of which J. J. Lang is the Vancouver agent. The building, which is to be a large four-storey structure, will extend from the McKinnon block to the corner of Pender street and will include the present Dunn Hall, on which another storey will be erected. A feature of the building will be a fine arch on the Granville street side and the entire fronts on both streets will be of granite.” The Syndicate weren’t just building investments downtown, they also actively developed a series of mining properties throughout the province; we don’t know which endeavor was the more profitable.

Thomas Dunn’s decision to build his building on Granville Street was significant – before this he’d built in the earlier Granville area of the city, both on Cordova Street and on Water Street in Maple Leaf square. The CPR had built their station at the foot of Granville, their hotel several blocks up the street in the middle of the cleared forest, and their directors had built office buildings along the street in between. In 1895 H. McDowell Co., Ltd., Agents were based in the Dunn Block – Vancouver agents for Columbia, Cleveland and Rambler Bicycles.

Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) acquired the building in August 1905, and in 1920 paid $7,500 for general repairs to 445 Granville; the Dunn Block part of the building. Today the office building on the corner was designed by McCarter and Nairne and completed as the Dominion Bank building in 1949. The adjacent Canada Permanent building that replaced the Dunn Building was completed a year or two later and was also designed by the same architects. No doubt the sixty year old buildings, with their modest density, will themselves be redeveloped – most likely as an office tower, perhaps with preservation of the 1940s facades.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-286 and CVA 15-03



Posted 29 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1200 block West Georgia Street, south side (2)


We looked at these buildings when they were the home of Consolidated Motors in 1931. Once Consolidated moved down the street at the end of the 1930s, McDermott Motors took over, selling Oldsmobile and Chevrolet cars. Part of the buildings (to the west) were used as a Government Armoury in the war, which is why the Archives have a picture of a large gun sat on the street in front. After the war Consolidated Motors moved back to the building on the right, 1230 W Georgia. By 1949 McDermott had moved on to a new location on Burrard Street, and Ross Baker Motors moved in. They had been in business since 1925, and became part of Wolfe Chevrolet in 1952, when they moved out of Georgia Street.

Consolidated Motors stayed for a while in the right hand building, but with new non-motoring based neighbours. The 1200 West Georgia building on the corner of Bute became the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studios announced in early 1953 to cost one million dollar. The television studio and transmitter allowed Vancouver residents to receive the first Canadian TV programs on CBUT, Channel 2 in December 1953. By 1958 when Alvin Armstrong took this image, the CBC had expanded westwards into the other garage as well. While the outward appearance was of an art deco building from the 30s or 40s, underneath were the car showrooms and repair garages from the 1910s.

By the late 1960s CBC were looking to expand and build purpose-built (and soundproof) studios, hiring Thompson, Berwick & Pratt to design the new Downtown studios further east (with Paul Merrick designing the bunker-like outcome).

Today there are two 36 storey towers of the Residences on Georgia, designed by James Cheng for Westbank for the Kuok Group.


Posted 26 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

1200 block West Georgia Street, south side (1)


We have another car and truck dealership in one of Vancouver’s main Motordom streets. We’ve previously looked at several vehicle dealerships in the two blocks east of here, and here is another in this 1931 image. On the corner with Bute Street, Consolidated Motor Company Limited had their Willys-Knight and White trucks and busses division. Next door was their Gold Bond used cars department, and to the west was the Hupmobile and Packard car showroom.

Willy-Knight cars were produced between 1914 and 1933 by the Willys-Overland Company of Toledo, Ohio, while White (which started in 1900 with steam powered cars) after World War I began producing trucks. The company soon sold 10 percent of all trucks made in the US. Between the wars White produced all sizes of trucks from light delivery to semi – that’s a White chassis sitting outside the showroom. Hupmobiles were manufactured in Detroit from 1909. After 1925 the company made the same mistake that many other medium-priced carmakers were making at the same time; in an attempt to capture every possible sale, they offered many different models. With their relatively low production volume, no model could be produced in sufficient quantity to keep manufacturing costs low enough to provide an operating profit.

The building on the corner was built in 1919; designed by Fred Townley for the Terminal City Motor Co costing $30,000 by AD and AW Snider. It was described as “Factory/Warehouse; two-storey reinfoced concrete garage building, 66×120 ft; rest rooms w/ large open fireplaces, lavatories; owing to diff. in grade, access to repair dept via ramp at Alberni St. entrance, drive a car right into without use of an elevator”. The previous owner of the house here was J Duff-Stuart, who was making repairs to his home as late as 1918.

consolidated-1927Terminal City Motor Co operated a hire car service – an early limo service. In their fleet they had a Cadillac Model 30 that they used to run a tour service around the city. The company was manged by Frank Barnes, and offered sightseeing tours in 7 seat ‘Green Cars’ that set off from opposite the Hotel Vancouver. For $1 you could take a 25 mile tour to Marine Drive through Point Grey. Seeing Shaughnessy Heights in an hour and half drive also cost $1. The brochure advertising the tours mentioned that their stores also sold a range of auto parts. The company had moved five blocks to the west to their new premises. In 1926 they added new premises on Dunsmuir Street and changed their name to the BC Motor Transportation Co. “Operating All Classes of Motor Vehicles, Including Pacific Stages, Yellow Cabs, Sightseeing Cars, Flat Rate Cars, Drive Yourself Cars and Baggage Transfer.” Consolidated Motors expanded eastwards into the corner building in 1929.

They had operated from the third building on the block, 1230 W Georgia, from 1912. Garage premises were initially built in 1911 by the Archibald Motor Co, designed by George Pigrum Bowie at a cost of $6,000. Archibald were founded by Albert William Cruise, originally from New Brunswick. He worked as an engineer in New York, in theatre in eastern Canada, and then in real estate in Vancouver from 1907. He acquired property and fam land, and retired as the 1912 crash hit. That year Archibald was renamed Consolidated, with Mr. Cruise as president, retaining the Archibald name for a related garage business and the Western Tire Company for tires and parts. He hired Doctor, Stewart & Davie to build the property shown in the picture in 1912, built by R McLean & Co at a cost of $30,000. In 1920, when the Vancouver Motor Dealers’ Association had their banquet, under the headline ‘Who’s Who of Vancouver Motordom’ Consolidated Motors were identified as a Packard and Maxwell dealership.

consolidated-motor-co-1230-w-georgia-1936-cva-99-4855In this 1936 image a 1935 Packard 120 Club Sedan is parked at the curb. This was the company’s first year of a lower priced line; the modern looking car probably kept the company afloat during the Great Depression when demand for their more luxurious cars declined. Its style contrasts with the classic proportions of the 1933 or 1934 coupe in front of it. Although the Hupmobile name is still on the façade, the company only sold Packards. Until  1942 Consolidated Motors were still going strong here: A W Cruise was still in charge, and as well as Packards, the dealership was selling Pontiacs. They moved up the street to the 1000 block in 1943. Willys vehicles were later sold from the corner of Burrard and W Georgia; we’ll look later at what happened to these buildings.

Today this is the location of the Residences on Georgia, a James Cheng designed pair of residential towers, completed in 1998, as well as the heavily restored ‘Abbott House’.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3939 and  CVA 99-4855.


Posted 22 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Holly Lodge – Davie Street


Here’s the only Vancouver residential apartment building designed by San Francisco architects Wright, Rushforth & Cahill. Wright was the lead partner, and originally from England, but Bernard Cahill was the likely designer, from San Francisco. It dates from 1910, and was completed a year later. The building permit estimated a cost of $100,000, but as designs were clarified the cost was raised to $157,000. In submitting the permit, the architects (who had opened a Vancouver office) claimed to be the builders This was unlikely to be true; they co-ordinated the trades who were the builders: the Wells Construction company carried out the initial site works of excavation and basement construction.

The developers were the Pacific Investment Corporation, and the Contract Record published some of the details of the project: “There will be 82 apartments in all, comprised as follows: 56 3-room, 22 4-room, 2 5-room and 2 2-room. In addition, there is a store on the comer suitable for grocer or druggist. Provision is also made for a cafe below the ground floor on Davie street, with stairway from the entrance vestibule. The basement will contain the heating plant, hot water service, vacuum cleaning plant, storage rooms, and janitor’s quarters. For the convenience of tenants, there will be dumb waiters, messenger and telegraph call boxes, mail chutes, patent sanitary garbage chutes, and vacuum cleaning system. Near the passenger elevator will be a ‘phone with connection to each apartment.”

The Pacific Investment Corporation’s fiscal agents were Wolverton & Co, run (in Vancouver) by Alfred N Wolverton and managing stocks, bonds and investments in real estate and timber. Newton Wolverton was president of Wolverton & Co, but was based in Nelson. He was president of Sunset Mills (a lumber company) and of Pacific Investment Corporation. He was born in Ontario, had an extraordinary career; he obtained a law degree, became Principal of Woodstock College (a Baptist training college) and then of Bishop College University in Texas from 1897 to 1903. He then became Superintendent of the Brandon Experimental Farm before moving to BC to take up finance and real estate in 1907.

It appears that the building is still owned today by a company with the same name, which may well have been an investment vehicle to develop the building. The investment opportunity was offered in February 1910: “The Pacific Investment Corporation, Limited, has purchased for the sum of $25,000 a double corner, 132×132 feet, the southeast coiner of Davie and Jervis streets, the very finest apartment building site in Vancouver’s exclusive West End. (It is immaterial that the company his since been offered $27,000 for this property). The company is going to erect the finest and most up-to-date six-storey apartment block in Western Canada on the business unit system and the estimated cost of property and building is $135,000. The company is now placing on the market 750 business units at par $100 each $25 cash, balance in two, four and six months, without interest. About one-third of these units is already subscribed.”

Our image dates from around 1911, when the building was featured in a postcard now in the BC Archives collection. As far as we know the store, and lower level café were never built. Bernard Cahill’s buildings after Holly Lodge include the Multnomah Hotel in Portland, also still standing today.


228 Abbott Street


We previously posted this building four years ago when it had first been renovated. It was built by Patrick Hickey in 1889, designed by John Teague of Victoria, and for many years was used as the Cosmopolitan Hotel Rooms. The City of Vancouver Archives aren’t exactly sure when this image was taken; it’s thought to be at some point in the 1940s. That makes sense; the delivery van is a 1940s Chevy. Butt & Bowes were based here in 1940; they had first moved in around 1938, and were still here in 1955, staying in business until 1996 (although not in this building for the entire 60 years). Although it looks like Berkel Products were a separate store, that was the brand of equipment that Butt & Bowes sold; Berkel were the inventors of the very first professional meat slicer.

There was no Mr. Bowes that we can find associated with the business in 1936 (when they operated from premises on Water Street), but Percival Butt was the manager, and Douglas Butt was a salesman. The company sold Packers and Butchers’ Supplies, Scales, Meat Choppers and Slicers, French Fry Cutters, Sausage Flour and Spices. Douglas Butt passed away in 2009, aged 93. Today there are no meat slicers or sausage making machines, but rather a line of handmade furniture.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-3295


Posted 15 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Pemberton Building – West Hastings Street


W A Bauer developed this eight storey building in 1910, and completed it a year later. Standing on the south-east corner of Hastings and Howe, the owner hired W Marbury Somervell of Seattle as the architect, and called his new $225,000 asset ‘The Pacific Building’. Mr. Bauer wasn’t a novice at real estate investment; he had acquired a large chunk of North Vancouver in 1905, and had developed smaller buildings, but nothing on this scale. This wasn’t his first idea for the site; in 1909 he had obtained a permit for a $150,000 hotel designed by Parr and Fee, but never followed through. He used the most up-to-date method for the construction of the building, hiring  the Ferro Concrete Co (headquartered in Cincinnati). We’re not sure why the postcard artist changed the top of the building, but it never looked like this.

Unlike many residents with a German sounding name, Mr. Bauer retained the spelling of his name throughout the war. That might be because anyone who heard him would not think him German – he was born in Brisbane, Australia, where he became a railway engineer. He was also well-known in the province; he had been the Dominion and British Columbia Land Surveyor, having arrived in 1891. He also married well; his wife was Ruby Springer, daughter of Ben Springer who managed the Moodyville Mill and then turned to real estate development in the early city of Vancouver in conjunction with Captain Van Bramer. In 1901, before his marriage, William Bauer was shown in the census living with his mother, Anna, who had been born in England, and his sister Maud, who was eleven years younger (if her age was recorded accurately – which would have made her mother give birth at age 51, which seems unlikely). In 1911 he was recorded as ‘Bower’ , aged 43, with Ruby, 28 and their son Benjamin who was aged two and 11-month daughter Frances Maude. There were two domestic servants living with them in their Seaton street home.


The Pacific Building was sold on the quality of its construction. “The outer walls are of brick and concrete, finished on the exterior with handsome pressed brick and terracotta. The floors are of solid re-inforced concrete, and the entire structure sanitary, clean, warm and absolutely fireproof, affording every security against damage by fire, and minimum insurance rates. The Pacific Building is of an architectural type remarkable for its simple elegance of treatment, resulting from the artistic contrast of light and shade, and the fact that it is not overburdened with detail. The entire exterior effect is pleasing and elegant in the extreme. The central location of the building, its attractive appearance, and the fact that it towers high above all buildings in the neighborhood, gives it a distinct advertising value which is too important to be overlooked by those in search of offices. The main entrance hall is finished in selected, handsomely-veined marble, producing a handsome and impressive entrance. The corridors are tiled and finished with a specially-designed wainscoting four feet in height, with a beautiful marble base. The floors are laid in rich ceramic mosaic tile.” The advertising even went as far as claiming that the building was ‘earthquake proof’ – fortunately never put to the test. In the 1990s a complete seismic analysis of the building was carried out and a partial upgrade saw shear walls being added at the building’s basement perimeter.

W A Bauer hired Somervell and Putnam a year later to design his new $20,000 Shaughnessy home, and a garage a year after that that cost $4,000 (more than many houses cost to build). In September 1918 things went very sideways for the Bauer family. The Yorkshire and Canadian Trust Company made a claim in the Supreme Court seeking $47,717.50 from William A Bauer, comprising commissions owed to the company by Mr Bauer, and loans made by the company on his behalf. He also had tax arrears in Richmond for three properties in 1918. In January 1919 he moved to Chilco and Nelson from his Shaughnessy home, which he presumably rented to help cover his debts. In early 1919 it was announced that the family were leaving town “Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Bauer and family have left to make their home In Vernon, B. C, on their Coldstream ranch” In May 1920 the Daily World reported that the family were returning from the Okanagan, having purchased a house on Cedar Crescent, and presumably the financial crisis had been overcome as Mr Bauer built a garage there in 1921. That same year the paper reported that “Mrs. W. A. Bauer, Coldstream, Vernon, arrived In the city on Wednesday morning and has taken up residence on Shaughnessy Heights”. They don’t seem to have stayed long: in December it was reported that “Mrs. W. A. Bauer and two sons have left for Vernon, where they will reside. They spent the past six months In Vancouver.” Two months earlier it was reported that “Mr. Dudley Dawson, manager of the Dominion Bank, who just recently arrived In the city, has leased the home of Mrs. W. A. Bauer, Shaughnessy Heights.” There are mentions of visits in 1922, but nothing suggesting the family in residence; instead the Bauers appear to have continued to live in Vernon, growing fruit.

In 1927, when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot, this was still called the Pacific Building and housed dozens of offices, with a Turkish Bath in the basement and the American Consulate on the second floor. By the 1950s the building had been renamed the Pemberton Building, although today it seems to have reverted to it’s original name.


Posted 12 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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575 Dunsmuir Street


The building is almost unchanged, but the tenant is very different. In 1942 this was the former Vancouver offices of Yukon Southern Air Transport, who had just moved to Howe Street. The company was undergoing other changes that year – Yukon Southern Air Transport was bought out by Canadian Pacific Air Lines, with Grant McConachie, founder of Yukon Southern becoming President of the company. Yukon Southern was sold for over a million dollars, although it had never generated a profit. We’ve seen the building the office occupies in an earlier post: it’s underneath the much-loved and (briefly shuttered) Railway Club, built in 1920 for real estate agent Harry Jones.

McConachie started flying regular mail and passenger flights to Whitehorse from Edmonton in 1937, first with his company United Air Transport (which he founded in 1933) and then with its successor, Yukon Southern Air Transport Limited. Planes used floats in summer and skis in winter, but McConachie soon realized that year round operations were more economical using runways. Only Whitehorse had a year-round runway; otherwise northern airstrips were almost non-existant. In 1938 McConachie hired men to clear airstrips in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson using small tractors and horse teams. The next summer McConachie had started to clear an airstrip at Watson Lake, when the federal Department of Transport decided to develop an airway between Edmonton and Whitehorse based on routes established by bush pilots and a consideration of the shortest route between the centre of the continent and the Orient (the Great Circle Route).

In 1939 an airway survey established a route linking existing airports at Grande Prairie, Alberta, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, B.C., and Watson Lake and Whitehorse in the Yukon. The government expanded these airports with 3,000 ft. x 500 ft. runways and some storage and maintenance facilities. The improvements were made to make it safer to fly across this remote area, and the chain of airports was known as the Northwest Staging Route. McConachie paved the way for the Department of Transport’s survey engineers, but was also able to take advantage of the new facilities for his airline operations. Yukon Southern added 3 twin-engine, all-metal Barkley-Grow T8P-1 airliners in the spring of 1940, followed soon after by 2 Lockheed 18-40 Lodestars.

Today you can’t buy a ticket to Whitehorse,  but you can get a very reasonably priced Falafel Plate.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives Bu N153


A Bit of Hastings Street


We really can’t argue with the title of this tinted postcard from the 1910s. Remarkably, it shows that the pattern of buildings hasn’t changed in either of the two blocks visible in the picture for over a century. In fact almost all the buildings are unchanged. The dominant building is obviously the Dominion Building, completed in 1910. Initially developed by the Imperial Trust in 1908, an over optimistic belief that the needed $600,000 construction cost would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t happened. The Dominion was said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. Almost immediately the building’s owners suffered further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company forced into selling to the entirely unrelated Dominion Bank, ensuring that the name didn’t have to change.

On the extreme left hand side of the picture is a building occupied by Vancouver Hardware and Thomson’s Stationers early in its life, hidden behind the tree in the contemporary shot. It was designed by Parr and Fee in 1898, and today has some terrible cement render replacing the original facade. The two-storey building to the east is The Mahon Block, designed by W T Dalton and built in 1902. In 1913 it was altered by W F Gardiner, which was possibly when an additional bay was added to the east, as far as we can tell for Thomson Brothers.

To the east, the tall, thin building is still standing today – although in our summer shot the street tree hides it from this angle. It’s the Skinner building, and it was built in 1898, so the second oldest on the block. It’s four storeys tall with an almost fully glazed facade designed by W T Dalton for Robert B Skinner and Frederick Buscombe for Jas. A Skinner’s wholesale china and glassware business.

Beyond that to the east was a rather handsome 1902 building, built by, and for, Thomas Hunter and designed by Blackmore and Sons. Today it’s one of the few ‘gap teeth’ in the city – the building was destroyed by fire in 2004. Next door to that is the oldest building on the block, the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block built by Jonathan Rogers in two almost identical phases with William Blackmore and then Parr and Fee as architects.

Looking down the street to the south side of the 100 block, the tall building is the Stock Exchange Building, a tall skinny office that was never actually occupied by the Exchange. Today it’s an SRO that has just had an excellent façade restoration. Like the Dominion Building it was designed by J S Helyer. Next door is a more modestly scaled building at 150 West Hastings dating from 1903, then two more Jonathan Rogers investments, one developed by his wife, Elizabeth. Hidden behind the tree on the right is the Province Building which started life (in 1908) as the Carter Cotton Building. The biggest differences between the two pictures are the addition of street trees, and the reduced volume of pedestrians on the sidewalks.


Posted 5 December 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

BC Electric Railway car barns – Main Street at Prior


These big industrial buildings were first constructed in 1899, and initially expanded in 1903. W T Dalton designed the first buildings, and Dalton and Eveleigh the expansion which was for an iron frame car barn costing $14,000. It was this building, so the building at the front is probably the 1899 structure, and the barn behind the addition. The BC Electric Railway Co ran the trams (streetcars) and suburbans that helped to shape the expansion of the City of Vancouver, and many of the suburban municipalities as well. There’s a bit of a debate about the date of this image – the City Archives think it’s from 1899, but other authors say it’s 1904 (which seems to make more sense). It had nine parallel tracks that could squeeze 45 streetcars inside the largest single-storey structure in the city at the time. There were four repair pits and an electric hoist. There was small store (behind the streetcar) run by George Aldrid where employees could buy fruit and tobacco.

streetcar-barns-main-prior-1969-walter-e-frost-cva-447-355The building was further expanded in 1912 when the BC Electric Railway Co planned a $40,000 addition built by Snider & Brethour. We’re unsure what that involved, as the 1912 insurance map shows a much larger building already completed along the entire street to Prior Street. We assume this happened sometime in the late 1900s when there’s a gap in available building permits. (In 1914 the rapidly expanding fleet saw the company build a new two-storey reinforced concrete barn at Main and 14th Avenue, replacing earlier structures at a cost of $300,000).

The expanded buildings that were built here can be seen in this 1969 W E Graham Archives image, long after streetcars had gone, and before the buildings were torn down to be replaced with the new Georgia Viaduct (at the eastern end it’s some distance from Georgia, between Union and Prior Street). The view will change again once the viaducts have been removed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P212 and CVA 447-355


Posted 1 December 2016 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Gone

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