In 1912 J M McLuckie obtained a permit for a $41,000 5-storey warehouse that he designed and built. On the permit it was shown shown at 1106 Helmcken, but we’re almost certainly it was really this building; 1106 Mainland Street. It was developed by Kelly, Douglas & Co, and the building here was initially used by the Kelly Confectionary Co, a company created by Robert Kelly. He was the son of an Irish tailor and was born in Ontario. He travelled to Vancouver in 1886, but finding things a bit slow, moved south and managed a general store and telegraph office in McPherson, just south of Los Angeles.
Kelly returned to Vancouver in 1887 and established a wholesale fruit and provision business with William McMillan on Water Street. Two years later he became a travelling salesman for Oppenheimer Brothers, leaving the job in 1895 and teaming up with William Braid to form Braid, Kelly and Company, wholesale grocers specializing in tea and coffee. Business was good, but the partnership lasted less than a year as Kelly’s loud style didn’t work with Braid’s more conservative approach to business.
Frank Douglas from Lachute, Quebec arrived in Vancouver in 1896. Douglas would be described a few months later by the Vancouver Daily World as “an able and progressive business man.” Despite their differing personalities, the pair created Kelly, Douglas and Company, wholesale grocers and tea importers. The firm prospered, helped by the Liberal political connections that Kelly established. Douglas spent each summer visiting the Klondike to meet clients and secure orders; he was on one of these trips in 1901 when the Islander, the steamer on which he was travelling, hit an iceberg and sank in Lynn Canal, Alaska. Kelly continued running the business, and Douglas’s brother became a partner a few years later.
The company’s Nabob brand was registered in 1905 and soon became known for the high-quality pre-packaged teas and coffees that are still sold, (these days as part of Kraft Foods). In 1906 the firm built a huge nine-storey warehouse on Water Street.
The Kelly Confection Company Limited was established that year to market confectioneries, and business was good enough for the firm to require its own warehouse, built in the area now known as Yaletown, that the CPR released a couple of years earlier. By 1941, as this VPL image shows, the Mainland Street warehouse was being used by Kelly Douglas for their Nabob branded foods. As in our 1970s image there was a smaller 2-storey building next door; that was replaced in 1989 with a new ‘heritage style’ office building that looks like a former warehouse.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-813