Hotel Europe (3)

We looked at the fabulous flatiron Hotel Europe in one of our earliest posts, and another view soon after. Here’s the original Hotel Europe which became the hotel’s annex when the much larger new structure was built next door in 1908. Our 1975 image shows the fire escape that has now been removed, but otherwise it’s still looking as good as ever. Today it’s part of a housing co-op that includes the flatiron building as well.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has an entry for Angelo Calori, the hotel’s owner and developer. “A fire in June destroyed every structure in Vancouver with the exception of one wooden building, which Calori purchased and transformed into the European Hotel. Five years later, after the city’s population had increased from approximately 1,000 to over 13,000, the establishment became known as the Hotel Europe. A photograph of Calori taken in 1893 reveals a confident businessman with dark eyes and a neatly trimmed full moustache.”

Some of this is correct. There was a fire in 1886, and only one building, a hotel, survived it. However, that was the Regina Hotel on Water Street, a long way from Powell and Alexander where Mr Calori’s property was located, and it was run by Edmond Cosgrove after the fire. In fact there’s no sign of Angelo Calori in Vancouver until 1888, when he was initially listed as running a restaurant, with the Hotel Europe getting mentioned for the first time a year later (run by Andrew and Joseph Calorae). His early history in North America isn’t documented, but it’s thought that he may have been in San Francisco before heading to Victoria in 1882 and working in the lower mainland building the railway, and in 1887 he was almost certainly the Angelo Calari working in the Nanaimo mines.

There were actually two Calori brothers in Vancouver, Joseph (actually named Guillermo) and Angelo, who were running the hotel in 1890 – the year they were fined for selling liquor on Sunday at the hotel. We can only find Angelo in the 1891 census, a 28-year old hotel-keeper born in Italy. The picture is Angelo in around 1893. In 1897 there was a third Calori Brother, C Calori, living at the hotel. In 1899 Angelo had W T Dalton design ‘brick additions’ to the hotel – but exactly what they consisted of, and whether the building we see today is therefore a Dalton design is unclear.

That 1891 census was missing a few people – Joseph Calori (older than Angelo by three years) was involved in running the business, shown in the street directory and still shared an address with Angelo (at the hotel) in 1901. We initially thought that in 1891 Angelo was married to Theresa, another Italian, although there was no Theresa Calori in the city. A daughter, Josephine Lena Calori was registered as having been born in Vancouver in 1889, at the Hotel Europe, with Doctor Mills in attendance. However, her birth wasn’t registered until 1904, with Angelo Calori listed as the father and Theresa Martina the mother. The 1891 census suggests a slightly different story. Therese Martina was a lodger in the Europe Hotel, with her two-year old daughter Josie, born in BC, whose father and mother had both been born in Italy. The biography says Angelo adopted Theresa’s daughter and they had a second daughter, but we think there was only ever one child, Josephine Lena.

The 1901 census said Angelo and Theresa were married, and that both arrived in Canada in 1882, and Joseph Calori in 1883. Joseph and Rosi Martina, aged 17 and 14, described as Angelo’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law also lived with the family. There were six domestics at the Europe Hotel, three of them also from Italy, and then many long-term residents, one described by the census as a ‘roomer’ and the others as ‘boarders’.

The 1911 Census didn’t find Angelo or his family, but Guillermo Calori was aged 50, and living at 56 Powell Street (which is across the street from this building). Around this period Angelo and Theresa Calori are absent from the street directories. After 1910 the hotel was managed by Albert Berger, and then F A McKeown. When the Calori’s returned to Vancouver in 1915, Angelo lived in a 25-room house on Burnaby Street and G Calori was shown still living at 56 Powell Street. That’s probably the same building that in 1906 was used as the Hotel Europe Annex, before the larger new flatiron building was completed.

We don’t know where the Calori’s went to for the early 1910s, although Angelo’s biography says it was a trip to Italy. US border records show that in 1912 Angelo immigrated to Vermont and a year later to Seattle. In 1914, in New York, aged 52 and single, he married Theresa Martina who was aged 53, and described as widowed. Both Angelo and Theresa were born in Varese Ligure in Italy. It would appear that Theresa (Teresa in some records) had originally married somebody else, but had lived with Angelo as husband and wife for many years. As catholics, divorce would have been impossible, so they presumably had to wait for Theresa’s husband to die. Whether (Josephine) Lena, whose birth was registered as Angelo’s daughter was actually his daughter is less clear.

Angelo’s family circumstances (if they were known) didn’t seem to have affected his progress in the city. He built one of the finest hotels, acquired a theatre, and was a founding member of the Sons of Italy, a mutual-benefit society founded in 1905. He died in May 1940, and was buried in Mountain View cemetery. He was predeceased by Lena, who died in 1930, and by Theresa, who died in 1934; all three share a prominent headstone. His son-in-law was the only remaining family member to remain able to deal with Angelo’s will. However, with the onset of the war, he and 40 other Italian men from Vancouver were interned at Kananaskis, Alberta, having become members of a Mussolini linked political club.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-506 and CVA 81-1.

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Posted June 5, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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