Robson and Thurlow – north side

The building on the corner of Robson and Thurlow today is Joe Fortes restaurant, with a roof-top patio and a reputation for great seafood. Underneath there are smaller retail units with a shoe store on the corner; back in 1969 when this picture was taken the corner restaurant was the Traveller restaurant and steak house – licenced, and open 24 hours. It made no lasting impact on the written records of the city – the Archives have a place mat from 1960, and otherwise there’s nothing. The 1955 street directory show the Manhattan Foods restaurant here, and the menu from a few year’s earlier (in the Museum of Vancouver) suggests that like Joe Fortes it was a seafood restaurant. Despite being here for several years, that establishment also has no other online records associated with it. In 1955 it was run by Charles and Beatrice Bennett, and earlier, in 1948 it was run by L A Hobbs, (and we also can find Mary Shupenia and Ann Smith, the waitresses , Ann Loveless, the cook, and Beatrice Cook and Frances Morrison, the dishwashers in the street directory).

Next door was India House gifts. In the 1950s the Art Emporium was here, run by Frederick Michell, and next door was the Yarn Barn that had replaced the Normandie Beauty Shoppe run by Mrs T M Bayzand which shared a doorway in 1955 with P Campbell’s Modern Barbers. In 1969 the New York Barbershop was in the other half of the 2-storey 1926 building. The corner building and the two single storey retail units were redeveloped in 1985. We think that all the single storey buildings in the ‘before’ picture were built in the 1930s.

These obviously weren’t the first buildings here. When the West End was first developed, this was a residential stretch of street. Mr Whitehead built two houses on the corner, fronting onto Thurlow, and designed and constructed by Thomas Hunter in 1901. J M Whitehead moved into one house, and B Douglas, widow, into the other. Mr Whitehead was chief clerk for the BC Packers Association, and he was still living in his house in 1922, when he was the general manager of the BC Fishing & Packing Co. In 1912 he appears to have been appointed as the Belgian consul to British Columbia. The two houses remained residential into the 1930s. One was occupied for many years by Reinhart Hoffmeister, who built several Granville Street properties

Next door to the west D M Fraser built one house in 1901, and another on the other half of the lot (where the 1926 building was constructed) in 1904. The first house was occupied by Mr. Fraser himself, with another contractor, W Brehaut. By 1922 the second house had added a retail use at the front, the Robson Dairy, although there was still a house behind.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-402

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Posted July 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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