752 Thurlow Street (2)

Our previous post looked at this building in the 1970s when it was Oil Can Harry’s club. Long before the club use the building started life in 1926 as the Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox. Here it is in 1927, soon after it was completed. There was a house here before this building was completed in 1927; it was bought in 1911 by delegates from twelve Women’s organisations who had raised funds by subscription. Judge Helen MacGill, an outspoken advocate for women and children’s legal rights was one of the founders, and remained active in welfare reform and women’s rights issues throughout her life. The house became a resource centre for women’s groups, with office space and meeting rooms, and a 10c a day childcare centre for working mothers, Canada’s first such public institution.

By 1913 21 organisations with 5,000 members were shareholders, and membership continued to grow. The crèche had moved in 1917 to Cambie Street, and by 1924 funds had been raised to allow the design of a new building, although the original house wasn’t demolished, but moved to the back of the lot. The new building had shareholders from 80 organizations and 500 individuals; it was smaller than had originally been hoped, but the war and economic downturn reduced the scale of the building. As with many businesses and groups, the recession of the early 1930s hit funds hard, and by 1933 the shareholders were finding it difficult to repay the remaining debt associated with the building. By 1940 it was impossible to retain the premises, and in 1941 it was taken over by the Salvation Army. By 1950 it was vacant, and in 1955 Pedersen’s Catering operated from the building. In 1966 Oil Can Harry’s club opened, lasting in various versions until 1977. The Carlyle, a residential and retail tower replaced the 1926 premises in 1988.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N292

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Posted July 31, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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