752 Thurlow Street (3)

Our previous posts looked at the Women’s Building on Thurlow Street that became Oil Can Harry’s club in the 1960s. Before that building, there was a house here, built around 1894, and seen here in an image at the Vancouver Public Library dating from around 1900.

William and Mary Henderson Garden arrived in Vancouver from Helensburgh, Scotland, via Liverpool and a cross Canada train trip in April 1889. William opened up Garden and Sons Wholesale Tea and Coffee on East Hastings and Carrall. The Ceylon Tea Co (who also sold coffee), run by Charles Gordon was on the same block of Carrall Street (also listed as the Albion Tea Co).

The Garden family, (William and Mary and their two sons William and John) lived on Richards Street, but moved by 1895 into this new house at the corner of Thurlow and Alberni Street. Eve Lazarus has more about the family on her blog, including a wonderful family picture of William and Mary riding around Stanley Park on tricycles. William Garden died in 1897, but in 1901 his widow was still living here, along with John, manager of the Hamilton Tea Co, and William a clerk with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Two years later John was a salesman with William Ralph, and a year after that William and his mother had moved to Broughton Street and his brother John had apparently briefly left the city. In 1905 Jack Garden was living with his mother on Broughton, and William had his own house, initially on 7th Avenue, and by 1911 in North Vancouver where he lived with his wife Harriet and sons Hugh and Jack, aged four and two. Like many in the area, William now worked in real estate. Mary and her son Jack had moved to Haro Street; Jack was now bookkeeper with the Terminal Lumber and Shingle Co.

After the Garden’s moved out it was home to William Lamont Tate, who by the time he moved here was described as a retired sawmill and lumber baron, having sold his mill to the Rat Portage Lumber Co in 1903. During the mid 1890s he lived in Fairview, where his sawmill also operated, run with three sons. Like the Garden’s, Mr. Tait was a Scot, born in Dumfrieshire in 1847. He went to school in New York, and arrived in Canada in 1863. He operated mills in Gravenhurst and Orillia, Ontario, before moving to Vancouver in 1891.

Early memories of the mill were of a shingle mill – Major Matthews recorded that “Tait’s Mill (was) a small sawmill on the shore exactly where the bridge reached Third Avenue, and a few feet to the west of it; the mill was in operation in 1888 at the time the first bridge was built.” If the date is accurate, Mr. Tait acquired a mill that was already in operation. The bridge was on Centre Street (which was Granville Street), but on the south shore of False Creek. When he first started, Mr. Tait’s equipment was modest: W H Gallagher recalled “Tait’s little portable mill? He didn’t build it; he just set it on the ground; he was head sawer, tail sawer, and everything else. When the saw took a cut you had to wait two or three minutes for the boiler to get up steam before it would take another cut.”

Mr. Tait hired Parr and Fee to design two investment properties, The Manhattan (across the lane from this house) and The Orillia, further east on Robson Street. His other major investment, also designed by Parr and Fee, was his home, Glen Brae, an enormous house in Shaughnessy completed in 1910 at a cost of $100,000. (Today it’s the Canuck Place children’s hospice).

When the Women’s Building was built to replace this house, it appears that the house was moved rather than demolished. There’s a 1956 image in the City Archives of the back of the house, looking somewhat the worse for wear, but still standing.

As we noted earlier, today there are up-market retail stores in the Carlyle, a residential condo building completed in 1988 and given a significant retail renovation in the past year.

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Posted August 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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