Archive for November 2017

May Wah Hotel – East Pender Street

The May Wah was developed in 1913 at a cost of $75,000 by Barrett & Dean as ‘apartments/rooms’, designed by W F Gardiner. The building opened in 1915 as the Loyal Hotel, a name it retained until at least 1930. Mr. ‘Dean’ was really Evans Deane, born in Australia. He built a block in New Westminster as well, and in 1910 newspapers was described as ‘Evans B Dean, capitalist’. Mr. Barrett was George A Barrett, another broker. Both were involved in 1910 in a rail car company, drydock and ship building. Barrett and Deane also built the Empress Theatre on East Hastings. The street directory showed three partners in G A Barrett & Co; George Barrett, Evans Deane and Harry Musclow.

Evans Deane had first been in Vancouver around 1880, when he was working on tunneling contracts through the Rockies for the CPR. He moved to San Francisco from 1882 and 1887, and lived in Oakland, where he was a printer. He had first arrived in San Francisco in 1876 when he worked for a stockbroker for a number of years. He met his wife, Sophie who was from San Francisco, and they married in 1885, and apparently moved to Vancouver a year or two later. By 1891 Mr. Deane was a real estate broker and insurance agent in Vancouver. From 1903 to 1920 the Deane family, including their four children, lived in the West End.

In 1917 the Daily World reported a complex case involving the hotel: “TENANT MUST VACATE Lease of Hotel Property Held Not to be Good One. Evans B. Dean, a former owner of the Loyal Hotel, after conveying his title to other parties, made lease of the property for five years at $75 per month to a Chinaman; when as a matter of fact it is stated that the place can easily be rented for $200 per month. This morning the mortgagees, the Sun Life Insurance Company, who are now in possession of the title, made an application in supreme court chambers to have the lease broken and the tenant evicted. It was stated by Mr. H. A. Bourne that the lessor at the time he rented the property had no power to do so. and that the present tenant really stood in the position of a trespasser. The present titleholders had an opportunity to lease the place for $200 per month for the first six months, and at $250 per month after that period. Mr. Alex. Henderson, K. C, for the tenant, claimed that his client had acted in good faith, and it was not certain the lessor at the time the lease was made did not have power to make it. His lordship, however, ruled that it had been shown with sufficient clearness that the lease was not a good one, and ordered the tenant to vacate by the end of March.”

In 1918 Mr. Deane retired from real estate, and concentrated on his main interest, yachting. He was a life member of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. As well as owning yachts, including at different times Tillicum, Wide Awake and Alexandra, Mr. Deane owned a powerboat called Davey Jones. The family appear to have moved to Washington in the 1930s, but when Sophie Deane died in 1940 it was in Vancouver, and Evans was still here a decade later when he died, aged 91.

George Barrett was a builder in 1901, living in the West End in a house he built in 1901. The census shows him with his wife Mary, their four children, and sister in law, Laura Blackwell. He appears to have been born in England, but his wife came from Ontario, where they married in 1887 and where their 11 year old son, Henry, was born. The seven-year old, Meryl, was born in BC, so they presumably arrived in BC in the early 1890s. By 1903 he had moved into real estate, and in 1911 the family moved to a new house on E 19th, developed (according to the building permit) by Mary Barrett.

The Loyal was renamed the New Orient in 1947, the Le-Kiu in 1950, the Garden in 1956, the Sydney in 1969 and finally the May Wah in 1980. Le-Kiu are a Chinese grocery wholesalers who from 1967 to 1995 had a store at 262 East Pender that was the first Western-style supermarket in Chinatown, where instead of telling a clerk what you wanted to buy, it was self-serve. The company were formed by H Y Louie’s grandsons, although they are a different branch of the family from the Louie family who own London Drugs.

The hotel was bought by the Shon Yee Association in 1926, and has been used as a Single Room Occupancy hotel for almost a century. Our 1985 image shows that it has hardly changed over the past 30 or so years. Most recently it has been acquired in early 2017 by the Chinatown Foundation. More than 100 low-income seniors, mostly women, as well as a few businesses call the single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel home. The intention is that over the next few years the building will be renovated including seismic upgrades as well as cleared fire exits, and repaired roofs and walls.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2386

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Posted November 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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Regent Hotel – East Hastings Street

The Regent, like the Balmoral across the street, is another large commercial hotel developed at the end of the early 1900s development boom. The Regent’s developer, Art Clemes, obtained the building permit for the $150,000 building in December 1912, and it was completed the following year. It was designed by Emil Guenther.

Art Clemes is mentioned in some records as Archie or Archibald, although the earliest record aged 10 in 1860 called him Arthur, living in Victoria, Ontario, where he seems to have been listed as Clemis, rather than Clemes (although the handwriting in the record isn’t clear). Subsequently almost all official records call him Art. He was in BC by 1881, listed as a hosteler, with Esther, his wife (who was shown two years older than Art). In 1882 he was running the B C Express House in Nacomin. (Sometimes it was written as Necomin), which is in Spences Bridge.

By 1901 he was the leading businessman in the town, a small community on the Thompson River, seventy miles west of Kamloops on the main line of the C.P.R. He ran the general store and the hotel, and acted as postmaster. Around the turn of the century he took a holiday in Europe. He probably attended The 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, where it’s said that he was so taken by a Wolesley car exhibited there that in the early 1900s he ordered one from England. It was shipped via the Horn, as if it had come on the more convenient route across the Atlantic it would have had to be stripped down and crated, and there was nobody in Spences Bridge or Kamloops at that time who knew how to assemble an automobile. It was the first gasoline-driven automobile to run in the interior of British Columbia; here’s an oddly chopped picture of Art from the Archives, in his car.

In the 1901 census Art is listed as hotel keeper and rancher, with his wife Esther and their two domestic servants, Helen and Rachel Oppenheim. Art and Esther were both from England; (Art is shown specifically as being born in Cornwall, and stated his ethnicity as Cornish), and both were shown (inaccurately) to be aged 49. Art was only three when he came to Canada, while Esther had been 19. Their servants were both local, born in Yale. We know where Art’s family first moved in Canada, as his brother Henry, a stationary engineer, was living with the family. He was aged 40, and had been born in Ontario.

Art owned quite a bit of property in Vancouver. He built six brick dwellings at Hamilton Street & Georgia Street in 1903. In 1906 Art leased his ranch to Chinese growers. The Nicola Herald reported that he had leased it to three chinamen. “The enterprising Celestials intend supplying the various railroad camps with fresh vegetables. Rumour has it that $1,000 rental was paid in advance” Art remained in Spences Bridge; and retained his role as justice of the peace there, while developing in Vancouver. In 1908 he partnered with Alexander Pantage to build a theatre on East Hastings, which he continued to own for many years.

In 1911 Art and Esther were still shown in the census living in Spences Bridge, with many employees and lodgers living in the same accommodation (their hotel). They seem to have travelled more, as they visited the US in 1915. Esther died in 1918; her death record confirming she was two years older than Art. Art continued to travel after her death, and crossed from Mexico to the US in 1921. He died a year later, aged 70. The Hotel Regent (as it was called in 1923 when our image was taken), like many Downtown Eastside hotels has seen a steady decline. Today it has a mix of troubled tenants paying welfare rent and an owner unwilling or unable to invest in maintainance. Recently the exterior has been cleaned up, although the interior is still not somewhere anybody would chose to inhabit.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N37.1 and Trans P151

Posted November 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Powell Street – 400 Block

This image shows that some false front western ‘boomtown’ buildings may not be as old as they appear. While two of these structures were standing when this 1979 image was shot, two were added more recently in a style that replicates some characteristics of the older buildings. The slightly shorter of the older buildings in the centre of the ‘before’ picture was home to Double Happiness Foods – today that company occupies all four buildings (and a few years ago added the vibrant colour scheme).

There were also four buildings standing here a century ago. 417 and 423 Powell, (the newer structure, now one building behind two facades) were originally developed before 1890 as two houses, numbered at the time as 409 and 411 Powell Street. By 1912 they had been added to and altered to bring the front of the building to the back of the sidewalk and were listed as 419 and 423. There was a watchmaker, K Kenno in 419 and a general store operated by M Egawa in 423 in 1911. As early as 1905 several of the houses on this block were occupied by Japanese residents, including 423 and 427. The street directory didn’t record their names – just labeling them ‘Japanese’. Arthur Guilmett, a teamster was living at 419. However, from the building permit we know 423 was owned in 1904 by J Kihara, who added to the house here (perhaps to create the storefront).

427 Powell, the original Double Happiness structure, was apparently first built here as early as 1901, when J Hori was recorded at 425 Powell. ‘Hori’ was recorded in the census; born in Japan in 1876, and immigrating to Canada in 1893. He may have been at this address longer, as before 1901 427 was only recorded in the street directory as ‘Japs’. In 1903 J Hori had moved to 441 Powell and Mrs Louisa Gonzales living at 427 Powell, surrounded by Japanese neighbours. In 1908 K Kenno was here, before moving two doors to the west a year or two later. By 1911 G Hori had moved in, and in 1917 had repairs carried out by its owner, probably inaccurately recorded as H Yori; (actually, it was Y Hori, a confectionery business, correctly recorded in the list of building permits in the British Columbia Record). Hori’s coffee shop and bathhouse operated here for over 30 years until the early 1940s. Chitose-Yu was one of five Japanese style of uro bathhouses existing in the neighbourhood. Bathers would thoroughly scrub themselves before entering the large communal hot tub. Bathhouses charged 5 to 10 cents a bath, and provided towels, soaps, and washcloths.

433, on the right, appears to have been built slightly more recently – in 1908 S Aoki ran a grocery here, at the rear of the premises, and the streetfront building seems to have been built around that time, with the boot and shoe business of T Saegusa occupying the store. At one time there was an attic third floor, now there’s a flat roof and a false top floor façade with an empty window space.

The Japanese connections to the neighbourhood ended  tragically and suddenly with the Second World War, and the premises were taken over by other interests. In 1946 a construction company and Kosher Poultry Killing operated here. By the mid 1950s almost all the businesses were Chinese, although Paramount Salvage were at 423 Powell. In our 1979 image, as well as Double Happiness Foods, there was a thrift store encouraging passers by to Get Right With God.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-319

Posted November 9, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

823 and 827 Union Street

The Strathcona building on the left of our 1973 image was once a laundry. There’s an earlier image (on the left), said to have been shot some time after 1960, showing that use. We think it’s probably as earlier image, from the 1950s. The Laundry was constructed in 1911 – there are three different permits, and the laundry operator’s name is slightly different in each. The permits were issued for 823 Barnard, but by the time they were built it was 823 Union Street. The street directory says it was operated as Yee Yat’s laundry, but George Dunlap was the builder for either To Lo Wang, or To Loy Wing (the more likely name).

Next door, at 827 was the Standard Glass Co, built in 1910. There are two permits here – an initial $1,000 proposal for a store and then a more expensive $3,000 version which added both a store and dwelling house, which was the developed building (still standing today). This was designed by E Stanley Mitton for H M Thompson, and built by F M Parr and Sons. Henry M Thompson was secretary and treasurer of the glass company, and lived on York Avenue.

Standard Glass actually did work that was anything but standard. The firm was founded in 1909 or 1910 by Charles Bloomfield, the most experienced glass artisan in the city at that time. Bloomfield, his brother James, and father Henry founded the province’s first art and stained glass business, Henry Bloomfield and Sons, in New Westminster in 1891. Burned out by the great fire of 1898 they moved to Vancouver. James was a talented artist and glass designer who trained in the United States and England between 1896 and 1898. In 1904 he decided that prospects for quality stained and art glass work in the city were limited and the firm broke up. Charles acquired some of the technical and artistic expertise of his brother and carried this experience into the firms which he subsequently worked for and the one which he founded and managed in this building, Standard Glass. Charles initially lived upstairs, over the production space, although not for long.

By 1914 there were ‘foreigners’ in the first two houses on the block to the west of here, Yee Yet’s laundry, and Rothstein Bros, junk dealers had replaced Standard Glass. Charles Bloomfield was working elsewhere as foreman of the Western Plate Glass & Importing Co, and living on Yew Street. By 1916 almost the entire north side of the block was vacant, except for Yee Yick’s laundry, and ‘foreigners’ at 817. The two buildings stayed empty for many years. By 1924 827 was occupied by W Coste upstairs, with the Atlas Rubber Co on the main floor, but the laundry at 823 was still vacant. (Lawrence Coste was a salesman with Atlas Rubber).

By the end of the 1920s the laundry had reopened as the City Laundry, Chinese were living upstairs, and the Buckingham Chair Works was in the back of 823. Next door was residential on both floors – listed as ‘Chinese’. Chinese residents continued to occupy 827; in 1955 it was Low Chew and Low Sing. In 823 BC Paper Excelsior operated: tragedy struck a year later when fire broke out in the living space behind the works: Oliver Beaulieu, the proprietor, died in the blaze, as well as Harvey Markel, a visitor. A third man escaped through a basement window. From the state of the property in 1973 it may never have been occupied after that. The narrow Vancouver special that replaced the building was built in 1974.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 808-27 and CVA 780-332

 

 

Balmoral Hotel – East Hastings Street

Today the Balmoral Hotel is closed, slowly being restored after the City of Vancouver finally tired of trying to get its owners to meet basic standards for the SRO housing rooms in the 1912 former hotel. When it opened it was a smart addition to the booming new city, although completed just before a serious bump in Vancouver’s economic road. An economic boom that had lasted from the mid 1900s to 1912 suddenly went into reverse, made no better for several years as the First World War saw thousands of men leave the city.

In a September 1912 announcement of the official opening of the Balmoral Hotel, the journal Architect, Builder, and Engineer noted that construction of this first-class hotel “will relieve some of the former congestion in hotel circles of the day“. It appears that this was a bigger building than originally planned, and with a different use. In mid 1911 the Contract Journal reported “Plans being prepared for office building (Hastings street). Owner, J. K Sutherland, 1901 Barclay street, Vancouver; architect, Parr & Fee, 570 Granville street, Vancouver; 6 storeys, store and offices. Tenders for excavation have been called. Supplementary report later.” A few weeks later it was reported that Hawley and McMillan had won the excavation tender for $5,000 of work, but the other details remained unchanged. There’s no further mention of the building in that publication. In September the building was described in the Daily World as ‘six-storey, apartments over stores‘. On completion the Province newspaper, referred to it as the Sutherland Block. It was built by J J Dissette and the building permit was for apartments, with the whole construction estimated at $140,000. It was built next to George Munro’s rather more modest two storey building that had appeared in 1903. Two doors to the east was a building that became the Crystal Theatre, designed in 1904 by A Pare for Thomas Storey. In the early 1950s it became the 24 hour Common Gold Café.

Mr Sutherland took a hand-on role in the construction of his project – which faced an initial problem with drainage; The Daily World in November 1911 reported “The dissatisfied – with – the – sewers brigade was well represented at yesterday’s session of the board. One delegation, headed by Mr. Cross, made an emphatic protest against the condition of things in the sewerage facilities of that portion of Lansdowne street between Quebec and Ontario streets. There was a four – foot sewer being put in along there, but it was neither big enough nor deep enough to drain the bottoms of their basements, for which excavations had already been made in connection with several new buildings that were being erected there. They wanted a seven – foot sewer at least, as under present conditions with a four – foot sewer at the present level they would have to install a pump to keep their basements from filling up. The board recognized the urgency of their case and will try to make conditions satisfactory there. Mr. J. K. Sutherland had an almost similar complaint to make in connection with the lack of a suitable basement drain for Hastings street, between Columbia and Main streets. He, too, was promised relief if within the power of the board.”

From the building’s completion it was never occupied as either an office or apartment building: ‘The Balmoral Hotel; Fiddes & Thomson, proprietors’ was the first entry in the 1913 street directory. However, it immediately had many permanent residents who listed the hotel as their home address. Robert Fiddes and James Thomson continued to run the establishment for several years, which is generally not true of hotels in this era, when proprietors changed frequently. In the early 1920s the hotel had a manager, E R Hunter. In the 1940s the neon sign was hung on the front of the building, designed by Neon Products, a local company, which by the 1950s was one of the biggest neon sign producers in the world. Our image shows the block in 1985.

J K Sutherland was a pharmacist, born in Ontario in 1870. He arrived in Vancouver in 1892, living with his parents; his father was a tax collector. He initially worked for a druggist on Cordova Street, and established his own store on Westminster Avenue by 1895. Several rival druggists merged their interests to form the Nelson, Macpherson, Sutherland Drug Co in 1901, with seven stores. By 1903 the partnership had been dissolved, and John Sutherland continued on his own, although by 1910 he was described as ‘retired’, and his 1911 census entry confirms this, with John aged 41, his wife Lily five years younger, their children aged six and four, and two domestic servants, both from England. A year later he built the East Hastings building, and in 1913 he also owned the Clarence Hotel, where he had repairs completed.

The Sutherlands lived in the West End for many years. John’s death notice in 1937 read “John Knox Sutherland, in his sixty-eighth year. Mr. Sutherland, retired druggist, leaves his wife at home, one son, John Burton Sutherland, city; one daughter, Mrs. Robert L. Cold, London, England; one sister, Miss Jessie B. Sutherland, city, to mourn his passing.” His wife had married John in 1904 in Montreal and died in Vancouver in 1960.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1912

Posted November 2, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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