1249 Granville Street

Our 1978 image shows the Morrison-Crawford Block. In 1912 it was the home of the Winton Motor Car Co, with two residential apartments (presumably upstairs). Winton were built in Cleveland, and were one of the earliest motor car companies, starting production in 1897. This wasn’t the only car dealership on this block; Dixon Motors were here to the south a few years later.

In the early 1900s the only occupants of this block were a blacksmith and a carriage maker. By 1908 the Morrison-Crawford Block had been completed, with a company of the same name (a sheet metal worker) occupying the premises, shared with P W Orr, a plumber. Hector Morrison and Stanley Crawford had both previously worked for Forbes Hardware, before forming their own company by changing the Forbes name to Morrison, Crawford & McIntyre Limited in 1906. By 1911 they had moved on, with Hector Morrison running the Western Sheet Metal Works, and Stanley Crawford the Vancouver Sheet Metal Works.

The Winton Motor Car Co moved in a year later, with the owner of the building identified in their alterations as F Pike. Frank Pike, who managed the Merchant Bank, and lived in Burnaby, is the most likely investor owner. R P LeFeber managed the Winton Motor Car Co, selling and servicing the Winton Six. Winton didn’t last long in Vancouver, and by 1915 the BC Tire & Rubber Co had moved in, managed by William Logan. They were replaced a year later by the Vancouver Auto Wrecking Co., run by Abe James and Ben Shapiro. They added a single storey store in 1919 (presumably at the back of the site). The company also had premises on West Pender, and advertised that they had ‘Complete engines, transmissions. Bosch Magnetos, second-hand parts; reanonable’. The company stayed here for many years, well into the 1950s.

They started in business in the 1910s, buying 12 Model T’s that had been rejected by the Ford dealership in Vancouver. The train transporting the open cars had broken down in a mountain tunnel, and the smoke from the coal burning locomotive had left them covered in soot. Abe and Ben cleaned them up and started Vancouver’s first auto rental company downtown on Granville Street. It didn’t take long before they found themselves robbing parts from one to repair another, and eventually none of the 12 were running anymore. However, other motorists were stopping by to purchase parts for their own vehicles. That was how this location, in around 1917, evolved into the first auto wrecking business in Vancouver, if not in all of Western Canada. Abe’s son Ralph, and his older brother Morton, began working for their father in the 1930’s, evolving into Ralph’s Auto Parts; still in business today.

In 2003 a new retail and rental building was completed here, The Lex, designed by Norman Zottenberg.


Posted November 30, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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