300 Burrard Street

This relatively modest building sat across from the magnificent Marine Building, and was completed a few years earlier. Today’s building is numbered as 999 West Hastings, and while this is the Burrard Street façade, the Seaboard Building (as it was later known) also took a Hastings address, as 991. Home to the Canadian Australasian Royal Mail Line offices, it was designed by Townley & Matheson. When it was built in 1926, the windows looking north (on the left of the picture) looked out over Burrard Inlet, although today there are large newer buildings obscuring that view. Several other companies occupied offices here, including another shipping line.

Initially it was named after its developer, and main tenants, and so was the Bell-Irving Building. Once it was built it appears that all of Henry-Bell Irving’s interests were run from here, including BC Packers and the Insurance Agency, founded in 1906 and  spun off as a subsidiary private company in 1920 as Bell-Irving, Creery & Co. Ltd. In 1930 the company name was changed to Bell-Irving Insurance Agencies Ltd. Bell-Irving Insurance was a provider of property and maritime insurance; its principal clients were other companies in the Bell-Irving commercial sphere, including Anglo-British Columbia Packing Co. The company was also involved in real estate development and speculation. In 1972, Bell-Irving Insurance Agencies Ltd. merged with A.E. Lepage.

We documented Henry Bell-Irvings history in an earlier post about another Bell-Irving Building. A Scottish railway-building engineer and briefly an architect, Henry Ogle Bell-Irving established a real estate, finance and resource empire, launching his own salmon canning business in 1889 and still its president at the time of his death in 1931.

Originally there was a house on this site, home to William Murray, manager of the Bank of British Columbia in the 1890s. Today there’s Axa Place, built as the Daon Building. It’s an angled tower of gold glazing and brick. The building was the result of intense discussions between the architects, Musson Cattell Mackey, and the City. The final result met the City’s goal of opening up the street end view to the north (though somewhat obscured today by the large trees in the plaza out front) and providing a design scaled to respect the Vancouver Club, its immediate neighbour to the east, and reflect/refract views of the Marine Building across the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-14

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Posted January 4, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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