Archive for February 2018

Howe and Davie Street – sw corner (1)

For many years this site remained vacant, as site remediation from the earlier use as a gas station was needed. Eventually the site was cleared, excavated, and redeveloped, but the gas station use went back many decades. Here’s the Home gas station seen in a 1929 Vancouver Public Library image. The street directory doesn’t mention the gas bar, but that year Mutch Tires are listed, and a year later they had been replaced by Wallace and Co’s radiator repair business. A year earlier there appears to have been a house here, so the date for the picture looks to be correct. W F Gardiner designed a series of gas stations for Home Oil between 1927 and 1937, so he may have designed this one.

A few years earlier George Mutch’s tire store had been on Granville Street, and it was still there a year later, but for just one year, 1929, they tried branching out with a second location, although the timing was probably unfortunate, given the state of the economy. Home Gasoline were based in Alberta, and in February of 1929 they hit a bonanza. Pierre Berton told their story; “In January you could buy a hundred shares of Home Oil for $350 (or $3.50 per share) with a down payment of less than $50 and sell them in March for $1,585 (or $15.85 per share), But hardly anybody sold, because everybody believed stock prices would continue to rise. And for another six months they did.” Will McMartin in the Tyee explained that Home Oil’s stock-market valuation made William C. Shelly, B.C.’s finance minister and the company’s president, who had bought his seed shares for just a dollar each, an extremely wealthy man. By March 5, Home Oil hit an all-time high of $18, and Shelly’s personal stake in the firm was estimated at close to $2 million. Six months later as the stock market weakened, investors began to sell their Home Oil stock. On Oct. 25, the day after Black Thursday, the company’s shares were down to $12.65. Home Oil Co. Ltd was nearly wiped out in the years following the stock market crash. From a high of $18 the company’s stock two years later was trading at just fifteen cents. William Shelly lost his personal fortune, and his job as Finance Minister.

Today the building here is called Alto, a condo building completed in 2010 whose name references the ten foot ceilings.



Posted 26 February 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Seymour Street – 900 block, east side

Back in 1981 this was yet another Downtown gas station, this one run in conjunction with Dominion U-Drive, and a B F Goodrich Tire dealership. (Gas was 34 cents a litre, and you could collect the free tumblers as well!) Ford dealer Dominion Motors occupied much of the rest of the block, with the Dufferin Hotel (now the Moda Hotel) at the end. Dominion Motors had previously been located further up the same block of Seymour, on the west side, in the former Vancouver Motors building, which they had taken over in 1940, and before that had moved several times since their first West End premises in 1910.

Originally there were houses on this block, all the way to the hotel. By the mid 1940s there were a couple of car sales lots next to the hotel, but the houses on the rest of the block were still occupied through to the 1940s. By 1950 the Vogue Garage and auto sales had been built mid block, but from the corner with Nelson there were still 7 houses; two rooming houses and one occupied as offices by the BC Govt Registrar of Voters. In 1952 just two houses remained, and Vancouver Motors were using the corner as a parking lot. By 1955 the U-Drive operation had been established here, and the company had taken over all but one of the houses – the one housing the Registrar of Voters.

Dominion Motors closed down in 1986, and we think the site was used for parking for several years. In 2002 two new rental towers with 430 units were built here, with retail on the main floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E06.23


Posted 22 February 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Robson and Hornby – nw corner (2)

We looked at a different view of the Richmond Apartments in a post a few years ago. The building was developed by Edward Hunt in 1910, and designed by W T Whiteway. C P Shindler built the $70,000 building, seen here in 1945. There were three Edward Hunts living in Vancouver in 1911, one a fireman for the CPR, one a building contactor, and one a retired 57 year old, living in an apartment on Robson – in this building. He first arrived in the city in 1910, when he stayed in the newly built Homer Apartments on Smithe Street. He was English, (born in Gloucestershire in 1855) and married to Florence, who was American, and thirty years younger than her husband. Edward had arrived in Canada in 1876 (seven years before his wife was born), and to British Columbia in 1888, while Florence had arrived in 1903.

In 1901 Edward Hunt was living in Richmond, shown as aged 47, and a merchant, living with his English wife Louisa, who was also 47, and their son, Edward S Hunt. The street directory tells us he was the Postmaster, and a General Merchant in Steveston. Edward Hunt was living in Vancouver in 1891, with his wife, son and mother, and they each had a store. Edward’s was a grocer’s store at the corner of Nelson and Hornby, while his mother, Emily (who was then aged 69) ran a grocers on the Westminster Road (Main Street today).

He moved to Richmond in the early 1890s. He was elected to Steveston Council in 1893, was working for the Steveston Cannery Co in 1894 and set up a general store there in 1895. He split with his former business partner, J A Fraser in the same year, expanded it in 1896 and was one of three owners of the Steveston Cannery, capitalised at $50,000 in that same year. His store later became the Walker Emporium and was on the corner of Moncton Street and 2nd Avenue. He was a magistrate in Richmond in 1900, and the first to sign a requisition to call out the militia to prevent violence during a strike by Fraser River fishermen. He was on the Council again in 1898 and from 1900 to 1902. In 1907 he became Reeve of Steveston, when this picture was published.

The census shows he was still living in his Robson apartment in 1921, but on his own, and the street directory shows him in the same apartment in 1941. He died in 1943, aged 88, recorded as a widower.

Today there’s an office building addressed as 777 Hornby, completed in 1969, and designed by Frank Roy. The architectural practice who supervised construction of the building was Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4162


Posted 19 February 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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478 Union Street

This store and dwelling was constructed in 1911, the year the street name was changed from Barnard (because of the confusion with Burrard, apparently). The application said it was built by, and for S Rinio at a cost of $5,000. (A house on the same block cost between $1,000 and $1,500, so the building cost quite a bit more, although it’s a small structure only filling half a city lot). The Street Directory said he was Sam Rainas, although by 1921 they had corrected that to Samuel Raino, showing him living on an upper floor, with Luigi Giuriato’s store on the main floor. Luigi was grocer, and lived above the store, so presumably the Raino family had the top floor. Luigi founded Bonus Foods, starting by making ravioli in his kitchen, and expanding to become a successful business employing his sons Lino and David (both UBC Alumni). The company was sold in 1978 to American food producer Curtice Burns.

The 1921 Census gives us a more accurate name for the building’s developer. Saverio Raino was aged 61, born in Italy, moved to Canada in 1886, and became a Canadian Citizen in 1906. His occupation was shown as ‘Labour work for The City’. His wife, Terresa, was also Italian, aged 58, and had arrived in 1901. We can find the family in 1901, listed as Raniuo, with Saverio, ‘Tresa’, and a 13 year-old daughter, Mary. In 1921 their sons, Joseph and Dominic, were both shown at home, both aged 19. Joseph was a barber and Dominic a telegraph operator. Rosina was 17, and also at home; Mary had presumably left home by then.

Dominic’s birth certificate showed him as Rannio, but when he married Georgina Hunter in September 1926 it was as Dominic Benedictus Raino. Joseph Anthony Raino married Grace Vivian Sanders in August 1927 in Wesley Church. Grace was from Blue Earth, Minnesota. Their mother, Teresa Paterna Raino died a month before Joseph’s wedding, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery with Saverio, who had died in March 1926, and their daughter Theresa, who died as a baby. Eldest daughter Mary Raino married Luigi Trasolino, had three children, and died in 1951. The youngest, Rose Raino, married Nicola Biagioni in 1924 and died in 1982 in Penticton.

The store continued as a grocers over many years, with a variety of owners. In 1930 it was Miye Soga; in 1940 the somewhat misleadingly named Scotty’s Grocery, actually run by Mrs A Ferronato and in 1950 F Wong’s Grocers. In 1972, when our before image was taken, it had become the G & T Grocery. Today it has recently been returned to retail use, selling less everyday but more ‘artisinal’ offerings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-921.


Posted 15 February 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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626 Seymour Street

This small retail unit sits on part of the assembled Bay Parkade site, that will one day be redeveloped by the Holborn Group. Seen here in 1974, it was part of the Y Franks appliance chain. Our ‘after’ shot was photographed over two years ago, when the Source electronic chain still operated here. Today the unit is vacant (and under 24 hour video surveillance, according to the developer’s rather ominous website images).

The building was constructed in 1921, built by Baynes and Horie and cost $12,000, designed by Thomas Fee for F G Evans. In the early 1920s Fee spent much of his time in Seattle, but continued to design Vancouver buildings. Frederick Evans was shown in the street directory as the manager of Dominion Canneries B C Ltd, with a house in Shaughnessey Heights that he had built in 1920 at a cost of $15,000. However, the census for 1921 shows his occupation as ‘none’ which implies he had just retired at 52 (although he actually continued to manage the canning company until the early 1930s), and suggests that this was an investment property. He was born in Ontario, as was his wife Sarah, but the two children, 17 year old Muriel and Winifred, 13, had been born in BC. In 1911 the family lived on Haro Street, and Frederick was listed as a produce broker. In both census records they had a servant as well – in 1911 from Scotland, and in 1921 from England. The canning company handled fruits mostly, but also Green Beans, Peas, Tomatoes, Tomato Soup, Pork and Beans, Jams, some late vegetables and citrus fruit for marmalade. In the mid 1920s they opened a new production facility on Drake Street.

When the building was first completed, the first tenant was William Ralph, who had built his own property on West Hastings in 1899. Ralph sold stoves, and other appliances. In 1929 the premises were vacant, and then V A Wardle, a furniture company moved in. In 1932 they were replaced by Y Franks, the stove and appliance company run by Yetta Franks, the widow of Zebulon Franks, and her son David. Over 40 years later the company was still operating here.

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-415


Posted 12 February 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (1)

This row of early buildings were almost totally abandoned by the turn of the 21st century, but today they’ve all been restored to architectural splendour, and active use. In 1981, when the ‘before’ shot was taken, the area was already in decline, but Woodwards was still open across the street, so there was still a draw to the neighbourhood. The White Lunch cafeteria on the left occupied the main floor of half of one building, and the whole of its neighbor to the west. The building on the extreme left is the Henderson Block, designed by G W Grant for Henderson Brothers in 1899. (We noted their history in connection to another building they developed in 1911),

The next building is the Ralph Block, designed by Parr and Fee for William Ralph, and also completed in 1899. Several historians point out that when it was opened here in 1913 by Neil and Thos Sorenson the White Lunch name reflected a policy of serving and hiring only white people. That changed later, but the name lived on. Elements of the restaurant’s past were still visible in mosaic floors when the buildings were restored in 2009. Initially the White Lunch was only in the Ralph Block. The Henderson Block restaurant in the 1920s was the Honey Dew restaurant.

Parr and Fee’s design for Ralph’s block used cast iron to allow for larger windows. The use of brick piers enclosing cast iron mullions was pretty remarkable in a city only thirteen years old. Ralph was a wholesaler and retailer who sold McClary stoves, ranges and furnaces, as well as Cleveland and Rambler bicycles. The Statement of significance for the Ralph Block will tell you that he started out as a bridge builder who specialized in iron structures for the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Dominion Bridge Company. That’s actually an entirely different William Ralph, who came from Quebec.

The William Ralph who developed the Ralph Block was said in the 1901 census to be aged 36, living with his 27-year-old wife May, their infant son, John, and his brother and sister, Ross and Eva. He was from Ontario, as was May. In 1891 he was a boarder, aged 30 and listed as a store merchant, (with his store on Carrall Street) lodging with Peter Larsen at the Union Hotel on Abbott Street. He first appeared in Vancouver in 1888 as a tinsmith, working for R E Dodds. By 1911 William had aged to 51, and there were two younger children at home (Robert and Kathleen), but no John. There was also a servant; Hettie McLeod. In 1921 Robert and Kathleen are still at home with William and May, and William’s sister, Isabel also lived with them.

The next building, 130 West Hastings was probably built around 1906, and was first occupied by F J Hart & Co, real estate agents. By 1981 the original appearance had been disfigured; an exemplary restoration has recreated something much closer to the original appearance of the building. The company was involved in insurance, real estate, mortgage loans and investments, and incorporated by Frederick J. Hart in 1891 when he was only 21. It had its head office in New Westminster, with this branch office in Vancouver as well as Victoria, Chilliwack, and Aldergrove. Frederick was from Newfoundland, and his wife Alice was English. In 1901 they had two children, a servant and Alice’s sister living with them in New Westminster.

Over the years this block of buildings gradually deteriorated and had no legal active uses (although some were sporadically used, often in unauthorized ways, despite their condition). The redevelopment of Woodwards and the attraction of older spaces for tech and startup companies has seen the whole block restored and returned to active use over the past 10 years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.20


15 and 25 West 8th Avenue

This image shows a few of the past changes in the Mount Pleasant Industrial area. It started life as a residential neighbourhood, and there are a few vestiges of that residential past still to be found today; some still lived in, and others adapted to a commercial role. The gradual loss of the original houses has taken many years; the house on the right dated back to 1910, and was only replaced in 1967 with a single storey building. We can date the image quite closely, as the building on the left was only completed in 1963, so the picture must have been shot within a year on either side of 1965.

When the house was first occupied in 1910, Joseph H Brooks, a horse dealer lived here, and a year later he added a new stables to the property, although his sales stables were located at 1025 Main Street. In 1901 he was in the Yukon, living in the Atlin District with his wife, Anna, and their three children. At that time he was listed as a ‘freighter’. He had only been there a couple of years; his two year old son, Egbert, was born in the Yukon, but his older sons, one only a year older than his younger brother, had been born in the US. A daughter, Hazel was also born in the Yukon. Joseph and Annie (as she was shown in 1911) were both originally from Ontario. Joseph stayed in the house for several years, switching his occupation to coal dealer. The last year we can trace Joseph in Vancouver is in 1920, but his son Egbert, a boilermaker was still living in a different house on the same block of West 8th Avenue in 1921 with his wife and baby son.

There’s some information about Joseph, and how he died, on a Yukon website. “Mr. Brooks came to Skagway in 1897 from Vancouver. He was a merchant and wrangler. His company “J.H. Brooks, Packer and Freight” was headquartered in the St. James Hotel. He is famous for taking 15 mules over the Chilkoot Pass and later took 335 mules over. He claimed that he and a Mr. Turner had first blazed the trail. He returned to Skagway in 1934 to collect information for his book and died on this day, July 13, 1934 on the Chilkoot Trail. He was born about 1867 and was about 67 years old when he died and was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.” We can’t find Mr. Brooks in Vancouver before he went to Yukon, so suspect that may not be accurate, or that he was here only very briefly.

It’s easy to see how street trees in the industrial area have altered the character of the street – there were very few, despite the residential origins of the neighbourhood, in the 1960s. Today the 1967 building is home to 33 Acres Brewing, but many of the existing structures are now getting replaced as new zoning has allowed office space to be added, as long as an industrial component is retained.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-242


Posted 5 February 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Mount Pleasant

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278 Union Street

This little cottage lasted quite a long time on the corner of Barnard (which became Union) and Gore Street. It’s earliest resident was a stonecutter called Patrick Peake. (The first year he moved here, in 1904, he was listed as Peaks, but that was corrected in subsequesnt years). In the later part of the 1900s he was described as a quarryman, and listed as Pat. The 1911 census shows he was 42, born in Ireland and arriving in Canada in 1889. His wife Grace was an American, six years younger, who had moved north in 1890.

The cottage was pretty crowded; from 1901 the couple had a child roughly every two years, so there were five at home. There had been an earlier-born son, shown in the 1901 census, but no longer alive in 1911. That census gives Patrick a totally different birth date (April 1872 rather than December 1869) and Grace’s birth year is unchanged, but the month is shown as March in 1901, and July in 1911, and born in Nova Scotia, not the US. In the 1901 census Patrick is shown as arriving in Canada in 1893, and we know that this detail was more accurately portrayed in the 1911 record, as he was mining in Spallumcheen, Yale in 1891, when he split the difference and showed his birth year as 1870. We also know 1911 was more accurate for Grace, whose death certificate in 1953 shows she was born in Minnesota. The 1921 census shows the family had moved to another (ideally larger) home on East 18th. Patrick’s birthdate was, as in 1911, shown as 1872, but now Grace was four years younger, and there were nine children at home, three sons and six daughters aged from 20 to 1. Patrick was still a stonecutter, and several of the older children were working as well.

Patrick died in 1955, and was then shown as having been born in April 1867. When he and Grace married in Vancouver in June 1898 his birthplace was shown as County Louth in Ireland, and birth year as 1871 (which seems likely to be accurate). Most of Patrick’s siblings birth dates were registered – but for some reason his wasn’t. His mother had Maria in 1864, Thomas in 1865, Mary in 1870, Michael in 1873 John in 1876 and Francis in 1879. Two brothers also came to Vancouver; Thomas died here in 1943 aged 77, single, and John in 1954, married to Annie.

Mr. Peake is mentioned only once in news coverage, in a fairly remarkable manner. The daily World in 1912 reported on “Private Citizens Appear Before Police Commissioners to Complain of Disorderly Houses Far Removed From Restricted District”. The paper noted that “It is important that all who have occasion for complaint should be encouraged to give their information to the authorities, but it is not a nice subject to deal with, and ladies are, as a rule, somewhat diffident about appearing before the commissioners for fear their names will be published in the papers“. Mr. Peake was clearly not too concerned. “Mr. Patrick Peake. of 278 Union St., spoke next, of a house which was being conducted in a disorderly manner, on the east side of Gore avenue, between Prior street and Union street. The house had a sunshade, on which the word “Groceries” was printed, and on another side of the place was the word “Restaurant.” No groceries, however, were sold there, the signs simply being a blind. After describing the class of people who visited the house, Mr. Peake said, he had complained to the officer on the beat, but was informed that nothing could be done. When asked why he had complained to the mayor, Mr. Peake said he had been to the police station, but nothing had been done. Deputy Chief Mulhern said no report had been made to the police about the place, but Mr. Peake retorted, that he could bring in the man who had sent in the report. Chief of Police Chamberlin said the police had been placed in a very bad light, and it was his duty to put them right. If complaints reached the mayor, he would expect to hear from him at once. Again the mayor said he was chief magistrate of the city and if complaints came to him, it was because people had been to the police and their complaints had not been attended to.  The chief’s answer to this was, that if people spoke to a constable on the street and the matter was not reported to him, it was not his fault.” Rufus G Chamberlin was coming to the end of his tenure as the Chief of Police, falling out with Mayor L G Taylor about the continued ‘blind eye’ being turned on the brothels on Alexander Street, and gambling in Chinatown. Charles Mulhern replaced him in 1913.

The cottage stood until 1972, as seen in our picture. It was demolished soon afterwards to make may for the approach ramp to the Dunsmuir Viaduct, which itself is due for demolition and replacement with housing in the next few years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 203-68


Posted 1 February 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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