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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