Robson and Seymour streets – se corner

This shows yet another Downtown gas station – another of the Home Gas bars scattered throughout the city, seen here in 1931. The Vancouver Public Library caption says this was the south west corner of Robson and Seymour, but actually (allowing for the fact that the Downtown grid is shifted 45 degrees) it should be the south east corner – 822 Seymour. In 1931 it was operated by Motordrome Ltd, who advertised that they paid cash for used cars, and on their billboard claimed to be The Safest Place to Buy a Used Car. As well as the gas bar, car sales and service they also had an Auto Laundry. In 1932 C D Dayton was manager. Motordrome had moved from West Broadway a year or two earlier, and taken over the Super Service Garage of S L Blackburn, who had offered a similar range of services here from 1924. Before that there were houses here, built in the 1890s.

Here’s a picture of Blackburn’s operation in 1928 taken from an elevated position across Seymour Street. The garage, which at that time sold Imperial Ethyl gasoline, had opened just four years earlier. Sherman Blackburn had previously operated the Vancouver Auto Exchange with A A Johnston three blocks north of here on Seymour. He was aged 33 in 1921 (when he first showed up in the city), and was from Quebec, where his one-year-old-son had also been born. His wife Ivy was 10 years younger, and from England

Motordrome didn’t do well; the early 1930s were not a period where people were buying cars – even pre-owned cars. In 1933 Flack Investments was run by Cyril Flack, born in Manitoba in 1905 and son of Samuel who was from Ontario. We aren’t aware of any connection to the developer of the Flack Block on West Hastings. The company hired Charles Van Norman to design the Blackburn Public Market for the site. S L Blackburn having given up the motoring business managed the new enterprise which had over 40 stalls which vendors could rent to sell poultry, produce etc. The market lasted past 1950, only to be replaced with another gas bar and garage; in 1954 the Robson Motordrome parking and service station, and a year later Sangster’s U-Drive gas station and parking.

We shot our ‘after’ shot several years ago, but nothing has really changed. In 2004 L’Aria was built here, with three commercial floors including a Korean supermarket, and 81 strata apartments above.

Image sources: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2011-010.1883


Posted 8 March 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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