Archive for June 2018

369 Powell Street

Today this is a food processing factory, but when it was built in 1936 it was a department store in the latest art deco style. The architect was T L Kerr, working for the store’s owner T Maikawa, whose name was incorporated into the store’s façade. This 1938 Vancouver Public Library image shows the store shopfront, and while that has been lost, the curved moderne awning is still in place.

Tomekichi Maikawa started the store after making his money fishing around Prince Rupert in the 1920s. He had a lumber business in Japan as well, so asked Kisaku Hayashi to run the store for him as he had to go back and forth too much to Japan. He had first acquired the store here in 1907, and this was a big investment for what was planned to be a chain of similar enterprises – a plan abandoned when war broke out.

The company supplied all the areas where Japanese Canadians were working from mining and lumbering to fishery industries in B.C., and from the Vancouver area to Vancouver Island and as far north as Prince Rupert. One of Tomekichi’s brothers ran the repair garage down the street, and another worked in the store seen here. There’s much more of the family history on the Nikkei voice website.

After the property was confiscated during the war, and the family were shipped off to an internment camp, the property stayed empty. Eventually, in the later 1940s International Plastics moved in, replaced in the early 1950s by Colman Furniture Ltd mfrs. Today Northwest Food Products Ltd make a wide variety of fried and steam-fried foods, including steamed and dried noodles and wonton wraps.



Posted 28 June 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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98 East Pender Street

We looked at the history of this building in an earlier post. In a later incarnation it became the Mandarin Gardens, but by 1920 it was supposedly the home of W K Chop Suey, according to the details of this Vancouver Public Library image. Actually, W K Chop Suey only appeared here in the 1922 street directory, managed by David Lee, so the image may date from after 1920, or it’s possible that the directory compilers were slow to catch the new business. It’s certainly from before 1924 when W K Chop Suey (which occupied the upper floor) had closed. Another restaurant appeared in 1927 at 127 East Pender as the WK Oriental Gardens, with a new company capitalized at $10,000 run by Harold and Wilbert Lim.

David Lee had arrived in Canada in 1911, and had been born in China in 1892, and in 1921 had two roomers living in his home in the 700 block of East Pender. He was listed as a restaurant labourer, so the promotion to manager a year later was a significant step up.

We noted in the earlier post that the $20,000 development was designed by E E Blackmore for Mrs Chance Wong Co, but that we couldn’t trace who that was. The contractor was Edgar Wilson, and we’ve traced another 1919 permit for work on the building that was owned by ‘Mrs Chance Wong Lo’, with the work designed and built by Yuen Wong. The same builder also worked on the adjacent building, which was owned by Lau Yip Wong, with Fong Wong running a jewellery store there. He was also listed as owner of this building when it was repaired in 1920. Despite the local Caucasian architect, the design borrowed from the vernacular Pearl River Delta architecture from Guangdong province that many Vancouver Chinatown buildings display.

The 1921 census helps clarify who the developer probably was. Fong Wong lived at this address (as 92 E Pender) with his wife, Chan Shee. They had both arrived in 1906, and had three sons and a daughter, all born in BC and aged between five and eight. A cousin and four lodgers also lived with them. Fong was a merchant, dealing in jewellery, and we wondered if there was a business reason why his wife was listed as the developer of the building, or whether she was in business in her own right. A 1931 court case clarified that Chansee Fong Wong was an active participant in the management of property in Chinatown. In 1927 she leased 143 East Pender, a second floor premises, to Wong Fon Hong, who operated the International Chop Suey restaurant there. The rent was $18,000 a year, and by mid 1929 the restaurant owed 2 months payments. She hired baliffs to take over the premises, and the case revolved around the question of whether the lessee gave up the property, or should have been allowed to make the late payments and continue in business. In a split decision, the judges ruled that “When giving up the keys at three o’clock in the morning, the lessees said ‘Here are the keys, we cannot carry on’.”

In the early 1950s the building was demolished, and became part of an extended Columbia Street, which until then had stopped at Pender.


Posted 25 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (2)

Here’s the southern end of the western side of the 1000 block of Seymour Street in 1981. We looked at the mid-block and the northern end, and the Penthouse Club, in the previous post. At this end the surface parking lot, (that was originally developed with houses in the early 1900s), was developed again in the early 1990s. Joe Wai designed the New Continental, with 110 units of non-market housing owned by the City of Vancouver. It was constructed in 1991 in accordance with BC Housing Standards of the time, which set out a maximum unit price for each suite and methods of construction. The building is a 15-storey concrete frame structure with a two-storey brick street wall podium for the residential tower which was clad with an Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). By 1998 it was obvious that water was getting into the building, and in 2000 the entire structure was reclad with new insulation and a rainscreen, and replacement roofs at a cost of $2.3m.

On the third floor, the Continental Seniors Centre is a drop in centre that caters to seniors or people over 45 years of age with a disability. There’s a large roof deck over the second floor that’s part of the Senior’s Centre. On the main floor The Gathering Place Community Centre offers programs and services to the Downtown South community. The centre primarily serves vulnerable populations, including people on lower income, people with disabilities, seniors, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people who are homeless. They provide accessible and engaging programs with a focus on food and nutrition, health, education, recreation, arts and culture, and community development. The Gathering Place operates 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm and is open all statutory holidays. The VSB also run an Adult Education Centre within the Gathering Place.

In 1903 there were six identical houses already built across the end of the block, all of them fronting Helmcken Street. By 1912 the rest of the block had filled up with houses fronting onto Seymour. There are no identifiable permits for their construction, so they were probably built between 1905 and 1908 when the building permits have been lost. Some of the homes here had important residents like Thomas A Dunn, foreman at the R C Planing Mill and Magloire DesRosiers who developed a building for his stoves business on East Hastings, but their neighbours were Edward McCarry who was a freight hand on the CPR wharf and Elliott Llloyd, a carpenter.

We’re not sure when the site was cleared, but several addresses had disappeared, suggesting the houses had already been demolished by the mid 1950s.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.16A


Posted 21 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (1)

This image is, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, from around 1926. We place it a few years later, towards the end of 1929 or early in 1930. That’s because there’s a building seen in the picture that’s still standing today. Up to 1928 there were houses pretty much the entire block face, but in 1929 1035 Seymour was vacant, and in 1930 it was home to Bearing Supply House Ltd – seen on the left of the picture. The company’s Vancouver operation had previously been located in the heart of the business district on the 600 block of Howe Street. There was a 1929 permit for 1041 Seymour, to build a $10,000, building for D S McLachlan. Bedford Davidson was the builder, and probably the designer too.

Next door, to the north, are two houses, both dating back to the early 1900s. They’re both standing today, although incorporated into the complex that today is the Penthouse Club. The building to the north of that dates from 1912, although it too had a house as a basis. That year H W Forsyth & Co spent $700 to build “Dwelling/house; one-storey frame warehouse”.  The odd thing is that no such business shows up in the street directory around that period, (or any other records) and the occupant in 1913 was a contractor, Harold Burdett.

Aaron Chapman has chronicled the changing fortunes of the property for the past 77 years. “The Filippone family bought the land the Penthouse sits on in 1941, and began building the building that still exists there today. What originally housed the operations for their trucking and taxi business also found space for their Eagle Time Athletic Club, turning the building into somewhat of a community centre for over 500 local kids, with the Filippones sponsoring boxing, soccer teams, and baseball. The club already had its own boxing star with Jimmy Filippone a two time B.C. Golden Gloves champion. After the Second World War, in 1947 the Filippones began to expand the building and the business into what would eventually become the nightclub.”

So far this block has seen little development, but there are two underutilized sites (including the 1929 building) likely to see development soon. Here’s one of them – the parking lot beyond the club that has remained a vacant surface lot since before 1981. Whether the venerable Penthouse Club itself will ever disappear is less predictable. The Filippone family have apparently rejected countless lucrative offers for the site, and seem content to continue to operate one of the last outposts of a bygone era.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2251 and CVA 779-E03.07A


Posted 18 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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Burrard Motor Hotel

The city has seen the loss in recent years of many older and less expensive hotels. Some have been redeveloped, and some have become used as non-market housing. The Burrard is an exception; a few years ago it was renovated, rebranded, and became a stylish boutique hotel retaining it’s mid-century modern style. It’s no longer inexpensive – you can stay in the Hotel Vancouver for less. It was built in 1956, and designed by Asbjorn Gathe, the recently added partner in Gardiner, Thornton, Gathe and Associates.

One prominent feature of the design is the way the flank wall was designed to incorporate a neon identification sign. That was true in this 1958 postcard when it was the Burrard Motel and in our before shot from 2007, when it was called the Burrard Inn (although the star element of the design was lost at that time), as well as today as the Burrard Hotel. (Note that Burrard Street still had houses along it, even in the late 1950s).

In the decade since the ‘before’ shot was taken a new neighbour has appeared; a 16 storey non-market housing building designed by DYS, copmpleted in 2014 and run by the Kettle Friendship Society with over 140 units targeted at youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The goal is to provide tenants with a stable and safe home environment in which they can thrive.


555 Pacific Street

Crossing Granville Bridge in 1995, it was possible to look over and take this picture of the southern end of Yaletown, with Carlos n’ Bud’s Tex-Mex restaurant operation in a converted 1936 garage. This part of Pacific Street had originally been developed with houses around the turn of the twentieth century – there were four homes here built before 1901. By the 1930s the area was much more commercial, and the new car repair facility (addressed to Seymour Street) was shared by Len Cooper’s Signal Service, selling gas and oil, and Bentley’s Automotive Service Garage, run by William Bentley who lived in West Vancouver. There had been an Imperial Oil gas station across Seymour to the west in the 1920s, but by 1937 it had become the Atlas Tire Depot.

This location remained a garage; from the 1930s until at least the 1960s Hammond Ltd’s garage operated here, with an additional workshop on Pacific Street across the lane to the east. Thomas D Hammond was president, and by the mid 1930s lived in North Vancouver. Tom Hammond had started the Central Garage on Seymour in 1929, moving from the prairies having learned his mechanic skills during the first war. He took over this location a few years later, running both the gas station and the repair garage. In 1949 the station was selling Shell gas. On the next street across, Richards Street, there was a storage warehouse originally built around 1929 for Johnston Storage.

Residential uses gradually returned to this location as plans to increase the residential population Downtown slowly became reality from the early 1990s. Pacific Point, the two white towers, were completed in 1990 and 1992, designed by Eng & Wright. The workshop part of the Hammond Garage was developed by Onni and Amacon as the 501, a 32 storey condo tower, completed in 1999. More recently Onni also developed The Mark, replacing the Bud n’ Carlos property with a 41 storey tower that includes a childcare centre. Just completing on the warehouse site, Onni have developed another tower incorporating a childcare – this one 43 storeys called The Charleson, with a rental podium and condos in the tower. Alongside is another 45 storey tower, designed by Dialog (who also designed The Mark and The Charleson) in this case for Wall Financial, who have decided to rent the units rather than sell them.


Posted 11 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Yaletown

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Florence Court – West Georgia and Bute

Today it’s called the Banff, one of only a few remaining hundred year old apartment buildings in Coal Harbour. Built in 1909 at a cost of $58,000 by Dissette & Dean it was designed by H B Watson for J D Byrne. At the end of the year an extra $17,000 addition was permitted – it’s not clear what that would have consisted of – it could have been an additional floor as construction could have continued uninterrupted, but more likely it was the northern end of the building that wasn’t completed until 1911. In 1920 J W Byrne carried out $500 of repairs to the building.

In 1909 James D Byrne was living in a suite on Granville Street, working as a real estate broker with an office in the Dominion Trust Building. In 1911 he was shown as Irish, aged 53, living with his English wife Florence, (hence the name of the building) and a nurse, Helena Davis, who was Welsh. James had arrived in Canada in 1889, and shows up a lot in 1890s newspapers as he was an Assessor and Collector in the Court House, where he was often the Official Administrator of a deceased resident, a post he resigned in 1899.

He came from a distinguished family; born in County Wicklow. His father represented Count Wexford in the ‘Imperial Parliament’. He attended school in England, and on arrival in Vancouver was partner with C D Rand in his real estate business for five years. He was also  described as being ‘connected with’ the real estate department of Mahon, McFarland & Proctor for many years. His wife was the daughter of the owner of a Yorkshire woolen mill, and the couple moved to Mr. Byrne’s investment when it was completed. He was an active member of the Catholic church, and a Knight of St Columbus. He was the first President of the city’s Children’s Aid Society, a Catholic foundation, although it appears that the couple had no children.

In 1915 he was elected as an alderman – although the City’s website inaccurately records him as James D Byne. One odd item of knowledge we have about Mr. Byrne is that he seems to have enjoyed reading mystery stories – a copy of an 1888 book by John Charles Dent, ‘The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales’, is currently for sale for $500, bearing his signature.

The nurse in the household in 1911 suggested that perhaps Florence was ill; however, when she died in 1919 the newspaper suggested she had moved to Los Angeles for the health of her husband, only two months earlier. Florence was returned to Vancouver for her funeral, and in the 1921 census (when he was apparently recorded as James D Burne) James was listed as a widower. He was shown as having been born in Scotland, which is quite at odds with his biographic notes published a few years earlier. His last appearance in the street directory was in 1929, still listed at apartment 3 of his building. He may have maintained a Los Angeles residence; a James D Byrne died on 27 December 1929 in Los Angeles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-58


Posted 7 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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13 – 23 West Pender Street

These buildings were constructed some time before 1900 (for the building on the right) and in the early 1900s (on the left). This image from the 1910s is pretty much all we have as a record of the early buildings on this part of Pender Street. Tracing them isn’t easy using the street directories, as the numbering here was very odd at the turn of the century. The building with the clear ’13’ was numbered as 47 on the 1901 Insurance Map; in the picture it was Bow On Tong’s store. The doorway in the middle that presumably led upstairs was number 15 in this image, a Chop Suey restaurant, and the store to the left was Kwong Wing’s barber shop. In the next building number 19 was the home of Canadian Scharlin Bros, wholesalers of ‘gloves, underwear, sox, shirts, caps, sweaters, braces and toilet requisites’. At 23 was Yucho Chow’s Photo Supply House.

The combination of businesses helps narrow down the date of the image. In 1919 that was the list of businesses here; (a year earlier there was a tailor occupying the vacant unit). The restaurant would have been Ton Wah Law. In 1922 the whole of Scharlin’s stock was sold off by the Army & Navy store, following their closure. They were presumably called Canadian Scharlin Bros to avoid confusion with a San Francisco business with the same name, although the two were probably connected. German born John Scharlin ran a San Francisco dry goods business with his eldest three sons, Nate, Jacob and Abe. When the Scharlin Brothers business first opened in 1914 in Vancouver, Nathaniel Scharlin was listed as managing director, living initially at the Grosvenor Hotel. In subsequent years he was listed as Nat.

It seems likely that he was the same Nathan Scharlin, of Scharlin Bros, San Francisco, who spent time in 1911 locked up in Hawaii for smuggling 110 tins of opium, for which he was convicted and paid a fine. At the time the brothers were described as running a store and import-export business, and Nathan visited Hawaii to supposedly import a line of men’s clothing. They were arrested again for a rum smuggling operation in 1923, and they received further press attention when Abe Scharlin was kidnapped by the Chicago mob in New York and held for $400,000 ransom in 1927. The police heard about the kidnapping, and kept negotiations going (with the ransom reduced to $20,000), while two of the kidnappers were identified. One was shot in Central Park by a motorcycle policeman, and the other arrested. Abe was released without the ransom being paid a short while later.

Yucho Chow was the most prominent Chinese photographer in the city. He came to Vancouver around 1908, worked as a houseboy, and then as an assistant to a photographer before striking out on his own. He photographed every aspect of Chinatown life, from new born babies, weddings, family groups through to the recently deceased, (to return to China with any money that might be left). His studio moved several times, and he photographed members of the Punjabi and Japanese communities, as well as Chinese Canadians. His equipment case is now in the Museum of Vancouver, and there’s currentl a Chinatown History Project panel next to the Chinese Cultural Centre on West Pender.

Kwong Wo Lung’s grocery had been in the city (at 13 W Pender) for many years; they were one of the businesses that received compensation after the 1908 anti-Asiatic riot. By 1919 they had moved a couple of blocks east, replaced by Bow On Tong Co, a tobacconist.

From the building permits for repairs, it looks as if the western building was owned by BC Electric. A building permit in 1912 show J W Vickers building a $6,000 alteration to the building, listed as owned by BC Electric. Two years later J G Price designed $800 of alterations to the eastern building for Lew, Chong & Company. Other permits were issued to Wong Leong and Long Wing, but it’s impossible to tell who was owner, and who was a tenant carrying out alterations, although it’s clear that these buildings were undoubtedly part of Chinatown. We’re not sure how long the western building lasted. By the 1950s BC Electric had their carpenter’s shop here, but we’ve been unable to trace any images of this block after this picture until the 1970s, when the site was cleared. It’s possible that the carpenter’s shop was in the old buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 789-46


Posted 4 June 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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