Angelus Hotel – Dunsmuir & Howe se corner

This 1912 hotel was swallowed up in the construction of the Pacific Centre Mall in 1974, so this 1972 image must show it very soon before it was demolished. Sitting on the corner of Dunsmuir and Howe, it was designed by Parr Mackenzie and Day and resembles a number of other hotels from that era in this area of Downtown. When Thomas Fee and John Parr finally parted company in 1912 after designing hundreds of Vancouver buildings, Parr took two new partners and continued working with them for several years, although the economic downtown and then the First World War saw work dry up across the city.

E J Ryan built the $145,000 building, described as ‘apartments/rooms; four-storey mill construction store and rooms building’. W J Bowser and G I Wilson were the developers. They owned several properties, with other buildings on Granville, Seymour and Hastings. They continued to own this property, hiring hired Sidney Eveleigh to supervise various changes to the building in 1921.

Bowser development interests were secondary to his political career. Born in New Brunswick, he was a lawyer, arriving in Vancouver in 1891. He was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1903 as a conservative, becoming attorney-general from 1907 until 1915 when he became premier of British Columbia until 1916. Accusations of corruption saw a divided conservative government replaced by the liberals, but Bowser stayed as leader of the opposition until he lost his seat in 1924.

George Ingram Wilson was also from New Brunswick, and as an early pioneer of the city had made his fortune in the canning industry partnering with Alfred Buttimer and George Dawson in the Brunswick Cannery. He had extensive mining interests as well, one apparently shared in the same consortium with William Bowser in the New Victor Mining Co., ‘Formed to acquire and work the mineral claims known as the “ New Victor,” “ Royal,” and “ Excelsior,” situate on Wild Horse Creek, in the Nelson Mining Division of the West Kootenay Mining District’. Both men lived in the West End, although Bowser moved to Victoria around the time this building was constructed. They had known each other a long time; in 1896 G I Wilson was president, and W J Bowser vice president (for Ward 2) of the liberal conservative association in the city.

The hotel started life as the Ansonia Hotel, run by Mrs. J Lancaster, but two years after it opened in 1914 it was listed as the Angelus hotel, run by Philip Gaovotz. The hotel soon had many long-term residents, while downstairs was what appears to have been a well run bar. The Liquor Board (initially pressured by the Health Officer) applied more stringent requirements to how they were run, but the Angelus was allowed to delay some of the required upgrades. While men could (by invitation) drink on the segregated ladies side of the bar, women weren’t allowed on the men’s side. The ladies side was therefore required to have a men’s lavatory, which the Angelus lacked, but as there were no recorded problems, the inspectors, who noted the lapse in 1948, allowed the situation to remain through to 1954.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-371

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Posted July 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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