28 Powell Street

In this 1931 image these were the premises of Henry Darling & Son Ltd. Henry had been in Vancouver from 1891, and his business was founded in 1902. He was born in New Zealand in 1863 (although the 1911 census seems to have inaccurately recorded him as much older). He trained in London, England as a marine engineer, and worked subsequently for a steamship company based in British India. He settled down quickly in Vancouver – a year after his arrival the local newspaper recorded the theft of some valuable ornamental trees from his newly-established garden.

During his early years in Vancouver Henry was appointed Superintendent and Manager of the Union Steamship Company, and also General Manager of the British Yukon Navigation Co. The Union Steamship Co had been founded in 1889 by New Zealander John Darling – Henry’s father – with Captain William Webster. John Darling was a former Director and General Superintendent of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. Both the name of the Canadian company and the colours of the funnels were borrowed from that company, founded by taking over the three tugs already operated by the Burrard Inlet Towing Company.

Henry’s role was to expand the fleet of the Union Steamship Co by adding three new vessels, the Comox, Capilano and Coquitlam. They were built in Glasgow, shipped in pieces to Vancouver, and then assembled and finished at Coal Harbour. The S.S. Comox was built by J. McArthur & Co. at Glasgow, Scotland, and assembled in 1891. She was 101 feet long and 18 feet wide, equipped with a compound steam engine, and was the first steel ship launched in British Columbia. >In 1919, she was owned by the ‘Vancouver Machinery Depot’ for breakup, but a year later she headed south; she was rebuilt and renamed the ‘Alejandro’ for the Mexican coast trade. In 1927, she was owned by the ‘Cal–Mex Line’.

The S. S. Capilano was built in the same year as the Comox, and was slightly larger at 157 registered tons. In the mid-1890s, the Capilano transported stone from quarries on Nelson Island and elsewhere to Victoria, to be used in the construction of the new provincial Legislature buildings. On July 22, 1897, the S.S. Capilano, with a full load of passengers, cattle and horses aboard, became the first steamer from Vancouver to take part in the Klondike gold rush, shipping men and supplies to Dyea and Skagway, Alaska. The ship foundered in the northern Strait of Georgia on October 1, 1915, and today forms the Capilano Shipwreck provincial heritage site. The S.S. Coquitlam, launched in 1892, lasted the longest afloat in BC waters; she was retired in 1923.

In 1892 Henry Darling married Mary, in Glasgow, and she moved with him to Vancouver. They had six children, and lived in the West End. Henry’s business on Powell Street was as a wholesale dealer in paints, oils and varnishes, but when he started out in business on his own he was listed as being at 18 Powell street, and he was a Marine Surveyor and Shipping Broker. By 1906 he had added manufacturer’s agent to his role and was at this address, advertising his paint and varnish business from early 1906, so the building was probably built around 1905. We haven’t been able to identify the architect or builder of the premises.

In 1993 a six storey 25 unit strata building called Powell Lane was completed, designed by Rositch Hemphill & Associates.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives City N5.

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Posted July 30, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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