Archive for July 2018

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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1128 and 1132 Robson Street

We don’t know much about these small almost certainly speculatively built houses on Robson Street because their construction pre-dates 1900. When they were built they were numbered as 1130 and 1132, and they were constructed before 1898 when T F Watson of H M Customs, and H J Thorne were resident. Mr Watson stayed on, but T C Gray was in 1132 in 1899, and in 1901 George O’Loan, an engineer. At 1130 Alfred McMillan, another engineer, had moved in that year.

We could create a long list of tenants who occupied the houses over the years, (it seems unlikely that the houses were sold every year or two), but the point of interest is how this part of Robson Street stayed residential in character for a surprisingly long time. Even in 1921 only one of the two houses had a commercial use. Charles Pearse and John Ross were listed as living in the properties. Charles was a checker for the CPR, living at 1130, while John was a baker, running his business at 1132 while living on Cardero Street. A decade later 1130 was empty, and 1132 was occupied by C H Knight, a tea and coffee merchant. In 1941 1130 was the West End Dairy & Cake Shop, with Mrs. E Bartlett living upstairs, and 1132 was home to Kyra’s Ladies Wear.

Two years before this 1957 image was taken 1130 was home to Ace Radio & Electric, while Bonita’s Dress Shop was at 1132. Both businesses were still in the same place when the picture was taken. At least we know who designed the redeveloped retail buildings in 1999. W T Leung was architect for a new retail unit that for a while was home to Ghirardelli Chocolates. Today there’s a restaurant upstairs over a nutrition supplement store, with an optician next door.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives Bu P508.63

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Posted July 2, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End