Helmcken Street – 400 block, north side

This is one of our favourite images of Downtown Vancouver in the Archives collection. Shot over 50 years ago, in 1966, the residential nature of much of the Downtown South area was still very much in evidence, but off in the haze in the distance the headquarters building for BC Electric show that indeed, you are Downtown. Remarkably, three of those houses on Helmcken Street are still there today, and perhaps more remarkably there are now five houses here, (hidden among the dramatically expanded tree cover).

Originally Wellington Brehaut built five identical houses here in 1907. They were probably initially leased rather than sold off, although over time they became freehold dwellings. By 1966 two had been lost, but as part of the condo tower built on Richards Street, two houses from further up the street (1062 and 1080 Richards) were relocated around the corner to complete the row. We looked at the history of those buildings, and the ‘hold-out’ owner of one of them, Linda Rupa, in an earlier post.

Wellington W Brehaut was a contractor who lived in the West End, in a house he shared with the builder of the house, D M Fraser. They were also partners in their contracting business. He was a carpenter from PEI, and seems to done well, from being a lodger in a rooming house in 1901 to owning his own home (still standing) on Nicola Street by 1908. He was married in 1904, to Florence Morrison, who was four years younger, from London, Ontario. Her death was recorded in the newspaper in 1911, and Wellington died in 1916 aged only 45 while in Los Angeles, although he was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. He was obviously a well respected Freemason; the Daily World reported that “An emergency meeting of the Lodge will be held in the Masonic Temple, corner of Seymour and Georgia Streets, on Thursday, May 11 at 2 p.m., for the purpose of conducting the funeral ceremonies of our late Bro. Wellington W. Brehaut”.

Another piece added a fascinating detail to Mr. Brehaut’s relatively short life story: “Some fifteen months ago Mr. Brehaut went to California in the hopes of improving his health, but without permanent results, and his many friends in this city will learn with regret of his decease. The body Is being brought to this city for interment, the funeral, which will be under the auspices of – Cascade Lodge, A. F. & A. M , of which the deceased was a member, being held on Thursday afternoon next. The late Mr. Brehaut was a popular member of the Terminal Club. Some six years ago Mr. Brehaut was the central figure in a sensational hold – up case in the city, he being held up by an armed man, with whom he grappled. His assailant was sentenced to a long term which he is at present serving.”

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-41

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Posted October 15, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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