Archive for December 2018

Dunsmuir Street – 300 block, south side

The 1950s Post Office is soon to get a dramatic makeover, with retail uses added along Homer Street and two new office towers added on top. Before the post office was constructed there were houses and commercial buildings on a much lower scale. This 1948 image shows that this part of Downtown hadn’t lost it’s small town roots until the Post Office redevelopment occurred.

Unusually, we haven’t been able to trace a single permit that relates to any of these buildings, because they had all appear to have been built before 1901. The store on the corner had two grocers facing Hamilton Street (off the image to the left) which in that year were run by Beare & Co, and Mrs Agnes Close. In 1901 ‘David Bear’ was shown occupying the unit on the end, which had a window on Dunsmuir as well. Actually he was David Beare, aged 43, who like his 34-year-old wife Sarah, according to the census, was an Irish-born Presbyterian. Their children, Evelyn (12) and Henry (9) had been born in the US, so the family presumably moved north, arriving in 1899.

Next door at 302 John Simeson, a shoemaker was resident in the first cottage, a 44-year old English-born Episcopalian who arrived in Canada in 1892. His wife, Edith, was four years younger and had arrived in Canada five years earlier. The street directory (but not the census) also showed Roy Mills, a labourer, living there. John stood for election to alderman as a labour candidate in the 1906 Council election, but just missed getting elected.

John Gibson, a teamster from Ontario, lived in the next cottage with Sarah, his wife, and Alexander Gibson, a lodger and possibly John’s younger brother. Next door was another teamster, Wilson Knowles living with his wife, Annie, and their children Roy and Violet. They had all been born in Ontario, except Violet who was only a few months old who had been born in BC. They had moved west in 1899, and Annie was only 48 when she died in 1919, when the family had moved to East 2nd Avenue.

A larger house used to stand next to the single storey cottages, although it too was only a single storey, and occupied by Robert L Rice in 1901. He was a tobacconist from Ontario, living with his wife Isabel. The next three two-and-a-half storey houses were home to Mrs Runner, a widow, blacksmith Charles Walker and W Murphy, a tailor. There had once been two more houses beyond those, but they were redeveloped with a modest commercial building by 1948.

In 1948 the store closest to us on the corner was occupied by Terminal Cleaners and Dyers, with an insurance office run by G W Lawrence & Co next door. The four cottages were occupied by Peter D M Newall, who lived with his wife Isabel and was a polisher with Acme Plating & Silver. Next door was John S Anderson, (who was retired), Mrs. Clark, (although Melvin Clark, a seaman also lived there) and Mrs. Pettipiece, a widow.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P407

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Posted December 31, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Dunsmuir Street looking westwards

There are a series of undated and uncaptioned views along Dunsmuir Street in the Vancouver Archives. Here’s one, with the Pacific Centre Mall looking shiny and new, and a lot whiter (and less draped in greenery). Today there’s a walkway across the street to the north block of the mall, which was completed in 1990, so that puts the image back to the late 1980s. Across the street is the Standard Life Building from 1977 which we think was designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners, with today’s 888 Dunsmuir from 1991 beyond it. In the before image a much smaller building was on the site; beyond in both images is Park Place, the rose coloured glazed tower built in 1984.

In the foreground on the right was a tired looking two storey building that we think dated from the 1940s or perhaps 1950s. It had replaced the Tunstall Block, and the 1990 mall addition in turn replaced the later building. Today’s Holt Renfrew department store (on the north west corner of the street) has a new façade featuring slumped glass panels, added in 2007 and designed by Janson Goldstein of New York. Beyond is a 1977 office building at 595 Howe, sometimes referenced as the ‘Good Earth Building’, today hidden behind the office tower of the Pacific Centre north block.

Our earlier post (of Park Place) looking in the opposite direction dates from 1986, and we suspect that’s around when this image was also taken. Over the intervening 30 plus years there’s much more green; street trees, rooftop landscaping, and dedicated bike lane markings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-5107

Posted December 27, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Georgia and Homer Streets looking west

We shot this image about a year ago, and it’s already out of date. The building on the left has already been demolished, soon to be replaced by a new and very unusually shaped office tower. It was 418 West Georgia, and we looked at its history in an earlier post. It was built in 1913, designed by Sharp and Thompson, and was initially a car dealership. From 1917 to early in 1919 it was the Stettler Cigar Factory – described at the time as ‘the largest cigar factory west of the great lakes’. In 1920 it went back to being a car dealership, which continued for many decades. In the 1970s it was, at different times, a restaurant and a gallery (in this 1980s image), before Budget Car Rental took over in the 1990s.

Today there’s a vacant lot to the west, currently parking for car share vehicles, that was also used as a car dealership for many years. Beyond that today is the Telus Garden office tower, recently sold as an investment. It replaced a 1950s parkade, which in turn replaced a 1938 commercial building, which was built where Brandon Autos had a gas station before that – and where the First Congregational Church had originally been built in 1889, designed by William Blackmore.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-832

Posted December 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Cordova and Granville (2)

This view has already changed, and will soon change even more dramatically. In the 1931 Vancouver Public Library image, the newly completed Royal Bank Building towers over the turn of the century single storey retail, located across the street from the Canadian Pacific station. The bank had acquired the site in 1912, paying $725,000 for the site for their new headquarters. It took them until 1929 to demolish the Hadden Building, (built in 1899) and replace it with their art deco skyscraper – or more accurately, half a skyscraper. It was designed by S G Davenport, a Montreal based architect who was the Royal Bank’s staff architect. Although designed to be built as a wedding cake tower, Vancouver still has only just over half a cake as the eastern second phase was never built. There’s a proposal to add a contemporary tower to the east to define the shape, but not the design, of the original tower. This would also allow seismic improvements to the 1920s building.

We looked at the stores in the foreground in two earlier posts, one in 2012, and one a year later. They were built in 1911 and designed for the Allan Brothers (who also built them) by W P White, a Seattle architect who designed a number of Vancouver commissions in the early 1910s. In 1969 they were replaced by a parkade, seen here a little while ago, and now that structure has been demolished to allow construction of a new office tower that has partly been sold as strata office space.

Posted December 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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Hamilton Street – 1200 block

There’s a large warehouse on the northern end of the 1200 block of Hamilton Street (in the middle of our 1981 image) that’s no longer standing. It’s probably the largest building no longer in Yaletown, (lost to a fire) replaced in 2002 by the Opus Hotel.

In 1912 W O’Neil & Co were shown here for the first time. We think this must be a warehouse associated with William O’Neil’s building supply business, based on Seymour Street. Canadian Pacific Railway released the land for development around 1910, and the entire area built up in only a couple of years. While we can identify almost all the permits for the Yaletown warehouse buildings, this location has proved elusive.

The O’Neil firm was founded in Vancouver in 1898,. Among the items they sold was stained glass, initially acting as an agency for the noted Canadian stained and art glass firm of Robert McCausland of Toronto. By 1910 it appears that the company employed artisans in Vancouver, and the company’s 1913 catalogue said “We employ a competent corps of artists and are in a position to contract for and execute anything in the Art Glass line, from simple geometrical lines to the most elaborate memorial and ecclesiastical work. The following pages give just an idea of what we are continually doing, and we have an extensive portfolio of beautiful designs in Leaded Lights to select from, or we can submit designs for special work. Hand painted designs executed and fired in our own Kilns.” William Nelson O’Neil was from Brampton, Ontario, and unlike many of his business colleagues, who were initially in the West End, and later Shaughnessy, he chose to live with his wife and daughter in Fairview.

By 1920 this had become a storage warehouse – Mr. O’Neil was also president of the Western Warehousing Co, who operated the large warehouse, although by the mid 1930s it had become the Christie Brown biscuit warehouse, and by the mid 1940s the Hudson’s Bay Company were using the building as their service department.

Next door, the 3-storey building was developed for Woodward Department Stores Ltd, and designed by Smith and Goodfellow. The $25,000 warehouse and stable was built by McNeil & Campbell. It was later used by the national Furniture Co as their warehouse.

In 1981 there was a vacant site next door; in 1996 Raymond Ching designed a 12 unit condo building called Greenwich Place. It’s not completely clear from the street directory, and there are relatively few early images of this street, but it appears that the residential building might have been the first structure built here.

Next door we can just see the edge of a five storey warehouse that supposedly only cost $20,000 to build, designed by W J Kerr for J & A Phillips, and built by the owners in 1912. Today it’s a strata commercial building with Rodney’s Oyster House downstairs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.20

Posted December 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Still Standing, Yaletown

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Crown Building – West Pender Street

We have looked at the north-west corner of Seymour and Pender twice, seven years ago, and again in 2013. The building on the corner was the Delmonico Hotel, built in 1889 as the Windsor Hotel. It opened in September, described in the news as ‘a new and costly undertaking’. “On Monday next the Windsor Hotel will open for business under the management of Messrs. Brocklesby and Allen, both late of Hotel Vancouver. These gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the business, and propose to run a first – class house. The table will be second to none in the city and the rooms, well furnished and comfortable, will he kept in the best style. The bar will be well stocked with wines, liquors and cigars, the finest that can be supplied, and no pains will be spared to make the Windsor the favorite resort of the permanent and transient public. Its close proximity to the railway station and the steamers is a great point in its favor, and one tired travellers will highly appreciate.” The partnership lasted all of two months; by November Mr. Brocklesby was in sole charge.

The building had been announced in 1888, and the Daily World identified the developer, the enterprising Dr. Whetham. He commissioned N S Hoffar to design another investment property in 1888, but we haven’t found an architect listed for the Windsor. He was a qualified doctor, but had abandoned medicine for real estate development before he arrived in Vancouver in 1887.

Next door to the west was the Crown building. It was six storeys of white glazed brick, with centre-pivoted windows, which was the signature design of Parr and Fee, who designed a series of almost identical buildings on Granville Street; most are still standing today. The Crown was built in 1907, and the Daily World reported the architects, and the cost of the building ($75,000), as well as the developers, Martin & Robertson. They were importers and suppliers of dried foodstuffs, and we looked at their history in connection with their Water Street warehouse, built a few years earlier than the Crown.

Robert Martin was born in 1851 in Ontario and in 1901 lived in Vancouver with his wife Lydia, who was English, with their four children, and their ‘lady’s help’, Caroline Watson, and Jin, the domestic. Arthur Robertson was a Scotsman who was seven years younger than his business partner, and looking after the company’s other warehouse, in Victoria. They had been in business from the city’s earliest days: in 1894 they were advertising in the Daily World as agents for JOHNSTON’S FLUID BEEF – which was claimed ‘Eclipses All Meat Extracts and Home-made Beef Tea’.

Their investment building was occupied in multiple small suites, with a wide range of professional services. Architect J H Bowman had his practice here in 1911. A year later the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker magazine was published from here, and contractor Walter Hepburn had his offices here in the same year. Robert Martin had a number of other commercial investments in the city, including one a block east of here.

When Ernie Reksten took this picture in 1968 the buildings were about to be demolished, to be replaced with a parkade (with retail units on the main floor). It was completed in 1969, and looks like it should pass it’s 50th birthday, although Downtown parkades are becoming valuable redevelopment opportunities, and it seems unlikely that it will last for many more years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.010.

Posted December 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1500 Main Street

The City has hundreds of locations that were once gas stations, although today the remaining service stations are becoming increasingly rare. Here’s one on the corner of Main Street and Terminal Avenue, seen in 1940s. It’s Al Deeming’s Union Oil gas and service station. The leasee was Albert W Deeming, and we wondered if he might be the son of Albert Deeming of North Vancouver, who ran a fruit ranch, but according to his marriage certificate Albert W was the son of Caleb James Deeming. However, the 1891 Census shows both Albert and James Deeming were brothers, and had arrived from England, living in Mountain District (Nanaimo) and working as miners for the New Vancouver Coal Co. In 1911 Albert W was aged six, and his father had become a farmer in Delta.

This gas station first appears in the street directory in 1924, as do the industrial buildings in the background which once housed Neon Products’, the BC Valve Company and Massey Harris’s agricultural implement showroom beyond the gas bar. The building further east dates from 1929. The buildings are still there today, although now they are wholesale and retail warehouse buildings for furniture and floors tiles.

In the 1950s the Terminal Service and gas station was run by L E and Mrs M S Love. There’s a 1980s image in the Archives showing that the gas station was still here when the Skytrain was under construction across the street. By then it was a Gulf gasoline station, with a new canopy. Today it’s the site of the city’s first Temporary Modular Housing, intended to help meet the current homelessness situation. Built in a matter of days, it has 40 modular apartment units that can be demounted and reassembled on another site when redevelopment plans come forward for this part of False Creek Flats, currently owned by the City of Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1734

Posted December 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Gone