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

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