Archive for January 2019

West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s).

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

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835 Beatty Street

In July 1911, the ‘Contracts Record’ publication announced that “Plans have been prepared by Wright, Rushforth & Cahill, 709 Dunsmuir, street, for a 6-storey mill constructed warehouse building to be erected on Beatty street, at a cost of $60,000, by the Anglo-American Warehouse Co. Tenders closed July 8th.” The architects were from San Francisco, but had opened a Vancouver office, and won a few commissions; one for a substantial West End apartment building, and a few houses. This was their first (and as far as we can see) only commercial building in Vancouver. Either the publication was badly advised, or the plans were very quickly altered. That same month the building permit was issued, designed by the same architects, but for a 2-storey brick warehouse costing $30,000 for the Anglo-Canadian Warehouse Company. As the company name was recorded inaccurately, it seems possible that the magazine (with a Winnipeg publisher and a Toronto head office) got the other details wrong as well.

Even reduced in scale, the market conditions of the early 1910s proved problematic, and the building didn’t appear in the street directories until 1914. William Napier Tofft was managing the warehouse business, and living in North Vancouver. He was born in Canterbury, in Kent, in 1878, and was still living in England in 1911, although he was shown as emigrating to Quebec City in 1907. We know he married Janet Thomas, and had at least two daughters, Joyce and Sybil, both of whom later married in California. William died in North Vancouver in 1968, and Janet in 1971. In the 1920s Mr Tofft was a manufacturer’s agent, and was briefly in partnership as Tofft & Peck with Tobias Lane Peck.

Harry Burritt Devine took over at Anglo-Canadian in the mid 1920s. He was Canadian, born in Vancouver in 1893. His father, also Harry, was English, Born in Manchester in 1865, but had arrived in Canada in 1884. He worked in Brandon, Manitoba as a photographer, becoming partners with J.A. Brock and coming to Vancouver together in 1886. The partnership dissolved a year later and Harry continued work as a photograph until 1889. He worked for ten years for the City of Vancouver as an assessment commissioner, but resumed work as a photographer, and was still recorded in that profession in the 1901 census. Some of the city’s most memorable images were taken by Mr. Devine, including one showing City Council holding a meeting in front of a tent “City Hall” and the ‘Real estate office in big tree’. He ran a successful real estate and insurance business in Vancouver, and died in 1938. In the 1920s both father and son lived near Deer Lake in Burnaby. H B Devine married Annie, from Liverpool, in 1920, and continued to run Anglo-Canadian until the mid 1930s. He stayed living in Burnaby, moving on to represent Ensign Products. His wife died in 1951, and when Harry himself died in 1973, in Langley, he had remarried to Dorothy.

Anglo-Canadian was known not just for the storage warehouse, but also for the cartage business, operating some of the city’s largest trucks and able to transport large items, like steel girders.

The trucks, and the company’s annual staff outing and picnic (seen on the right) were both recorded in photographs taken in 1925 and held by the City Archives.

By the late 1930s the building was occupied by a manufacturers agent, General Foods, and Coast Wholesale Grocers. A decade later Kraft Foods were using the entire warehouse, and in 1955 Pioneer Envelopes were here. By 1985 when our main image was taken there was a Design studio upstairs, a hairdresser, and Omni Glass, specializing in stained glass. Corporate Expositions Group were the most prominent tenant. Today there’s a law office upstairs, a gymnastics studio, a pet store and a ticket agency. It’s likely that a future development will add further office floors over the existing building.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 790-1839 and CVA 99-1311

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Posted January 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Credit Foncier – West Hastings Street

This elegant office tower was built in 1913, at the tail end of a wave of new office buildings that saw the Downtown office area expand westwards from the area where the city had been founded. Costed at $350,000 the building permit (and the heritage plaque on the building) suggests it was designed by H L Stevens and Co for Credit Foncier Franco Canadian. The architects were from the US, based in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, and were known there for their hotel designs. They established an office in Vancouver around 1911, and designed several buildings, mostly offices, in the next two years as the city’s economy boomed. The Vancouver office employed a structural engineer as well as architect J Glenn Day, with Theo F Moorhead as the resident partner. However, the Contracts Record magazine in 1913 clarified that they were the contracting architects, and the design was by Barott Blackader & Webster, of Montreal.

A later entry in 1913 noted “This building is of reinforced concrete construction and the exterior will be finished with cut stone and terra cotta surmounted by a copper cornice. In the interior the floors will all be finished with rock maple. Marble wainscotting and terrazzo floors will be placed in the corridors. All the offices with the exception of those to be occupied by the Credit Foncier will be finished in oak. Mahogany will be used in finishing the quarters of the Credit Foncier. The Durham system of plumbing will be. installed throughout the entire building. Three passenger elevators will be at the service of the tenants. One of these elevators will be geared to carry 5,000 pounds weight. The plans for this building were prepared by H. L. Stevens & Company, Vancouver, in co-operation with Messrs. Barrott, Blackader & Webster, architects, of Montreal. Construction work is being carried on by H. L. Stevens & Company.” Construction had reached the 2nd floor by August 1913, had topped out in this December image, and the building was completed and occupied by May 1914.

Credit Foncier was a European funded mortgage lender. Headquartered in Quebec, the Annual Meeting took place in Paris as most of the company shares were in the hands of French, Swiss and Dutch shareholders. Founded in 1880, in 1979 a Moncton lawyer and Montreal investor tried to take control of the business, only to be thwarted by the Province of Quebec, who instead permitted the sale of the business to the Montreal City and District Savings Bank. The Corporation was finally dissolved in 1995, but fortunately the building lives on as office suites, now overshadowed by the Jameson House condo, office and retail tower completed in 2011. Our Vancouver Public Library image shows the building in 1927.

Image source: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives M-14-85

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Alexander Street – unit block, north side

We have seen a number of the buildings on this block in earlier posts, but not all of them. The one on the left of our 1996 image is the oldest on the block. The owners, Lowtide Properties, would have you believe it dates back to 1896. In fact it dates to 1900, when owner Thomas Dunn moved his ship’s chandlery business here to a rectangular brick building he commissioned, designed by N S Hoffar. It was three storeys over a basement, with the top floor having huge arched windows. Dunn operated the building for only a very short time, until 1902. In 1903 hardware dealers Wood, Vallance & Leggett were based here, having bought out Thomas Dunn’s chandlery, with Dunn continuing in the hardware business in premises a short distance away on Water Street. They also took over his Cordova Street premises (in the building he developed with Jonathan Miller).

This building was sold to Boyd, Burns and Company Ltd., dealers in engineering and mill supplies, who moved here in 1904. They added a new warehouse in 1907, hiring Parr and Fee a year before to design a new 26 feet wide building to the east costing $60,000, angled differently to line up with the rest of Alexander Street. They then sold their company to Crane Co, a Chicago based business in 1908. Crane retained the plumbing interests, initially based here, but sold the ship’s chandlery part of the business to a newly formed company, Simson-Balkwill Co. Ltd. Ship Chandlery and Engineering Supplies. Boyd ran that company from the new eastern half of the building, and built a bigger Powell Street warehouse in 1911. They were replaced by H W Petrie’s machinery company.

By 1914 the building was vacant, and the older half was still empty in 1916, although the newer half saw Vancouver Scale & Butchers Supply Co move in, and the situation prevailed to the end of the Great War. By 1920 both buildings were occupied, although the tenants were not as prestigious as in the early years. The Canadian Pacific Junk Co were in 5 Alexander, and Fujita & Co in 7 Alexander. They were importers and exporters, with Y Uchida managing. They occupied the building for several years, while there was consistent turnover of tenants in the older building, including the British Wire Rope Co, anf Gibsons Ltd who were “Manufacturers and Wholesale Distributors of Modern Logging  Equipment, Wire Ropes, Welded Chains, Donkey Engines, Logging Blocks, Oil Burning Equipment, Mill Supplies, iron, steel and “Gorilla” Axes. They had moved out, leaving the building empty again in 1926, and Alexander Murray & Co moved in to the younger building, dealing in roofing and flooring materials. They were still there in 1930, and a number of other businesses had moved into the older building including Canadian Western Cordage. A decade later all the businesses in 1 Alexander had changed, but Alexander Murray still operated from 7 Alexander, and by 1950 they had expanded to use space in the older building, joined by Aero Surplus who sold radio supplies and a firm of mechanical engineers.

Next door, in our 1996 image, the Alexander apartments are under construction, with the adjacent Alexis apartments completed a year earlier. The Alexander incorporates the two storey façade of the building built for the B.C. Market Company, approved in 1906 to cost $25,000. Thanks to Patrick Gunn we now know this was designed by Alexander Maxwell Muir, a Victoria architect. As far as we know this is the only significant building he designed in Vancouver.

In October The Daily World announced a slight delay in construction under the heading ‘Dr. Underhill’s Very Latest Problem’ “I do not see what we can do with these Indians,” said. Medical Health Officer Underhill, this morning. “I have been down to see the encampment on the site of the proposed building of the B. C. Market company, next to the Boyd-Burns building. These Indians have just come from hop picking and on their way home to the vicinity of Port Rupert and Port Harvey. They have money to spend for supplies for the winter and it is only fair that local merchants should get the benefit. Still at the same time their encampment, where they are, is very bad, from many standpoints. It is a physical and moral menace. But where can I send them? The Indians have been in the habit of camping along the foreshore after the canning and hop picking seasons for many years I have been urging the finding of a suitable place for them to camp for some time and the police have also had something to say about the matter. The police have urged, and wisely, too, that the encampment should not be put anywhere where it could not he easily supervised.” This 1898 picture shows that First Nations had been camping on the beach beyond the tracks at Alexander Street for many years.

In 1908 the builders, Smith & Sherborne, had to go to court to get final payment for the building’s construction. The building was last occupied by the Vancouver Supply Company, before both buildings were offered for sale in the mid 1980s. The Alexis has an earlier 4-storey façade of a 1907 building first occupied by first by Knowler and McCauley, candy distributors. That was designed for Alderman Jonathan Rogers – a prolific developer – and cost $12,000, although we don’t know who he hired to design it. In the 1930s all three buildings were used by the Supply Company, a wholesale grocery business. Two buildings we’ve already looked at can also be seen; the Captain French apartments can be seen just tucked in behind the flatiron of the Hotel Europe.

Historic image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA IN N12

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Posted January 21, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Powell Street – 800 block, north side (2)

We saw both these buildings in earlier posts. The smaller three storey building that’s still standing today (to the west of the larger building) was developed by former CPR stores manager Richard Bowman in 1906. The adjacent larger building came five years later, again developed by Mr. Bowman. He occupied the upper floors as a storage warehouse, and leased the main and basement stores to a variety of tenants over the years. His son, Oscar took over the business, and commissioned another warehouse on East Hastings in the early 1920s, (although we’re fairly certain it was never built). From 1950 Bowman Storage also occupied premises across the street from this building.

In 1952 there was a significant fire that was captured in this Archives image. We’re guessing that the extensive rebuild needed after the fire was when the windows were bricked up. It’s surprising that there was anything remaining to rebuild; the Vancouver Sun reported that “Vancouver’s most expensive fire in two years raged out of control for six hours and 31 minutes in the heart of a waterfront industrial area Sunday causing $500,000 damage to a four-storey warehouse and surrounding buildings“.  The paper reported that at its height 375 firemen were fighting the fire, aided by the fireboat poring water onto the building from the harbour. “At one point firemen were forced to chop holes in the brick walls of the storage building to release water which had risen to window-sill depth on the second floor“. The newspaper reported the fire in great detail; “A dense pall of smoke hung over the entire downtown area Sunday. , Loss was mostly household furniture stored in the building. It was covered by insurance. Several hundred people had goods stored in the building.” “Efforts to raise ladders on five aerial trucks were hampered by trolley and electric wires at the scene.”

Although reported as a total loss, the building seen in the 1985 image appears to be the exact same as the original. It was eventually demolished some years after this picture was taken. After the site stood vacant for many years it was redeveloped in 2018 with a new storage warehouse, this one designed by Christopher Boyzic.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0877 and CVA 447-171

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Posted January 17, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Powell Street – 800 block, north side (1)

 

This 1918 image shows Richard Bowman’s storage business warehouse. The smaller building to the west was also developed by Mr. Bowman some years earlier, but this larger building was first approved in 1909, to cost $30,000, designed, built and owned by Mr. Bowman. He built a further $3,900 addition in 1911 (perhaps at the back, on the lane, when we think the whole building was completed).

The main and basement floors were leased to a number of businesses. In the 1918 image there were two paint companies, bookending Copp Stoves, who sold heaters, ranges and furnaces. To the west was Sherwin Williams, a US based paint company founded in Cleveland in 1866. Farquar and Gill, had warehouse space with an entrance in the lane on the basement floor. They advertised as the ‘North of Scotland Color Works’, and were based in Aberdeen. Starting as painters and glaziers in 1818, the founders created their own line of paints, (the first to be supplied ready-mixed) and expanded throughout Britain and across the Commonwealth. Farquhar and Gill’s Colour Works operated until 1972.

On the main floor the last unit, 831 Powell, was shared by Artistic Fire Places and Morrison Steel and Wire Co, the successor to the BC Wire and Nail Co. Harry Duker had the rights to the flank wall, with painted advertisements for Shelly’s 4X Bread, and Black Watch chewing tobacco – “A Man’s Chew”.

Mr. Bowman ran his own fleet of removing trucks, and as this 1918 image shows, if needed, the load extended some distance outside the vehicle.

More recently the site was vacant for many years, but was redeveloped in 2018 with a new storage warehouse, designed by Christopher Boyzic.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-185 and CVA 99-5382

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Posted January 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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821 Powell Street

Remarkably, these three storey buildings have survived almost unchanged for over 100 years. On the 1912 insurance map they’re shown as the warehouse of ‘Crane & Co’. In 1913 there was an $8,000 permit to alter the 4-storey warehouse for owner A E Young, to be designed and built by Kennett & Tinney Co. A E Young was shown in the street directory as a broker in 1912, and was identified as A Emslie Young a year later. He was Scottish, (from Elgin) and married in Scotland in 1915. He may have returned to Vancouver as Alex E Young, secretary of the newly created Seaton Coal Co Ltd, (formerly the Grand Trunk B.C. Coal Co, with a mine on the Bulkley River) was living on the north shore in 1916. In 1918 A E Young was secretary-treasurer of H J Gardiner & Co Ltd, manufacturers agents, with premises in this building, and he still owned the building in 1920, when this image was taken.

The building had first appeared in street directories in 1906, when it was listed as ‘C Gardener, warehouse’.  Mr. Gardener has been entirely elusive – he appears in the city a year earlier, and had apparently left by 1908, so we have been unable to discover what he did in the warehouse. From the water connection permit, dug out by Patrick Gunn, we know that the developer was Richard Bowman. We looked at his history in connection with a 1909 warehouse he developed in Yaletown, on Homer Street. He went on to build an even larger warehouse a couple of years later, on Beatty Street and another adjacent to this building. He had worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, running their stores, and went on to build a series of storage warehouses, but as far as we can see this building was an investment, rather than a part of his storage operation. We don’t know who he hired to design the building – if anybody; he claimed to design and build a similarly designed warehouse.

In 1908 it appears that P Burns & Co were using the warehouse. (the numbering moved around on the block for a few years). A year later ‘Crane and Co’ were listed occupying the warehouse upstairs. We’re pretty certain this was a minor mislabeling of Crane Co, a Chicago based steam, mill, and plumber’s supplies company whose earlier premises were on the corner of Alexander and Carrall. In 1908 Crane bought Boyd, Burns and Co who occupied another Powell Street warehouse. In 1911 they built a much larger warehouse, and moved to Beatty Street, and by 1920 their warehouse had moved to Yaletown.

On the main floor Edward Blackwell, a manufacturers agent for Railway, Machinery and Logging Supplies was in 821, Mr. Blackwell had previously been based in the Temple Building on West Pender, and a few years later moved again to Alexander Street. 823 was occupied (but anonymously), and the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co were in 825. The biscuit company were based in Stratford, Ontario. In 1907 Mooney’s advertisement claimed they were ‘the fastest growing business in the Dominion’, and had added a fleet of their own rail cars to ship their ‘Perfection Cream Soda’ biscuits around the country. By 1914 they were manufacturing in British Columbia, and were based in on Homer Street, having bought rival Smith’s Biscuits, but by 1916 they were in receivership.

In 1912 Pacific Builders Supply Co had replaced Mr. Blackwell, and occupied two thirds of the building (including the upper floors), and they stayed until 1915, and their part of the building was vacant a year later. Snowden C C Oils had moved into 825 that year, and they can be seen in the middle part of the building at 823 in our 1920 picture. They are flanked by two rice importers, Asahi & Co, rice millers in 821, and S Lowrie, rice merchant in 825 (although for some reason the street directory shows that unit as vacant from 1918 to the early 1920s). By 1925 821 was vacant, the North West Sack Co were in 823 and Macdonald & Wilson were in 825. Five years later the sack company were still here, 825 was empty, and 821 had ‘The Radioland’ as tenants, along with the Vancouver Plating & Manufacturing Co and the Vancouver Fire Screen Manufacturing company.

By the end of the Second World War the sack company still occupied these premises; at 821 and 823. In 825 the intriguingly named National Waste Manufacturing were tenants. The two companies still operated here in 1955, joined by Blair White & O’Keefe, Importers. Today, after recent renovations, the building houses office space above, and a lingerie manufacturer on the main floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N44.

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Posted January 10, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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