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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