Granville Street south from West Pender

We’ve seen some of the buildings here, on the eastern side of the 500 block of Granville Street in a post from a few years ago, but looking northwards and in the 1930s. This ‘before’ picture is undated, but we’re pretty certain it was shot in the late 1960s or early 1970s before any street trees had been planted. That’s one of the 1954 Brill buses in BC Hydro livery – so between 1962 and 1973. When the new vertical white lights were added to Granville Street a few years ago, and the surface redesigned and replaced, this short section of street was the only one where the existing street trees were considered worthy of retention, and so a taller, more mature canopy exists here.

On the left is Somervell and Putnam’s 1916 design for the Merchant’s Bank, expanded in 1924 by the Bank of Montreal to Kenneth Guscotte Rea’s designs. More recently, in 2005, Paul Merrick designed its conversion to the Segal School of Business for Simon Fraser University.

Next door, across the lane, is an 1898 building, still standing today. Designed by GW Grant, it was built for W H Leckie and Co and occupied in part by the Imperial Bank, (although that use ended decades ago). William Henry Leckie was born in Toronto in 1874, and moved west in 1896. Although he managed the family business with his brother, Robert, only he was noted in the city’s early biography, although by the early 1900s, R J Leckie and Company also had a successful boot and shoe manufacturing business in Vancouver. Robert had arrived in 1894 to run the Vancouver branch of the business established by their father, John Leckie, who had immigrated to Canada from Scotland. He established a dry goods store in Toronto in 1857 which evolved into fishermen’s supply store, selling oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. The firm began to manufacture its own goods, and the brothers continued that expansion by not only establishing this retail and warehouse building, but also owning a tannery on the Fraser River. Later they built a much bigger factory and warehouse on Water Street.

William Leckie didn’t constrain his activities to footware; by 1913 he was a Director of the Burrard Land and Improvement Co, the Capital Hill Land Co and of the Children’s Hospital.

Next door was a two storey building, completely obscured in the 1970s, and today refaced with a contemporary frontage. Originally it was developed by Hope, Fader and Co in 1898, and designed by W T Dalton.

To the south is a third fifty feet wide building. Today it has a 1909 façade, designed by Parr and Fee for owner Harry Abbott. The building dates back to 1889, when it was designed for Abbott (the Canadian Pacific Railway official in charge of the west coast) by the Fripp Brothers.

While the collection of buildings has retained the same scale for over a century, rumours suggest a development may see a new office tower that would retain two original heritage buildings facades.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-455

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