East Cordova Street – west from Jackson Avenue

This 1970s shot shows the buildings on the corner of Jackson Avenue, with Oppenheimer Park down the street on the right. The four storey building on the corner dates back to 1911 when it was developed by Frank Vandall. He first appeared in the city directories in 1909, managing the Roseleaf Rooms on Westminster Avenue (Main Street), although he was giving Vancouver as his location in legal filings in 1908. He moved on, and a year later was managing rooms at 143 Dunlevy Avenue. His own building, listed as the Vandall Block, was designed by W F Gardiner a year later, and cost $80,000 to build. According to the permit, Mr Vandall built it himself, but we know that Mr. Gardiner let the contracts to the various specialist sub-trades, so it appears that no overall contractor was hired.

Mr Vandall proved to be elusive, missing earlier census records and not showing up in 1911. In 1895, Frank Vandall, a miner, was living in Revelstoke, and in 1898 he had two partners in a placer mine on French Creek. In 1906 and 1907 there was a Frank Vandall working as agent with William Moody, surveying and marking timber to cut on the BC coast. In 1908 Frank Vandell was a land agent in Vancouver. It’s likely that his absence from the 1911 census was due to his death; a Frank E Vandell died in August 1911 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. In 1912 his widow was recorded in the street directory, and while she was missing from the 1913 directory, was running the Roof Garden Rooms on Jackson in 1914, and for several years after that. Frank was only 45 when he died, and had been born in Ontario.

We think another Frank Ernest Vandall, who was born in March 1911 in Seattle, and died in 1957 in Vancouver, aged 46 was almost certainly Frank and Nellie’s son; His father was also named Frank, and his mother was formerly Nellie Ernestine Bishop. Frank junior was buried in Mountain View with his parents. Nellie had died in Capitol Hill in Seattle in 1943, and was also buried in Mountain View cemetery next to Frank. She had been born in Dublin, and left a sister in Ireland and two more living in England.

Over the years the rooms (which have their entrance on Jackson) were run by a number of different proprietors. The corner store changed too: in 1918 D D Radakovich ran a grocery store, and Nellie E Vandall was running the rooms upstairs. (The building to the south, which occupied the other half of the two lots, and can’t be seen in this image, was run by Japanese proprietor, Sam Takao). In 1922 A H McLean was running the Roof Garden Rooms, and by 1925 Mrs. Marriott. The corner store by then was part of Japantown, run by Shimoda Sugakichi. By 1940 the rooms had become the B C Rooms, run by T Sakamoto, but the Japanese connection was severed as the entire community were moved to internment camps away from the coast. In 1942 Mrs M Mcintosh was running the rooms, and next door were the Jackson Rooms, run by E Karlson. The two rooming houses continued operations for many years, (and are still operating today), although at some point they became under the same ownership as a single legal lot.

The building closer to us, with the bay windows, was developed in 1909, although some part of it had been completed earlier. Mrs. Hannah Peterson added a frame addition that year that she had claimed (on the permit) to have designed herself. She ran a lodging house, but unfortunately for us, had moved out by 1911 when the census was collected, and Frederick Frey had replaced her. She might have been the Swedish Hanna Peterson, who had arrived in 1889. We know nothing about Frederick, because only his name was recorded – no other details were noted, so we don’t know where he came from or how old he was. The rooming house is also now a non-market housing building called The Vivian, run as transitional women’s housing by Raincity.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-349

0890

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