Archive for October 2019

1402 Comox Street

We looked at the history of the building on this site in a post we wrote a few years ago. The Broughton Apartments were developed by builder Peter Tardiff (really Pierre Tardif, from Quebec), and designed by Parr and Fee. Completed in 1912, and costing $100,000, they weren’t the first building here. That was this house, (seen above around 1900), which was addressed to Comox although the front door was on Broughton. It was one of the earliest houses in the West End – seen on the left in 1890, according to this picture (when it was on the left  edge of the picture).

It was owned by George Stevens, who was an agent for J Stevens and Sons of Toronto, surgical instrument manufacturers. He can first be seen in the city directory in 1890, although the company history says he was here in 1889. By 1892 he was one of five George Stevens in the city. He was a son of the company founder, James Stevens, who learned instrument making in England, and the company was developed from 1874 when George’s brother Daniel established the Canadian business. They built a new warehouse and office in the 1920s, on Richards Street, and The Stevens Company continues as a family owned distributor of medical equipment today.

The 1891 census failed to find the family, because while George arrived in Canada in 1888, his wife didn’t make the move until 1892. Fortunately we have this supposedly 1895 image, taken in the yard of 1091 Broughton (the alternate address for the house) and a 1901 census record. George and his wife Georgina, who was six years younger, had all seven of their children still at home that year, six of them (four daughters and two sons), born in England, and eight year old Frank who was born in BC. He was born in February 1893, and as that’s undoubtedly him in the middle of the picture, the picture must date from 1894. Frank died in 1980 in Surrey, and from his death certificate we learn that his mother was Georgina Herbert when she married George. In 1901 they had a servant, Alice Holdich, who was also from England, and George’s younger sister, Eleanor was also living with them at the time, although she returned to England soon after.

In 1911 five of the children were still at home, two daughters and three sons, and there were two lodgers as well. The other daughters had got married, and moved away. Son George was manager of a Royal Bank branch at Robson and Granville Street, and his brother Fred was a ledgerkeeper at the Alberni Street branch of the same bank. By then the family had moved out to West 6th Avenue. D B Stevens (George’s brother Daniel) was president of the company, George was vice-president, and the company offices were on Homer Street. George died that year, aged 66, and his obituary identified the location of the business before they moved to Homer as being in the Arcade building, redeveloped as the Dominion Building.

Soon after George’s death the apartment building was completed, and unlike the house which lasted about 20 years, over a century later it’s still standing.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Dist P60, Dist P59 and Dist P39

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Posted October 31, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Thurlow Street – 1000 block, north side

This is the corner of Nelson and Thurlow in 1957. We haven’t been able to identify who developed the three (undoubtedly speculatively built) houses, but we posted the picture because it shows how even long-established parks were once something else. There were in fact four homes, in a row, then a lane. The were numbered as 1025, (off the picture to the right), 1029, 1033 and 1037, and they first appear in 1901, with Sidney M Young living on the left, John Damer, a traveller, in the middle and Joseph Paul, a watchmaker on the right. Only John Damer was still here a year later, supporting our theory that they were rental properties. He wasn’t in the city before moving here, so isn’t in the 1901 census. Mrs Grant Hall moved in on the right, but didn’t stick around, and in 1903 there was another new occupant – and one we do know something about. Bedford Davidson moved in, a builder and sometimes architect, who developed houses, apartments and commercial buildings across the city. He stayed here for a couple of years, and John Damer was still next door, with J M Graham, a secretary in the house on the right.

Mr. Davidson moved here from a variety of eastside addesses, where he was initially inaccurately recorded as Batford Davidson. The census in 1901 got his name right, and had him lodging with Rachel Urquhart, a widow who had a rooming house on East Hastings. We don’t know if Mr Davidson developed the properties – it would have been an ambitious undertaking for a 25 year old from Nova Scotia, but not impossible. (In fact, earlier census records when Bedford was still at home with his parents in Amherst Shore, and then Tidnish, in Nova Scotia, show he was aged 28, and the 1901 census was incorrect). He developed a series of increasingly expensive properties from 1901 to 1903, several on East Hastings and then hiring G W Grant as architect of at least three business blocks on the 500 block of Granville, that he had presumably also bought the sites for. (By 1911 the family had moved to Broughton Street, Bedford, his wife Evangeline, also from Nova Scotia, two daughters and a baby son. Ten years later all the children were still attending school, and there were two more additions to the family. Bedford Davidson died in 1963, aged 91).

In 1911 the house on the left was home to John B Williamson, a merchant, who had lived there for several years. John was from Ontario, and was married to Martha, who was from England (arriving in 1883 as a two year old). They had a baby daughter, Jean, and Gertrude Rothwell, an Ontario-born relative. John was partners in Williamson Jenkins Co, who sold glass and crockery wholesale. In the middle was Frederick F Jones (according to the street directories) and Albert Lloyd, and his wife May, according to the census. Albert had arrived in Canada only three years earlier, and was a cashier, but May was from PEI. On the left the street directory recorded ‘Aurilous J Mangold’. The census had ‘Aurel’, for the 53 year old Frenchman, whose occupation was listed as ‘Book’. He was shown as a steward at the Terminal Club in the street directory, but The Daily World showed him running the Conservative Investment Co. on Pender Street. He offered investors an opportunity to invest in West End rental property. A year later the street directory had Mrs M Mangold as resident (in 1911, 38-year-old Mary Mangold, from England had three children at home, Lillian, 17, Aurel, 12 and Josephine, who was three). In 1913 she had moved to Kerrisdale, and was listed as a widow. Lillian was a stenographer. In 1917 Aurel Mangold (the son) was mentioned in a news story when gave evidence at an inquiry, having  helped lift a car off the body of Mrs Dixon, who was run over and killed by a Ford driven by Mrs. Muriel Johnson, outside the Birks Building. Soon afterwards the family had moved from Vancouver, apparently to New York, where Aurel became an ophthalmologist.

From the early 1950s the City of Vancouver, through the Board of Parks, acquired houses in two blocks to create a new urban park for the West End (which had a growing population, and no inland green space). By the 1970s all the houses on this block had been demolished, and the lane was incorporated into the park. The adjacent block, which was also to be demolished, was spared and became the Mole Hill Housing Co-op. Development funds were used in 2007 to restore and renew the park.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives Bu P508.97

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Posted October 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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West Pender Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

 

This stretch of West Pender still has two buildings today that can be seen in this 1981 image (looking west). The Uniglobe Building (seen in the previous post) is at the far end of the block, and dates back to 1956, (although it’s had a re-skin and looks quite different). It was  designed by J McLaren, who was actually an engineer rather than an architect, and was the headquarters for Macmillan Bloedel for 12 years, until they commissioned Arthur Erickson to design a larger replacement nearby on West Georgia. The Shorehill Building, designed by McCarter and Nairne and Partners, still looks the same, although it’s more hidden today than in 1981. It dates back to 1966; between those buildings the taller Coast Hotel has been added, built in 2010.

Closer to us was a modest two storey building that dated back to 1954. It was developed for Gypsum Lime Canada, but was also the offices of the architects who designed it, Semmens Simpson. For a brief period this partnership designed some of the best modernist international buildings in the city, including the new City Library on Burrard, and a series of West End apartment buildings. Their own offices were designed in the same simple but effective style, with minimal ornamentation. The office was replaced in the late 1990s by a condo and hotel tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng and Wright. There are 39 apartments on the top floors and the Delta by Marriott Pinnacle Hotel on the lower floors of a 36 storey building. When there was a lower building on the site you could see the Harbourfront Hotel – now the Pinnacle Harbourfront. It was once home to one of the city’s three revolving restaurants, but the Empire Landmark was recently demolished and this one is no longer operating. Built in 1975, it was designed by the Waisman Architectural Group. The same architects designed the charcoal painted concrete grid tower to the west, completed in 1968.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W19.13

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West Pender Street – 1100 block, north side (1)

We’re looking east on West Pender, and the building on the left is still standing, although with a new screen of windows. In 1981 it still looked the same as when it was first built, in 1956. It was developed for Macmillan and Bloedel, the fast-growing forestry and pulp business. It was designed in-house by Dominion Construction, who had their structural engineer J McLaren, sign off on the design. Dominion’s president, Charles Bentall, also an engineer, had been in trouble with the AIBC for exactly the same issue, but the company continued to design their own perfectly well-designed buildings (without an accredited architect) for several years.

DA Architects designed the building seen next door today, the new Coast Hotel, opened just in time for the 2010 Olympics. The 1966 Shorehill Building beyond it (designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners) can be seen more clearly in 1981 than it can today but it’s effectively unchanged. While the low buildings beyond from the 1950s have today been replaced with a hotel and office buildings, the United Kingdom Building, another 1950s tower, designed by Douglas Simpson, is still standing on the corner of Granville.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W19.16

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Drake Street – 500 block, north side

These four small cottages were replaced in 1980 by a two storey office building, designed (we think) by James K M Cheng. In 1997 it was converted to a residential facility by Covenant House, for at risk street youth. It started with 12 beds, and in 1997 expanded to 18. It’s due to be replaced soon with a much larger facility, and Covenant House have already completed a new building across the street to ensure continuity of operation, where they have replaced a 1908 building last used by the Immigrants Service Society.

The four cottages pre-date building permit records; numbered as 529 to 545 Drake, they first appeared in the street directory in 1892 as 515 to 527 Drake, (although, confusingly, 517 Drake was located across the lane to the east, which accounted for the need to renumber). These can reasonably be described as laborers cottages; the first residents were John McCarthy, a mariner in 515, George and John Telford, laborers at 519, Rich Vincent at 523 and John Morrison at 529, also listed as laborers. While Mr. McCarthy remained, by 1894 the other three were occupied by Charles Goodwin, (a tinsmith at the nearby CPR workshops) Arthur Sayer, a laborer and Hannah Morris, a widow. It looks like these were rental properties, as 515 was vacant a year later, and Mrs. Goggin and Thomas Dodge (both cooks) and Mrs Morrison (a laundress) had replaced the three residents of 1896, (although we suspect Mrs Morris and Mrs. Morrison are the same person). Thomas Dodge and Mrs. Morrison stayed another year, and Mrs Morrison, now listed as a widow was still here in 1898. Victor Turgeon, a ship’s carpenter lived in 515 that year.

In 1901, when we can discover a little more about some of the residents (as it was census year) Eugene Robinson, a carpenter was in 515. Victor Turgeon had moved to 519, Chong Hee’s laundry was at 523 and Hanna Morrison, widow of John was still at 529. We were reasonably certain we wouldn’t be able to trace Chong Hee – almost no Chinese residents had any information in the census beyond their name, as very few could speak enough English to answer the questions. Victor Turgeon was recorded; he was French, but his age was not listed. Either the cottage was amazingly crowded, or Victor was inaccurately recorded (or had a side job). He was a laborer, and so were many of the 24 lodgers and 2 Chinese cooks listed under his household. As several seem to have been listed in the street directory as living at the Golden Gate hotel nearby, (which would make much more sense) we suspect the census collector made an error on his forms.

Strangely, Hannah Morrison is missing, but Eugene Robinson, aged 41, from Ontario was listed, with his American wife, Alice, and their three children; Ina (17, a milliner), Arthur 9 and Zeeuma who was 5. All three children were born in the US, and the 1911 census tells us they had arrived in 1897 (and the youngest child is recorded as Zele). Hannah Morrison continued to live here until 1905.

Names associated with the houses continued to come and go, and in 1955 (the year before the picture was taken) the residents were Alphonso F Felder on the right in 529, (he was porter with the CPR, and married to Patricia.) William M Wright, another porter,  was next door at 531 and the London Laundry was where the Chinese Laundry had been over 50 years earlier, managed by Ying Mark. Jay M McAdow who was retired was in 545 on the left.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P508.90

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Posted October 17, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Granville Street from the air

The alignment of these aerial shots isn’t quite perfect – although the streets match up almost ideally, we’ve had to tilt the ‘after’ shot to make the streets match. The contemporary shot is on the website of aerial photography company Peak Aerials, taken in siummer 2016, while the before shot was taken ninety years earlier, in 1926 – one of the earliest aerial images available of the city.

There are only a handful of buildings still identifiably the same in both images. Two thirds of the way up, and to the right, the Lightheart Brothers apartment building, today called Brookland Court, is still offering apartments, these days as affordable non-market units. There’s a row of warehouse buildings on the right hand edge of the image which were all built in a few years in the early 20th Century when Canadian Pacific released the land for development. The building on the corner of Helmcken was developed by Leek and Co in 1910.

Along Granville Street there area series of early 1900s hotels and rooming houses, all still standing today and almost unchanged from when they were built. The majority were designed by Parr and Fee, who recycled the design with a side light well or two, and a façade of white glazed bricks and centre pivoted windows. There are several construction cranes showing in 2016, and the towers they were associated with have mostly been completed. There are three or four more already under construction or in the planning stage, including a series of three towers along Hornby Street in the bottom left of the picture, including one 54 storeys tall. A new office building is under construction as part of the same project, across the lane on Burrard Street. In future there will be more change, and more towers, as the intent is to remove the two loop ramps (although not the main offramps) and replace them with an at grade standard junction, creating two large development sites.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Van Sc P68 and Peak Aerials.

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Posted October 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Davie Street – 1100 block, north side

Davie Street has seen a significant change since this 1928 image, when it was basically a row of houses, (with, on this block, one exception, the store at 1135 Davie). Remarkably, one of those houses is still standing today, which was all we had to line up the picture. Today it’s the Ghurka Kitchen restaurant upstairs (a use added in 2005), but as a house it was built around 1900, numbered as 1141 Davie (although soon after it became 1139 which it still is today), and it was a matching pair with 1137, the house to the east. They were the only two houses on this side of the block in 1901, although there were three more to the east, off the edge of the picture. A Davis, an engineer was in 1141 that year, joined by Captain Frank B Turner at 1137, later that year.

Archibald Davis was originally from New Brunswick, was aged 53, and married to Alice, who was 15 years younger, and they had three children. He was an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and he seems to have newly arrived in Vancouver when he moved into the house. He lived here until 1906, and a year later D A Williams of the Woods Hotel moved in.

Captain Turner was aged 41, lived with his wife Nellie, who was ten years younger, and he was captain of a steam boat. He was Irish, and Nellie was German, and they arrived in 1901. Captain Turner had previously been in Oregon, captaining The Wonder, a steamboat on the Columbia River used by the logging industry. He also captained the Bailey Gatzert, ‘the finest sternwheeler on Puget Sound’ when she was launched in 1891. Captain Turner, and his wife seem to have left Vancouver around 1903, and The Daily Oregon published two adjacent notices in 1904, announcing the birth of a daughter, on December 28th, and her death on the same day. In 1906, William Barnard, a jeweller was at 1137, but the occupant in 1904 (possibly tenant, given the turnover), was Irving Young, a clerk.

Alfred Wallace, a carpenter was living on a lot down the street, and a big house was completed in 1902, (1165 Davie was the only double width lot on the block), built by Thomas Hunter (for an inaccurately recorded W Wallace) and costing $3,000 – which was a lot of money tp spend on a house in 1901. Alfred was shown in the 1901 census as a shipbuilder, and had arrived in Canada from England in 1887. In 1891 he moved west and following his father’s profession, starting a small False Creek shipyard in 1894. By 1906 he had moved his business to the North Shore as Wallace Shipyards, and in 1921 as Burrard Drydock. His son Clarence took over the business on his death in 1929, and the Lonsdale yard became one of the largest shipbuilders in the province. The family continued to live on Davie after the shipyard had moved across the Inlet.

Four more houses were added to the block in 1903 – 1143 to 1157 were four almost identical houses, developed by ‘Mr. McGinnis’ at a cost of $8,000 and built by ‘C Mills and Williams’. The clerk who filled in the permit wasn’t too familiar with the builders, as they were actually Mills and Williamson. Charles F Mills lived two blocks from here in the early 1900s. He was born in Nova Scotia and arrived in Vancouver in 1888. It appears he lived and worked at Hastings Mill for a few years, but by 1894 was living in Fairview and had established his business as builder and contractor. By 1911 the Mills family had moved to West Point Grey, with five daughters and two sons at home aged between 3 and 16, his wife Jane and his sister, Margaret. Charles died in 1919. George E Williamson was from Ontario, and started as a carpenter before becoming a contractor. Mills and Williamson must have employed a sizeable workforce; in 1905 they completed 75 different building projects. The partnership lasted for several years, and Mr. Williamson then continued as a contractor on his own, and in 1914 built the new Main Street post office known today as Heritage Hall.

Their employer remains a mystery. John McGinnis was recorded by the census (although not by the street directory), and he was a ship’s carpenter, so is unlikely to have had $8,000 to commission four substantial houses. There was briefly a famer called McGinnis living on Robson Street around 1902, but we know nothing more about him, and he wasn’t shown in 1901. The other two McGinnises in the early 1900s were a moulder and a logger, so equally unlikely developers.

The house that was a store in 1928, 1135 Davie, was built around 1905, and initially Irvin Joyce, who was retired, moved in. He was still living there five years later, which suggests he may have had the house built for him. He was 57 when he moved in, and the 1911 census said he was a retired merchant. His wife Lizzie was twenty years younger, and they had two daughters at home. We can find Irvin in Tyendinaga, Hastings, Ontario in 1871, aged 27, with his Bible Christian family, led by his Irish farmer father, Valentine Joyce. We can’t trace the family before arriving in Vancouver, and they weren’t elsewhere in the city before moving in, but both Lizzie and their teenage daughters were born in Ontario. The Daily World recorded that ‘Irvine’ Joyce died in 1922, having moved to the city in 1904, and the death notice said he had been a contractor. In 1921 Irvin and Elizabeth were shown living on West 12th Avenue, and one daughter was still at home; in that census Arleyo Belden, who that year was described as his step daughter.

It looks as if the addition of the store took place in 1923, when 1135 was shows as vacant. Owner James Blackwood hired Gardiner & Mercer to design $2,500 of alterations to the building. In 1924 Louis Rosenberg was running a cleaning business at 1133 and Mr. Rose was living upstairs at 1135. The cleaners was still in business in 1928, when the picture was taken.

Today to the right is a drugstore, built in 1982 and set back on the lot with parking in front. The retail units beyond the Ghurka Kitchen (which was a rooming house in 1970) were built in the early 1970s. In the foreground is the street patio of Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna, converted from street parking spots.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N266.1

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41 East Hastings Street

We looked at the small 2-storey building developed by C E Robinson in 1909, and now demolished, (almost hidden behind the tree on the left), in an earlier post. Next door was a three storey building that was recently home to ‘United We Can’, the bottle and can recycling business that works with street binners. (We saw this street looking the other way in 1905 in an earlier post).

The three storey building has proved elusive. It included numbers 33 to 49 East Hastings. It first appears around late 1899 or early 1900 as the ‘St Clair Lodging House’, run by Daniel H McDougall. The 1901 census says Dan McDougall was from Ontario, as was his wife, Margaret, and their 15-year-old son, Percy. We can find the family in 1891, where Dan was a merchant in the town of Perth. He first appears in Vancouver in 1900, spelled out as Daniel Howard McDougall, to distinguish him from the Dan McDougall who was a milkman and who had lived in the city for several years. A few years later he was living at 320 E Hastings, and he was there until 1910. Whether he is the retired Daniel H MacDougal who was listed in the street directory at Parker Street in 1911 we can’t be sure, especially as the 1911 census apparently didn’t find him.

The building changed names, and proprietors, on a regular basis – more than almost any other building we’ve looked at. In 1905 this had become the Kootenay Rooming House, run by Frank E Woodside and in 1910 Batchelor’s Rooming House, run by Margaret Kroll. By 1914 it had gone back to being known as the Kootenay Rooms, run by M Brown, and after the war the Glengarry Rooms, run by Mrs Margaret Stewart. The building briefly disappears from the street directory in 1920, following an auction in April 1919 that saw the entire contents of the rooms sold off, including the cookers, heaters, furniture and linoleum flooring.

It reappeared as the Dundee Rooms, run by Miss E Fenton, in 1920, although in 1926 it was run by Mrs E A Rippey. (We don’t know if Miss Elizabeth Fenton married John Rippey and became Mrs Elizabeth Rippey in 1925, but it seems possible). She managed the rooms into the 1930s. By 1935 Ted Kreutz was running the rooms, and when the war started Stan Fox was in charge. By the end of the war Wong Foo was proprietor, in 1949 T H Malahoff was running the building. The Vancouver Sun reported “Thief who raided Dundee Rooms, 41 East Hastings, was successful. Thomas Melahoff reported to police that $200 in cash was stolen from a hiding place in the office”. This wasn’t the only loss; throughout the 1940s there are reports of residents losing money from their room – sometimes as they slept. Some of the tenants were also in court on charges of theft – but stealing from other rooming houses in the area rather than from the building they lived in. (This wasn’t a new situation – there were similar reports when it was the Glengarry Rooms in the 1910s).

These aren’t likely to be all the changes of proprietor – we sampled on a five year basis. In 1955 there was another name change, to the Edmonton Rooms, and another manager;  Q F Wong. BC Assessment indicates that the building dates from 1945, although it had continuity of ownership through that period (with Woo Fong) and no newspaper reports to suggest any sort of change in status – and this 1925 Frank Gowan image also shows the same building here (beside the Interurban tram). It’s possible there was an extensive rebuild to justify the revised date, but the façade stayed the same.

When the photograph on the left was taken this was home to the clothing store of William Dick, who a year later moved to his new store further west. He appears to have owned this building – and much of this block – in the 1910s, carrying out a number of repairs and remodeling exercises.

His store was replaced by ‘The Hub’, another clothing store. The store catered largely to loggers and miners, and Max Freeman, a leader in Vancouver’s Jewish Community, was the firm’s proprietor from  around 1910 (when he was on Carrall Street) until his retirement in 1958, when his son-in-law Morris Saltzman became manager. B.C. historian Cyril Leonoff notes that Freeman “acted as trusted ‘banker’ for the loggers and miners who came to town, leaving their ‘stakes’ in a big safe at the rear of the premises.”

To the east was the Princess Theatre, (later The Lux), initially owned by Italian hotel owner Angelo Calori. Both feature in this Fred Herzog image from 1958.

By the time it closed in the early 2010s the building was known as the Universal Rooms. However, the building was in such a poor state that the 37 SRA-designated rooms on the second and third floors had not been occupied since the mid-1970’s.

It was replaced by Olivia Skye, a mixed tenure building developed by Atira with financial support from BC Housing and The Street to Home Foundation. It has 198 units of rental housing, with a mix of market, subsidized and welfare rate apartments.

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Posted October 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Homer Street – 1100 block (2)

We looked at the other end of this block in a post from a few years ago. This 1981 view shows some of the warehouses constructed on CPR land near their freight yards and roundhouse, in the area known as Yaletown. Many of the buildings have heritage designations these days, although none are used as warehouses or for manufacturing any more. The third building down the street from Helmcken is the Frank Darling warehouse, built in 1913 by Irwin Carver and Co for Frank Darling, an electrical equipment supplier. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects of the $40,000 structure.

The two and three storey buildings closer to us were both designed by the same architects for the same client, although two years apart. The Empress Manufacturing Co commissioned the lower building in 1909, with Grant & Henderson designing the $20,000 structure, built by Smith and Sherburne. Two years later they designed the three storey neighbour that cost $29,000 and was built by Barker, Campbell & Whipple. Yaletown was created because the warehouse district along Water Street in Gastown was full.

Walter Taylor was the founder and managing director of the Empress Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which dealt in imported coffees and local jams and jellies and one of the early successful local food supply companies. He also built a five storey building on Water Street in 1911, (with Edward C Taylor, his son), hiring Grant and Henderson to design that too.

Empress sold their jams and jellies under the Empress label, spices as ‘Seneca’ brand, with a sailing ship on the label, and Beverly brand peanut butter. Walter Taylor had been an early business leader in the city, and the family first appeared in 1890, living at 1006 Nelson street (where they stayed for several years). Walter was initially manager of the Vancouver Fruit Canning Co; a newly established business in 1890. It appears that the business also operated as the B.C. Fruit Canning Co and were based at 1107 Homer Street (across the street from here).

All the Taylor family were born in Ontario; Walter, his wife ‘Elisa’ (on the 1901 census, although she was actually Eliza), son Edward and daughter Ethel. In 1901 their household also had two of Elisa’s sisters living with the Taylors, Louisa and Theresa M Eastwood. Edward was a bookkeeper, and no one else in the household had an occupation shown. Walter was 55, and Elisa was 52. The previous census in 1891 showed Walter aged 44 and his wife was shown a year younger aged 43. Their marriage certificate shows Walter was 29 when he got married in 1872, and Eliza was 24, so it appears that Mr. Taylor felt the need to shave a few years off his age in both census records. (His 1915 burial record in Mountain View Cemetery confirms he was actually born in 1841). They were married in Lloydtown, in York, Ontario, and Mr. Taylor was a merchant in Albion. When Edward was born in 1873 and Ethel in 1876 the family were in Bolton, Peel, Ontario. Two other children born in 1880, and in 1881 (Francis, in Toronto) but they apparently didn’t survive.

Edward, Walter’s son, had joined BC Fruit Canning Co by 1904 as secretary to the business, and he retained that role when the company was established as the Empress Manufacturing Co in 1905. Walter was manager of the BC Fruit Canning Co, and had the same role at the Empress business. In 1914 a biography of William Hunter, president of the Empress business that year claimed he had moved from Ontario and founded the business in 1900, but he wasn’t in the city in the early 1900s, so that seems to be an attempt to overlook the Taylor family role in the company. A 1912 history of the company acknowledges that it was founded by Walter Taylor (with Edward Lindsay) but inaccurately puts that in 1880, (Walter was still an Ontario merchant in the 1881 census). It explained that “the original capital of $20,000 was increased to $100,000 to enable the firm to cope with the business. At that time their manufactures were mainly canned fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, and imported coffees and spices, which were put up in suitable form for the market. Later the firm began to import teas and a few other commodities, but the maximum of development was not reached until 1910, when the business was sold to Messrs. Hunter & Son, and was formed by them into an incorporated company with a capital of $250,000.” So the two Empress buildings were constructed by different owners of the same business.

Unlike so many buildings we look at, this one continued to be occupied by the same company for decades. Empress were still using the building in 1955, although in 1939 the business had been acquired by Safeway Stores. Today, like almost all of Yaletown, the buildings house restaurants and retail spaces.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E12.36

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