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


Posted October 17, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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