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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