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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