1219 West Georgia Street

We’ve seen several car dealerships that were developed along West Georgia Street in the early part of the 20th century, including Consolidated Motor Company who were located on the other side of the street from here. On the north side the showroom of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, seen in an image that’s undated, but which we’re guessing might be 1918. McLaughlin started manufacturing automobiles in Oshawa in 1907. They had previously been a carriage company, so it wasn’t a dramatic shift. When they were unable to get their own engines designed, they used Buick drive trains, built in Flint, Michigan. McLaughlin became part of General Motors, and car production under the McLaughlin name continued until 1942.

Before this garage was built there were several houses, dating back only a few years, but demolished for this 1912 building, designed by W M Dodd for H W White who spent $30,000 on the new investment. Harry W White was the manager for McLaughlin Motor Cars, so we assume they paid for the development. As well as McLaughlin, the building was home to the Pierce-Arrow Motor Co, a US car manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, from 1901 to 1938.

In 1911 Harry was 63, and from England; his wife, Lydia was from Ontario, and they lived on West Pender Street with three daughters and a son still at home, aged from 14 to 37. Their journey west can be traced in their province of birth; the eldest, Rosa was born in Ontario, but Ethel, Mabel and Percy, the youngest were all born in Manitoba.

McLaughlin moved from here in 1926, to new premises on Burrard Street, where the vehicles were sold by Clark Parsons Buick. Gray Campbell Ltd took over this showroom as a Chrysler dealership. By the mid 1930s A E Stephens Ltd were based here, run by Alfred Stephens, selling used cars. During the war the building became used as the Canadian Government Ordnance Machine Shop. By 1950 Clarke Simpkins auto dealership was here. Clarke Simpkins was Ford of Canada’s vice-president, and he sold their cars here, and repaired them on Seymour Street. He had moved a block to the west by 1955, when BC Garage Supply Ltd ‘auto jobbers’ were using the building.

Today the site is the garden of Venus, a 36 storey residential tower designed by Bingham Hill Architects and completed in 1999.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5178

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Posted November 4, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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