Davie Street – 1200 block, north side

As in another 1928 Davie Street picture, the 1200 block was once a street of houses, but by 1928 several had already been altered to add commercial frontages. As some of the houses were set back quite a way, with front gardens, the stores projected forward to the sidewalk. None of the houses on this block survive today – there’s actually just one property here, addressed as 1150 Jervis, with a residential tower over retail, built in 1970.

Behind the Capitol Grocery and Fruit Market, at 1253 Davie were two houses, built in 1902 by M C Griffith (according to the permit) costing $1,650 and $1,600. Malcolm Griffith, a contractor, lived at 1249 when it was built, as did Arthur Griffith, also a contractor. In 1902 only Arthur was listed, living three blocks away, on Davie (and invariably, and apparently inaccurately, the street directory listed them as Griffiths). That year there were four other Grifffiths in the city, every one of them either a carpenter or contractor.

M C Griffith had acquired a series of lots in this area, and he designed and built several other houses on this block. We’ve looked at the family history in connection to an earlier post that looked at the investment hotel he built on Granville Street in 1911 at a cost of $55,000. His 1902 home on Davie coincided with his marriage to Annie Montgomery, from Peebles in Scotland (which may be why he was temporarily missing in the street directory). Malcolm and his father, Arthur, were from Quebec, and had arrived in the city in the 1890s.

In 1911 the houses were addressed as 1243 and 1249 Davie, occupied by Walter Stark and Henry Stone. Calvin Grey was in 1243 a year later. It looked like Dr Seager might have been the owner of the building in 1915 when the retail unit was built – he paid $300 to H Elphick to add a single storey addition, although no retail use was apparent in subsequent street directories. That year 1243 was occupied by Charles Bell and 1249 was St Mark’s Theological College, associated with Dr. Seagar. Although it shares a name with a later Catholic college at UBC, this was an Anglican training facility. The theological college remained here until 1920 when it merged with Latimer Hall, to become The Anglican Theological College of British Columbia and moved to the Latimer Hall building on Haro Street. In 1921 Milton Clay lived at 1249 Davie, and it was vacant in 1925, and the Capitol Grocery opened a year later, run by Tim Lee, with P Ecker living at the back. In 1928 when the picture was taken it was still T Lee, with G Chan.

On the far left of the picture, Peter Tardiff altered the house at 1263 Davie in 1913 for Philip White, who lived here into the 1920s. We were not sure what he did; the directory doesn’t mention his occupation, and the census entry was impossible to read. However, Philip lived here before the alterations, and earlier directories show him to be a miner. He was obviously a successful one, as he built an investment block on Granville Street in 1905, and another in 1911. Philip was from Quebec, as was his wife, Charlotte, but the 1921 census shows his three daughters and son had all been born in BC.  In the 1928 image the house was occupied by the Toc H (Talbot House), an international Christian movement founded in World War One.

Today the ‘Your Independent Grocer’ store occupies the site of the Capitol Grocer, and the West End Community Policing Office is located where Mr. White’s home once stood.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N266.2

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Posted December 16, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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