700 Bute Street

This 1974 image shows two houses on the 700 block of Bute Street. The more obvious house dated back to 1898, while the one on the edge of the picture (on the corner of Alberni) was a year older. The numbering was initially thouroughly confusing; the house on the left was numbered as 744, and on the right (which should have a higher number) as 740. That would change around 1902, when it became 748.

Both houses were probably built by their initial occupants, who stayed in them for many years. The 1897 house on the left was home to Colonel Thomas H Tracey, the city engineer, while the slightly younger was home to W R Angus, described as a ‘traveller’.

In 1891 Tracy resigned his position as City Engineer of London (the smaller, Ontario version), in order to accept a similar post as City Engineer of Vancouver. As well as overseeing the construction of sewer and water supply systems throughout the city he designed public buildings like the West End School. In 1901 he was shown as aged 52, with his wife Sarah, who was 10 years younger. He was born in Ontario, but she was American. A daughter, S Louise, and a son, Thomas L, were at home with them, as well as Lilian Graves, who was 25, born in India, and unusually, listed by the census taker as ‘friend’.

Colonel Tracy was reported to have been dismissed from his City post in February 1905, possibly because he was already moonlighting, designing sewer systems for several other municipalities. He continued to work privately as a consulting engineer, advising on the design and installation of waterworks systems in Revelstoke, Kamloops, Vernon, Nanaimo, Ladner and other B.C. towns. He later served as an alderman on Vancouver City Council in 1921, and held the post of Chairman of the Civic Water Committee. This portrait was taken while he was a council member. He died on 31 October 1925 and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

William Angus was a little younger than his neighbour; he was 41 in 1901, and his wife Lizzie was 32. He was from Nova Scotia, and she was from New Brunswick. Their 3-year-old daughter was born in Ontario, and William’s brother-in-law, William Matthews lived with the family, as well as a domestic servant, Alice Major, who was from England and only 14 years old. Mr. Angus was variously described as a travelling salesman, and commission agent (which was effectively the same thing). In 1905 he had an office at 336 West Hastings, (which was the De Beck Block), and sold clothing. His employers were the Campbell Manufacturing Co of Montreal, who had a multi storey factory making men’s clothing “in sanitary conditions”.

The 1911 census shows William, Elizabeth and 13-year-old Muriel, Gordon and Stanley (who were eight, and presumably twins), Margaret Adams, their domestic, Irene Matta, his niece and Mary J Howard, a lodger. In 1913 the Daily World announced “Mr. W. R. Angus, 748 Bute street, one of Vancouver’s pioneers, died at the Bute street hospital this morning, after an illness extending over six weeks. The body has been removed to Center & Hanna’s undertaking rooms, and the funeral will be held Thursday afternoon from the family residence. Mr. Angus came to Vancouver thirty years ago, when it was hardly more than a clearing. He continued to live here until his death. He was a man of fifty – four years.” There’s no sign of him in the city before 1897, when he was living on Hornby Street, but he may have been a travelling salesman with only occasional visits to Vancouver. In 1871 he was aged 11, the fourth of Jeremiah and Catherine Angus’s ten children, in Pugwash, Cumberland Nova Scotia, but we haven’t found him in the 1881 or 1891 census records.

The Angus family occupied the same house for 40 years, but in 1938 the newspaper reported the death of “Elizabeth Ann, widow of the late William R. Angus in her 70th year”. During the war, Valerio Bissonnette lived in the Angus home, running it as a rooming house with his wife, Marguerite. In 1950 Cesidio Angelucci, who lived on East 7th, was running 744 as a rooming house, and Mrs. Helga May was running 748 as a rooming house. Miss Ella Stern, who was in charge of the fountain display at Purdy’s Caf√© also lived here. In 1955 Leo and Dorothy Pierron, who also lived elsewhere, ran the rooming house at 744, while Mrs Helgo Gross, a widow ran apartments and rooms at 748, with Mrs. Paluline H Anderson (also a widow) in number 1, and Miss Joyce Carter, a clerk, in number 2.

Today there’s a 1980 office building that had additional retail space added in 2011, home to a large B C Liquor store.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-36

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Posted February 10, 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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