Archive for March 2020

213 – 215 East Cordova Street

This 1927 image shows the new premises of the Tairiku Nippo Sha, or Continental Daily News, a Japanese language newspaper that started publication in 1907. There’s a cartouche with the initials ‘TNS’ on the upper part of the building. As Japantown, centered on Powell Street, grew and prospered, the newspaper was able to move into modern accommodation.

Patrick Gunn from Heritage Vancouver tracked down the building permit; it was approved in April 1927, and the business seem to have moved here in August that year. Gardiner & Mercer were the architects of the building with an unusual combination of recessed balcony and a Mission style roof. Moncrieff & Vistaunet built the $28,000 project. When the newspaper moved here it was run by “Mr. Yamasaki” Yasushi Yamazaki, who bought the Nippō in 1908 (after founder Dosa Iida ran into problems related to his attack on Japanese prostitution, and the men who controlled it). Born in Toyama in 1871, Yashudi arrived in B.C. in 1893, working as a logger, fisherman and miner. He was Secretary of the Japanese Fishermen’s Union in Steveston in 1900 and active in the Japanese fishermen’s strike. In the 1901 census he was listed as Y Yamasaki, a lodger, working as a laborer.

He began publishing a newspaper in Seattle in 1902 before returning to publish the Vancouver paper. Far from backing down from challenging the Japaeses sex trade, Yashudi continued the campaign against the prostitution of Japanese women, including publishing their pictures in a book published by the newspaper. He was President of the Canadian-Japanese Association from 1909-17. At the outbreak of war, hoping to get Japanese Canadians greater acceptance, and potentially the vote, he organized the Canadian Japanese Volunteer Corp (WWI). The corps of 200 was rejected as too small, but many members were accepted into the army in Alberta, and fought in Europe as Canadian soldiers. While remaining in charge of the Vancouver newspaper, from 1917-33 he was also editor of a newspaper in Japanese-held Manchuria. In the 1920s he lived on the next block, but although continuing as President of the newspaper, by 1930 he was no longer living in Vancouver. The newspaper was closed down in 1941, and Yasushi Yamazaki died in 1947 in Japan.

It appears from the street directory that the upper floor of the building might have been converted to residential use; in 1947 this address was the Mayfair Hotel Rooms (and next door were cabins, that can also be seen in the 1927 image). In 1955 the Mayfair rooms were still here, with the lower floor shared by ‘Can Govt Agriculture Health of Animals’, and ‘Nifty Noodles’. By 1973 this had become the back of the new $6m Courthouse, designed by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss.



Posted 30 March 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and Powell Streets – south east corner

The building on the corner was constructed in 1903, built by J L McTaggart at the modest cost of $2,500. It no doubt helped that Mr. McTaggart claimed to design and built the structure himself. John L McTaggart was in the hardware business as McTaggart and Moscrop, with a store on Carrall Street. He was already in partnership with Mr. Moscrop in the hardware business by 1898, and he may have been in the city as early as 1890. In 1893 he was shown as aged 31, from Middlesex, Ontario, running a flour and feed store when he married Carrie McArthur from Yale, Michigan, who was 10 years younger. By the 1901 census they had two daughters and a son.

In 1912 he was running a grocery store at the corner of Granville and Robson. He was the victim of impersonation, when George McKay was accused of saying he was Mr McTaggart when telephoning orders for butter and eggs, which he requested to be left on the curb. He then stole them for sale in his own premises, leaving Mr McTaggart with a bill for goods he knew nothing about.

In 1914 he was on the Board of Control of the Exhibition Association, who ran the PNE site, and in 1917 he was considering leasing the failed City Market. The Daily World reported “The city council, sitting as the market and exhibition committe, and Mr. J. L. McTaggart. prospective leasee of the old city market building, on Main street, failed to come to any agreement on the renting of the city’s “white elephant” at the meeting; of that committee yesterday. Mr. McTaggart some time ago offered the city council to take a five year lease of the market for $800 per annum, but the committee to which the question was referred, did not think that was enough rental, especially as Mr. McTaggart wanted the use of the market weigh scales and slips. It was stated by Aid. Kirk that the market slips were already bringing in a total of $140 per month to the city although only a portion of the market building was leased. Ald. Gale moved that the city lease to Mr. McTaggart the unoccupied portion of the market together with the use of the wharf but not the right to charge wharfage for boats landing there. In supporting the motion Ald. Hamilton declared that It was important that the public should not be debarred for the next five years from landing produce in boats at the wharf. Mr. McTaggart declared those terms were not altogether satisfactory.” Council agreed to lease the building, but without a monopoly on the use of the wharf, at a subsequent meeting, although he quickly abandoned running the operation, which attracted very few customers.

Mr. McTaggart was well-known enough to have a cartoon in the local press. On at least two occasions, in 1909 and 1920 he ran (unsuccessfully) as an independent candidate for Alderman. Mr. McTaggart died in 1934, survived by his wife and daughter. He seems to have sold his development here fairly soon after it was built. It was initially leased to U Kawasaki, who sold Japanese goods, and a few years later it was a liquor store. By 1911 G T Sakie owned it, carrying out repairs, and two years later Marshall Smith carried out more repairs.

Next door the Queen’s Hotel opened in 1907, Harry Hopkirk, proprietor. In 1906, Henry Hopkirk ran the Queen’s Hotel at 423 W Cordova, so the new building inherited an existing business. There was work here in 1910, designed Dalton & Eveleigh and built by William O’Dell at a cost of $6,250 for ‘Mr. White’. That may be an error on the part of the clerk: the White Grocery Co Ltd occupied the main floor of the premises in 1911, moving from two blocks further south, but it was actually run by Randolph Fox and David J Turner. We suspect the name may have implied the lack of Asian involvement in the business. In 1910 G B Shepherd ran the Queen’s Hotel, and in 1912 L J Jamieson and L Falk.

In 1915 the property had some minor repair, when ‘J Beaty’ was listed as owner. There’s nobody listed under this name in the city, although there was a J Beattie. The hotel and café and grocery underneath didn’t have any proprietors listed, just their ethnicity. In 1919 U Kakitachi was listed as the owner of the building, carrying out $400 of repairs.

Unlike many of the city’s hotels, the Queen’s Hotel never changed its name. J Lee was running it in 1955, with Lee Lind operating the Queen’s Lunch on the main floor. This image (by Walter E Frost) dates to 1971, just before both buildings were replaced in 1973 with the contemporary brutalist Courthouse, designed by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss. The $6 million building went to Council in 1971, where it was noted that “His Honour District Judge Eckardt spoke in connection with the matter, generally in favour of the report and the City Prosecutor appeared stating he was not in agreement with the proposed concept of the building.” It still operates as the Provincial Courthouse nearly 50 years later.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-369



Posted 26 March 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and Powell Streets – north east corner

We didn’t know who built the buildings on the corner of Main and Powell, seen in this 1941 Vancouver Public Library image until Heritage Vancouver’s Patrick Gunn pulled out a piece in the Daily World from 1905. Samuel Champion of Champion and White acquired the lots from J W Horne for $3,000 and built the stores with rooms above at a cost of $3,500. Samuel K Champion was a builder and developer in partnership as a building materials supplier as Champion & White. A few years earlier he had built a property on East Pender. He was from England, and migrated in his twenties to Ontario. His obituary, in 1930, says he arrived in Vancouver the day after the fire, and went on to own a building supply company with William White. He obtained sand and gravel from Spanish Banks, although with no powered tugs to haul the loads, the first scow ended up at the bottom of False Creek. Census records suggest Mr. Champion was a bachelor for most of his life, but Samuel Kenrick Champion married Olivia Kohler, (a widow, born in Quebec), in 1925. On his marriage certificate Mr. Champion claimed to be 58 years old, which would put his birthdate around 1867. In earlier census records he was shown born in 1861, and his birth certificate shows that he was born in Clifton, in Gloucestershire, in 1855, so he was actually 70 when he married. Sadly, his marriage didn’t last long, as his 1930 death certificate shows he was already a widower.

The garage to the east (on the same legal lots) was developed in 1922 by T. Natahara, built by J B Arthur at a cost of $7,000. Although the 1921 census didn’t seem to find him (or mis-spelled his name) Toshiro Natahara was in Vancouver, living on Alexander Street with his wife Kikie. In 1919 their recently born daughter died soon after her birth. One reason he seems to have produced few records is that more directory entries spell his name as Natsuhara, although the census didn’t spot him with that spelling either.

Between at least 1918 and 1920 T. Natsuhara had a general store a block to the east of here, and K. Natsuhara worked as a clerk. Klyojiro Natsuhara first appears in the 1917 directory; working as a millman. T. Natsuhara is first here in 1918, when he acquired a Maxwell automobile, and in 1923 he was shown managing the Safety Garage, (although just in that year he also managed to have another entry as T. Natahara.)

The corner building was repaired in 1912, when S Ogasa was listed as the owner – although the street directory and the census says he was S Okada, and he was a general merchant, born in Japan and living at the same address with his wife and two sons. There was no building here in 1903, although there were three houses where the garage was later developed.

K Okada’s general store appeared in 1906, and the following year was damaged when The Asiatic Exclusion League  organised a riot, vandalizing Chinatown and Japantown. Later that same year, the Federal Government held an inquiry to look at providing compensation the Asian community, and Mr. Okada was awarded $241 for the damage to his property. Keiji Okada had arrived in Vancouver in 1901, and by 1911 he was aged 43 and living on West 1st Avenue with his wife Hisa (who was 20 years younger) and their 2-year-old son. As well as the store owner he was the manager of Sun Ban, another store, and vice-president of the Japan & Canada Trust & Savings Co Ltd. It’s safe to assume K and S Okada were related, most likely brothers. The store changed hands in tragic circumstances. The Daily World reported “Keiji Okada Manager, of the Sun Ban, Dies by His Own Hand; Shot Himself Twice; No Cause Known.” “One of the best known Japanese in Vancouver, Mr. Keiji Okada, manager of Sun Ban, the Oriental store on Granville street, committed suicide by shooting, early today, his body being found on the mud flats at the foot of Jackson avenue. He leaves a wife and child who are at present on a trip to Japan. According to local Japanese there was no reason for the act and it is believed he took his life while temporarily Insane.”

By the late 1930s through to 1941 when the picture was taken there was a confectionary store on the corner, with three rooms above, one used by a massage practitioner, K Ushijima. A year later the street was almost empty, with the Japanese community forced to leave the coast. Mr. Ushijima’s name still appears in the street directory that year, and Ernie’s Ice Cream (run by E G Jones) had taken over the corner in what must have been a very quiet neighbourhood.


Posted 23 March 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and East Cordova Streets – north east corner

This was a 1910 bank developed by the Bank of Montreal, who hired local architects Honeyman and Curtis to design the $65,000 building, constructed by McDonald & Wilson.  The bank only occupied the premises for twenty years. In 1931 the building was being used by the Scandinavian United Church, but by 1933 the Army & Navy Veterans in Canada had moved here, and used the building through the war. In 1947 it was home to Steffens-Colmer Ltd, photographers, and in 1950 they were sharing with Trans-Canada Films. Don Coltman was manager of the Steffens-Colmer Studio in the early 1940s; the company was founded in 1920. In 1944 he took over the business and operated under the company name Steffens-Colmer Ltd. until 1951 when he renamed it to Don Coltman Photographic Company (Don Coltman photos), moving to new premises. The film company was run by Wally Hamilton, who was from Vernon, but learned movie making in the 1920s and 30s with Vancouver Motion Pictures.

The building was empty in 1952, and briefly used by Jordan Co, public weighers and J Kinney & Co Importers & Exporters. By 1955 it had become home to the Seafarers’ International Union of North America, (“serving unlicensed sailors since 1938”) sharing the space with the Pacific Fishermen and Allied Trades Union. The Seafarers Union were still here in 1971, when our image was shot, and still exist today in a different location.

The site was redeveloped in 1973 with a new Courthouse designed in the brutalist concrete style of the day by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-385


Posted 19 March 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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910 Mainland Street

This 1948 warehouse is still going strong. That’s surprising, as it’s in the heart of the Downton South (realtor’s Yaletown) residential area, and covers an entire city block. Like the other Yaletown warehouse structures, it’s been repurposed as office space. When it was built it was the Hudson’s Bay company warehouse, with limited window openings. In acquiring the Zellers brand in the mid 1970s, local retail entrepreneur Joe Segal also picked up the warehouse, which he once said was valued at $600,000 at the time. The Zellers and Fields stores were soon sold on to Hudson’s Bay, but the Segal’s Kingswood Capital retained the warehouse, initially converting it to a wholesale showroom, called Showmart, seen in these 1981 images. Kingswood developed a new showroom, rebranded as the Fashion Exchange in 2001, and the businesses moved to the False Creek Flats.

In 2002 the newly converted office space was occupied by Crystal Decisions, a Vancouver software developer acquired by Seagate Technology. Kingswood totally updated the office space in 2003 when Omicron designed a new skin for the building, adding an extra floor of windows by diamond drilling through the concrete walls. Crystal Decisions were acquired in 2003 by Business Objects, and they in turn were acquired by German software company SAP in 2008, who continue to operate the building as office space.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 779-E18.13 and CVA 779-E18.14


Posted 16 March 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Robson and Jervis Streets

This fine craftsman house at 1300 Robson Street was built in 1904 by Bedford Davidson, and cost a significant sum for the day – $6,000. It was designed by Honeyman and Curtis for Dr Boyle. He was a medical doctor, but also a property developer. In 1909 he built the Travelers Hotel, which is now called the Metropole Hotel, on Abbot Street. He also developed the Royal Hotel on Granville Street in 1911, and he had Bedford Davidson build four houses in 1903 on Thurlow, and another set of four on Broughton.

Dr Robert Clarke Boyle first moved to Vancouver in 1899 or in 1900 and appears in the 1901 census with his wife, Margaret, and daughter Mildred, who was six. They had an English nurse, and Robert’s sister, also called Margaret was living with them. A decade later, when they were in this house, the family had grown with 10 year old Bidwell, and Edward, who was three. They had both a nurse and a servant. Dr. Boyle and his wife were both shown as born in Ontario, but Mildred was born in Manitoba. If the 1935 obituary noting his sudden death is correct, his wife was in Winnipeg when they met, where Dr. Boyle studied. He initially practiced medicine in Morden, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver.

Unlike some of the city’s property developing physicians, Dr. Boyle had a widely regarded medical practice, based in his home, and became president of the Vancouver Medical Association. The family’s wealth meant that they could afford to educate their children in England. A 1914 newspaper report noted “Mrs. Robert C. Boyle returned to town on Monday from a lengthy stay in England. Her daughter. Miss Mildred Boyle, and her elder son, who have been attending school there, will follow later, arriving here in August. By 1920 Dr. Boyle moved to Richmond, to Sea Island, then back to Vancouver (on Beach Avenue) in the 1930s. His practice was based on Granville Street. In 1931 the newspaper reported “Dr. R. C. Boyle one of the best-known surgeons of Vancouver, was operated on at St. Paul’ Hospital yesterday for , appendicitis, following a hurried trip from Campbell River, where he was holidaying.” Bidwell Boyle married Zaida Dill in 1929, and later moved to the US. He and Zaida were living in Oregon when he died in 1966.

Over the years the house was occupied by several residents – we don’t know if Dr. Boyle sold it, or leased it out. It’s seen here in a 1930 Vancouver Public Library image when Frank J Lyons, a barrister, was living here. A few years later the BC Teacher’s Federation and publishers J C Dent had their offices located here. We’re assuming that the building was retained, rather than redeveloped for offices. A 1969 aerial appears to show little redevelopment of the houses in this location at that period. The Listel Hotel was developed here in 1986, designed by the Buttjes Group, and opening as O’Doul’s Best Western Motor Hotel.


Posted 12 March 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1082 Granville Street

Remarkably, this single storey retail building has remained undeveloped for a century. Today it’s a “Irish” bar, but in 1922 (three years after it was built) it was the showroom for Dodge Brothers motor cars. We saw it in the street context in an earlier post, in 1926, when it had become a store selling stoves and ranges. An earlier building had been erected in 1913, designed by Parr, McKenzie and Day for Union Welding Co, but that only cost $500. This building was designed by W M Dodd and cost $6,300. Their client. was McQueen, Mrs. M. J. (of 1455 Laurier Ave). It’s helpful that we know the home address, as there were two McQueen families living on Laurier Avenue. 1455 Laurier was slightly inaccurate, but 1453 was home to James McQueen, and his wife Mary Jane. When she developed this building she was aged 70, and James was ten years older. Two daughters were living with them, Annie and Kate (who was a teacher at King Edward High School). Mary Jane McQueen had also developed two houses on Granville Street in 1903, while James had carried out several developments, also mostly on Granville Street, but also in the West End.

The entire family had been born in Ontario, and Kate bequeathed some of the family papers to the City Archives, which tell us how James made the family fortunes “File includes a traveller’s descriptive account entitled Trip to Vancouver, by James McQueen (1891); correspondence and other material concerning McQueen’s real estate holdings, including receipts re: building at Bute and Haro Streets (1895); and miscellaneous personal papers.” There’s also a 1970s radio interview where she discusses how the family moved from Ontario to BC in the 1890s to settle her uncle’s estate. The uncle was James Whetham, a doctor who developed several important early Vancouver buildings, so Mary Jane had a lifetime experience in property development.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Trans N20


Posted 9 March 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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1043 West Pender Street

Here’s H J Tucker’s garage on West Pender in 1940 in this Vancouver Public Library image. To the east (on the right) were the Essex Rooms, (described in the permit as a warehouse), and a garage and rooms developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, while to the west there was an office building developed in 1909 (the first development on the block).

There was a building on this site in the early 1900s, but it was where the single storey structure is located. In 1899 it had 3 storeys, and was home to Smith Bros who ran the BC Mattress and Upholstering Co here. The street directory identifies the names of the 10 employees as well as the owners, David and James Smith. In 1905 the company became B C Bedding & Upholstery Co Ltd, with James Smith as president; His brother, David was no longer associated with the company by 1908, when he was running a furniture store on Granville Street. Arthur was born in Michigan, raised in Ontario and Winnipeg, where he became an upholsterer and carper repairer. He arrived in Vancouver in 1889; Smith Brothers was a retail furniture store that made its own upholstery and also operated a carpet-cleaning business.

The newer 2-storey building had been developed before 1911 when John A Crowe had taken over as president of the business; Arthur Smith having branched out (like half the city, it sometimes seems), into real estate. With the collapse of real estate he landed the interesting new job as a member of the provincial government’s film censor board. In 1931 James became the chief censor. There was a 3-storey building at the back of the lot, seen in this 1940 VPL picture (right).

The upholstery business had gone by 1912, when Walker Automobile Co moved in for a year, to be replaced in 1913 by the Terminal Sheet Metal Works Ltd. They carried out alterations in 1914, when the building was owned by Heland Furman & Fulton – although there’s no business of that name, and nobody called Heland in the City. (The only person called Furman was Annie, a waitress who lived two doors to the east of here). The sheet metal works was run by James Oliver and J T McDonald, and the company were here into the 1920s. By 1933 Hemphill’s Engineering School had moved in, run  by C D Mackinnon. The building was vacant in 1935, and a year later Tucker’s Garage moved here. The company had been in business for many tears. In the 1910s they were based two blocks away, and were the B C Distributor for Federal Trucks. In 1901 Heber J Tucker was listed in the census as aged 24, from Newfoundland, living with his wife Mary and working as a bicycle repairer.

The garage didn’t last here too much longer. By 1941 it had become Service Auto Metal Works, run by S Fairley, and in 1944 it was storage for the Empress Dairy. By 1948 it was being used by O’Neil Builder’s Supply business, and they stayed here into the 1950s. Today the Oceanic Plaza office is here, designed by Charles Paine (who also designed the earlier Guinness Tower nearby) and completed in 1975. The developers were British Pacific Building Ltd, the Guinness family company, the purchasers of the adjacent Marine Building.


Posted 5 March 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Nelson Street east from Seymour

We’re on the lane before Seymour Street in 1961, with Seymour Billiards on our left (at 999 Seymour), and 1002 Seymour across the junction on the right. The billiards hall started life as a repair garage in 1926, designed by Swinburne Annandale Kayll for William and Herbert Boultbee. Just beyond is the edge of a sign for a U-Drive parking lot – seen better in 1981 in an earlier post.

We haven’t found the permit for the two storey stucco building on the right, so we don’t know who built it, probably in 1909. It’s first tenant was Edward MacLeod, a shoemaker who lived on Water Street, who was here in 1910, and joined a year later by James Fraser, a grocer, who lived a block away. The last date that’s easy to trace the occupants of buildings is 1955; in that year the California grocery store was here, as it had been since at least the early 1930s, although in the 30’s it was Harry Chapelas running the store, and in 1955 Ramon Chapelas, who had added a coffee bar.

Down the hill on the junction of Homer, on the CPR Reserve lands released for development in 1909, is the warehouse built by Richard Bowman and occupied initially by the Bogardus Wickens & Begg Glass Company. It’s still standing today, part of the true ‘Yaletown’, although these days it’s an office building over Shopper’s Drug Mart. Leading up to it Polygon Homes built three similarly designed residential towers in the 2000s, and there are also residential towers on the north side of the street, but with a retail base.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-19


Posted 2 March 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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