Richards and Robson Streets, south west corner


This row of single storey retail buildings has been here, on the 500 block of Robson Street, according to BC Assessment, since 1938. In fact only the western half of the building dates to 1938, the eastern half was built in 1925. The permit was to ‘Mrs Gagnier’, but we’re not sure who, or where she was. The only Gagnier in the city was Delore Gagnier, who was the foreman at the Coca Cola bottling plant, and who lived near here at 987 Seymour. Peter Tardif built the $4,000 investment of 4 retail units, which housed a real estate business, Crystal Confectionery run by D De Poulos, and the Gray Remedy Co (Manufacturers of Gray’s Balm, “The Wonder Healer” and Other Medicinal and Toilet Preparations” in the first year of operation.

The 1938 permit to R F Allan was for $6,500 built by G Galloway & Sons. It’s possible this was Robert F Allan, a ship designer for the BC fishing fleet and coastal ferry services, as well as the classic ocean-going motor yachts in the 1930s, Meander and Fifer, still operating today (as does the Robert Allan business).

The entire lot with six different businesses trading is only 3,000 square feet. To the south is one of two mysteriously undeveloped surface parking lots; one of the last examples in Downtown these days, and escalating in value as everything around is developed. The Hong Kong owners are said to be considering developing the sites with a project that is said to include a hotel and long-stay apartments.

In the 1981 image Ted Lucich‘s Teddy’s Café was at the corner of Robson and Richards. It opened as Teddy’s Snack Bar and lasted until 1987, when it became Cafe S’il Vous Plait, still with a 1940s diner appearance. The Cafe’s last owner, Kyung Wook Kim, took over in 1989, and closed in 2009. Since then it’s cycled through several different Japanese restaurants. Further down the block at 536 Robson, The Strand Barber Shop opened in 1929 and stayed until 1973. Today it’s the bricks and mortar home of streetfood vendor Japadog. In between “Shoe Renu” can be seen in this 1981 image; today you can chose between a Viet Sub, or Falafel. Where you could get a haircut a decade ago in Storm Salon, today (or at least in more normal times) you can chose between curry or a Japanese Cream Puff from Beard Papa’s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E06.10


Posted April 9, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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