Robert Clark – Carrall Street

This 1897 image shows Robert Clark’s Gents Clothing and Furnishings store. The furnishings were the sort men wore, not items around the home. The store was one listed as supplying Klondike clothing, an activity that generally ensured that the supplier became a lot more successful than most of the miners who bought their outfit. Mr. Clark was the subject of a profile in the Daily World on the last day of 1888:

“ROBERT CLARK is a Scotchman. He was born in the bright and prosperous County of Lanarkshire, and is proud of the fact, too. He left auld Scotia, for Canada, in 1871, and remained four years in Manitoba. Thence, in 1875, he came to this Province, which has since been his home. For some time he was engaged in business in Nanaimo and also for six years in Yale. The whole large block, at the corner of Carrall and Oppenheimer Streets, in which the clothing establishment of Gilmore & Clark is located, belongs to them jointly and is a fine property.

The firm is an old and reputed one. Just before the great fire, in 1886, which occurred in Vancouver and swept it for the time being into oblivion, the firm opened a branch business here, of which Mr. Clark had charge. They were “burnt out,” as everybody else was. Still they rose, Phoenix-like, from the flames mightier and stronger than ever. Robert Clark has represented Ward 3 during the years 1887 and 1888, and has now been re-elected for the year 1889, which fact is a sufficient guarantee that his worth is appreciated by the electors of that ward. He is also President of the St. Andrew’s and Caledonian Society; is an able speaker and keen debater; a good all-round business man, and owns property all over the city.”

We outlined Mr. Clark’s biography in an earlier post about this W T Whiteway designed building – built by Robert Clark with his Irish partner, Alexander Gilmore, immediately after their wooden store that was here burned down in the 1886 fire. They had lost a previous store in 1881 in Yale when that town burned down. Robert Clark was a grocer, and then shipwright in Glasgow, before heading to Toronto in 1870 aged 25. He walked to Winnipeg, where he built river steamers. He worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, then in Grand Forks before heading via San Francisco to Victoria in 1875. He built steamers there, and in Alaska, before going into partnership with Alexander Gilmore in 1880, initially in Nanaimo, then Yale, and in early 1886 to Vancouver. Mr. Clark ran the store after 1890 when the partnership was dissolved. He was elected alderman in five different years between 1887 and 1892, and was on the influential Board of Trade. His extensive property interests were valued at a quarter of a million dollars when he died in 1909.

The building was torn down around 1963 and stayed as a parking lot until the mid 1990s when Carrall Station, designed by Kasian Kennedy, a 81 unit condo project with five floors of lofts was completed in 1997.

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Posted April 30, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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