Archive for May 2020

Nicola Street north at Robson

This image is already out of date, because the building on the right in our ‘after’ shot has just been demolished. It’s the end of the Empire Landmark Hotel; now a big hole in the ground as two new condo and rental buildings replace it. This 1958 image shows a house where the hotel would be built, and another across Robson Street. We know who built that one, and the owner. It cost $3,500 in 1904 when J J Dissette built it for A Ferguson. This was Andrew Ferguson, a mining promoter according to the street directory. He retained that employment for many years, moving from here in the mid 1910s to 1 Fir Street. He was in partnership with Adolphus Williams, developing the ‘Union Jack Fraction’, ‘Corasand’, ‘Great Fox’ and “Emmadale” in the Lillooet Mining District in 1913. In 1916 they developed the ‘Sunset’, ‘East Pacific’ and ‘Clifton’ claims. A history of the mine tells us that in 1911 Peter and Andrew Ferguson, Arthur Noel, Adolphus Williams and Frank Holten bought the Bralorne mine from Fred Kinder for $26,000. Subsequently Noel and Holten sold their shares to the others and, in 1915, Pioneer Gold Mines Limited was incorporated. Between 1914-17 the partners built a small mill and power plant and produced about, $135,000 in bullion. In 1921 a Vancouver syndicate headed by A H Wallbridge and A E Bull bought controlling interest; within two years they, too, after investing a further $50,000 suspended operations.

In 1932 an almost destitute Andrew Ferguson, who, with his brother Peter and others had bought the Pioneer sued Pioneer Gold Mines. He charged that, “From January 1921 to July 1924, the defendants, being in full control fraudulently conspired to refrain from mining and producing gold so as to bankrupt the company.” Pioneer Gold Mines, which had sold out in 1928 for $1 1/2 Million, had never paid him the agreed upon asking price of $50,000, he said. Ferguson, after losing the first suit, carried his case to the Appeal Court of British Columbia, which ruled that the defendants were guilty of a deliberate breach of faith. However, because Ferguson had not sought to set aside the 1924 sale, the defendants were not held liable . The Privy Council in London subsequently dismissed the suit on the technicality that Ferguson was not the proper party to bring the action, but allowed a new trial. A settlement, details of which were never revealed, was finally reached in 1937, while the latest action was before the British Columbia courts.

An unnamed lawyer who became involved in the case told the Vancouver Province that Ferguson gained little from his legal battling. “When I knew him during the case, he was a little man, meek and mild. The life had been squeezed out of him. He was not bitter, though there had been a battle and he hadn’t won it. It was the 1924 option and sale to the new company that squeezed out the original shareholders.” Ferguson became a recluse in a tiny upstairs suite in Kerrisdale, and died at the age of 81. In the summer of 1934, midway through his fight in the courts, it was reported that the Pioneer Mine had yielded well over $1 million dollars in profits in a six-month period.

On the right, the large house at 800 Nicola has eluded our search for a developer or architect – it’s too early. The first resident was Charles Stimson, who probably developed the building around 1900. He owned a wharf at the foot of Abbott Street, and in 1901 was aged 59, living with his wife Linda and their Chinese cook, Wong Ching. The Stimsons were from Quebec, and an 1896 profile of Mr. Stimson said he had arrived five years earlier from Montreal. He started as a commission agent, representing a number of eastern businesses in the fast-growing Vancouver. They included the St Lawrence Starch Company, the Montreal Rolling Mills (steel manufacturers) and the Bell Telephone Company of Montreal. for the first couple of years in the city Mr. Stimson had rooms in the Hotel Vancouver, before moving to an address on Robson Street, and then here around 1900. In Montreal Charles had been a leather merchant., and in 1891 his wife was recorded as Mary. 1906 is the last directory that Charles is included; his death (aged 64) was in May, and the death notice tells us he was from Compton, Quebec. For three years from 1907 Mrs M Stimson was shown living here, ‘widow of Charles’. The 1908 ‘Elite Directory’ tells us that Mrs. Charles Stimson received visitors on Tuesdays. In 1911 Alexander McRae had moved in; the manager of Fraser River Lumber Company.

The 34 storey Empire Landmark opened in 1974 as The Sheraton Landmark, and across Robson a condo building called The Colonnade was completed in 1983. The Georgian Tower beyond was completed in 1955, three years before this picture was taken.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P508.47



Posted 28 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1900 block West Georgia Street – north side

This image required a double-check that we were in the right spot for the ‘after’ image. Today there’s a park; Devonian Harbour Park; on the north side of Georgia, looking out over Burrard Inlet. We knew there had been earlier industry closer to Stanley Park, but hadn’t appreciated how the wall of commercial buildings totally blocked the view as recently as 1964.

On the corner is the Parkway Inn, which looks to have been developed in the late 1920s or 1930s. There was initially a house here developed by Miss Moorehouse in 1910. Next door, one of the 2-storey buildings may have dated back to 1909. J B Mathers of Baker & Mathers built stores and a dwelling house here. James B Mathers was a broker, from Ontario, and also developed a Mount Pleasant apartment building. To the east C D Smith was owner in 1913 when he built a frame stable. A year earlier William Turner built a 2-storey frame boat building. That could be the pitched roof just showing. The picture doesn’t really show the scale of the buildings here, which all stretched back a long way towards the water on reclaimed land.

The earliest development here dated back to the 1860s when it was settled by several Hawaiian families and consequently was known as Kanaka Ranch. They grew fruit and vegetables as well as fished and hunted to sustain their small community. They also sold coke, which they made from the local coal, to Hastings Mill, located near Gastown, where the men worked. The children trekked daily along a shore path to school at the Mill.

Further down the street were a series of buildings constructed over a number of years by the Hoffar Motor Boat Co. Named after Henry and James Hoffar (often called Jimmie), the boatyard here built over 20 wooden motor yachts, workboats and fishing vessels between 1911 and 1925. The brothers were the sons of noted Vancouver architect N S Hoffar. Henry Stonestreet Hoffar was born in Vancouver in 1888 and James Blaine Hoffar in 1890. The first buildings were down the street, constructed in 1909, and more were added over the next decade, expanding westwards. In 1907 Henry was working in a saw and planning mill, and James was still at school, but a year later they were both listed as boat builders. Their father died in the winter of 1907, and the brothers moved from Westminster Avenue with their mother to Robson Street. The Hoffar Motor Boat Co appeared that year with two other partners, C E Kendall and George E Lewis.

The Hoffar brothers built their first seaplane, the H-1, in 1914, using plans found in a magazine. James learned to fly it by trial and error, and in 1917 the Department of Lands commissioned a plane to support their forestry survey work. This 1917 image identifies the pilot as ‘Hoffman’, but it’s the Hoffar brothers plane.

A test flight in 1918 saw the plane crash land on the roof of a Bute Street home; the plane was destroyed; the house damaged, but the pilot survived with minor injuries. The Department dropped the idea of aerial surveying.

The company merged with the neighboring Beeching Boat Yard to become Hoffar-Beeching in 1925, continuing to build a variety of workboats. In 1929 the Seattle based Boeing Aircraft Co bought the company, building both boats and seaplanes here – it was Boeing’s first seaplane factory and test site. Henry Hoffar became General manager of the Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Ltd, and then president, and James ran a marine engine company, Hoffar’s Ltd and later Vancouver Shipyards.

Henry married Lillian Olsen who was from South Shields in  England in 1907, and they had a son, Norman, in 1911. Henry died in 1978 aged 89. James married Lovina Pethick born in Orillia, Simcoe, Ontario in 1916, and they had a daughter in 1918. James died in 1954, aged 63, and Lovina in 1980, aged 86.

In the early 1960s a New York developer acquired the land and in 1964, the year our picture was taken, sold it to a local development consortium who unveiled a plan for 15 apartment towers here. The project went nowhere, and in 1971 the Four Seasons hotel group bought the site and proposed a 3 tower hotel complex. The NPA of the day supported the idea against much opposition, including a squat by about 70 people who established ‘All Seasons Park, and lived here for nearly a year. Council announced a plebiscite to decide the future of the project, but set a 60% bar for rejection, so 51% voting against it still allowed it to proceed. In 1972 the federal government decided not to sell the water rights here, shutting the project down. Council bought the land in 1973, and it took over a decade to establish the park. The philanthropy of the Devonian Institute of Alberta, (and hence the name, Devonian Harbour Park), allowed the park to be completed in 1984.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-358 and Air P71


Posted 25 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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758 East Georgia Street

This heritage home was built in around 1908, and is seen here in an Archives shot from around 1985. The first resident in 1909 was George Skinner who was Scottish, and listed as a mariner. He had previously built a home nearby on Prior Street in 1902. This house was built by J M Reed, according to the Building Permit and water connection, and we’re guessing that was John Reid, who was a builder of houses over many years from the early 1900s.

George Skinner arrived in Canada in 1892 when he was around 24 years old. His wife Isabella Mcleman was also Scottish, and arrived in the same year when she was 16. They married in 1893. In 1901 they were living on Prior Street, with two children, and George was listed as a fisherman, but the census said he was a canneryman. From around 1901, for a short time, he was manager of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston.

In 1911 he was here with his wife, and now 3 children, listed only by their initials: WG, RI and KB. William had been born in 1894, their daughter (known as Isabella, but we assume she was christened with a name starting with the letter R) in 1897, and a second son in 1903. A third son, Hugh was a late arrival, born around 1918, the final year the family were in this house. In 1919 Arthur Lindquist was here, replaced a year later by J H Yuen, and in the mid 1920s Samuel Plastino, who was a fruiterer, but would soon own the Shaldon Hotel, and later develop a block on East Hastings at Heatley. Sam was born in 1886 and arrived in Vancouver in 1920, selling confectionary. We’re pretty certain he came from Washington, where a Sam Plastino had a short crime spree before ending up in State Penitentiary for several years.

Here, records show Sam had 145 pints of U.B.C. Beer, and 60 of Cascade Beer (both brewed in Washington) confiscated in April 1925 (after BC’s prohibition had ended, but when the Liquor Act controlled who could sell alcohol. Sam had a hotel, but no licence). In September of the same year Sam lost another 35 bottles of beer, and a bottle of Lemon Hart Rum. In 1928 he sued mayor Louis D Taylor for what he considered to be a slanderous statement made by the mayor in a Police Commission meeting relating to the operation of the police. During hearings into police corruption Plastino admitted attempting to bribe ‘the dry squad’, his hotel having been raided 40 times in four years. He successfully appealed one $500 fine. He claimed to have sent whisky to the mayor (along with notorious brothel owner Joe Celona), but the mayor denied ever having received any gifts, or having spent any time with Celona, as Plastino claimed. He made no friends with City Authorities by claiming to have arranged bribes for both the City’s prosecutor and head of the dry squad in other cases.

Assuming it’s the same Sam Plastino (and there seem to be no others) he had a string of convictions in the US in a very few years. He was charged with forcing an underage girl (who was 17) to go with him to a hotel room in 1908. He was accused of threatening her with a revolver, and his bail was raised to $5,000 as a lower earlier bail was thought too low, and he had plans to evade the charges. At the time he was in Spokane, and a fruit dealer. A year earlier he had been jailed for 33 days for immorality for living with a 16-year-old. In 1908 he was arrested for an attack on an imbecile, and in 1911 for assault on a 17 year old, and for illegally selling liquor. He was arrested again for assault of a 16 year old in San Francisco (who claimed he had promised to marry her) and finally that year for violation of the white slave law in Tacoma – the charge that sent him to jail. He may have returned to Italy before coming to Vancouver – a Sam Plastino faced deportation from the US in the 1910s, but we haven’t found the details in that case.

Later in Vancouver, in 1940 he was accused, with John Kogos, of assaulting young girls, although the case seems to have been dropped – but it confirms our theory that he’s the same Sam Plastino from Spokane. He died in Vancouver in December 1963.

By 1930 Antonio Culos had bought the house, the proprietor of the Fior D’Italia Café, and lived here over 20 years. Peter Culos was living here in 1951 when he was on the board of The American Marketing Association. The house was owned by You War Jung in 1955 – three years later Wally Jung got his name in the newspaper because he suffered a bruised head, and visited the ER. This was an era when a lucky junior reporter was assigned to writing down every visitor, and the nature of their injury.

We lose sight of the Skinner family for many years, but in 1927 (when he was living on Kitchener Street), Captain Skinner was said to have sailed the Chris Moller to Belgium, by way of the Panama Canal and Newfoundland. Launched in 1917 in Olympia, Washington, as a lumber schooner, she ended up in China in 1924. Her new owner, Archie McGillis, was a well-known alcohol import and exporter (during US prohibition, naturally). Although rumoured to have carried cocaine, heroine and Chinamen during the 1920s, nothing was directly proven until 1926 when she set off with 17,779 cases of liquor from Vancouver, calling at Victoria for another 3,700 cases before heading to deliver (her papers said) in San Blas Mexico. She was held by customs officers, suspicious of a destination that had no port. The liquor had originated in Great Britain, and sailed right past San Blas en route to the Vancouver warehouse where it was held in bond, avoiding taxes. It was suggested that rather than return to Mexico, it was likely that the cargo would have ended up in San Francisco or Los Angeles. It was seized, (with some loss overboard in the meantime) but the ship was allowed to sail. She was next loaded with lumber in Ladysmith, then sailed, with George Skinner in the crew, to Europe, with the expectation of collecting a cargo of liquor to return. Unable to pay the dock fees in Belgium, the ship was seized, and eventually broken up in Belgium.

In early 1940 the family make a dramatic reappearance. Captain Skinner and his wife were living at Bridgeport, in Richmond, and his son Hugh in Eburne. In December 1939 Captain Skinner was skippering a fishpacker towing a scow off Vancouver Island, the Great Northern V, owned by Francis Millerd Co of Vancouver. It was the crew’s first trip for the owner, and the voyage went wrong when the rudder broke off the unpopulated coast of Vancouver Island. The ship drifted for three days, crashing in a gale onto rocks off Lawn Point. The engineer was drowned, but the skipper and his son made it onto the shore, but both were injured in the process. They struggled for a couple of days, then obeying his father’s entreaties,

Hugh set off to try to get help, leaving his stricken father. It took him four days before he was spotted by Don Lawson, a pilot with Ginger Coote Airways. Hugh Skinner was injured; once rescued by boat two toes had to be amputated on one foot. The Port Alice Provincial Police started a search along the shore whenever the gales and fog allowed a boat to be launched, and over two weeks later they found George Skinner, still propped against an uprooted spruce tree where his son had left him, alive despite having eaten nothing for 22 days. He had been able to drink a little water using a tin that Hugh had salvaged, and had a thin blanket also pulled from the wreck. He was carried to the shore, and recovered in Port Alice Hospital before returning to a huge welcome in Richmond, and a delighted wife who had thought herself a widow for several weeks. Hugh Skinner married in December 1940. George died before Isabella, we think in 1945. She was 83 when she died in January 1963.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0725


Posted 21 May 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Granville Island from above

This 1950 image shows Granville Island crammed with industrial businesses. It had once been a sandbar, used by the Squamish natives to catch fish while they occupied their nearby winter settlement of Snauq. They had a fish weir, built of twisted vine maple, that led flounders and smelts into a fish trap. As development of the new city forced them off their traditional lands, and the forest was cut down, various attempts were made to acquire and develop on the sandbars, none successful. A lumber and planing mill was established on the muddy foreshore, next to the bridge that had been piled across the Creek in 1889. By 1903 the mill’s footprint had been extended, with the insurance map identifying ‘land made of slabs and sawdust’, but the sandbar remained undeveloped. By 1912 the mill was larger, operated as the Rat Portage Lumber Co, with a new bridge alongside the first, and the Hanbury Lumber Company’s mill to the east, on the southern shore. They leased moorings from Canadian Pacific in the creek, where miles of log booms were tethered, awaiting processing in the mill.

In 1913 everything changed with the creation of the Vancouver Harbour Commission. Given control over all tidal waters, they set about creating solid land to expand industrial operations. Hanbury’s lost the water rights in front of their mill; the Federal Government announced that CPR had never had the rights in the first place. CPR’s foreshore rights wouldn’t be settled until 1928. In the meantime the Harbour Commission started piling a bulkhead around the sandbars, and building a rail track and a road from the south shore. They raised $300,000 from the sale of bonds that paid 5% interest, and hired Pacific Dredging to deepen the channel and pile the fill inside the bulkhead. With a brief stop while wartime priorities interupted, by 1916 a million cubic yards of mud had been sucked from the creek, and ‘Industrial Island’ had been built at a cost of $342,000.

Tenants soon moved in; Wallace Shipyards followed Vulcan Ironworks, with BC Equipment Ltd first to build a corrugated tin repair and assembly shop on the island’s north-west corner. Leases were for 21 years, ranging from $500 to $1,500 per acre. There were two miles of rail tracks, and all services; water, gas and electricity. Businesses fabricated wire ropes; built band saws; assembled steel chains. Transport businesses occupied huge warehouses. By 1930 there were 1,200 workers on the island. By 1936 the National Harbours Board were running the island, and arguing that as tenants of a federal agency, the businesses stopped paying taxes to the city. Only an appeal in the House or Lords in London reinstated the revenue, several years later. Business boomed during the war, with demand for the ropes, chains and other products coming from the expanded ship-building operations up and down False Creek.

By 1950, when the photo was taken, business was still strong, but the creek had become run down and lined with semi-derelict buildings. Alderman Jack Price proposed that, rather than rebuilding the ageing Georgia Viaducts, and crumbling Cambie and Granville bridges, the entire creek should be filled in. The CPRs William Van Horne had first suggested the idea decades earlier. The 1950 campaign, supported by mayor Fred Hume, was derailed because a new Granville Bridge was already well advanced in planning. The new alignment can be seen in the picture; the piers were constructed through the existing buildings in some places. A further study shut the idea down completely; the engineering, compensation for lost riparian rights, and new infrastructure would have cost $50m, and created land worth $9m.

By the mid 1960s many of the businesses had closed, and an arsonist had destroyed several of the buildings. Demand for the remaining businesses that supported the lumber mills disappeared as those too burned down, and were not rebuilt. The plans to transform the island into a different kind of place were started in the early 1970s, as the remainder of South False Creek started redevelopment. It took until 1978 for the unique mix of new uses, retained and repurposed buildings, and shared street space to become an adopted plan. Designed by Hotson Bakker, the Island has gradually changed over time, but continues under federal ownership to offer locally owned markets, restaurants, arts enterprises and spaces for craft manufacturing seen in this 2018 image.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 216-39 and Trish Jewison, Global BC helicopter on twitter.


Posted 18 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, False Creek

East Georgia Street – 300 block, north side

We took a while to confirm that this is the correct place to take this picture. It required us using aerial photographs, as today the 300 block of East Georgia is in the middle of the MacLean Park housing development. (It doesn’t help that most of the Archives images of the area are inaccurately labelled ‘McLean Park’). The name comes from the city’s first mayor, Malcolm MacLean.

In 1947, UBC Professor Leonard Marsh started looking at ‘urban renewal’ in Vancouver and in 1950 published “Rebuilding A Neighbourhood; Report on a Demonstration Slum-Clearance and Urban Rehabilitation Project in a Key Central Area in Vancouver“. The neighbouhood was undoubtedly poor, “There are cases of 20 people sharing a toilet, and many instances of children having to play in the streets around pool halls and beer parlours because they have no yards.” From 1959 the plans to redevelop the Strathcona neighbourhood were in place, and the first new housing was built on top of the only park in the area; MacLean Park. A new park was developed a couple of years later, when the residents could be offered new rental homes in the new housing.

The new housing was a mix of row-houses and high-rise blocks, and the initial phase at the western end included four blocks, three with homes and businesses, and one the park. East Georgia Street disappeared for two blocks, including the 300 block, one of the last to be redeveloped. Seen here in 1966, the businesses had already closed down, including the Moon Glow Cabaret, owned by railway porter Daddy Clark, and for a while home to a mixed-race R&B band featuring Tommy Chong on guitar, ‘The Calgary Shades’ – seen in this Rob Frith collection poster published in the Vancouver Sun. They were renamed as Little Daddy & The Bachelors, before becoming Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, signing in 1965 to Motown’s Gordy Records.

Seen here just before demolition in 1966, the 3-storey building was approved for development by Rogers & McKay in 1911, but only appeared for the first time in the 1914 street directory as The Edinburgh Rooms. Fred Weiner, a butcher occupied the store downstairs. The developers were both carpenters, so they quite probably designed the building, which would have been a wooden frame with a brick façade on East Georgia. They developed at least eight buildings, one on Keefer Street costing twice the $15,000 this building was said to cost. Rogers was probably William H Rogers, listed as a builder in the street directory. In 1911 there was a contractor, originally from PEI, called William Rogers, living in the West End with his wife Daisy and four lodgers. However, the more likely candidate is William Henry Rogers, originally from England, and in 1911 living on Harris Street, near here. He lived with his wife Lily, their son, Eddie, who had been born in the US, and nephew Albert, who was a carpenter. The Rogers family moved back to the US in 1916, and Henry died in Seattle in 1943. There were five carpenters called McKay, and no references we can find successfully identifies which one partnered with Mr. Rogers.

The two buildings to the east were both developed by Campbell and Grill, who were sheet metal workers, and occupied the building on completion. The hired Campbell & Bennett to design the building, and are recorded as building it themselves, although they hired Rogers & McKay to build another property a block away from here. The earliest work here we can identify was in 1909, and the right-hand block was built in 1911. There were hundreds of Campbells in Vancouver in the early 1900s, but fortunately their partnership was recorded so we know it was John A Campbell who was partners with Albert Grill. John Campbell lived on East Cordova. None of the many John Campbell’s in the 1911 census seem to be the developer. If there are too many John Campbells, there was only one person called Grill – and the 1911 census missed him. Fortunately the 1921 census identified him, with his wife Catherine and children Edith and Charles. In a caption that the Vancouver Sun probably wouldn’t publish today, Edith, who was four, was one of 3,000 children entered for the ‘Prettiest Child’ contest and was pictured as “Chubby Girlie Poses Prettily”. In 1921 Albert was 38, and from Ontario, but Catherine, who was six years younger, was Scottish. That year saw the partnership of Grill Sheet Metal Works dissolved, with Albert’s partner, Isaac Kidd, leaving him as sole proprietor of his business.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-335


Posted 14 May 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Stark’s Glasgow House – Carrall Street

We’ve seen three other buildings that were home to Stark’s Glasgow House; a business that expanded over 20 years into smarter and larger premises. Here’s the initial Vancouver store, a modest Carrall Street address. The Archives image says this is the second Cordova Street store in 1892, but we think that’s inaccurate. Comparing with Robert Clark’s gentlemen’s clothing store, it shows an identical unit in the same Carrall Street building photographed in 1897, and that date is good for Stark’s at this address too – the Cordova Street address would be the ‘Enlarged and Remodeled’ premises a year later.

James Stark sold ‘dry goods’ The display shows bolts of cloth and fringed throws. The window says they also sell gloves & hosiery, and the door promises ‘standard patterns’. An 1892 advertisement for his new store said “Ladies looking for nice cool washing dresses should see the assortment of prints, cashmerettes, sateens, yama cloths, ginghams, zephyrs, etc., at Stark’s Glasgow House, 226 Carrall street, facing Cordova.”

The store was about to move just over a block to West Cordova, to the Callister Block, so there was a sale offering ‘big bargains’ on the stock. A few years later the store moved again to a former drugstore, slightly further west on Cordova at Cambie. That store was well on its way to a full departmental store (finally achieved a few years later on West Hastings), with a large millinery department that could be reached by elevator.

Robert and his wife and five children aged from 7 to 18 arrived in Vancouver in 1892 when he was 45. It’s not entirely clear why he chose the name ‘Glasgow House’ as James was born in Dundee. He married Julia Leck, who was also from Scotland, in 1871 in Toronto. In 1901 they was living at 1027 Robson Street with all five children. The business offered both dry goods and millinery and two sons worked with their father, joined by the youngest son William (always known as Billy) in 1903. James Stark died in 1918.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA SGN 1075


Posted 11 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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520 West Cordova Street

This is a ‘blink and you miss it’ photograph. There’s just one year that the company appears in a street directory to confirm this location – 1892. The image is labelled as 1891, and assuming that’s correct it was probably towards the end of the year. The Directory lists the business as “The Jno Doty Enging co, Tor. That’s the John Doty Engine Co of Toronto – manufacturers of (among other equipment), marine engines. The manager was O P St John, George W Roland was the porter and W C Ditmars the book-keeper. Mr. Ditmars was standing in the middle of the doorway. The building looks like it was on stilts, but the appearance is because of the street levelling that took place in the first few years of the city, in part to make it easier to operate the electric streetcars. Initially the wooden sidewalks were built level, and buildings were constructed to meet them. Later the streets were filled in, or lowered as needed, to match.

The building appears to have been developed in late 1888. It’s shown on the 1889 insurance map, but there’s an 1888 image showing the site as still undeveloped. The John Doty Engine Co was a somewhat inaccurate name. Founded in 1881 by a Niagara county, New York native, born in 1822, the former machinist’s business manufactured almost any type of machinery. In 1889 the business occupied a huge new plant at the foot of Bathurst Street in Toronto. Two years later John Doty and Sons started building ships, including a fleet of steam powered ferry boats, lit by electric lights, described by the Toronto Telegram as “universally considered the finest ferry steamers to be found between Hudson’s Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.” With his sons, Doty ran and operated the Toronto Harbour ferries for about five years, also owning ‘Doty’s Island Theatre’, opened in 1886. Over-extended financially, In late 1892, the Doty Engine Works and shipyard were sold to its major creditors George and John Bertram, and Doty ‘retired’ and moved to Goderich. Presumably the new owners were unimpressed with the idea of a Vancouver outpost.

The main floor of the building stayed vacant for several years, but by 1898 the Toronto Type Foundry had moved in. The company sold printing presses and other equipment to printers. They weren’t here for long either; by 1901 Hardie and Thompson had moved in. They were ‘Marine and General Consulting Mechanical Engineers’. They in turn were replaced in a few years by a manufacturer’s agent, and then at the end of the 1900s David Spencer acquired the buildings and redeveloped them into his ever-expanding dry goods empire that would within a few years become a departmental store that occupied the entire city block. His 1910 replacement building can be seen in an earlier post. In 1976 the store was repurposed into the Harbour Centre, anchored at the time with a Sears department store. The Cordova side was almost completely replace with a rather brutal concrete structure, which at this point has a stair entrance to the retail mall inside, and access to the Simon Fraser University complex above.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P250


Posted 7 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Braden & Co – 300 West Cordova Street

This provisions and meat retailer occupied a store in the Arlington Block, developed in 1888 by Dr. James Whetham. It was designed by N S Hoffar, who designed another building across the street for the same developer. By 1900 the Arlington Hotel was upstairs.

Whetham, like many early Vancouver developers, came from Ontario. His father moved to Canada, established himself as a general merchant and then died, leaving a widow and three young children. James initially became a teacher, then headed west, farming in Manitoba in 1878. Somehow he managed to study medicine (his biography says ‘in winter’) in Toronto and then Portland, Oregon, while living in Spokane Falls. He only practiced medicine very briefly before moving on to develop real estate, initially in Spokane Falls and then from 1887 (aged 33) in Vancouver.

By 1889 James Whetham had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. He was boarder in the Hotel Vancouver. He died in 1891, aged only 37, of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever.

T J Braden lived on Richards Street, near here, in 1898 when the photograph was taken. He first shows up in 1896, working as a butcher and living on Harris Street. It’s possible he was Thomas J Braden, from Simcoe, Ontario. His brother Robert was working with him a year later, and by 1900 they had additional branches on Harris Street and Granville Street, but by 1901 they were no longer in the city, and these were the premises of the Burrard Inlet Meat Co, managed by Herbert Keithley. Mr. Keithley and his brother-in-law, Robert Leberry, ran six meat stores, some that they had acquired from the Bradens, and lived in New Westminster. Early in 1902 they failed to open the stores, and two days later the San Francisco Call reported their pursuit in the US (left).

The sheriff was on the right track, but not fast enough. A few days later the Province reported that the two men were already mid-ocean, having boarded a sailing ship in San Francisco headed for Australia. It added “The unfortunate part of the affair Is that the wives of the departing men were left in ignorance of their husbands’ destination, and they were left absolutely without funds as well. Both women live In New Westminster and are sisters, and through no fault whatever of their own are left all but penniless. It is said Keithly did write his wife once after his departure, saying that he enclosed certain shares in a local company, the value of which would amount to about twenty-five dollars, but he forgot to send the shares.”

The store was no longer associated with the meat trade after this: A J Bloomfield sold cigars here in 1902. A couple of years later the street address disappeared, and the retail space appears to have become associated with the hotel upstairs. In 1905 it was run by Cottingham and Beatty, and a year later John Beatty on his own, later corrected to Beaty.

Within a few years the premises had been renamed from the Arlington Hotel to the Arlington Rooms; Alice Gill ran them in 1915. The retail uses reappeared here; in 1920 Mrs Tosa Takaoha had a barber’s shop and S Nunoda sold confectionary.

Today the building still has retail stores; the butcher’s shop would be unrecognizable to former operators in its contemporary uses as an Italian fashion store for men and women, with the stripped-down design favoured by some clothing retailers.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu 5


Posted 4 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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