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. No architect has been identified with the building, but another building nearby developed by Dr. Whetham around the same time was designed by N S Hoffar, so it’s likely that this was too. 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 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

0970

Posted May 4, 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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