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 he was living in the West End with his wife Daisy and four lodgers – everyone in the house had been born in Prince Edward Island. 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

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Posted May 14, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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