Gilford Street north from Comox

The title of this 1965 picture in the Vancouver Archives is ‘[View from Comox] Street [in the West End showing] trees’. Fortunately there hasn’t been so much change that it’s impossible to work out where, from Comox Street, the image was taken. It’s looking north on Gilford, and the Park Gilford, the 13 storey rental tower on the left, was completed in 1962.

Beyond that was a house, that is no longer standing. It was replaced in 1982 by Gilford Mews, a 15 unit strata building which we think was designed by West Coast Modern architects Robert Hassell and Barry Griblin. The decision to keep some of the landscaping means that the trees have grown much bigger over 50 years, and hide the building in summer. The townhouses went on sale in 1982, priced between $170,000 and $189,000 each. The trees today almost hide the 1959 rental building to the north; Four Winds is 10 storeys, with 37 units.

The house had first been developed in 1908, although by the 1960s it was an apartment building. We know who developed the building. Christopher W Ford obtained a permit to build a house costing $8,500, and four years later added a garage. The design of the house is similar to a number of others designed by Parr and Fee – especially the corner turret and cupola, which were a feature of Thomas Fee’s first house on Broughton Street.

C W Ford was born in Morrisburg, (now part of Dundas), Ontario in 1856. He married in 1878 and by the late 1880s he was running a general store in Morewood, Ontario. Around 1894 he sold up, and moved to Vancouver, starting as a druggist’s clerk, and living on East Hastings. He opened a grocery store in 1900, and by 1904 had moved on to manage the grocery department in Woodward’s Department Store. In 1906 he was a director of Woodwards, but was also involved in real estate with another Ontario grocer, John Jackson. He established his own real estate firm, and in 1910 he developed The Princess Rooms on Granville Street, a $55,000 project designed by Parr and Fee. Christopher and Mary Ford had three sons, Harry, Clarke and Grant. Harry became a Vancouver physician and married Georgie McMartin, from New York, and they had a daughter, Mary, in 1909. He died in Jervis Inlet in 1910 of exposure, having been separated from the hunting party he was with. Georgia and her daughter moved in with her father-in law. Clarke trained as a lawyer, but worked for a firm of safe manufacturers, and was married twice, and Grant was a dentist, marrying three times.

Christopher’s wife, Mary, died in 1912, and two years later Mr. Ford remarried to Ethel Holland, a widow, and music teacher, originally from England. They moved out of the West End to a house he had built in North Vancouver. Christopher Ford died in 1945, and Ethel in 1955.

The house was occupied for short periods by different residents until 1920, when Harold Idsardi moved in, and stayed until 1948. He was a civil engineer and land surveyor, who arrived in Vancouver in 1910 and had married Loulie Aylett K. Fitzhugh, (born in Fairfax Virginia) in Los Angeles in 1912. He managed to have a mountain, and a valley on Vancouver Island named after him. They had three sons, none of whom stayed in Vancouver. In 1949 the house was split into 8 apartments and named the Elphege Apartments, and by 1978 the building was called the John Penrice Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-48

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Posted 28 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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