Archive for January 2021

1180 Granville Street

This is another Parr and Fee designed hotel on Granville Street, seen here in 1934 with the Peter Pan Cafe operating downstairs. The Hotel was the Hotel Martinique, developed by Charles Fee in 1912 and built by J J Dissette at a cost of $100,000.  Charles Fee was unmarried and lived with his brother, Thomas, the architect of the building. He owned the building until his death, in 1927, when his estate (administered by his brother), sold it. An April edition of the Vancouver Sun described the circumstances of his death. “Succumbing apparently to a heart attack, Charles Fee, proprietor of the Martinique Hotel, was found dead in his room at the hotel shortly after 10 o’clock this morning. When discovered by hotel officials whose suspicions had become aroused over the non-appearance of the proprietor, Mr. Fee was found lying on the floor fully dressed. The body was removed to the city morgue upon Instructions of Coroner W. I. Brydone-Jack. It Is not expected that an Inquest will be held.” An autopsy was carried out, revealing that Mr. Fee had died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. The brothers were from Quebec, and Charles arrived in BC later than Thomas, who had already designed many of the city’s buildings, and assembled his own portfolio of investment property.

When the hotel was first operating the retail unit alongside the hotel entrance stayed vacant for a while, and seemed to change quite often. For example, in 1919 C Timberlake’s second hand store was here, in 1925 McLachlan & Fraser’s hardware store, and in 1930 W T McArthur selling stoves and ranges. That year the Peter Pan Cafe was already in operation on this block, but a little further to the west. The cafe moved here in 1934, when this image was taken.

Peter Pantages was the nephew of ‘Alexander’ Pantages who ran the successful theatre circuit from Seattle that included two Vancouver theatres. Alexander (who was christened Pericles), brought several nephews to Vancouver from his native Greece. Peter arrived around 1919 and initially worked as an usher in his uncle’s theatre. A keen sea swimmer, in 1920 he persuaded four friends to swim with him in English Bay on New Year’s Day – the start of the Polar Bear Swim Club that continues today, now with over 2,000 participants. By 1929 he was running the Peter Pan Café on Granville with his three brothers Lloyd, Angelo and Alphonsos. He was still involved in 1971, when he died on vacation in Hawaii. Today the lane between Davie and Burnaby Street in the West End is named in his memory.

Until earlier in 2020 it was still a hotel – most recently a Howard Johnson – but the building was bought by the BC Housing agency in mid 2020 to operate as a non-market housing property, initially to provide urgent relief to reduce street homeless numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Longer term it’s expected to be redeveloped with the adjacent site that was bought at the same time. Until the Covid pandemic a branch of Wings restaurant operated here.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4420

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Posted 28 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

1259 Granville Street

This is the Vancouver Motor Supply Co seen 101 years ago in this 1919 Stuart Thomson picture. It was underneath a building which featured white glazed bricks and centre-pivoted windows, a trademark of Parr and Fee, who designed at least seven hotels in a few blocks of Granville Street all built to a similar design over two or three years. This one was built by Peter Tardiff, (sometimes Tardif), in 1911 at a cost of $60,000 was developed by W A Clark. He was a real estate broker from Ontario, and was one of two William Clark’s involved in real estate in the city, which must have been confusing at times. In 1911 he lived with his wife, May, their five daughters, and a servant, Tanda Ishira, who was from Japan. When it first opened this was the Newport Rooms, then the Newport Hotel, a name it retained for many years.

The retail space saw constant change many years, some of which we’ve researched. When the picture was taken in 1919 Vancouver Motor Supply Co the business had just been taken over by H J Arthur. The Daily World said he was “formerly of the Arthur and Hand Tire company. Mr. Arthur has a host of friends among the motorists of Vancouver, and his new enterprise should prove most valuable to all. He Is getting settled gradually and arranging the new stock, and announces that he is in a position to render the service that should be given to the public by a real up – to – date accessory house. A line of tires will be contracted for in the near future, making equipment for the motorists most complete. With one of the best years that the local trade has ever known In prospect, it is certain that Mr. Arthur will meet with the best of success in his new enterprise.” The business obviously didn’t take off. Herbert J Arthur became a wood dealer, and in 1921 was a salesman, living at Boundary Bay. In 1920 the store was vacant, and in 1921 it was the home of the IXL Cafe, run by John W Smithson and Chas Glazie. The store was split in two a year later, with Nick Kokinas selling confectionery next to the Bailey Cafe. By 1925 it had returned to motordom duty as the Consumers Tire Supply Co, run by E James and R J Beck, and by 1930 a more familiar name, the Vancouver home of Maytag. In 1940 Wosk’s sold stoves here, and in 1950 G W Ross, an Auctioneer had his sale room here. Five years later Mrs. R Macdonald had a used book store, and there was a furniture store in the other half of the building.

More recently it became the Granville Hotel, although it operated as a single-room occupancy rental property, with shared bathrooms. Acquired by the City Of Vancouver in 2003 for $2.8m, it’s still run as an SRO Hotel, the Granville Residence. The city spent over $4m to repair the building, including rebuilding the façade which was in a pretty poor state in the early 2000s. The room count reduced from 100 to 83, and each room is now self-contained with bathrooms, a small cooking area and average 160 sq. ft. in area. It leases to as low-rent housing for people age 45 and over, and for people age 35 and over with disabilities who may be working or on income assistance.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-701

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Posted 25 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

636 Davie Street

Here’s yet another example of how motoring-based businesses occupied large areas of Downtown. This 1925 image shows International Motor Trucks factory branch on Davie Street, near Granville. Today it’s a series of small restaurants, but the bones of the garage structure are clearly visible. George Trorey developed the site in 1918 for a different company. The permit describes the $5,100 development as “One-storey brick building, to be occupied by the Davie Vulcanizing Co.” Gardiner and Mercer designed the building, and Wallace & McGougan built it. George Trorey was a wealthy jeweller who had his own company which he had sold to Henry Birks, becoming Birks’ General Manager. We’ve seen several other properties that he owned, but this is the first that we identified him as the developer. George was born in Niagra Falls, and set up his jewellers business in Vancouver in 1897. He ended up owning this site because he bought the Golden Gate Hotel, on the same lot, facing Granville Street, in 1908, and still owned it in the early 1940s.

International Motor Trucks apparently moved into the property in 1924, and spent $400 on alterations. The company, still manufacturing today, started production in the early 1900s, and by 1925 were selling the recently introduced ‘S’ series trucks, manufactured in Akron, Ohio. Part of International Harvester, their Vancouver distributor was Mark Dumond, and he was their agent before they moved to this new location from the 1000 block of Main Street. They didn’t stay here too long; the business had a new manager by 1930, Frank Brewer, and a new location in the 1100 block of Seymour.

We haven’t checked all the changes of activity in this building, but it changed a lot. It was vacant for a while, and then D & D Automotive Service moved in, run by Frank Dean and Chas Draper. By the start of the war, D C MacLure was shown operating a garage here. That was Daniel MacLure who ran MacLure’s Taxi and MacLure’s Sightseeing Tours. They also moved to new premises; in 1947 Drake Welding Co were using the building, and in 1955 Douglas & Crawford sold auto accessories here, alongside the welding business.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3544

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Posted 21 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Strathcona School – East Pender Street

Strathcona School has seen several stages of development, and redevelopment for over a century. Initially called the East End School, the first building, designed by Thomas Hooper, was completed in 1891 – seen here on the left hand side of this Library and Archives Canada picture from the 1910s. A new larger wing was added in 1897, facing Keefer Street, to the south of the original building. That was designed by William Blackmore, and it was completed in 1898. It’s still standing today, and has recently been seismically upgraded in a $25m project, but it’s hidden today by the gymnasium (auditorium), completed in 1930. That too received seismic upgrading in the form of poured concrete buttresses on the corners of the building, and additional concrete shear walls internally.

The upgraded 1897 building on Keefer is load-bearing unreinforced brick and stone. It was upgraded using seismic (base) isolation technology. Completed in December 2016, this was the first base isolated building in Canada. It now sits on lead core rubber bearings with teflon-stainless steel sliders, designed to absorb the energy of an earthquake without the building shaking to pieces.

In the early 1900s classes were moved from the first building, which gradually fell out of use. It was eventually demolished in 1920, but the bricks were saved and recycled into the construction of a new building. The Primary building is beside the gymnasium, just off the picture to the left. Completed in 1921, it was designed by F A A Barrs. The Senior Building can be seen today on the right. It too has been seismically strengthened, and was built in two phases, starting in 1914 (designed by Charles Morgan) and completed in 1927. H W Postle designed the second phase, and the gymnasium.

Image source: Images Canada

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Main Street and West Broadway – south-west corner

Here’s a 1985 view that hasn’t really changed a lot in the nearly 36 years since our picture was taken. The building on the south-west corner of Main and West Broadway was still a branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Completed in 1953, we’re reasonably certain that McCarter and Nairne were the architects. They designed a very similar building for the bank in 1950, on West Hastings, and also designed a larger Downtown branch in 1957, on Granville Street. The first bank here had been built for the Bank of Commerce in 1921, designed by W F Gardiner. Most recently there’s been a Tim Horton’s here, but the building was also a loonie store and a showroom for condo developments in recent years.

To the south along Main Street was a single storey retail building that had been built in 1929. A fire destroyed it in 2011, and it was replaced with another single storey (and mezzanine) building, completed in 2013. They had originally been developed in 1911 by A F McKinnon. Further south the flanking wall of Belvedere Court can be seen, an apartment building built in 1912 to Arthur J Bird’s design for D E Harris. Along West Broadway there are a series of single storey retail buildings, the oldest from 1926, and the most recent (today), next to the bank, completed in 1994. The two storey building with a bay window that was replaced had also been developed by A F McKinnon, in 1906. He owned and developed several other properties in this part of Mount Pleasant, including the Broadway Rooms two blocks to the north.

We know he was a local resident as the Mount Pleasant Advocate, in 1904, reported that “Little Alice, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McKinnon, while playing yesterday fell from a pile of lumber and broke her right arm. Dr. Brydon-Jack was summoned and put the injured member in plaster-paris.” Mr. McKinnon ran a confection manufacturing business, and lived on W 10th Avenue with Alexander McKinnon, who was in real estate. We suspect they were father and son, and both called Alexander. The 1901 census shows A F McKinnon, born in Ontario, aged 62, who was involved in lumber and his son A J McKinnon, aged 24, born in the US, and a book keeper. His son’s wife, from Ontario, was also listed as A J McKinnon, and they had two daughters, Alice and Francis. A F McKinnon’s other daughter, Fannie aged 28 and also born in the US, also lived in the household. The street directory shows A F McKinnon in real estate.

By 1921 Alice was a nurse, still living with her parents and five siblings. Her father, Alexander was aged 43; he was born in the USA, but his father was Canadian. His wife, Mary, was born in Ontario, and her father was English as were both their mothers. Alice was the oldest still at home, at 22, and had been born in BC, so the family had been in the Province from the 1890s. Alexander was shown arriving in Canada in 1897, and was listed in the street directory as ‘real estate’, but intriguingly in the census as ‘chauffeur, automobile’. 

All the buildings from Belvedere Court northwards will soon be demolished, including the ones along Broadway. In 2025 the new extension of Skytrain will have a station at the corner, and in the meantime the site will be a large construction site to allow the station construction. The tunneling will be carried out by two passes of a boring machine, so disruption should be less than when the Canada Line was built. 

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Posted 14 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Mount Pleasant

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Hornby Street looking north

These two pictures were taken in 1986, and there hasn’t been a lot of obvious change in the buildings since then. Even the street trees are the same – with an additional 34 years growth. On the edge of the picture, on the left, is the Mayfair Hotel, developed in 1964 and designed by Peter Kaffka. Next door is a 1980 office building that’s only 6 floors tall, designed by the Blackwell Design Group, and strata titled.

Beyond the tower (and seen on the left of the picture below), the First City Trust Building was completed in 1969, designed by Frank Roy with Thompson, Berwick Pratt and Partners. Now known by its address, 777 Hornby, in the 1990s it received a makeover that included redesigning the podium glazing, and adding rain protection for pedestrians. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is to the north. and across the street the Georgia Medical Dental Building is the only change. The art deco building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, and was similar to their Marine Building (if less flamboyant). It was replaced nearly 30 years ago by Cathedral Place, designed by Paul Merrick for Shon Georgia Developments (in a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong). On the street, Hornby street now has a 2-way separated bike lane.

The tower on the right in the upper picture is the North American headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). Designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners, and completed in 1986, it was the headquarters of W A C Bennet’s brainchild; the Bank of British Columbia. Designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses, it grew to have $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees but serious management problems led to the bank being taken over by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada in the same year it was completed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2662 and 800-2670

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Posted 11 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Robson Street – 1000 block, north side

There was a row of stores built on Robson Street in 1911, although in this 1950 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray it looks like they were probably remodelled at some point. This location was initially developed with houses, and in 1911 the owner, Harold Wilson, moved a house to the back of the lot and hired Parr and Fee to design retail stores costing $10,000 on the street, built by Baynes and Horie. We know what his middle initial was from one of the two permits submitted by H C Wilson, but we haven’t definitively confirmed his identity. It seems most likely that he was Harry C Wilson, a shoe merchant with a store on Granville Street in the 1910s.

Harry was initially a baker, in partnership as Wilson and Sugden, in Strathcona. He lived in the 700 block of Keefer Street, above the bakery, in a building still standing today. By 1912 he was listed as both a grocer at 733 Keefer, and ‘of the Wilson Shoe Co’, and he had moved to E14th Avenue. In 1909 he got married, and the wedding notice noted that he was originally from New Brunswick, and his wife from Nova Scotia. As a member of the International Order of Foresters, he took a continent-wide tour, starting in Los Angeles and then to various unidentified ‘eastern cities’, ending up at the convention in Toronto. Mr. Wilson intended to combine business with pleasure: “While I do not concede that other cities have anything on Vancouver In the line of shoe stores, an interchange of Ideas Is always profitable, and I will visit as many large shoe stores and factories as possible.”

In 1924 the Royal Trust Co owned the building, and applied to convert it to a garage, to be built by Baynes & Horie for $1,800. However, the street directory shows a series of service and retail stores, suggesting the garage never moved in, although that might be the date of the alterations to the appearance in the picture. The most consistent business here was a milliner’s store.

To the left of the stores, (before The Manhattan apartments at the end of the block), were two houses, and a small single storey store built in 1925. Over the years the numbers were changed – for some peculiar reason, when the block was first developed in the 1890s the last house on the block was 1041. The houses were 1031 and 1035 Robson, (renumbered from 1033). They were already occupied in 1894 by H T Lockyer and J R Seymour, and 1031 was the older, with Jenny Drysdale living here in 1892 and it’s possible the house had been completed a year earlier, but no numbers were assigned to the properties that year. They were replaced at some point by single storey retail units that in turn were redeveloped this year as a double-height shoe store.

In 1950 it’s just possible to make out ‘Cafe’ on the front of the end of the retail block. That’s the geographically inaccurate ‘White’s Corner Cafe’. The houses in 1950 appear to no longer have any residents. C M Hyde, a barrister, had his offices here, along with Alford and Hughes, bicycles, Robson Realty and Aqua Accounting Services. In the house next door Curtis Radio and Electrical shared the building with W Kenyon, a jeweler.

Today there are limits on the height of new buildings (and residential isn’t allowed to be added on this part of Robson) so that the street retains greater natural light. Most buildings on this block have been redeveloped as double-height retail stores, either with two floors (like Indigo Books) or a mezzanine floor. Francl Architecture have been responsible for the design of most of these new buildings.

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Posted 7 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Graphic Arts Building – West Pender Street

This International Style building was developed in 1947. Otto Landauer at the Leonard Frank photo studio took this picture some time soon after an addition and parking garage had been added to the west in 1959, designed, as the original corner block, by John Harvey. The Vancouver Sun’s publishing division were based here, but the offices also had distinctly non-graphic related businesses like the offices of Allis-Chalmers mining equipment, R W Ginn, who was a barrister, and Canadian Laco Lamps – (wholesale). Based in Montreal, they offered Canadian manufactured ‘lamps scientifically and perfectly made to give the greatest service’

The building was demolished in 2004, and four years later ‘The Ritz’, a 34 storey residential tower was completed, designed for Pinnacle International by Hancock Bruckner Eng + Wright. Construction was delayed a little as during construction the spray-crete shoring of the hole for the parking levels collapsed, taking half the street with it. The podium includes a drug store and office space part of a local shopping centre added to the developing Coal Harbour residential area.

Image source: Jewish Museum and Archives LF.00288. (Thanks to Fred Swartz for correcting the photo attribution)

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Posted 4 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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