Lost Gas Stations in Downtown Vancouver

We’ve seen a lot of Downtown and west End locations where there used to be gas stations – we think there were at least 99 of them in the past where they’ve now disappeared. Today there’s just one left – for now. On the corner of Davie and Burrard, the last remaining Esso station has been bought by a property developer. A block away there was a Shell station, developed in 1951, and seen in this image from the same year in the Vancouver Public Library photo collection. The garage structure is still there, with additional elements added as restaurants. The gas station had closed by the early 1980s, and became a Mr. Submarine store for a while.

Further south, at Seymour and Pacific, Imperial Oil had a gas station, seen here when it first opened in 1925. Townley and Matheson designed the structure, which was built by Purdy & Rodger at a cost of $6,900. The gas bar was replaced with part of the Seymour off-ramp of the Granville Bridge, completed in 1954. If the number of service stations seems low today, that wasn’t the case in the 1920s. This was 601 Pacific, and Imperial Oil had another Townley and Matheson designed gas bar at 740 Pacific, and Union Oil had another on the same block. By 1930 this gas station no longer existed.

In the background is the Bayview Hotel, later renamed The Continental, and in its later years operated by the City of Vancouver as an SRO hotel until it was demolished in 2015. In its early years the hotel was an expensive investment for Kilroy and Morgan, who spent $100,000 to build the hotel designed by Parr and Fee in 1911.

Finally (for the time being), there was a larger gas station on Robson Street, operated here in 1974 by Texaco. In 1985 it was redeveloped with a 2-storey retail building that includes a London Drugs store, and smaller retail units on Bute Street. Initially there were houses built here, but the motoring use of the site was over decades – in the 1930s Webber-MacDonald Garage was here, repairing and selling pre-owned automobiles, which became the Robson Garage a few years later. The corner however had a different building; the Bute Street Private hospital was here for decades. It became a rooming house, but was still here when Hemrich Brothers (who ran a garage on Howe, and then Dunsmuir Street for many years) were running the Robson Street garage in the later 1950s. The big new Texaco canopy, facilities  and forecourt replaced the buildings on the street until the 1980s redevelopment put buildings back along Robson.

Image sources: VPL, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-530 and CVA 778-333

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Posted 8 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Gone, West End

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