327 – 331 Main Street

This modest building has sat relatively invisible behind the Ford Building (once the Dawson Building) for over a century. It was developed in 1903, and designed by Thomas Arthur Fee (usually partnered with John Parr as Parr and Fee). His client was listed as ‘White, Stanley (Senator)’, who was also listed as the builder of the $9,000 building.

Quite why Mr. White was listed as a Senator is unclear. There was a Senator White in the Canadian parliament in 1919, but he was called Gelard White, and was from Ontario. All other records show the developer to be Arthur Stanley White (almost always known as ‘Stanley’), in business with his father selling men’s clothes from a store a block two blocks to the south. Benjamin and Stanley White travelled to Canada from Britain on the ‘Lake Huron’ in September 1897. Benjamin had sold his home and its contents and Stanley sold his business interests in Haverfordwest in Wales, and they set off from Liverpool to Quebec. Both Benjamin and Stanley were listed on the passenger list as ‘prospectors’, headed for the Yukon gold fields. Perhaps conversations with other passengers changed their plans; when they arrived in Canada 11 days later they were recorded as clothiers, and their destination as Vancouver. They established an outfitters store on Cordova Street, but only six months later sold the business to Donaldson Trading Company of Manitoba. Stanley White and Company opened almost immediately in the 500 block of Westminster Avenue, (now Main Street), selling ‘men’s furnishings’, notably hats and caps.

They obviously did well; Stanley developed this building in 1903, and a year later his father returned to England, via New York, for a four month vacation, and then again in 1905 to Wales, where he married Jane Evans, a widow. Benjamin stayed in Wales, but died less than a year after his marriage. In 1904 Stanley had taken a two month trip to the World’s Fair in St Louis, and in 1905 he was travelling to meet his father and his new bride, but was struck with rheumatic fever in New York, and didn’t reach Wales. On his return he auctioned off the contents of his house, on 9th Avenue, and a year later he got married to Eliza Chase. A month later he sold his clothing business. His health was still poor, and in August he took a trip to Europe following a period in the general hospital.

He isn’t listed in the city from this point on; his marriage ended in divorce, and he remarried to Maude Judd in 1909, in Seattle. His second wife gave birth to a son, also called Arthur Stanley White, in 1910, and they moved to California where Stanley was involved in real estate, living in a villa on the Santa Monica seafront. They had two more sons, in 1914 and 1919, and Stanley was still selling real estate in Los Angeles in 1950. Maude died in 1952, and Stanley in 1959, and they are both buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica. (More details of Stanley and Benjamin White’s lives can be found on WestEndVancouver).

The White Block initially was home to The White Block Dining Room, run by Mrs. Frank Peterson, as well as a a tailor, a liquor store and a stationers. A few years later the second floor seems to have become residential, known as The Galena Rooms. For a while the Star Theatre (a movie house) was here, but it moved to a new location across the street in 1921. In 1925 this was listed as home to the Chinese Library, and the BC Public Market. In 1930 the rooms upstairs were known as The Togo Rooms, run by K Kagawa. Downstairs the market was between The Standard Importing Co (tea and coffee importers), and the Canadian Window Bakeries. After the war, all three businesses were still there, but the second floor was known as the Canada Rooms. In 1955 there was a fish market, a clothing store, and the home of Titan Chain Saws, as well as the Canada Rooms. Our 1978 image shows the Paris Restaurant, offering Canadian Chinese Cuisine, and the New Modern Barber Shop. Today the building is for sale and the vacant retail spaces have most recently been occupied as offices, while the second floor has a lawyer and a doctor’s office.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-49.29

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Posted 22 February 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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