Hawks Avenue – 700 block

This 7-unit row of cottages was built on 2 lots at the end of Harris Street (today’s East Georgia Street) where it meets Hawks Avenue. The developer was house decorator George Elliott, who lived a few blocks to the east, on Harris. They were constructed in 1908, and a year later George built another house on Harris, in the 500 block, where he moved in 1910. He seems to have dabbled in property construction and modest development as a sideline to his painting and paper-hanging business. There are several permits to George Elliott for house alterations and construction through the East End in the early 1900s, including a $2,000 permit for a 1908 Harris Street dwelling (which we think is likely to be this row).

The earliest we find the Elliott family in Vancouver is in 1896, when George was listed living on Gore Avenue, and a year later at 236 Harris Street. In 1901 George and Mary Elliott were shown by the census to have been born in England and arrived in Canada in 1883, and were both aged 42. They had five children at home: Albert, born in 1886 in England, who apparently didn’t come to Canada until 1892, Victor, born in BC in 1888, Violet in 1890, Leonard, 1891, also in BC and Gladys, who was 8, born in Seattle in 1893, and who came to Canada in 1896.

In 1911 George and Mary Elliott were shown by the census still living on Harris Street, with three sons; Charles, George and Robert, daughter Violet, and Mary’s father, Robert Payne. George and Mary were 52, and both born in England. They were both shown arriving in Canada in 1887 with two of their sons. Their younger children had been born in BC, and Mr. Payne had arrived in 1898.

By 1911 George was no longer shown as working; his employment was listed as ‘income’ (we assume from his rental properties). Two sons were paper hangers and so presumably had taken over the family business. One was listed as a press man. The street directory shows five siblings; Albert, Charles, Gladys and Leonard (the pressman with the News-Advertiser) and Victor.

The family were still in the East End before the First World War, (in 1913 George A, paperhanger and Charles A were both at 517 Harris) but by 1914 they had moved to 1905 W13th Avenue. George and Gladys, a bookkeeper were listed there, as well as Leonard, a printer, and Victor, a painter with the Vancouver Paint and Paper Co. There was an Albert Elliott living in South Vancouver, who may have been the other son. In September 1914 Leonard got married. His bride, Catherine Heffring was 22, two years younger, and the marriage licence tells us that he was legally named Robert Leonard Elliott, and he was born in Victoria in 1890. In 1916 George, Gladys and Leonard were all still living on W13th, but Victor was recorded as being on active service. There’s no record of him in Vancouver after this point. Only Gladys was living in Vancouver in 1917, and none of the family were still in the city by the end of the war.

We can track them on to Seattle in 1920, when George and Mary were shown as aged 59 and their daughter Gladys (27) was still living with them. They were renting their home; George was still a painter and decorator and Gladys worked as a telephone operator. They were shown as having immigrated to the US in 1887, (and Gladys had been born there). We’re not sure when Victor died, but we know it was in the US and we think it might have been in 1920 or 1921. When he died he had two brothers, Charles and George, and his sisters were married; Gladys was Mrs. Gladys N Waters and Violet was Mrs. Violet L Wilson. Gladys, who was married to Fred Waters, died on September 11 1921.

Our 1978 image shows the row with a couple of recently planted street trees. The houses were renovated in 1985. The row was bought for $180,000 by seven partners in 1983, initiated by architect Clare McDuff-Oliver. Each partner spent around $60,000 for construction, and worked on the demolition of the existing walls.  Each unit was custom designed, and Denise Olsen was contractor and project manager. The original building had no basement suites, so the houses were raised and a located on new concrete foundations. The upper floor was reconfigured, with the bathroom moved from its original location. Today each of the units is worth more than the entire row cost to buy and renovate.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-48.32

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Posted 15 March 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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