Archive for August 2021

Nelson and Hamilton Street, looking northwest

This image was taken around 1912, inside Recreation Park, a sports facility that occupied a full city block between Homer and Hamilton, Smithe and Nelson. Because the 1912 insurance map shows the ‘Grand Stand’ was at Smithe and Homer, the photographer, (W.J. Cairns, Ltd), must have been on the touchline on the opposite corner, looking northwest towards Homer.

The picture shows a field lacrosse game between rivals Vancouver and the New Westminster Salmonbellies. The Vancouver club was run by Con Jones, and their home pitch was in Con Jones Park (later Callister Park – where the PNE Grounds are today). The picture was taken around 1912, so there’s a chance Vancouver are winning. The Salmonbellies had a fabulous run in the early 1900s, becoming Provincial Champions every year up to 1908 before travelling to Montreal that year to take The Minto Cup, defeating the more established eastern teams for the first time. They had a lull for a few years, before winning The Mann Cup for the first time in 1915, and in 23 other years since. The club still exists, and still play in Queen’s Park, but no longer attract the home crowds of 11,000, many travelling on adapted open freight wagons through the forest from Vancouver to watch the games.

Vancouver’s Recreation Park was operated by a private company, and was home to other activities besides sports. Built in 1905 by Layfield and Williams, it was also the home of Vancouver’s Northwestern League baseball teams. The grandstand seated 6,500 and the grounds were built on a former cow pasture owned by the CPR. The opening baseball game saw Vancouver Veterans beat Victoria Legislators 4-2, with 3,500 paying the 25c admission.

For several years the park became the temporary home to the Greater Norris and Rowe Circus. The circus travelled using the railways, growing from 3 cars in 1901 to 20 in 1909. The touring schedule was brutal. They spent the winter in Santa Cruz, in California and then worked a different city six days on, Sunday off, from March to early December. They visited pretty much every medium and large city in western Canada and the western and central United States, and Mexico. They visited Vancouver for a day in June 1906 (having previously been in Seattle, Sedro Wooley and then New Westminster) and were in Kamloops the next day. They would pack up the show after the evening performance, travel overnight, stage a grand parade of the animals and performers next morning, and then perform an afternoon and evening show, and repeat that all over again.

In 1907 they went to Bellingham from Seattle, then Blaine, and on to Vancouver before heading to Saskatchewan. In 1908 there was the luxury of playing Sedro Wooley, them New Westminster on a Saturday, a day off on Sunday, then two nights in Vancouver, before heading back into the US to Bellingham and Everett. In 1909 they played 2 nights again, in May. They didn’t visit in 1910 – early on in the tour, in Kentucky, “Bad weather, poor business, salaries and debts unpaid” saw the closure of the circus.  We don’t know when this picture of the elephants was taken, but it was during one of the later visits because the circus only had three elephants in 1906.

There were a few other events in the park; a ceremony following the death of the King in 1910 and a celebration on the coronation of King George the following year.

The area immediately to the south had been released for development in 1909, and rapidly built out into the warehouse district of Yaletown. In 1912 CPR decided not to renew the stadium lease, and it was rebuilt at Athletic Park at 5th and Hemlock in 1913, on another piece of CPR property. Timing to sell off the newly available land was terrible. The economy collapsed, then the war started. Much of the site remained undeveloped until 1937. Storage warehouses were eventually built, but most had no heritage value and in the early 2000s most of the site was redeveloped as Yaletown Park, a three tower condo project. Some of the density was allowed to build taller (more valuable) towers, leaving a part of the site as a public park. Because there’s underground parking, the landscaping consists of trees within raised bubbles of granite pavers, leaving a hard undulating design with limited use. Rumours of a redesign to a more user-friendly space have yet to come true.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-608 and CVA 677-1019

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Posted 30 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized

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Pacific Street from Burrard

We’re looking southeast from Pacific Street on March 13 1931. These houses aren’t that old, but they’re about to be demolished for the new Burrard Bridge. Further north, Burrard was a wide boulevard, lined with big houses, but here it narrowed and dropped down a steep grade to False Creek. That all changed when the Burrard Bridge was built.

The houses on Pacific (on the left of the image) were built during the lost permit period, but we’ve traced several of them. Edward Hunt developed one of the homes in 1907, as a permit reference in the Daily World mentions the lot number. That house cost $2,000, and five months earlier Edward built another house on Pacific for $1,800. The 1908 street directory confirms there were four houses here (where there were none in 1906), and Edward Hunt was living in 934, the third in the row from Burrard. William Rickson, a merchant was at 928, Daniel MacLaren, a tailor at 940 and John Allen, a real estate agent was in the corner house, 946 Pacific.

We initially couldn’t find Edward in the 1911 census, (although there was another Edward Hunt who was a developer in the city at the time). Fortunately our contractor had been in the city in 1901, when he was a carpenter, living on Howe Street. That year’s census showed him from England, aged 44, having arrived in 1888. His wife, Mary was a year older, and they had three daughters. The eldest who was 18 was born in the US, her 14 year old sister Ethel, in England, and 11 year old Nellie in BC.

Edward built several other houses on Pacific and elsewhere in the West End, sometimes in partnership with George Calder. Down the hill H C and L Elliott built at least three of the houses in 1906 and 1907, each costing $2,500 each to construct. We think house-building was a side gig for the Elliott brothers: Harold (Clinton) Elliott was a shipwright born in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1870, while Lloyd was a ship’s carpenter, born four years later. They were from a family with ten children, and we think their older brother, Frederick had also come to Vancouver around 1902 with Harold, and Lloyd arriving a little later. Their father was a farmer, born in New Brunswick.

While some of those lasted decades, these houses didn’t last much longer than this picture – barely 25 years. All the houses here were cleared away as part of the construction of Burrard Bridge, which had started in 1930, with the new bridge opening in July 1932. In January 1931 The Province reported “Houses on Right-of-way of Burrard Bridge Doomed – Tenders will be called by the city for removal or demolition of several houses on property acquired by civic authorities for the northern right-of-way for Burrard bridge. This was decided by the civic bridges and railways committee Monday afternoon. It was reported the buildings are In need of repair and decorating.”

There’s still potential for development to the south, but a recent reconfiguration of the offramp from the bridge to incorporate a bike lane has altered the developable space.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Br N38.1

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Posted 26 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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308 Harris Street

This 1905 Vancouver Archives image shows the southeast corner of Harris and Gore. Harris today is East Georgia, and doesn’t actually exist (as a street) in this location. Instead there’s an oddly shaped area of open ground, with some mature trees; an unplanned bonus from the abandoned Eastside Freeway that would have bulldozed much of Strathcona, Gastown, and all of Water Street. There’s housing just to the east, on a superblock that runs between Union and Keefer. The demolished block of East Georgia that used to be here had buildings on both sides, that were replaced in the late 1960s with the Maclean Park housing project, part of a ‘slum clearance’ that was intended to redevelop all the old housing in Strathcona, but was only completed on a few blocks before it too, like the freeway plan, was abandoned.

Maclean Park housing was designed with a gentle curving perimeter in this location. It’s the sort of even curve beloved by road engineers, as the freeway connection from Highway 1 (which would have tied in to the viaducts a block to the west of here) would have seen a spur heading north, obliterating Gore Avenue all the way to a new freeway along the Burrard waterfront. The curve of the unbuilt off-ramp is still there in the railings around the edge of the housing.

The Royal Soap Co had been manufacturing Royal Crown Soap here since 1900, and was run in Vancouver by Frederick T Schooley until the late 1920s. He was born in Grantham, in Ontario, married there in St. Catharines, Niagara in 1887 and was a grocer before coming west. Royal Crown Soap Ltd. was purchased in 1889 by Manlius Bull who enlarged the business and moved the factory from St. Boniface to King Street in Winnipeg before selling the company to Lever Brother of England in 1910, with Bull continuing as its Canadian head.

The soap became Royal Crown early in the company’s history, and the Lever name was only adopted in the 1940s. (The Museum of Vancouver have a box of soap in their collection). In 1923 the Vancouver Sun reported “Viscount Leverhulme of Port Sunlight, England, and party, reached Vancouver, Tuesday night, and will remain for three days before sailing for Australia, This distinguished visitor is head of the famous Lever Bros., soap manufacturers. The party was met on arrival by F. T. Schooley, manager of the Royal Crown Soap factory in Vancouver. On his last trip to Vancouver Lord Leverhulme purchased extensive waterfront properties.

There were five houses on this site as early as 1889, and they were replaced with the building on the corner of the lot in 1900. The insurance map label read: “Raw materials Bast Warehouse & Framing 1st floor, Boiling and Preserving 2nd, Store Room 3rd.” An addition was built in 1905, and gradually over the years further buildings were added. The company used known architects for many subsequent brick additions and replacements; builder A E Carter a brick warehouse in 1912, J P Matheson a $7,000 warehouse/factory a year later and H H Simmonds a major new building in 1927 costing $17,000, and Bowman & Cullerne the same year with $4,000 of alterations.

By 1934 the complex was producing 6 million pounds of soap and soap products a year, and J E Stinson the managing director allowed a Vancouver Sun journalist a guided tour for a full page piece that would be an ‘advertorial’ today. In 1939 the Leonard Frank Studios photographed the operations of the factory, and VPL have copies (left).

By 1949 production had ended, and the building was vacant. A year earlier it was still in use, but listed as Lever Bros, warehouse, so production had presumably ceased some time earlier.

The buildings were still in use in the 1950s; in 1955 Ryan’s Carriers and Fraser Transfer were based here. The rest of the block was cleared in the 1960s, and the former factory was the last to go.

It was photographed some time in the early 1960s, looking from the southeast corner of the block to the back of the buildings. Although the residential buildings had been designed in the 1950s, delays saw the project’s first buildings completed in 1965, and this block saw construction get underway in 1968.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 312-27, Vancouver Public Library and CVA 780-339

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Posted 23 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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936 Main Street

The larger building on the left is the American Hotel, (the Clarendon Hotel when it was built in the early 1900s). It might have been designed by William Blackmore – he had a commission for a building here, but only apparently for a single lot, not the double lot that was developed with the hotel, so we’re not sure whether he actually designed the building that was completed around 1907. The smaller 936 Westminster Avenue to the south was built soon afterwards.

In 1901 Mrs. Mary Walker had built a $600 frame dwelling here. We don’t know who Mrs. Walker was. She wasn’t obvious in the census that year, if she lived in Vancouver. The two Mary Walkers were married to men with low wage employment, and neither were in construction. She didn’t appear to move into the house; it was vacant in 1902 and a miner, Jacob Shermer lived there in 1903.

This building was apparently constructed in 1907. It was certainly built by 1908 when Belcastro & Co, tailors were here with Arthur Adams, a barber. In 1911 we have a permit that says developer R Stafford hired Coffin & McLennan to carry out $1,400 of work (we assume repairs) on the building. That year a fire affected another building close by on this block that the news report said was owned by J Stafford. We think the fire was in the building next door, (where there was already a vacant site in our 1985 image) and the owner would most likely have been Jonathan Stafford, who owned a stables and delivery business in Mount Pleasant. He was from Ontario, born around 1855, and had been in Brandon, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver. Jonathan Stafford was 95 when he died in 1949.

The only possible local resident was a Richard Stafford, who was living at the Commercial Hotel in 1907 and retired and in a rooming house on Burrard Street in the 1910s, but he had been a labourer with the Parks Board, so seemed an unlikely investor. The legal title was held by ‘Richard Staffors’ from 1907 to 1921, although the retired Parks Board worker died in 1915, when he was also shown having been born in 1855, single, and also from Ontario.

So we, and others, haven’t been able to make any sense of who actually developed the building, or even exactly when, and with no permits now available from the early 1900s we can’t identify the designer either.

The tailors weren’t here long. By 1910 this was occupied by the Ross Second Hand Store, run by L Rossman
& M Goldskin. By 1912 this had become Main Street (renamed from Westminster Avenue), and Nick Castis was running a restaurant. That didn’t last long; as the war started William Freeman was selling furniture, and by the end of the war Sun Fat Co were selling produce. In 1920 the State of Maine Junk Co run by Samuel Gordon and Abraham Green had moved in, after the building owner, D Goldberg, had carried out repairs to the staircase. In 1924 Louis Davis’s Coast Junk Company made more repairs to the vacant store, and had moved in by 1925.

In the 1930s the Nathan Perelman’s Tacoma Junk Co were here – and owned a Ford truck for the business.  Nathan made the news in 1945 “Nathan Perelman, 68 of 445 West Twenty-ninth, proprietor of the Tacoma Junk Company, after getting off one street car was struck by another going the opposite direction. He suffered severe head lacerations and was taken to General Hospital by Kingsway Ambulance. His condition is reported “fairly good.

They were still here in 1953, with Morris Burnstein running the store with Mr. Perelman, although a 1958 obituary for Joseph Sussman said he was the overall owner of the business, which originated in Tacoma and also operated in Seattle. Nathan died in 1953, and a court case led to his name in the press for a final time. “Chief Justice Farris awarded Mrs. Lena Burnstein, 445 West Twenty-ninth, $20,000 for taking care for 22 years of the late Nathan Perelman, Vancouver merchant who died last April. Perelman made his home with Mrs. Bernstein and her husband, Morris, but paid no board on the understanding that he would remember Mrs. Bernstein in his will, He left an estate of $81,000 and distributed about $10,000 to named beneficiaries, but left nothing to Mrs. Bernstein. The balance of the estate, Perelman directed, was to go to charities to be selected by his executors, David A. Freeman and Morris Bernstein. As counsel for Mrs. Bernstein on her petition for payment for the care she gave Perelman, A. A. Mackoff suggested $15,000. But Chief Justice Farris said $20,000 would be a more appropriate compensation.

Morris Burnstein continued to run the business here through the 1960s. They were an early example of recycling, as they collected beer bottles which the sorted and returned to the breweries. They paid the public 25c a dozen.

The building has been abandoned for many years, after significant fire damage. A plan was approved to construct a rental building that would have incorporated the facade, but earlier this year BC Housing acquired the site as well as the adjacent vacant site and the American Hotel, with a view to redevelop one day on the full 100′ frontage.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0669

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Posted 19 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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420 Hawks Avenue

We’ve seen the rooming house on the corner of Hawks and East Hastings in an earlier post. It’s the Rice Block, designed by Otto Moberg for D H Rice. We think he was Daniel Rice, an American grocer who became an insurance agent, and he lived in a house here in 1911, the year before the apartments were built.

Behind it, to the south, is a vacant site awaiting a non-market housing building. In our 1978 image there was a house standing here, that had been built in 1903 by W Cline. The developer was Mrs. J A Gosse, and she spent $1,650 to have the house built.

Initially we thought that she might be the new wife of Captain Josiah Gosse, of Victoria, a master mariner. Annie Kendall had married Josiah Gosse in Vancouver in 1902; he was a widower, shown as aged 46 (although his death record suggests he was 3 years older), from Newfoundland, and she was 34 and a widow, born in Suffolk, in England. (Josiah’s first wife, Deriah had died in 1901).

However, there was also John Gosse, who lived in Mount Pleasant and was also a mariner, the master of the North Vancouver steamer, and later the St George, the North Vancouver’s sister ferry. Once built, the house was occupied by Bart Gosse, a fisherman, so that didn’t really confirm which of the two J Gosses it might be. The death in 1917 of Bartholomew Gosse in his 83rd year ‘a well known resident of Spaniard’s Bay’ (in Newfoundland) helped clarify the likely developer. On his death his family were recorded as John, of New Westminster, and Richard, Bartholomew, and Abraham Gosse at Vancouver, and a daughter, Mrs. E Martin, also in Vancouver.

That would mean Mrs. J A Gosse was the wife of John Gosse, born in 1865. John married Mary North, from Conception Bay, Newfoundland, in Vancouver in 1892. At the time John was a fireman; in the census the year before he was a general labourer, and in 1893 and 1894 he shared an address on Lorne Street (W 2nd today) with Mark Gosse, who we think was a cousin. By 1896 John was listed as a mariner, and he worked for the North Vancouver Ferry Company from 1900 to 1906, when he took the captaincy of the new fishing steamer Flamingo, with a crew of 21. He continued to live on Lorne Street, (as did Mark Gosse, but at a different address). John and Mary had Walter in 1896, Winnie in 1898 and Gladys in 1900. By 1908 Captain John Gosse was president of the Equity Brokerage Co. He had returned to captaining the steamship ‘St George’ that year, but by 1910 there was no sign of the family in Vancouver.

The 1911 census shows John Gosse, a master mariner, living in New Westminster with Walter, Winnifred, Gladys and Gordon (born in 1902). His wife was now English born Elizabeth, who was two years older. Mary had died in 1904, aged 39, and John married Elizabeth Miles, a widow in 1906. Bert Gosse was still living in 420 Hawks that year, but by 1908 it was occupied by Albert Keepings, a grocer. We don’t know if it was retained as an investment, but we suspect John sold it.

In 1953 when it was the home of L B Shortreed, the Sun reported ‘LOST Small white female cat, answers to name of Pussums. Please return. Reward. Child’s pet.’ Phyllis Shortreed, who lived at 420 Hawks, reported the death of her father later that year. Gordon Brooks, a sawmill worker, drowned while working on his boat, having had a heart attack.

It was later divided into suites, and in 1975 the Vancouver Sun classifieds showed ‘PRICE REDUCED Owner leaving city must sell quickly. Prime revenue. M-l zoned. $8,700 gross income. 6 suites. 50’x60 lot. Price $64,900’. It’s been a vacant lot for many years, and there are plans to build a 7-storey family non-market housing block on the site.

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Posted 16 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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968 – 1004 Main Street

This 1985 image shows three buildings that were demolished many years ago, and replaced with a new non-market housing building in 2010. Designed by NSDA, it’s run by PHS Community Services, and there’s an office of an interior design company on the main floor.

The Archives caption says these were 968, 980 and 1004 Main Street. The slightly shorter building in the middle is the only one we can pin down a developer; the other two date from the early 1900s when the permits have been lost.

The building on the left was originally 966 Westminster Avenue, and first appeared in a street directory in 1909 as The Livingstone Rooms. A year later the main floor had a tenant; Philip Branca, who was a grocer. Filippo Branca moved his store a few doors to the north of here by 1913, to 622 Main (as it had been renamed). He had previously been in a building at 620 Main, later redeveloped as Tosi’s grocery store. His eldest son, Angelo, would go on to become not only the Canadian amateur middleweight boxing champion, but also one of Vancouver’s most celebrated lawyers who would eventually sit as a provincial Supreme Court judge. In 1920 the upper floors were vacant, and the British American Junk Co operated on the main floor. By 1950 the Waterloo Rooms were upstairs, run by Miss Cecelia Krips and the Advance Second Hand Store was on the main floor run by Moses Saperstein.

The similar two bay building two doors to the south was numbered as 1016 Westminster Avenue, and we think it appeared as a rooming house run by Mrs. P Murphy in 1906, with the Chinese Cascade Restaurant on the main floor. Alonzo Wilband took over the rooms in 1907, and Mrs Eva Thomas in 1908. The restaurant became home to the showroom of Walworth-Rolston farm implements in 1907,  until they moved to a new building immediately to the south in 1910. In 1920 the Oakland Rooms were upstairs (causing some confusion as there were also the Oakland Rooms on Richards Street). The Vernon Feed Co. were on the main floor. By 1950 the block had finally been renumbered in sequence, and we think this was now 1002, with the Victor Rooms upstairs and Gunnar Electrical Sales & Equipment on the main floor.

In between was 980 Main. The 1913 insurance map shows the Bonanza Rooms here, but that was inaccurate; those were actually three doors to the south, and we’re pretty certain this site sat undeveloped until 1921 when the Davis Junk Co hired Snider Bros to build a new store that cost a remarkably accurately estimated $9,949 to construct. No architect was listed on the permit.

Still in business in the city today, trading scrap metal, the company was started in 1909 by David Davis who initially dealt in horse hair for mats and sand bags for flooding. He was a Jew from Lodz, in Poland, and initially he investigated making a new life in South Africa. He was there for three years, leaving his wife and three daughters behind, before trying North America, initially in Winnipeg and then arriving in Vancouver in 1907. En route to joining her husband in Vancouver his wife, Dena, gave birth to her fourth daughter in Liverpool, and then another in Vancouver before a son, Charles was born in 1913..

According to his son David spoke a little English, Yiddish and Hebrew, Polish and a little German. Dena “if she did speak any other language, she never seemed to practice it; she probably only spoke Yiddish with a smattering of English” Main Street had several Jewish scrap and second-hand dealers, and Davis Junk was one that survived the longest. David negotiated bottle returns with Henry Reifel, who ran the brewery just to the south in Mount Pleasant, and that helped the business survive the depression. Charles joined the business in 1933 having attended Strathcona School and then getting a degree in commerce from UBC. In the early 1920 the company’s premises were on the opposite side of the street, with a wharf on False Creek (when it was larger than today).

This building was initially occupied by Schwartz Auto & Marine Salvage, but they moved out in a year, so it was vacant for several years until 1925 when Service Auto Wreckers moved in, owned by J Yochlowitz, another Polish Jewish escapee from the pogroms in Eastern Europe . As the company history recounts: “In 1912 after arriving with his family in Vancouver, Joseph Yochlowitz, began scratching out a living as a junk peddler and backyard scrap dealer. His sons, Daniel and Charlie, soon joined him in his labour and by the 1920’s the family business was established on Main Street as Service Auto Wrecking.

By 1935, 33-year old Daniel Yochlowitz was ready to invest in his own scrap metals shop, independent from his father’s. In 1949 he established ABC Salvage & Metal. In the following two decades, the company expanded to occupy multiple lots on Main Street, Prior Street and Union Street.” Today, ABC is also still in business, with 9 locations throughout British Columbia and Alberta, with facilities in both Burnaby and Surrey.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0668

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Posted 12 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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5 West 2nd Avenue

The Vancouver Archives identify this 1943 image as showing 29 West 3rd Avenue. We were surprised to find it was actually on West 2nd, and still standing today (although probably not for much longer).

In 1944 the company advertised as manufacturing A 1 MAJOR SAWDUST BURNERS, AIRCRAFT AND INDUSTRIAL ALUMINUM CASTINGS. The business had been located on West 3rd, and we assume this image shows new premises.

From the street directories it appears that there was a house here from 1900, when James Sparks, a carpenter lived here, until the early 1940s.

The former premises on West 3rd were still in use, but as A1 Pattern Shop, and A1 Steel and Iron Foundry.

Major sawdust burners were used with domestic range appliances, using a waste product widely available in Vancouver. (Many mills burned the sawdust in beehive burners, just to get rid of it). In 1940 Forst’s departmental store had the “Major Sawdust Burner” on sale for $23.50.

The building was in use in 1955 by Major Aluminum Products, and Western Magnesium Ltd. That all ennded in 1961, when an announcement by Maynards, in the Vancouver Sun said “We have received instructions from Mr. Robt. D. Young, C.A., of Young, Peers, Milner & Company, 1292 W. Georgia St., Trustee in Bankruptcy, To Sell; WITHOUT RESERVE BY PUBLIC AUCTION THURS., 10 A.M. 1:30 7:30 The Entire Plant Equipment, Machine Shop and Office Equipment.” As well as a lot of equipment, the sale included “12,000 lbs. Alum. Ingots”.

Today there’s a car repair garage, but its days are numbered as the site is now part of the South-East False Creek residential area and an application has been submitted to develop an 18-storey rental building, with retail on the main floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Indust P8.

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Posted 9 August 2021 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Still Standing

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311 East Pender Street

The three-storey building on the left is 110 years old. It came close to not making it to standing today, as a few years ago a storm ripped apart a partially-built six storey concrete block wall on an adjacent construction site, doing significant damage to the building and the house to the east, which has still not been repaired several years later. It’s impossible to see the facade in any season today, as the evergreen tree, fairly newly planted in our 1978 image, hides the building year-round.

The building was commissioned in 1910. The architect was recorded as D McAuley. He was shown in the street directory that year: Daniel McAuley, architect. Lives North Vancouver. This is one of only two buildings that he designed in Vancouver, but others were on the north shore and in New Westminster. The developer of the $9,300 investment was recorded as J B Johnston. Other permits showed him developing a few houses near here, and one in the West End on Comox Street in 1908. That helped pin down the developer, as there were hundreds of Johnstons (and Johnstones and even more Johnsons). John Binns Johnson was (at the time) in partnership with George William Richardson in an Insurance, Real Estate and Finance business on West Hastings. There were many more permits for J B Johnson, the correct spelling of his name, including another East End apartment building.

He was from London, Ontario, but at 19 moved to Chicago. He was a clerk there, and back in London for two years to 1885. That year he moved to Victoria, then Nanaimo, and then briefly to Seattle. He married Bertha Mohr in Ontario in 1889, and ran a store in New Westminster from 1890 to 1895. He moved to Rossland, and made money, not by mining, but from miners. He was a real estate, financial agent, and mining broker. He was an alderman there in 1897 and President of the Board of Trade in 1901, and was still resident in 1905. He first showed up in Vancouver a year later; initially he had rooms in the Hotel Vancouver, then he moved to the West End, and into the house he commissioned in 1908. He was a member of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, a rival to the Vancouver Stock Exchange. It became the Vancouver Mining Exchange, and in 1910 he was president. In 1914 he moved to a new house on Angus Drive in Shaughnessy Heights, but in 1920 moved back to the West End. His wife died in 1924, and he remarried in 1926, and died in 1933.

When the building was first occupied the retail stores were definitely part of Chinatown. While upstairs were the Russell Rooms, on the main floor were Sang Yick Chan Co, grocers joined later by Tom Yick watchmaker. Mrs Margaret L Kennedy ran the Russell Rooms in 1911 and was living here with her three sons and her sister, Lily Mathews who worked as a waitress in a hotel. The sisters were born in Ontario, as was her 18 year old son, Earle. Her middle son, John, was born in Alberta 15 years earlier, and her 12 year old, Cyril, was born in BC. She moved on to manage the larger Hotel Reco, and by 1915 Lily Matthews had taken over here. In 1920 Hong Yan Tong had a grocery store, and the rooms were vacant. Two years later Lin Hin Fong’s store was also here, and the apartments were just ‘Chinese Apartments’.  In the 1930s the Good Samaritan Mission, aimed at making converts to Christianity among the ‘Orientals’ of the Province, occupied the main floor, and in 1932 the Pender Rooms opened upstairs, run by Mrs. R Petit; advertised in the Vancouver Sun: “9 ROOMS, NICELY FURNISHED. CLEAN, bright. 311 E. Pender”

In 1942 The Missions to Orientals had taken over the main floor, and the rooms had no name again, and the residents were listed as ‘Orientals’. That year the press reported that “Wing Wong On, 60, was admitted to General Hospital Monday night for treatment of a deep axe cut on the left side of his neck. The Chinese told police the wound was inflicted by an 84-year-old countryman after an argument He was struck by the axe after he threw a cup of water over the other man, he said. The alleged axe-wielder is held at police headquarters for investigation“.

Ten years later the rooms were run by Gee Hing Jong and Gee Jack Ting, and the Glad Tidings Mission were in 313 E Pender. The building was in the press again that year: “Poo Jen Jew, also known as Chew Quan, 70, of Room 16, 311 East Pender, was found dead on the floor of his room Saturday by police who broke down the door after being summoned by the landlord. Detectives from the police science branch photographed the room and took samples of food’ from it for analysis. Poo’s son Chew Yuen, No. 1 Road, Steveston, told police his father had never been under treatment by a doctor.

Our 1978 image shows the building’s main floor home to the Chinese Cultural Centre, who were based here before their building was completed in the heart of Chinatown in the 1980s. Today this is home to The Lee’s Benevolent Association, who moved here in the 1980’s after their original headquarters was destroyed by fire. There are no residential spaces in the building today. In 2010, as part of the Great Beginnings Inter-governmental Initiative, a mural featuring Lao Tse was installed on the west wall of the Lee Benevolent Society building. When the adjacent site was developed with a six storey rental building, the mural was obscured, but it has been repainted is a smaller format on the upper part of the flanking wall (after it was rebuilt).

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Posted 5 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Granville Loops from Above

There are loops at both the north and south end of Granville Bridge. We’re looking at the Downtown end of the bridge, and at a contemporary image taken by Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter and published in July 2020. Vancouver House, the cantilevered Bjarke Ingles designed rental and condo tower had already been topped out next to the bridge.

The before image dates back to 1968, when Downtown South was still a mixture of rooming house hotels on Granville Street and low-rise commercial uses both east and west of Granville. Pacific Street runs underneath the bridge, and to the west Beach Avenue ran up to the bridge, but to the east were rail tracks and a sawmill. These days Beach continues as Beach Crescent, looping up around the top of George Wainborn Park, built over the capped contaminated land from the decades of industrial uses. Six buildings developed by Concord Pacific can be seen developed around the western and northern edges of the park. Another tower is planned across from Vancouver House, with a similarly tall tower of condos over a podium of non-market housing to be owned by the City.

There are plans to remove the loops, which occupy a lot of land, and replace them with new streets following the prevailing grid. That will allow two more development sites to be released for four more towers. The Continental Hotel, which sat in the middle of the eastern loop, has already been demolished, although it was still standing when we posted its history in 2013. Across the street to the north the Cecil Hotel has also gone, replaced with the Rolston condo tower, although the adjacent Yale Hotel has been saved.

Further north the biggest slab building in the image in 1968 was the headquarters of BC Electric. It was 11 years old in 1968, and shone out like a beacon at night as the lights were always left on. (The electricity bill went to the owners). Today it’s still there, hidden behind the Wall Centre tower and called The Electra. It’s now a mix of residential condos and commercial units and was converted in 1995,when it had a new skin (as offices generally don’t have opening windows, but that’s a requirement for residential units). To its left St Paul’s Hospital was more obvious in 1968, and just as likely to fall down in the event of the anticipated earthquake. Its replacement is under construction, and Concord Pacific have agreed to pay $1 billion for the old hospital as a future redevelopment.

In the area above the top of Vancouver House there are plans already approved for several more high-rise towers. The first to be built, The Butterfly, is already under construction behind the First Baptist Church (which is getting a major seismic upgrade as part of the development).

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 215-22 and Trish Jewison, Global BC on twitter.

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Posted 2 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End