Horse Show Building – West Georgia Street

Our postcard shows The Horse Show Building, constructed on the south-west corner of West Georgia and Gilford, in 1909. There had been a successful horse show in the Drill Hall on Beatty Street a year earlier, so some members of the Vancouver Hunt Club decided to form an Association to have their own, larger hall. Eleven architects submitted designs, but the winner was from Seattle. Warren H Milner designed the $45,000 building, and a Seattle builder, A E White, was the lead contractor (with F C Franklin). (H B Watson, one of the rejected architects, defended the superiority of his design, but had to be content with morphing it into the design for the Industrial Building at Hastings Park a year later).

The building had a capacity of about 3,500 people, plus extra standing room, and for concerts, with chairs on the main floor, the capacity could be stretched to 7,000. Construction was fast – the permit was granted in January and the first show in the building was in April. This was despite the difficulties the contractors faced, as the architect explained to the Vancouver Daily World “We struck a swamp which we thought we would never get to the bottom of. It was several feet deep, and we had to fill that up with concrete. We also ran across great stumps twelve; feet across. Then for over ten days the ground was frozen so that wo could not get a pick into it. Then we had a great deal of difficulty in getting the dirt to fill the ring. We were just figuring on putting a suction pump into the bay and bringing out sand when some excavations were started and we managed to get along. Everything in the calendar has happened to delay us and nevertheless we have got through.”

The use of the building for horse shows, or anything else the public could attend, was short-lived. In 1910 there was a boxing match featuring Jim Jeffries, an American world heavyweight champion from 1899 to 1905. Sam Berger was also American and the first to win an Olympic gold medal in heavyweight boxing and became Jeffries’ manager in 1909. This is a Vancouver Public Library photograph taken by Bullen Photo Co., Vancouver. The date on the original is 31 January 1910, when Jeffries appeared in an “all-star combination” match.

There were a few other events held up to 1914, including three wrestling matches that year (in March Dulwall Singh defeated Tabusadzy, and the mysterious Walter Miller (The Masked Marvel) beat Al Hatch. In June Pat Connelly (billed as The Gallway Tiger, but based in Vancouver) beat Gus Schönlein (who wrestled as Americus, and was from Baltimore) and in August the crowd got their money’s worth from a bout between Dr. B F Roller (a physician, based in Seattle) against Pat Connelly, which ended without a winner as a time limit draw after two hours.)

Once war was declared the building was used for military purposes, becoming home to the Irish Fusiliers and soon renamed as the Stanley Park Armouries. It changed hands, and was owned by Morris Wagner, and he continued to lease most of the building to the Irish Fusiliers. Morris and his wife, Tina, were killed in an automobile accident in Mexico City, in 1958. The Toronto General Trust Corporation administered the Wagner estate, but in 1960 the building caught fire, and was completely destroyed. The site sat for 40 years, owned from the early 1970s by Runvee Georgia Properties Inc, a branch of Sir Run Run Shaw’s family business. It was bought by Prima Properties to develop Laguna Parkside, a 76 unit condo and townhouse project designed by Merrick Architecture, completed in 2007.



Posted 2 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized

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