Archive for October 2021

City Hotel – Powell Street

By 1911 the City Hotel looked pretty much as it does in this 1985 Archives image. The unusual shape was thanks to the railway track that sliced across the angle of the block that faced Columbia, leaving an irregular lot 50 feet wide on Powell Street, where there was a saloon, and closer to 80 feet on Alexander, where another hotel entrance was located.

There was a hotel here, called the City Hotel, as early as 1887, run by “Desantels & Co”. There had been an earlier City Hotel, in Granville, that burned down in 1886. The 1882 directory said: “THE CITY HOTEL, on Columbia street, Mrs. Bonson proprietress, is the only hotel in the city without a bar; has accommodation for 30 guests; it is well conducted, with moderate charges”.

The replacement, after the fire, occupied the middle 25 feet of the Powell frontage, (so the section of the Powell facade later rebuilt with the greater gap between the windows), with a Chinese Laundry occupying the back of the lot on Alexander Street. The wooden building was co-owned by Alphonse Fairon, a Belgian, and R G Desautels, who was from Montreal. M. Desautels had briefly been a butcher with Patrick Gannon, and after the fire ran the Stag and Pheasant on Water Street with M Fairon. Charles Doering (who was actually Carl) sold the Stag and Pheasant to Fairon and Miller in 1888. (Mr. Miller was almost certainly Jonathan Miller who had a wide variety of business interests and seems to have had financial partnerships with both Fairon and Desautels at different times).

Alphonse had arrived in Portland in 1872, and initially settled in Wisconsin, before moving north. In 1890 he owned the City Hotel with Louis Canonica, and in 1892 his housekeeper was Marie-Louise Desautels, R G Desautels’ wife. R G had apparently left the city, but on his death in 1898 was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Alphonse then married Marie-Louise, who was nine years younger, and they are shown in both the 1901 and 1911 census records. Alphonse carried out repairs to the frame building in 1903, so we know it was still standing then. Marie Louise died in 1911, and Alphonse in 1918.

By 1905 the hotel had a new owner, Chinese merchant Sam Kee and Co. ‘Sam’ was entirely ficticious, but the company that bore his name was owned by Chang Toy, who had extensive business interests across Chinatown and in other parts of the city. Although there are no permits available in the early 1900s, the Province reported that he hired Hooper & Watkins to design a $10,500 brick building on the lot that held the wooden hotel, and the one to the east, with the angled facade.

He added to the building again in 1909, spending $16,000 on a ‘brick addition’ designed by Townsend & Townsend. Based on this 1912 image of the Columbia Street frontage, we would guess that was the top floor, which doesn’t exactly match the brickwork of the three below. A further more expensive addition in 1910 was designed by W F Gardiner, and we think that must be the part of the building to the west, which has a strange angle to the Columbia facade, that doesn’t match the earlier building, but which maximizes the space in the building. Costing Sam Kee & Co $55,000, it was built by R P Forshaw, like the 1909 addition.

Sam Kee were careful to ensure their investment wasn’t seen as a Chinese business. A variety of ‘proprietors’ ran the hotel over the years. Alberrt Paucsche & Joseph Tapella ran the hotel in 1908, and Robert Swanson in 1910. Wrongly identified as ‘Bill Swanson’ in the heritage statement, he was born in Scotland although his family roots were Swedish. Married to an American, Charlotte, the census said they had arrived in 1904 and by 1911 had two children, Margaret and John. Robert’s widowed father, John Swanson, also lived with them. The census wasn’t entirely accurate, as Robert Swanson married Charlotte Turner in Nanaimo in 1903. He ran the Provincial Hotel there with a partner, William Hardy, and was apparently briefly a wrestler (but not a successful one). Robert Swanson went on to manage the Belmont Hotel on Granville Street, and was able to ensure all the patrons were safely evacuated when fire broke out in 1937, severely damaging the building. He died in Vancouver in 1955.

Charles Doering, the brewer, apparently continued to have an interest in the hotel. When he died in 1927, it was part of his estate, valued at $65,000 and described as ‘registered in the name of Chang Toy’. By 1940 the hotel had become The Anchor Hotel, taking a Columbia street address. In 1972 the bar still operating with the required men’s and ladies’ entrances. The Background / Vancouver Project, photographed the building that year.

A variety of clubs and bars have occupied the main and basement floors in more recent years, with clubs like sugarandsugar, and more recently Brooklyn Gastown.

Upstairs the rooms are no longer occupied by welfare recipients, as the SRO rooms have been ‘fully renovated’ as micro units, with rents to match. ‘Come with a kitchenette: sink, mini fridge-just need to bring your own hot plate. Shared washrooms cleaned daily. 4 bathrooms per floor. Coin operated laundry on each floor. No pets. No Smoking.’

A new extensively glazed ‘vertical addition’, designed by K C Mooney, has been constructed in wood frame by utilizing the existing light well as the location of a new exit stair, while constructing the new addition as an independently supported section above the SRO floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2421, CVA 359-32 and Background / Vancouver.

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314 and 320 West Cordova Street

We suspect that one of these buildings may be the oldest still standing in its original location in the city. That’s the building on the right at 320 W Cordova, today home to the Old Faithful Shop, (selling ‘well-designed, unfussy, and beautiful homegoods’) but back in the 1960s image, partly occupied by the Dressmakers and Milliner’s Supply House. This location is across the street from the 1888 Springer-Van Bramer block, designed by N S Hoffar. They commissioned another building a year earlier, probably on West Cordova, also designed by Mr. Hoffar.

It appears that this building predates the partner’s development on the north side of the street. It is clearly an early building, and in the 1887 Elector’s list, the owner of the lot that the building sits on was an architect, Thomas C Sorby. This was the only parcel of land that he owned in Vancouver. In August 1886 he placed a notice in the Colonist newspaper “Parties desirous of tendering for a two-storey Brick Block to be erected in Cordova Street, Vancouver, for Messrs Springer and Van Bremer can see the drawings in my office. The proprietors reserve the liberty of declining any or all tenders”. So it seems reasonable to conclude that Ben Springer and James Van Bramer funded the building on the site owned by Thomas Sorby, who also drew up the design.

Immediately after the 1886 fire a number of enterprising developers got to work on building fireproof buildings very quickly – in this case just two months after the city had been almost totally destroyed. Something similar happened with the Byrnes Block, which housed the Alhambra Hotel on Water Street. Rand Brothers, real estate promoters, commissioned the construction the handed the development to George Byrnes before it was complete – and his name was added to the cornice.

When it was built this was the 200 block, and lot 5 was numbered as 220 and 222. The 1889 insurance map shows a bakery with an oven on the western side of the building. By 1901 this had been renumbered as 314 and 316, with a clothing store on a building already enlarged to double its depth. On the 1912 map this was 320, the number it still has today.

Ben Springer was from Ontario, and in the city before the fire. After mining in the Cariboo in the 1860s he became book-keeper for the Moodyville sawmill on the north shore of Burrard Inlet in 1874, marrying in that year and becoming mill manager in 1882, moving to ‘the big house’ and retiring in 1890. Captain James Van Bramer was from New York, and was here from around 1860. He was part of the syndicate that built the Moodyville mill on the north shore. From 1866 he operated the Sea Foam, a steam tug which began regular ferry service between Brighton and Moodyville across the Burrard Inlet. His business interests included mines and property, and he settled in Granville, and then on the north shore, with his Katzie wife and three daughters. He ‘retired’ to California around 1888, and continued to visit his old haunts in his steam schooner, Eliza Edward. He was fined $1,400 for a voyage from Victoria to Santa Barbara, where he landed and left again without reporting to authorities. He was accused of smuggling opium and Chinamen, but with no proof, he was only fined for the non-reporting. The Captain died in the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara in June 1895 aged about 60, not long after returning a further mysterious voyage to the Cocos Islands to search for buried treasure he believed was there.

Springer partnered Van Bramer in his 1860s steamship business, and as well as the Vancouver buildings they developed. They also shared ownership of the BC District Telegraph and Delivery Company, obtaining a 50 year franchise for the operation of district telegraph systems in Vancouver and Victoria

314 West Cordova on lot 6 was a mystery. The building was built a little later, probably in 1905. The site, unusually, appears to have been vacant until it was developed. While that unfortunately puts it into the ‘lost permit’ era, Patrick Gunn has traced the permit to R McLeod, who hired McDonald and McKenzie to build the $12,000 ‘brick and stone store & warehouse’ in 1905. There was a Roderick McLeod who was a carpenter, and by 1906 was a contractor, with a number of significant houses that he built in the early 1900s. If it was a local, rather than an absentee investor, Roderick is the most likely candidate. By 1911 there were four Roderick McLeods in Vancouver, so we have no was of being sure if the developer was still in the city when the census was taken.

A few years later, in 1912, the building was owned by ‘Thompson Bros’, and in 1923 ‘The Thompson Estate’ still owned it. In fact both buildings came into their ownership; they carried out repairs to 320 in 1914 and in 1920 and 1921. Thompson Bros were really Thomson Bros; James and Melville Thomson, who had extensive property interests in this part of town, as well as running a stationery business.

In the 1960s, when our ‘before’ shot was taken, it was home to a Danish furniture store, but today it’s come full circle and is home to clothing store Frank and Oak.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-510

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Barclay and Thurlow Streets, ne corner

This picture dates from 1887, and is in the Uno Langmann Family Collection of Photographs at UBC. It was taken by a Montreal photographer, William Notman, who took a trip across the country on the new railway, taking photographs of scenic views on glass slides that he then turned into postcards on his return. This sepia print has faded a bit, but the McCord Museum (who have had Notman’s photographic archive since 1956) have made a clearer print.

We’ve enlarged part of the McCord image to show how we can locate the location of the two trees. That’s the First Hotel Vancouver off in the distance, apparently still under construction. The gentleman in the picture is actually sitting in a buggy, so there’s presumably a horse hidden by the left hand tree. Notman titled the image ‘Douglas Pines’, but they were actually Douglas Firs; there is a tree called Douglas Pine but it only grows to 150 feet, and it’s a native of Mexico. These trees could have been approaching 400 feet tall.

It’s not at all clear why they were still standing. The area between where the picture was taken (which Major Matthews, the City Archivist estimated to be where Barclay meets Thurlow today, and the hotel, had been cleared by two different contractors. “The forest on District Lot 541, or “C.P.R. Townsite” was felled in the spring of 1886 by Boyd and Clandenning, who, under contract, received twenty six dollars per acre for slashing and felling, and two dollars extra for cutting the limbs off; $28.00 in all.

The forest on District Lot 185, or “Brighouse Estate,” adjoining to the west of Burrard street, was felled to about Nicola street, in the spring of 1887 by John “Chinese” McDougall, and his employment of Chinese in preference to whites was the cause of the Chinese Riot of Feb. 1887. For some reason not known, solitary trees were left standing. These are two of them. 

Later, Boyd and Clandenning were paid three hundred dollars per acre for close cutting and clearing everything off the “C.P.R. Townsite” so that fire could not run through it again as it had done on 13 June 1886.”

This site was soon built on – there were two houses here by the turn of the century. One was part of a row of homes running down Barclay, and another was built at the rear of the lot, facing Thurlow. The Barclay house, from 1896, was home to Charles Wilson (Q.C.), a lawyer with Courbold, McColl, Wilson and Campbell from 1894. The Thurlow house seems to have confused the directory clerks (the number probably got altered in the early years of its existence) but by 1901 it was numbered as 908 Thurlow, home to Cortes Corydon Eldridge, born in Quebec and the first customs appraiser in the city.

Mr. Wilson was so well thought of as a defense lawyer that he travelled to Vernon to defend Euphemia Rabbitt, a 25 year old married woman who had shot and killed James Hamilton, a miner who had had threatened her, and who was described at her trial as “erratic and most abominable in his speech, especially about women”. Wilson’s cross examining of witnesses was so successful that Mrs. Rabbitt was found quilty of ‘justifiable homicide’ after only 20 minutes of deliberation by the jury, and she left the court a free woman. In 1899 it was suggested he might be appointed attorney general of the province, but in 1900 he stood for election in the Provincial election as part of the Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada. Technically this was the last election held without party affiliations; in practice most candidates identified their support. Mr. Wilson was not elected.

In 1992 Aquilini Investments built a 36 unit strata building here, on 7 floors, called Barclay Terrace. Enough owners were willing to sell to a developer that a 47 storey replacement, designed by ACDF Architecture of Montreal has been proposed, with 270 condos and 91 non-market rental units.

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Posted 21 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

546 Prior Street

This is an unusual circumstance, where an apartment building has been replaced with a single family home. It was, admitedly, far from beautiful when it was demolished after a fire caused sufficient damage to make it not worth replacing. It was developed by Mary Parker in 1909, who hired McDonald & McLennan to design and build it at a cost of $5,000.

In this case the developer may once again been a convenient name for her husband to park his investment. Mary was the wife of Mandel Parker, and they lived three blocks from here on Prior Street. (Records don’t agree about his name; some have Mendel, others Mendall; we’re using the name on his death certificate). Once this building was completed they moved in, with two daughters aged 7 and 4 and a son who was 11. According to the 1911 census they had both emigrated from Russia in 1902, were Jewish, and clearly successful as they were both aged 31 and Mary’s husband was already shown as ‘retired’, although the street directory says he was a second-hand dealer, and he was running a store well into the 1920s. They seem to have genuinely been young, rather than shaving a few years off their real ages (Mandel was shown aged 72 when he died in 1950). They had arrived earlier than 1902, probably in 1899, as they were already in the 1901 census with their one year old son, Joseph.

Their daughter Esther married Harry Block from Seattle in 1904, when she was 18 and Harry was 21. In 1908 the Times Colonist reported on the formation of “The Congregation Sons of Israel Society of Vancouver. This is a religious society, formed for the purpose of furthering the Interests of the Jewish church. The names of the first trustees are George Simons, Zebulon Franks and Mendal Parker. These retain the position for twelve Months, and trustees will be elected annually by majority.” In 1926 Mandel and Joseph Parker were sued, and had $1,500 damages awarded against them, when a salesman fell down an trapdoor left open in their store. At the time they were running People’s Friend Clothing Store, 708 Columbia Street, New Westminster.

In 1948, the Jewish Western Bulletin carried a picture of the couple, with the caption “Mr and Mrs Mendel Parker, residents of Vancouver since 1899, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary with their children in Seattle and the homes of their son and daughter-in-law and of their daughter and son-in-law.” Two years later Mandel died, and was buried in Schara Tzedeck Cemetery. We have been unable to find details of Mary’s death.

Her apartment building didn’t stay as classy as it must have been when it was first built. In 1915 the listing said ‘apartments’, and the family still lived here, but by 1920 the Parkers had moved to a house on East 7th and it was listed as ‘cabins’. In 1925 there was a grocery store run by Moich Omae, but no mention of the upper floor. Five years later it was back to ‘cabins’. That’s how it was still described in 1938, so we don’t know who lived here, as the directory compilers didn’t try to identify the residents. One exception was Alfred Norris, “who suffered a fractured neck and other Injuries in a fall from a balcony at 546 Prior street, where he resided, on July 17, died In General Hospital at midnight Sunday. Coroner J. D. Whitbread Is conducting an enquiry.” In 1945 the rooms were managed by ‘Pete’ Pallanteri. He was actually Pasquale, and a few years later he ran a rooming house in north Vancouver. In 1950 he was still running this building, which was clearly undergoing something of a renaissance. It was described as ‘apartments and rooms’ – a step up from ‘cabins’. By 1955 the transformation was complete; there were 12 apartments, with named tenants.

A fire damaged the building some time after our 1978 image, but before the mid 1990s. It was abandoned, and eventually the owners stopped paying taxes, and the City became owners in 1998. The cleared the site and put it up for sale in 2000. In 2002 they finally managed to find a buyer, who paid $125,500 for the site. In 2004 a new single family house was completed on the lot.

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Posted 18 October 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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2196 Columbia Street

This modest wooden Mount Pleasant church is seen here in a 1970s image. Unusually, we admit to processing the ‘before’ picture slightly, as the image was very dark and slightly discoloured on the Archives website, and hard to make out. The church dated from 1928 when it was erected by the United Church as a mission. While the Japanese community based on Powell Street was well known, and has been mentioned on this blog many times, there was another Mount Pleasant community that’s less well known.

The Japanese community here mostly worked in the sawmills and the other industries along the south shore of False Creek. In 1921, the Powell Street Church board agreed to set up a second mission in Fairview, and rented part of a grocery store at Yukon and West 4th Avenue. The Japanese United Church record that “In 1928, the United Church purchased property at the corner of West 6th Avenue and Columbia Street for the mission. A new building was constructed through a grant of $5,000 from the WMS, $4,000 from the Board of Home Missions, and $2,000 from the Japanese community. The new church was known as the Fairview Japanese Mission, and was always considered an off-shoot of the “Mother Mission” on the corner of Powell and Jackson.”

The Building Permit in 1928 reflects the budget; submitted by the United Church of Canada, G E Copeland was the builder of the $9,000 new church. George was a carpenter who previously had been a chemist in a chemical company. He and his wife Edna were from Ontario, and they had two of Edna’s young relatives, Esther and Evelyn McGill, born in Manitoba, living with them in 1921. We know their father had died in 1912, and their mother may have died in 1916. There’s no reference to any architect associated with the construction.

The new church flourished: “in 1933, in addition to Sunday worship, English night school and midweek prayer meetings, children and youth activities flourished: there were 214 in the Sunday school, 70 in the Saturday school and 55 mothers in the Kindergarten PTA“. Once the Japanese were forced to leave the Lower Mainland in the early 1940s, the Woman’s Missionary Society had a kindergarten here. St Giles church at W10th and Quebec held their Sunday School here until 1949, the year the Board of Home Missions renovated the building and reopened it as the Columbia Street Mission – no longer a Japanese congregation. In 1955, the English-speaking congregation of the Vancouver Japanese United Church began sharing the building with the Columbia Street congregation, worshiping here in the evenings. By 1958, both English- and Japanese-speaking congregations were worshiping here, before moving to Renfrew United Church in 1962. The Columbia Street congregation disbanded in 1969, and the building was sold and demolished in 1977.

The single-storey industrial building that replaced it was completed in 1984. Today the area is seeing huge change as high-tech and bio-tech businesses are moving in, with many new hybrid multi-storey industrial/office projects being developed. It seems likely that a modest low density building like this will be redeveloped.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-32

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Posted 14 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, Mount Pleasant

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False Creek from Above westwards 2

A recent holiday aerial, posted five weeks ago, showed False Creek looking westwards in 1981, when the mills along False Creek were closed and the idea for organizing a World Fair in Vancouver was being discussed. That became Expo ’86, and put the city on the world map in ways that some loved, and others think was the start of a different and (to them) less attractive city.

Here’s a similar view, but from earlier. This was photographed in 1954, when the Granville Bridge in the distance was shiny and very new, (and the old 1909 bridge was still in place at a much lower level). The Cambie Bridge in the middle of the picture was the old Connaught Bridge, with the pivoting section to allow shipping to reach the eastern end of False Creek. (The new bridge was built alongside on a slightly different alignment).

Expo ’86, and then Concord Pacific Place, replace the railyards and train repair facilities developed by Canadian Pacific in the late 1880s and 1890s. The semi circular engine roundhouse was initially built in 1888, and expanded in 1911. Located almost exactly half way between the Granville and Cambie bridges, since 1997 it’s been the Community Centre for the new residential neighbourhood (and is almost completely lost in the sea of towers in this view).

The BC Place stadium sits on more former railyards, the site of a box factory, and an asphalt plant. The gasholder and plant were on the north eastern side of the Creek, generating the polluted land that remains to this day, that has been partly capped with Andy Livingstone Park. A new Creekside Park will serve a similar role for contaminated land where the coal gas plant once stood, when the area around the viaducts is redeveloped. As there were still lumber mills and a barrel manufacturer on False Creek in the 1950s, it was filled with rafts of logs. Rolling them into the ocean, tying them together into rafts, and towing them to the water beside the mill was the easiest way to transport the logs. The remaining mills on the Fraser River use the same methods today, and there are still booming yards where the log booms are temporarily stored until the mill can process the logs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 228-383 and Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, on her twitter feed on 12 March 2021

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Posted 11 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

519 and 523 Powell Street

These two buildings were demolished many years ago, and for the time being are the location of one of the City’s temporary modular housing buildings. The building on the left pre-dated the 20th Century (and looked like it in our 1978 image), while the one on the right was developed in 1912 as an apartment building. It cost $9,000 and was designed and built by W J Prout for E McPherson.

We’ve noted Mr. Prout’s history in relation to a West Pender building. He was originally from Cornwall, and he was a builder who could design the project too; presumably shaving cost and time. His client was variously Ewen, or Ewan, McPherson or MacPherson. Probably the accurate version was Ewen MacPherson, born in Blair Athol in Scotland in 1851. His family ran the Tarbet Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond. After travelling to Argentina and Australia, Ewen arrived in Canada in 1887 and settled in Harrison Hot Springs. He had a small farm that supplied eggs and milk to the Saint Alice Hotel, a significant property run by the Brown Brothers. In 1888 Jack Brown married Luella Agassiz, and two years later Ewen married her sister, Jane Vaudine Caroline Agassiz. The 1895 directory shows him as ‘E McPherson, gentleman.’ Jane was shown to have been born in Ontario.

In the 1891 census the McPhersons were shown living in New Westminster, where Ewen was listed as a hotel keeper, although the BC Directory shows him in Harrison Hot Springs. In the 1901 census the family were still in New Westminster, but Ewen was shown as a farmer, and there were three daughters aged 8, 7 and 5. (The street directory in 1900 still had him as a gentleman, and still in Harrison Hot Springs.) In 1908 he was in Agassiz, and farming. In the 1911 census all three daughters were still at home, and Ewen’s profession was described as ‘income’

All three daughters married; Florence was 23, shown born in Vancouver when she got married in 1914 in Vancouver to Hesketh St. John Biggs, an Australian. (Despite his impressive name, his work was as a meter reader and clerk with the British Columbia Electric Railway). The family moved to California in the 1920s. In 1920 Constance McPherson, aged 27, and shown born in Vancouver was married to James Hermon in Agassiz. In 1922 Edith was 26, born in Harrison Hot Springs, and was married in Vancouver to Ernest Baker.

Mr. McPherson was briefly proprietor of the Bodega Hotel on Carrall in the 1890s, although shown still living in Agassiz. The street directory for 1891 shows the proprietor to be Alexander McPherson, who was Ewen’s brother. Alexander also farmed in Agassiz later in the 1890s, so it appears the two brothers co-operated on their business activities.

Ewen first moved to Vancouver in 1910, living on Denman Street. His wife, Jane, passed away in 1916 after a short illness. Her obituary recorded the family traveling over the Panama peninsula in 1862 to join their father, who had settled in the area that would subsequently be named after him, after he had been to the gold fields in 1859. Ewen was 82 when he died in 1932.

Given it’s location in the heart of the Japanese community in the city, it’s not surprising that the buildings had Japanese tenants. In 1920 523 was the Kawachi Rooms, with M J Nishimura’s grocery store on the street. 519 however shows a different ethnicity, with Kashi Ram’s confectionery store. The census recorded him as Kanshi, and he was 35, single, and had arrived from India in 1911. Twenty years later Y Hayashi had his confectionery business at 519, and there were four residential units upstairs, and Mrs Taniguichi was living at the rear of the property. 523 had become the Calm Rooms, run by Mrs K Kawabata, and Tomejiro Isogai ran his ‘tranf’ business here – we assume a goods transfer firm.

By the end of the war all the Japanese had been forced into camps in the interior. 519 was ‘occupied’, and 523 was vacant, although the Calm Rooms were still in operation upstairs, run by Nils Engkvlst. In 1948 a new business took over the retail space under the Calm Rooms, the Three Vets Warehouse. They moved on very quickly, replaced by Aquapel Cement Paint manufacturers in 1950, with the Calm Rooms run by E W Haggstrom. That was the last reference to the Calm Rooms – there were no residences shown here after 1951, just a Scaffolding company, and later a construction company, suggesting a vacant building. 519 was still listed, but remained vacant through the mid 1950s. Our 1978 image shows 519 in use, but with no business name, and 523 with Downtown Glass Sales on the main floor, but no sign that the rooms above were in use.

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Posted 7 October 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Methodist Church – Dunlevy Avenue

In 1889 Thomas Hooper was hired to design the Methodist Mission Church, on Dunlevy Street at Princess Street (today’s East Pender). Another church was built across the street to the east in 1905, a Swedish Lutheran chapel, but that was much more modest than Mr. Hooper’s building. There was also a Japanese Methodist Mission designed by Hooper and Watkins and built 15 years later a few blocks to the north.

The Daily World reported “The church will be built of frame with a frontage of 44 feet on Dunlevy Avenue and a depth of 60 feet on Princess Street, and a total height to the ridge of the roof of about 40 feet. The seating capacity will be about 300. The edifice will be put at the back of the lots, of which there are three, so that, later on, it can be converted into a schoolroom when the main church building is constructed. The plans of the building call for a vestry, class-room and choir gallery, apart from the general auditorium.”

In practice, this wasn’t a very good location to try to convert the Chinese population to Methodism, and In 1900 the mission moved to a purpose built building in the heart of Chinatown on Carrall at Dupont Street. In 1901 a new church building was started – the one in this 1905 image. The Province reported “The members of the congregation of the Princess street Methodist church have decided to erect a new edifice to replace the present church, which has become too small to accommodate the ever-increasing membership, and work on the new building will be rushed with all possible speed. This morning Contractor Carter had force of men a, work breaking ground for the foundation of the new building, which is to adjoin the present church. The old building will be utilized as a Sunday school upon the completion of the new. The church was designed by Architect Hooper of Victoria about twelve years ago, And he was recently asked to prepare drawings for a new auditorium, and also for the remodelling of the old building on modern lines. The new auditorium will have double the seating capacity of the present on and in design it will be the latest, the style followed being that known as “the pulpit In the corner church,” with dished floor, and the choir stalls will be at the side of the pulpit. All the windows will be of stained glass, and the ceiling vaulted. A sliding partition In the wall of the auditorium adjoining the Sunday school will give access to that part of the building. A balcony is to be erected in the Sunday school, and It will be subdivided Into classrooms of various sizes by movable glass partitions. The Sunday school building will also contain a commodious lecture-room, ladies’ parlor, library, and other rooms.

The church celebrated its anniversary in 1916 with services from guest preachers, the choir performing in the afternoon, and a surprising event in the afternoon “At 4 p.m. an illustrated address on “Social Diseases” will be given by Dr. Ernest A. Hall of Victoria. This lecture will be for men only and all men are cordially Invited to be present. Dr. Hall is well known as an authority on the subject of his address, and his clear and vivid talk to men has attracted large crowds wherever he has had the opportunity of speaking.” On Monday evening the Rev Hibbert of New Westminster showed lantern slides of his five years in Dawson City in the Yukon. Those were deemed acceptable to the ladies of the congregation.

Princess Street Methodist Church, which had become Central Methodist Church in 1908, became known as the Turner Institute in 1919, in honor of Rev. James Turner, the pioneer missionary of British Columbia. In 1925 the First Presbyterian, which was also nearby, amalgamated with the Turner Institute to form the First United Church.

We know there was a fire here, because there’s a picture in the Archives from 1935, but we can’t find a reference to exactly when it happened, or what happened to the structure, although as a result it seems that the site was cleared for some years.

In the early 1950s the YMCA developed a building here, and operated until 1978 when the Chinese Mennonite Church acquired the building. In 1984, the old YMCA building was demolished and a new church building designed by Siegfried Toews was constructed, and in 1995 the building was extended to add a 32 room seniors home designed by Isaac Renton Donald. Recently the church sold the building to the Atira Women’s Resource Society, but continue to lease the church space, now called the Chinatown Peace Church.

Image source Vancouver Public Library and CVA 447-143

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Posted 4 October 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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