Archive for November 2021

800-818 Hawks Avenue

These modest rental townhomes, seen here in 1985, show how Strathcona has been a home to dense but ground-oriented housing for over a century. Built in 1907, there are nine homes on a 50 foot by 120 foot lot. There are nine more in an identical building to the north, across the lane, but these days those are a privately owned strata.

Both buildings were developed by Charles Hendrix, apparently an absentee developer. He obtained three permits in 1907; these buildings were a $5,000 frame tenement, 818 Hawks to the south was a $7,000 tenement, and there was a $4,000 house on Prior as well. On the water permit the clerk threw consonants at his name, and put ‘Henydrekx’. Nobody with the name Charles Hendrix (or Hendricks, or Heyndricks) was resident in the city. The only Charles Hendrix listed in Canada in the 1901 census was aged 21 and a miner in the Cariboo, born in Sweden in 1880, and arriving in Canada in 1900. It seems likely that he’s our developer, and that when he built these apartments he was 27.

We couldn’t find any cross-reference for him living anywhere in the Province in subsequent years (and being a miner, that wasn’t too surprising). Then we came across a news story that seemed to suggest that in 1908 he had a different intention for having 18 front doors to small homes on the same short stretch of street. Charles Hendricks appeared before Magistrate Williams, and was given a six month sentence.

In the early years of the 20th century the city authorities had been struggling with the location of the city’s red light district. Having closed down the madams on Dupont Street (East Pender) in the early 1900s, the women dispersed throughout the city. As we noted in an earlier post, in 1906 the Daily World reported that some of the women were moving to rooms in Shanghai Alley and Canton Alley in Chinatown. By the end of the year police were raiding and arresting the ladies. In 1907 another raid was referenced in the Daily World, and the article suggested that 25 women were living in the alley. Belle Walker was fined $50 three days later, with a note adding “the police seem determined to put a stop to other than Chinese women living in the Chinese quarter”. According to Detective Jackson, by 1908 ‘Charles Heyndricks’ was the owner of 21 ‘houses of ill-fame’ there. Evidence was produced in court that his Chinatown units produced rents of $400 a week to him, and his companion Alice deBelda, ‘who was known as Mrs. Heyndricks’, (although Charles confirmed they weren’t married, but did live together).

As owner of the Chinatown units, Charles Hendricks was willing to help move his tenants out of the area. While he apparently initially leased some units of his newly developed property on Hawks to the predictable tenants; loggers, port workers, a very short time later, as the Times Colonist in Victoria reported “Hendricks tried to start a new restricted section in the centre of the east end residential district, and told women, formerly of Shanghai and Canton streets, that he had squared everything with the Mayor and chief of police for opening a new immoral quarter. He turned out regular tenants and trebled the rents to fast women.” The court case said that the initial rents were $16 to $18 a month, but the women were paying $45 a month.

He was described in the press as owning $100,000 worth of property In Vancouver, and was sentenced to six months’ hard labor, without the option of a fine, for ‘renting buildings to women of ill fame’. The Daily World news coverage confirmed that these were the properties in question.

The two women arrested in the raids were given suspended sentences provided they agreed to leave the city. We don’t know what happened to ‘Violet White’, from 802 Hawks, but Gussie Roberts from 804 apparently headed north. She was picked up in a raid on a house of ill repute in Prince Rupert in 1916, and skipped bail there.

Hendricks was initially locked up, and The province newspaper reported that “he did not take kindly to working on the chaingang when he was ordered out this afternoon. He was ordered to remove his heavy coat and start breaking rock, but absolutely declined to make any move in that direction. Consequently he was ordered into the station again and this afternoon is confined in a dark cell“.

He was allowed to appeal, and was released with appropriate financial guarantees, but a month later he failed to appear for trial, having sold his property. He forfeited a $500 cash surety, but having new owners, the additional liens on the properties were no longer applicable. Alice deBelda was allowed to leave the court as the case against her of keeping a house of ill repute wasn’t strong enough to convict. She may have advised him that it was a sensible move to skip bail; the US Treasury Records for 1904 showed a positive cash flow of $2,000, ‘From cash bail exacted of Alice Debelda’ – and the sum remained on the books until at least 1910.

It’s possible that it was the same Charles Hendricks who was made superintendent of the Bunker Hill Mining and Smelting Co plant in Reiter (Snohomish), Washington, three years later (in 1911).

In 1913 the Lincoln Steamship Co’s coastal steamer ‘Ophir’ caught fire, and was burned to destruction. She had sailed from Vancouver with a cargo of tinplate for a cannery and some passengers, and tied up at the Brunswick Cannery, Canoe Pass, near Ladner, In the Fraser River. It was too late to unload, so the 11-man crew went to bed. Around 3.30am fire broke out (caused, it was suggested, by a crewman’s discarded cigarette or cigar butt). Five of the crew, including Capt.  Johannsen, the chief engineer, the mate, the cook and one deckhand, slept in the forepart of the boat. They escaped because the mate was woken by the smoke, but the other six died – the ship was cut adrift to burn, to save the cannery wharf from catching fire. Four were immediately identified, but two had signed on in Vancouver, and weren’t named. One was later identified as ‘Charles Hendricks’. Whether he was our developer is unclear, although there’s no sign of him from this point on.

The new owners of the houses leased them to a typical Vancouver mix; in 1909 a lineman, a quarryman, a carpenter, a mill hand,. a labourer, a teamster and an engineer. Twenty years later three of the houses were rented by women; Mrs. Dominca Bianci, a widow, with her two children Elio, a labourer and Joseph, a labourer with the CPR, Mrs. Mary Burke, a widow (with Henry Burke, a scissors grinder; probably her son) and Mrs. Mabel Powell.

In 1949 the tenants here were Nichola Novis and his wife, Alice, Mrs Caroline Charlebois, a widow, Robert Brunelle, a truck driver, and his wife Lena, James Pereneseff, driver with Richmond Transfer, and his wife, Annie, Edmund Pfister, a labourer and his wife, Bertha, John Shukin, a carpenter and his wife, Mabel, Mrs. Mary Smart, a cleaner, James Sobbotin, a labourer with BC Forest Products and his wife, Nadie, and closest to us Joan Chemlyk, a telephone operator with John (an insurance agent) and his wife Anna, and Roger Chemlyk, a clerk.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0680




Posted 29 November 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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157 Water Street

This seven storey warehouse has been redeveloped recently with its more modest next door neighbour. The facade is all that was retained, so today it’s part of a contemporary concrete framed building that shouldn’t suffer damage in the event of an earthquake.

The window frames on the top two floors have been replaced to match the remainder of the building, which was initially intended to have three storeys. We don’t know who designed the building, but Edward Cook was the contractor for the development, which was for the BC Plate Glass & Importing Company; he submitted the permit in 1905, and additions in 1906. The Province reported that he “intended to be 3-storeys, however, he rented the add’l floors as rapidly as they could be planned“. Edward was a prolific contractor with over 40 buildings constructed by 1891. He had arrived in spring 1886, and built a small house for his family to move into, but it burned down in the fire a few days later, and their first home was a tent. Edward developed a few projects for himself, but here we assume he might have been the contractor (and possible the designer) of the building.

The glass business was run by Arthur Bogardus, Charles Wickens and Frank Begg. Bogardus and Wickens had a retail and glazing business, and Frank Begg joined them in the early 1900s. They moved into a Yaletown warehouse a few years after this. They were still based here in 1910, sharing the building with the Otis-Fensom Elevator Co. Both businesses had moved to new Yaletown buildings by 1913, when Burke & Wood Ltd, a freight transfer company, Alcock & Downing, importers, the Carey Safe Co (warehouse) and R Madden & Son, wholesale produce occupied the building. In 1920 A P Slade’s produce warehouse took over the entire building, which they continued to occupy for many years.

By 1950 Eaton’s, the department store, had taken over the space. As Gastown was converted to a destination retail location this became home on the lower floors to the Games Company, who were here in this 1985 image. There was a 1995 proposal to convert the upper floors to residential use, but that never happened. The recent redevelopment initially proposed to rebuild the facade as 6 storeys, re-using the existing bricks but creating greater floor to ceiling height. That idea was dropped, and all seven floors were recreated in a concrete frame behind the facade. The building (including the adjacent Harper Warehouse) was fully leased to Microsoft while still under construction. A French-Japanese music and fashion label store and their associated Café Kitsuné will occupy the retail spaces.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2089


Posted 25 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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446 Union Street

This house is unusual, both in Strathcona, where it’s located, and in the whole of Vancouver. That’s because it was built of brick, in 1930, and seen here in 1985. The developer was a local longshoreman called Adamo Piovesan. He was Italian, according to his death certificate, born in 1890, and he arrived in Vancouver in 1919, having first travelled to New York in 1913, aged 23, (in Third Class), heading for Guelph. (Elizabetta and Antonio Piovesan were on the same voyage, bound for Vancouver).

In 1919 Adamo was on a French owned ship that departed from New York, and berthed in Seattle. He was listed as heading to join his brother, Antonio, who lived at 433 Prior Street in Vancouver. In the 1921 Census, Adam and Mary Piovesan were shown living at 467 Prior St. Mary (who was Maria Biasetto from Treviso) was six years younger than her husband, and had only arrived from Italy in 1920.

There was an earlier house on this lot, but it was built on the lane, rather than the street, probably in 1905 Victor Tiverton had lived in it in the 1910s, but by 1921 the street address had disappeared, only to reappear after this house was built in 1930. The move in was pretty easy – the Piovesan’s had lived on the 400 block of Prior Street for a decade, so they just had to cross the lane to get to their new house.

Eve Lazarus has told the story of the house in two books. She notes that “like dozens of Italian families in the area, the Piovesans bootlegged their way through the Depression. The family made beer and wine in the European tradition and bought rum from the government-run liquor store which they then resold in shots. Drinks sold for a dime, while a glass of bucaro, a wine usually made from raisins and the mash of a better wine, sold for a nickel. Once the Piovesan’s were raided and Maria had to pay a $300 fine—a massive amount of money that forced the family to bootleg more liquor to pay it.

There’s no reason to think the story is inaccurate – although there’s no record of the charge being reported in the press – but compared to larger bootlegging operations the family’s activities were normal practice for the neighbourhood. As a longtime resident in the area’s Italian community noted “everybody did it, it was no big deal. Guys came in from the camps and rented rooms. My grandmother cooked dinner for the roomies and guest and charged for the shots. It was a way of making a bit of extra cash. And of course, the wine was traded, and sold…”.

Times would have been hard for a longshoreman with a family of four daughters at home. In 1935 the dock workers were locked out by the owners, and ‘scab’ labour brought in to replace them. On June 18, several weeks after the original lockout, around 1,000 dockers and their supporters marched through Vancouver towards Ballantyne Pier. “The strikers were met at the pier by several hundred armed policeman. Attempting to force their way through, the dockers soon found themselves under attack from the police lines. Many marchers were clubbed as they tried to run to safety, while many others tried hopelessly to fight back, using whatever weapons they could find. Aided by Mounties who had been posted nearby, the police continued to viciously attack the strikers.” The union hall was attacked and tear gas was used against members of the women’s auxiliary who had set up a first aid station inside. The battle continued for three hours. The strike dragged on until December, when the dockers returned to work, and it took another two years before an independent union was recognized by the dock owners.

Early in 1944 the family advertised “For Sale by owner; Immediate Possession” and moved to a larger home on Franklin Street. Their daughters were still at home; Evelina (‘Bebe’) worked for Boeing in 1944, and was then an elevator operator at Vancouver General Hospital, Gilda was a representative for Mend-U Shop and Leonora (‘Nora’) was a saleswoman at Spencer’s Department Store. Two years later she had left home, marrying Emilio Girone, but her sister Roma was then working as a mender for Woodwards Hosiery Mending. Adamo Piovesan was 79 when he died in 1970.

The new owners of the house in 1944 were William Wallace and his wife, Nellie. William ran a transfer business – a moving company – and the couple had lived in the area for several years. Although there were at least twenty William Wallaces in the city, we were able to find our man from his 1965 death certificate. That said he was born in Kansas, in 1913, and was married to Nellie Maida (who was four years younger). In 1938 he lived at 522 Union and a year later at 563 Union, joined in 1939 by his wife. (Before that it’s most likely that he was the William Wallace delivering coal and wood from an East Hastings address).

Nellie (christened Neldina in 1917) and her older brother, Cecil, (born in 1915) had lived in the area for many years. In 1929 their mother, Clorenda, was killed when the cab she was travelling in overturned in Ladner. She was with two men who lived at the Cobalt Hotel, where one was the night clerk. The taxi driver was initially charged in relation to her death. Her address was published in the news reports as 643 Union, but the family actually had lived at 343 Union from 1925. Her husband, Joe, (Guiseppe) was a labourer.

In 1939 The Vancouver Sun reported “The marriage of Nellie Maida and William Wallace was solemnized Jan. 9 at Sacred Heart Church, by Rev. Father Bordignon. Mr. J. Maida gave his daughter in marriage. Miss Tosca Spatari was the maid of honor and Mr. Cecil Maida, the best man. The bride was gowned in white satin with sweetheart neckline and sleeves puffed at the shoulders and pointing over the hands. A train swept from the waistline in the back and a long veil gathered atop the head, fell from a coronet of orange blossoms and pearls. The bride carried a bouquet of pink roses and narcissi. Miss Spatari was frocked in yellow georgette and wore a matching bouquet. She carried yellow and mauve carnations. A reception was held at the bride’s home where she cut a decorated wedding cake and received the felicitations of large numbers of friends. The bride changed to a three-piece rust suit and coat with accessories en tone when leaving on a wedding trip. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace will live in Vancouver.

Eve Lazarus says that William was known (as many people called Wallace appear to have been), as ‘Wally’, and that like the Piovesan’s, he supplied alcohol without worrying about details like a licence. “Wally was a neighbourhood hero, dodging the cops in his bootlegging operation by night and teaching the kids to box in the basement of his house during the day. He operated a thriving distribution centre from the garage just off a lane at the back of the house, and ran Wallace Transfer out of an old Union Street garage.” The Union Garage was on Union at the corner of Princess. She also interviewed local policeman Bernie ‘Whistling’ Smith, who recalled arresting ‘Blondie’ Wallace for posession of liquor and confiscating his brand new Chrysler car, which was then driven by the warden of Oakalla jail where Wallace was sentenced to three months detention. (There’s some confusion here, as ‘Blondie Wallace’ was usually a reference to ‘Pete’ Wallace who was a professional gambler during the same period, implicated in the bribing of senior police officers in the 1950s.)

There are bits and pieces of supporting evidence, although not of William heading to jail in the 1950s. A William Wallace was given a six month sentence in Oakalla for liquor offences in 1935, and although we can’t be certain it’s the same William Wallace, it seems likely, as his sentence was reduced when an offer of employment for ‘the boy’ was made. In the 1940s, when the Wallace family were living at 563 Union, liquor was seized at their address twice in 1940, on at least 12 occasions in 1941 and in five separate raids in 1943.

Nellie was step-sister to Chuck Schillman, a confectioner who lived at 522 Union before her marriage. Charles Frank Schillman was born in Islington in 1914, moved to Vancouver when he was seven, and died in VGH in 1943. His death notice in the newspaper said he was a sawdust truck driver living at 563 Union. In 1937 he had been manager of the Loggers Cigar Stand, living on Abbott Street.

When he was 20 he was sent to Oakalla jail for liquor offences, (a short time before William Wallace faced a similar sentence), and in 1940 he pleaded guilty in police court to a charge of dangerous driving and was fined $25 or ten days by Magistrate Mackenzie Matheson, who also ordered his driving license suspended for ten days. The family must have been close, as Nellie and Wally placed a memorial notice in the newspaper every year on the anniversary of his death for many years.

In 1950 Provincial records show liquor was found here, at 446 Union – but as in the 1940s when the Wallaces were at 563 Union, relatively small amounts (the most was 13 bottles on one occasion). (Luigi Genovese, who lived across the lane on Prior Street was raided far more often). John Tonick, who apparently lived at the Wallace’s address, had been caught visiting the block in 1948: “Officers, in a two and a half hour vigil on premises in the 400 block Prior early Sunday. After their lengthy watch, they raided the premises and seized 54 bottles of liquor and four dozen beer. Later, John Tonick, 446 Union, was charged with keeping liquor for sale. Police said he had visited the premises several times during their vigil.” (Six years later, Tonick, who was a longshoreman born in Nelson, was sitting watching television in his home on Parker Street when he was shot in the head and killed. His step-daughter’s boyfriend, 21-year old Robert Hoodley was sentenced to hang for the crime. The step-daughter was called Patricia Wallace, so it would seem that the Tonicks and the Wallaces may have been related.)

Wallace Transfer was registered with a capitalization of $35,000 in 1949. That year the company operated from the 700 block of East Georgia, with William Wallace as president.

In 1951 Nellie Wallace was charged jointly with keeping liquor for sale with cab driver Frank Devlin. ‘Officers seized 12 bottles of liquor‘. In 1957 Nellie was again one of 13 people charged with selling liquor, and in 1959 the Vancouver Sun reported “Charges Dropped; Two charges of illegally selling liquor against William Wallace, 46, of 446 Union, were dismissed by Magistrate Gordon Scott today.” (We know Nellie’s father, Guiseppe Maida was living with the family at 446 Union in 1956, because he had his hat stolen. The thief, with 14 previous conviction, got a sentence of 6 months.)

Giuseppe Maida died in 1962, aged 79, and his son-in-law, William Wallace was 52 when he died in 1965. Nellie and William had three children, William (Bill), Danny and Gina. Nellie remarried to Melvin Spotswood, who had been born in Saskatchewan in 1922, but he was also only 52 when he died in 1974. Cecil Maida was 84 when he died in 1999 and his sister Nellie was 89 when she died in 2006.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0698


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

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151 Water Street

We have waited to look at the history of this early Water Street warehouse until completion of the new office building that has been built behind, and above, the restored facade. Initially three additional floors were proposed to be added in a complementary ‘heritage’ style, but the plans were changed to add greater height in a contemporary style, set back to retain the heritage element’s integrity.

This was a 1912 warehouse developed by J M Harper and designed by A J Bird. Seen here in 1985, it had already transitioned to retail use, but it started life as a produce warehouse, built by Willis and Fisher for $16,000. Mr. Harper was an absentee developer, living in Kamloops where he was a partner in a wholesaling and retailing business supplying miners. He partnered with A S McArthur, both in the dry goods business and in property development in Vancouver, including a building at Hastings and Main.

J M Harper was often referred to in the press as Major Harper (having raised a mounted military unit in 1908), and he had extensive business interests. He was also an independent voice in the community. When Kamloops Board of Trade petitioned for the local Kamloops Band reserve to be reduced in size in 1913, Major Harper was one of few voices in opposition, “J.M. Harper merely pointed out that the Indians had never been treated fairly by whites and in any event Kamloops had a lot of room to branch out in without bothering the Indians.”

In the 1911 census James M Harper was aged 51, living on ‘income’, with his wife Elizabeth who was 48 and five children aged between 8 and 20. Both parents were shown born in Scotland, and we can track the family’s movements before settling in Kamloops; their oldest daughter, ‘Ena’, was born in Alberta in 1891 and Norman, their 18-year-old son in Manitoba. The other sons and daughter were born in BC. (Ena was Georgena in the 1901 census, born in the Northwest Territories, and Elizabeth was shown born in Ontario. In 1891 the family were living in Lethbridge, when Alberta was still part of the North-West Territories). From their son’s 1920 wedding in Vancouver, we can find his father was James Milne Harper, and his mother Elizabeth Paterson. James was born in Banffshire in 1859, one of 10 children.

Tragically, their son, Norman Stuart Harper, was killed on active service in the First World War. A postcard, written to his mother, showed up in a Washington state antique store. It revealed that he was in hospital in London in May 1918, having been injured landing his bi-plane. Less than two months later he was shot down and killed while on a bombing mission over Germany. He was buried by the Germans with full military honours, but his family only managed to trace his death in 1920. The 1921 census shows James and Elizabeth still in Kamloops, with three children still at home and Georgina Paterson, Elizabeth’s sister living with them. J M Harper died in Vancouver in 1937, already widowed.

The newly completed building attracted multiple tenants; Olmstead Budd Co Ltd wholesale fruit suppliers, Swartz Bros wholesale fruits, California Fruit Growers Exchange, Pacific Fruit & Produce Co and A Francis Tourville, produce broker. In 1920 The Foottit Co., Ltd became the tenants here, produce dealers headed by Harold and Ernest Foottit. A year earlier they were both working for F R Stewart and Co, a rival produce business whose premises were a few doors to the west. Harold was 39, and had arrived in BC in 1906. His wife Edith Longfellow arrived from England a year later, (they had married in 1905), and their son, (Harold) Raymond was born in 1914. Ernest was two years younger, and like his brother came from Hull. Ernest married Beatrice Thorley, who was also from Hull, in 1908, Harold Foottit was living in Vancouver when he died in 1968. Ernest died in 1971, in Seattle, where he was Superintendent of the Home Savings Building for many years, and was buried in Burnaby.

Their business didn’t prosper, and by 1923 W R Cook and Co had moved in here. Both Foottit brothers returned to working for F R Stewart. By 1930 the Independent Fruit Co had moved in, and a decade later the building was occupied by Slade and Stewart who were also in the adjacent building. Later Robison Cotton Mills used the warehouse, and as the area became more of a tourist destination in the 1960s an antique and contemporary art dealer took over the space. In recent years it became known as a destination for buying first nations art and artefacts, in Frances Hill’s store. Recently redeveloped, a flagship clothing store are fitting out the retail units while Microsoft have occupied the offices on the upper floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2090


Posted 18 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Powell Rooms – 556 Powell Street

This modest rooming house was designed in 1912 by H H Schlomer. E R and W S Smith developed and built the $17,000 investment. Herman Schlomer was listed as an architect for only a year, and this was the only building of any size that he designed. He briefly advertised as an architect in partnership with Schmidt in 1911, and they seem to have received just one commission for a house. His partner may have been Carl Schmidt, who was a draughtsman. His directory entry in 1911 says he was an architect living on Heatley Avenue, but a year later it said he was ‘of Georgia Realty’, and he had moved to Vernon Drive. He wasn’t in the city a year later, and he doesn’t appear in the 1911 census, so he was probably in Vancouver for only two years, just as the economy shifted for boom to bust.

The owners were probably Edward and William Smith, of Smith & Smith, who had their real estate office on East Pender, and lived on Comox Street. They had plans for a substantial apartment building on Burrard in 1914, but the Daily Building Record said it was ‘delayed’ – and probably never built, so this may be their only commercial development. William Smith built a house at 1250 Comox in 1906, and was living there in both the 1911 and 1921 censuses. Initially he was listed as a ‘millman’. He was from Ontario, and his age was inaccurately shown as 50 in 1911, and correctly as 64 in 1921. His wife, Hannah was also from Ontario, and they had two daughters still living at home, Edna and Estella, who were teachers, and a son, Erwin. Hannah’s sister, May Purcell was also living with them in 1911.

Hannah Purcell was 24 when she married William Smythe Smith, 28, in Clifford, Wellington, Ontario in 1885, where he was a miller. Their daughter, Mary, was born in the same year. (She died in Vancouver, having never married, in 1960). Another daughter, Jeanette was also single when she died in 1943, aged 55, and Erwin Smith died in 1976. Hannah Smith died in 1943, and was a widow for 19 years – William died in 1924.

Edward Smith had a house on West 1st in 1913, and Alma Road in Kitsilano in 1915. He first shows up in Vancouver in 1910, living at his brother’s address, listed as a partner in Smith & Smith real estate. William Smith switched from ‘millman’ a year earlier (It’s possible that having been a miller in Ontario, William ran a flour mill rather than a sawmill, as was more common in Vancouver). Edward married Elizabeth Hillhouse in 1884 in Wellington, Ontario, and he was also shown as a miller. Their daughter, Florence, born in 1887, was married in Chatham in Ontario in 1910, and Isabel, their first daughter born in 1885, married in Vancouver in 1913, and moved to Moosejaw where her new husband was an accountant with the Bank of Montreal. It looks as if Edward had moved away from Vancouver by 1917.

When it opened, this had a pool room, an import company run by K Usui, and (like the smaller building next door), a Japanese Rooming House upstairs. He had been the manager of Kobeya & Co, who had a store next door, and was an import broker for Japanese goods and food. In 1935 S Iwasahi was running the rooms, but a few years later the Japanese had been forced to leave the coast and into camps, and in 1943 C Alstrom and C W Vilman were running the Powell Rooms. Many of the Japanese who were forced from the neighbourhood chose not to return, but this is a rare example where it wasn’t true. In 1955 Mrs M Nakatsu was running the rooms. In the store Marine Supply Co Ltd, ship chandlers and fishing supplies, operated here, with A C Vick the manager.

During the early 1990s the Powell Rooms were managed by a Chinese couple. We know this because one of their tenants attempted to kill them, while they were cleaning his room. A subsequent judgement in 2006 outlined the context: “On November 7, 1991 the defendant is alleged to have tried to murder his landlord (Wai Ping Chan) by stabbing him with a knife in the neck and chest area. The defendant is also charged with aggravated assault in regard his landlady (Yet Wah Chan) by stabbing her in the upper arm with the knife. Both the complainants were cleaning the defendant’s apartment in the Powell Rooms, located at 556 Powell Street in Vancouver, when they were allegedly attacked by the defendant who wielded a large cleaver. Wai Ping Chan spent about three weeks in hospital as a result of his injuries and Yet Wah Chan was in the hospital for four or five days.“. The defendant had a history as a paranoid schizophrenic, and was eventually able to be released to live in the community, but due to his mental health he was never considered sufficiently able to understand the arrest process and nature and severity of his outstanding alleged offences.

The Powell Rooms had 21 rooms when they sold in 2006. The building is now owned by the The Harden Family of North Vancouver (and not the City of Vancouver, as we first said), and offers 23 rooms with shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. It’s managed by Community Builders. Their Whole Life Housing services are provided to all tenants in need of support including nutrition assistance and opportunities for training and employment.


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

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Kitsilano and Downtown from above

This 1968 Vancouver Archives image lines up pretty well with Trish Jewison’s June 2021 helicopter view. By 1968 quite a few towers had been built in the West End, especially closer to English Bay, but there are many more today. In 1971, the census after the ‘before’ image was taken, there were 37,000 residents in the West End, 2,000 of them aged 14 or under. In 2016 that had risen to 47,000, and there were still 2,000 aged under 15. In the foreground Kitsilano has added 9,000 over those 45 years, going from 34,000 in 1971 to 43,000 in 2016. The number of children has also hardly changed; falling slightly from 4,500 in 1971 to 4,300.

The greatest density change, and population rise is in Downtown, running east from Burrard (which can be see cutting north from the Burrard Bridge in 1968). The BC Electric headquarters of the day can be seen on Nelson Street at Burrard; in 1968 it was an office building with old houses nearby. in 1971 Downtown only had 6,500 residents, and only 175 of them aged under 15. In 2016 that had risen to 62,000 residents, 4,000 of them aged 0-14. The renamed ‘Electra’ is now a mostly residential condo building.

Vanier Park, the green area behind the Museum of Vancouver (with its Haida hat roof) looks a bit bigger today. That’s because it is (although the slightly different angles and elevations of the two images may exaggerate the difference a little). In an era before DFO permits, and concerns for riparian habitat, Park Board supervisor William Livingstone accepted the fill from the excavation for the Macmillan Bloedel tower that was being built Downtown in 1968, and had it bulldozed into False Creek to create a larger park.

Then, as now, the biggest building in the Kits Point neighbourhood was developer (and mayor in 1968) Tom Campbell’s ‘Parkview Towers’, designed by Peter Kaffka and completed in 1961. That’s likely to change a lot soon, as the Squamish nation are planning on developing Sen̓áḵw, an 11-tower, predominantly rental project with 6,000 units on the relatively newly-confirmed Indian Reserve. Concord Pacific have acquired the former Molson brewery across the street, and are no doubt ho[ping to build a lot more than a replacement industrial development.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 215-31 and Trish Jewison, Global BC traffic helicopter.


Posted 11 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

79 East Pender Street

This Chinatown Family Association Building is a looking a little worse for wear these days. It started life as a simple two storey Italianate building – similar to many others in the locality, and like Yip Sang’s building nearby, making no explicit architectural reference to its Chinatown location. Approved in 1911, it wasn’t the first building on the site. That was wooden, and constructed very quickly after the 1886 fire. The architects of the replacement 1911 building were Campbell and Dawson. W H Chow, a talented Chinese designer whose ethnicity prevented him from registering as an architect, submitted plans for minor changes in 1915. Lang Kwan was shown owning the building, although there was another permit in 1911 for Wang Ching who operated the store here. Chow Yuen paid for repairs in 1920, and Cheng Suey Chung in 1921.

We can’t find anybody called Lang Kwan in the city in 1911, but we suspect the owner was the businesses located here. The grocery listed here was Kwong Lun Hing, and they had operated at this location before the brick building was constructed. Kwong Lun Hing & Co had a store in San Francisco as early as 1880, another in San Jose in 1886. They imported Chinese foods, but probably had wider trading interests. Kwong Lun Hing Co. in Victoria deposited ten boxes of opium in 1888 with the California Safe Deposit and Trust Co. as security for a loan of $5,500. 

From 1912 to 1915 Kwong Sang and Co, and import merchant operated here, followed in 1916 by Kee Fat (later corrected to Kee Fah) who ran a confectionery store here until the early 1920s. In 1923 Hop Sang Co, grocers and dry goods had taken the store, with Jung Fook Jack as manager.

The building was transformed in 1926 for the Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society, a family association who hired Hodgson and Simmonds to design the $7,000 of repairs and alterations to add the third storey veranda floor with a recessed balcony, and the decorative pediment. Hop Sang Co continued to occupy the ground floor. In 1940 they had become Hop Sang Lung Kee, but by 1945 that had reverted to Hop Sang, general merchandise. They were here in 1951, before moving to Powell street. The store was empty for a year, and then in 1953 the Ho Inn chop suey house located here, (not to be confused with the Ho Ho). Seen here in 1972, the restaurant was damaged and forced to close in 1987 after a suspected arson fire that started in a van next to a neighbouring building. It was rebuilt in 1991, and was last home to a Chinese furniture import business that moved to Toronto several years ago. The Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society continue to occupy the upper floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-444


Posted 8 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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144 East Cordova Street

This site was vacant for many years before it was redeveloped. Our 1978 image shows the building that was previously located here, when it was known as Cordova Lodge. Set back behind the 2-storey streetfront it’s possible to see that when it was first built, it was a house. That was developed in 1901, by, and for Mrs. Jones. The street directory tells us that a year later this was the home of butcher Thomas Jones, of whom there were several in the city. Fortunately only one was a butcher, so we know that the developer was Agnes Jones, who was from Scotland, and had arrived in Canada in 1884. In 1901 she was aged 29, over 20 years younger than her husband, who was English and had come to Canada in 1889. They had four children, and five lodgers, including another butcher, a carpenter and a gold miner, and lived a few blocks away on the same street in the year they arrived in Vancouver, 1901.

In 1904 they had moved to Dundas Street, and they didn’t stay in the city long. A year later they had gone. While many new residents arrived in Vancouver from the prairies, the family went in the opposite direction. The 1906 census of Northwest Territories finds Thos Johnes, his wife Agness, and their four children in Calgary. Ten years later Thomas and Agnis Jones were living in Bow River, Alberta, where Thomas had shaved a few years off his age and was a farmer, living with their three sons.

Their former home became a boarding house, initially run by George Frederick Mattick. We wondered if the extra space up to the street was added around this period, but the insurance map from as late as 1940 shows the original house, set back from the street, so the addition was more recent. In 1906 it became Gainsborough House, run by Mrs. Mary Baylis “furnished rooms by day, week, or month. All modern conveniences”, and in 1908 by Miss Jean Bucknell. She continued to run the establishment for many years. She died in 1941, and two years later the Sun had the news that “Seven nieces and nephews in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Detroit share the $9.254 estate of Miss Jean Bucknell, who died here on Sept. 16, 1941, according to letters of administration taken out by the official administrator. Miss Bucknell was proprietress of Gainsborough House, 144 East Cordova.” They had reported her sudden death in 1941, aged 84. Before she took over the property Miss Bucknell had worked as a nurse. The 1911 census shows she was from Ontario, and had four lodgers, a carpenter, a lather and two labourers, and she appears to have taken six years off her age (compared to her death certificate). Strangely, we can’t find Miss Bucknell’s origins in Ontario.

Our 1978 image shows the building as Cordova Lodge, which continued to operate as a rooming house in the 1980s. The site stood vacant for several years, until in 2006 a replacement building appeared. Designed by Robert Kleyn, it was developed by, and for, artist Stan Douglas. Most of the space is an art studio, but there is one residential unit included in the building.


Posted 4 November 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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1200 block Robson Street – south side

This 1974 image caption says it shows “houses at 1216 and 1222 Robson Street (La Cote d’Azur Restaurant and Newsome Rooms) and the 3-storey apartment building at 1234 Robson Street (Nottingham Apartment Hotel).

Today the former houses, and the ‘apartment hotel’ have been replaced with retail and office space. The two houses on the left were spec built by Thomas Hunter in 1904 at a cost of $3,000 each. Thomas and his older brother, Samuel, were from Wilfrid, Ontario, and built houses and commercial buildings at a prodigious pace after their arrival here in 1891, some as investments that they retained, and some for clients. Sam died around 1895, leaving Thomas to continue building well into the 1920s. He died in 1940 aged 73. He married Jannie Simpson in Vancouver in 1892 when he was 25. She was also from Ontario, from New Market, and three years older than Thomas. They had a son, Charles, (Theodore on the 1911 census) who also died in 1940.

The three storey apartment house was developed in 1925, designed by Townley and Matheson for John Peterson. There were a surprising number of John Petersons in the city in the mid 1920s, so the developer was hard to pin down. Fortunately, he moved into his 18 suite apartment building in 1926, and was still living here when he died in 1952. aged 68. He was married to Gina, (in Seattle, in 1915), and had a brother, Olaf, and a sister, both in Iowa. John was born in Norway, in 1883, and he may have been an electrical contractor before he built his investment. After his death C D Hardy and B B Tidey took over running the property. Gina Lindland Peterson was 90 when she died in San Diego in 1975.

The houses, when they were completed joined other houses that had already been built on the block. Where the Nottingham Rooms were later built there were houses occupied by two managers. Hugh Gilmour was agent for the Waterous Engine Works, with an office in Molson’s Chambers, while Hugh Keefer was managing director of the Vancouver Granite Co. They were both here for several years, so probably owned, rather than leased, the houses, which were numbered 1216 and 1218 in 1904, but renumbered to 1234 and 1240 a few years later.

The house on the left of the picture was occupied by Con Jones, owner of the Brunswick Pool Rooms (actually a billiard parlour) at what would become 1216 and next door W Bell, a pressman was at 1222, soon replaced by James Galloway, a bookkeeper, later an accountant. Both families were still here in 1920. Con Jones was an Australian; an ex-bookie who had two billiard halls, one he developed on East Hastings (later home to Only Sea Foods, and recently demolished), and one on Cordova. Later he was successful in  the tobacco trade, where his slogan ‘Don’t Argue’ featured extensively, completed by the often missing text, ‘Con Jones sells fresh tobacco’. The family moved to a mansion in Shaughnessy, and Con was only 59 when he had a seizure while watching a soccer game in 1929 at the sports facility he developed; Con Jones Park, and died five days later, leaving a wife and five children.

By 1929 his house had become the Vanderpant Galleries, but next door 1222 was still a house, where Mrs. Stella Hoy, a widow, lived. John Vanderpant was a photographer from Alkmaar, earning his early living as a portrait photographer, while also developing a more artistic practice on the side. The gallery, opened in 1928, became a centre of art, music, and poetry in Vancouver. Members of the Vancouver Poetry Society often held meetings and readings at the Galleries as well as several galas; students from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, the BC College of Arts, and the music faculty from UBC attended musical evenings to listen to imported symphonic music played on Vanderpant’s Columbia gramophone. Emily Carr and members of the Group of Seven exhibited at the Galleries. He was 55 when he died, in 1939, of lung cancer, leaving a legacy of photographic works in local, national and international gallery collections. His widow, Catharina continued to run the gallery until after the war, but 1222 was still a house, the home of Thomas and Helen McCormick.

The Nottingham continued to offer rooms to 21 tenants, some of them spinsters or widows, and many of the others professionals like accountants, doctors, (including Dr. H Roy Mustard, an ear, nose and throat surgeon,  and his wife Henrietta) and Mrs. Bessie Wall the Proprietor of Walls Womens Wear. In 1955 the gallery had become the Unity Metaphysical Centre (a church, headed by Rev T Conway Jones) and the McCormicks were still living at 1222. The Nottingham was replaced in 1979 with the two storey office, restaurant and retail building designed by Romses Kwan for Daon Development Corporation. The retail replacement for the houses was built in 1996.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-354


Posted 1 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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