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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