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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