301 & 307 Main Street

These two modest rooming houses are likely to be redeveloped very soon as a new non-market housing project. The Jay Rooms on the corner date back to around 1894, while The Vet’s Rooms to the south were a 1902 investment by Baynes & Horie, who developed, designed and built the brick-fronted frame building for $2,500. Their corner neighbour saw a remodelling of the earlier building in 1913 when it was owned by Edward McFeely, who hired W T Whiteway to design the $5,000 work built by E Cox. (Coincidentally, Baynes & Horie had carried out alterations to the first building on the corner, by adding a kitchen in 1903).

We don’t know who originally developed the corner, but in 1894 The Mountain View Boarding House appeared in the street directory on Oppenheimer Street, run by Mrs. Thomas. A year later the address switched to East Cordova, and she was named as Mrs William Thomas. In 1901 she was still running the boarding house, identified in the census as Mary E Thomas, with five lodgers, and her daughter, Martha, living with her. She was shown as aged 59, and her daughter 23, and both were from Ontario. In 1891 the family lived in New Westminster. There were four other children at home – Martha was the youngest – and William was a sailor.

In 1911 she had given up running the boarding house and was a widow, living with her son-in-law, Edward Odlum, on Grant Street. He was only 9 years younger than Mary, but his wife, Matilda was 34. (Matilda was Martha’s middle name). Edward’s first wife, Mary, had died in Tokyo in 1888 aged 34, leaving Edward with four young children including newborn twins.

Edgar Baynes and William Horie were partners in a construction business they started in 1893, and were responsible for constructing over a hundred of the city’s buildings, with a number of them investments for their personal portfolio of property. 307 Westminster Avenue was a relatively small building for them, and by 1915 real estate mogul William Holden had bought the building. Ed McFeely, who was a partner in McLennan, McFeely and Company Limited, the city’s most successful importer of hardware and building supplies. He continued to spend money on alterations to the corner building, including $150 in 1926. He was from Ontario, and was in Vancouver before the 1886 fire. He was immensely successful in business, and died in 1928 one month after retiring, a year after his partner in business, Robert McLennan.

The original corner building was home in 1896 to G Claasen’s grocery store and in 1902 to Clarke & Rogerson, grocers, and Ben Christensen, a shoemaker. Upstairs the Mountain View Hotel was on two floors, with a corner turret, and addressed as 170 E Cordova. A year later Ben’s store was vacant, and Walter Merkley, who sold dry goods had moved into the new store next door. In 1906 Jacob Parker had a second-hand store on the corner, J F Munro, a tailor was next door, and T Galloway’s stationery store was in the brick building with Mrs. W. J. Ore running the furnished rooms upstairs.

In 1914 The Atlas Cafe occupied the corner, the Northern Oil Co were next door, and Walter Galloway was running the stationery store, and apparently lived upstairs, with no mention of rooms above 307. However, over the cafe, the Mountain View had become the Stockholm Rooms which were addressed as 172 E Cordova. By 1930 they had become the Phoenix Rooms, over The Main Clothing Store, the Star Barber Shop, and next door the People’s Mission. In 1936 R Reusch ran the rooms, and in 1938 the Yamane Rooms were operated by Kamech and Umeko Yamane until 1942. There was a strong Japanese presence on the block; photographer Motozo Toyama and his Columbia Studio were located on that side of the street until 1942, when the Japanese community were forced to leave the coast. He was the community’s go to photographer. In 1943 the rooms were The Victor Rooms, and by 1950 they were The Jay Rooms. J Zbarsky’s clothing store was on the corner, the barbers had remained for over two decades, and next door Mrs. J Thomson ran a rooming house over the Main Cleaners.

In 1972 there was a fire, leaving the building damaged, (our image above) and the top floor was removed. Our main 1978 image shows York’s Restaurant on the corner, and Eddie’s next door – a lock repairer and saw filer, with the Vet’s Rooms upstairs. Since then Vic’s restaurant, which occupied the corner (and was featured in the DaVinci TV series), reopened as a Blenz coffee shop, then closed again and is now a free clothing store run by Atira Women’s Resource Society. Eddie’s is, for now, a convenience store, and a vacant unit.

1153

Posted 3 February 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: