Haro Street Children’s Hospital

In 1919 when this image was taken, the Children’s Hospital was in the West End. It was owned by the City of Vancouver, who were responsible for some aspects of healthcare, and they had developed the ‘3-storey reinforced concrete creche’ in 1913. The architect was obscure: A Williams and Company, and George Williamson built the $43,800 project. Alfred Williams wasn’t actually an architect, but rather a consulting engineer. The new building involved the demolition of several houses built in the early 1890s.

The creche was a day nursery, run by the Associated Charities of Vancouver, and initially established in a house on Thurlow Street. The Medical Officer for Health, Dr. Underhill, supported the project as a way of improving child health in the city – which he said had the highest rate of child mortality in Canada. When this opened in 1914 it was only the second purpose-built childcare facility in Canada. (One in Toronto opened a few months earlier). By 1916 there was a sharp drop in attendance due to a shortage of employment for domestic workers (with the war economy in operation), so the Vancouver General Hospital took over the building in 1917. The creche moved to the Relief Department building, on Cambie Street, and this became the Infant’s Department of the hospital. It remained in that use until 1951.

The building was empty in 1952, and in 1953 the McRae Hotel was operating here. It offered daily and weekly rates, and free parking.¬†Other than advertisements for rooms, it only seems to have featured once in its years of operation when in 1967 “A man accused of beating up three women had the charges against him Wednesday when the complainants failed to appear at his trial. Prosecutor John Hall told Magistrate Bernard Isman he was forced to withdraw charges against, John Hamel, 37, who gave his address as the McRae Hotel, because the three complainants had moved out of town and could not be located.” It was still operating in early 1969, “Rooms from $12 weekly, 5 min. walking distance to downtown”.

We haven’t found any pictures of Haro Street to confirm that the hotel was created from the hospital building, but a 1960 aerial image confirms it was still standing, so we assume that to be the case. In 1970 ‘Central Plaza’ a 21-storey rental tower replaced the hotel, and the apartment building next door. That was the Lindsay lodge Apartments, developed in 1912 by Mrs G S McConnell, and designed by ‘Mr McMartin’ at a cost of $16,000. Gilbert McConnell and his wife lived at 1168 Haro in 1912, and had moved to Barclay Street a year later. Nettie McConnell clearly followed her husband’s development experience, which included developing the McConnell Block in 1890. Her choice of architect was as obscure as the hospital’s designer; there was nobody in Vancouver called McMartin who might have designed the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-225

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Posted 10 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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