Burrard and West Pender Street, south-east corner

We caught a glimpse of this apartment building in an earlier post, but here’s a better image of the corner block. Shown on the insurance map and in the City Directory as The Glenwood Rooms, it was completed in 1907, and is seen here a year later. J J Honeyman (of Honeyman and Curtis) obtained the building permit for the $20,000 building in August 1906. It was built by Bedford Davidson for Mrs E Charleson. This was Eliza Charleson, who lived at 2003 Haro Street with her husband Donald in 1911. They had moved out of their home, which had been on this site, by 1906, moving to their new house, identified initially as on Chilco, but subsequently as Haro (as it was on the corner).

Eliza Mahon MacWhinney married Donald Brims Charleson in Sarnia, in Ontario, in 1872. Donald’s parents were from Scotland, and had settled in Quebec, where he was born. Donald was aged 30 when he married, and Eliza was 19, the daughter of W H Macwhinney. The Charlesons had a son, Donald, who died in the year he was born, in Sarnia in 1874. Donald was in the lumber business, and owned two schooners, the Bavaria and Siberia, for transporting logs, and he logged oak around Sarnia. Percy was born there in 1875, Edith in 1877, Gertrude in 1879, and Clare in 1883. Before they moved west, Donald was involved in logging the area. An 1881 report said “Mr. D. B. Charleson, of Sarnia, who is one of the heaviest lumber dealers in Western Canada, has had delivered at Brigden station, on the Canada Southern, for shipment east, 70,000 feet of square timber and a large number of staves. It will require 250 cars to convey all this material to its destination.” After they arrived in Vancouver they had a final son, Donald, born in 1891.

The Charleson family arrived a year before the fire, in 1885, and Donald worked for many years with the Canadian Pacific Railway; initially for them, and later as an independent contractor. From 1886 he cleared much of the Vancouver townsite; the Archives have the letter from 1886 appointing him to clear the land, at a salary of $65 a month, and once a contractor, through clearing the land he was also a lumber supplier. (It was a different contractor that inadvertently started the fire that destroyed the town of Granville, and no doubt Donald and Eliza’s first home here with it). Mr. Charleson soon became an active member of the new city – he was a School Trustee in 1886 when the first school outside the mill was built, and he was a founding member of the Vancouver Club, and one of the founders of Christ Church.

Walter Moberley recalled “On May 24, 1887, we had horse racing on Granville street, which had just been cleared, and the stumps taken out from Georgia to Pacific street. And that reminds me that there was one other house south of Hastings on Granville, a very rude sort of building in which Mr. Charleson boarded the promiscuous gang of men who were clearing the townsite. Downstairs was an eating room, and upstairs at night the men lay like sardines round the walls.” In 1889 he got a contract to clear the south side of False Creek, and he also had the contract loading and unloading the C.P.R. trans-Pacific liners. Donald also developed an investment property on Granville Street, also designed by Honeyman and Curtis.

Eliza’s investment property was clearly identified with her; ‘Charleson Block, 1908’ was prominently displayed on the cornice. The rooms were apparently going to be called the Stanley Apartments – the name in gilt over the doorway, but they were called the Glenwood Rooms from their first day of operation.

This was not a nominal investment by Eliza on behalf of he husband; she had actively traded property in her own name in the early 1900s. (She’s seen here in a portrait from the early 1900s). She sold this property in 1920: The Province reported “BURRARD-PENDER PROPERTY IS SOLD FOR FIFTY THOUSAND Negotiations were completed this morning for the sale of a piece of property at the corner of Pender and Burrard streets to a local firm of auctioneers. The sale is the first reported in that district In some time. The property has a frontage of 78 feet on Pender street and a depth of 120 feet along Burrard street. It is occupied at present by a three storey brick building which the purchasers will remodel for their business. The deal, which involved $50,000. was put through by Sharples & Sharples. The vendor was Mrs. E. Charleson of this city.

Their son Percy still lived at home. He was a stock and investment broker, operating the first stock exchange in the city. He apparently lived a very comfortable life, sailing in his 30 foot sloop called Halcyon. In 1922, aged 47, he was already living off his investments, which included buildings on Granville Street (including the one developed by his father).

In 1922 he was dramatically killed in a train accident in Unity, Saskatchewan, while on a hunting trip. A car in which he was travelling was hit by a train, and he and a companion were killed. He had signed in to the local hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Charleson, but his father confirmed that Percy wasn’t married. It was a month later, after he had been buried in Mountain View Cemetery, that his companion was identified; Mrs. Ruth Cleveland, of Vancouver (formerly from Tennessee). The Regina newspaper claimed Mrs. Cleveland had been living with Percy for some time before the accident, although the Vancouver press chose to drop that paragraph. His estate was worth $492,000, and his will left it to his mother, and in the event of her death, his father. Eliza died in 1926, and Donald in 1928. Charleson Park, on the south shore of False Creek is named after the man who logged the slope.

The manager of the Glenwood Rooms was William Hansford who was 66, born in Clarksburg (West Virginia) when he married widow Alice Doster born in Wabash, Indiana, and aged 57 in 1907 There’s no sign of them in the city before the year they got married. By 1911 the proprietor had become A R Hansford and  Alice Hansford was identified in the 1911 census living with her lodgers and niece, Marie Jones. In the census there were 40 lodgers living in the building, with a huge range of employment including an American capitalist and his wife, F W Liddle and R M Ward who were both musicians, Mr and Mrs T F Curror, from South Africa, who had no employment, Harry Davidson who was a brickmaker and M C McQuarrie who was a barrister.

This building (the second on the site, after the Charleson’s house was redeveloped), lasted about 40 years. For a while Johnson Motors operated on the corner, then in 1955 a new four storey office building designed by McCarter and Nairne and named for its tenant, the National Trust (a Montreal based bank) was completed. That building lasted just under 30 years; today it’s the plaza in front of an office building occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P137 and CVA Port P327

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Posted 28 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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