903 Homer Street

This former printing works has barely changed in appearance in the 40 years since this image was taken. The original ‘Brick Printing House’ was developed by the B C Printing & Engraving Company in 1907, and cost $15,000. They had previously been on the corner of Water and Abbott Streets, and C B Wainwright was manager of the lithography company. In 1912 there was a development permit for the Hon. H Bostock, who had Dalton and Eveleigh design a $10,000 addition built by Robert McCullough. (That may indicate who designed the original 1907 building as well – built in the few years that we have no permits to identify an architect).

Hewitt Bostock was an absentee owner, born in 1864, in Surrey, England. He had money, and a law degree. He arrived in Canada in 1886, and ranched in the Thompson Valley in the area that would be known later as Monte Creek. He returned to England in 1890 to marry, and only returned to Canada in 1893. He founded the Province newspaper as a weekly in Victoria in 1894, and invested widely in other businesses, including lumbering, mining companies, another newspaper and commercial buildings in Kamloops.

As far as we can tell this was his only Vancouver investment, and it appears he owned the printing business. He moved The Province to Vancouver in 1898, making it a daily paper, initially printed by BC Printing and Engraving. He had run for parliament and won, representing Yale-Cariboo in 1896, but didn’t run again in 1900. In 1899 The Province became an independent business, with Hewitt Bostock retaining a minority interest until Walter Nichol bought him out in 1901. In 1904, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate and became the leader of the Liberals there in 1914.  In 1921, he was briefly appointed the minister of public works in William Lyon Mackenzie King’s first administration. In 1922, he became the speaker of the Senate. In 1925, he was a Canadian delegate at the sixth assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1930, the year Hewitt Bostock died in Monte Creek, Bulman Bros. Ltd. of Winnipeg bought out BC Printing & Litho Ltd. They had printed a wide variety of material, including postcards and salmon can labels. From the printed samples that still exist, Bulman Bros. showed a similarly varied client list: picture postcards from the 1930s, a 1959 campsite map for British Columbia, apple crate labels for the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Exchange and even a school exercise book. In 1938 Thomas L Kerr carried out alterations to the building for the business, which closed in Vancouver in 1962 (and in Winnipeg in 1993).

In recent years there have been a variety of businesses in the building, with office space on the upper floors and an art gallery and coffee bar now replaced by an Italian restaurant.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.07

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Posted 4 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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