628 Harris Street

These days this is East Georgia Street, but it was still Harris in 1911 when W J Dickinson built an apartment building. Misleadingly, the clerk recorded this as a ‘1-storey frame dwelling house’ but it has always been a 3-storey building, designed by A E Cline and costing $8,000 to build.

Initially we couldn’t find Mr. Dickinson; however, we got lucky when the newspapers reported that Hazel Dickinson, daughter of W J Dickinson, got married in 1911 to Frederick Bescoby. That allowed us to find her parents, William John Dickinson and Isabella C Bundy. The marriage certificate shows that ‘Hazel’ had been christened Ada Marinia Dickinson, but clearly that wasn’t how she was known within the family. Both parents were from England; (Isabella was from London). Hazel had been born in Winnipeg, and she had two younger brothers, ‘Hugh’ (christened Robert) and George, aged 20 and 13, who had been born in BC. Robert Lister Dickinson’s birth record shows his mother had been Isabella Caroline Bundy before she married. She was born in St. George In The East, London, and christened in St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, Bermondsey (south London, although part of Surrey in 1860). Her father was Jabez Robert Bundy, (recorded as Bundey on her christening record) and her mother was called Caroline.

In 1911 W. J was shown as retired, but we can find Hazel, and so the whole family, in the 1901 census. There they were inaccurately recorded as Dickenson, and at that time William was working as a moulder. That sounds correct, as William John Dickinson was shown living at 622 Harris in 1901. In 1895 the Conservative Association held an election where W J Dickinson was elected to the executive committee. At that time he was a moulder at the B C Ironworks.

This building was, as we’ve seen with other buildings, a redevelopment of a reasonably recently built house to create a larger investment property. Often the developer lived in the redeveloped home, but in this case Mr. Dickinson lived two doors away. In 1892 he was shown as a moulder at the South Vancouver Foundry, and living on ‘Harris Street, south side, fourth north of Heatley’. At that point the numbers had not been allocated, but by 1901 that would be 622 Harris. The first mention we can find is in 1891, when Mr. Dickinson was in rooms on Powell Street, and the census shows that was when the family arrived in Vancouver.

The 1913 insurance map shows that 622 Harris had been renumbered to 618, and the directory shows that Fred Bescoby was living there. Presumably it was a favorable rental while the house that the Bescoby’s were building was being completed. In 1914 the Dickinson’s were living on Victoria Drive, the Bescoby’s on West 5th Avenue, and this had become listed as The Dickinson Apartments, with five units, and a grocery store run by Hyman Bloom.

William John Dickinson died, aged 83, in 1942, and Isabella a year later, aged 82. Their son Robert was only 61 when he died in 1952, and son-in-law Frederick Bescoby in 1964 at the age of 82. Their daughter Isabel died in 1969, and an earlier daughter, May, died aged 17 in 1933. Hazel Bescoby died in 1978, aged 89, outlived only by her brother, George Vancouver Dickinson, who died in 1980 aged 82. Her married daughter, Hazel Wilson, died in 1995.

In 1940 these were still the Dickinson Apartments, now divided into seven, with S Oyami’s grocery. It appears that following Mr. Oyami’s removal from the Lower Mainland, the store became another apartment, home to Anton Perry and his wife Jessie in 1945 (although Anton was away on active service). The apartments were numbered oddly, presumably reflecting how they were split over time. In 1945 they were one, two, three, three and a half, four, five and seven. In 1955 there were nine apartments numbered one two, two and a half, three, four, six, seven, nine and ten. 628, the former store, was occupied by Hamilton Products, a janitorial supply business. Our 1978 image shows the building when it was being offered for sale.

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Posted 7 April 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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