Burrard Street – south from Burnaby Street

It’s 1914, and we’re looking south on Burrard street from around the top of the hill that slopes down to False Creek, a little further north than the previous post. Down the hill there are extensive industrial operations, including a brickworks, a sawmill, boatbuilding and wharves along the water’s edge. There was no bridge until the early 1930s, so no transit ran along this stretch.

The fire hydrants are almost in the same location 108 years later, but now there’s also a bigger, blue hydrant that would allow the fire brigade to fight fires with seawater in the event of an earthquake. The smoking object down the street is a mystery. It could be a piece of heavy equipment, perhaps related to paving the road (at last – it’s been unpaved for over 25 years). As far as we can tell there was no significant building or industrial plant on that alignment, only a boat building yard and construction materials storage.

We know a little about the row of houses on the left. They’re the 1300 block (even numbers) on Burrard, and they were almost all built after 1905 and before 1909, in the few years where the permits have been lost. Five houses were built earlier – and we have some records for their construction. There were two larger houses that each occupied a lot-and-a-half, (so with a 50 foot frontage). P P Findlay owned, designed and developed 1348 Burrard, a $2,000 dwelling, in 1904. It wasn’t occupied until 1906, when Thomas Allen, who was in real estate, moved in.

George Sills was recorded hiring A Sykes to design a house at 1352 in 1905. (We think the clerk made an error, as we can’t find a George Sills in Vancouver). G Thorpe built the $2,000 house, and in 1905 it was Thomas Sills, a CPR employee, who was living there. Thomas had emigrated from Yorkshire, England when he was one, and was married to Sarah Kilpatrick in Vancouver in 1891, who was 19 years older, and born in Ontario. He was a fitter in the CPR shops, and as well as building his own home, Thomas dabbled in the province’s other main obsession, mining. He applied to buy 640 acres in the Cassiar District of the Skeena in 1910, when he was described as a machinist. In 1911 Sarah’s brother, George Kilpatrick, and her sister, Elizabeth were living here too. Sarah died in 1915, aged 69, and in 1919 Thomas married Elizabeth (who although 8 years younger than her sister was still 11 years older than Thomas). Elizabeth died in 1936, and Thomas 21 years later at the age of 91.

The first house on the block was 1310 Burrard, and in 1905 George Fortin, owner of the Louvre Saloon in Gastown lived there. In 1905 he obtained a permit for a $2,200 frame dwelling. We looked at his history in connection with the block he developed on West Cordova.

At the far end of the block Jacob Hoffmeister’s permit was also in 1905 for a $2,000 dwelling, and in 1906 he was living at 1386 Burrard. His next-door neighbour up the hill at 1378 was Ansil Thatcher, a machinist, and he carried out $400 of alterations in 1907. We looked at both Jacob and Ansil’s houses in an earlier post of this row looking north from Burrard Bridge.

The other houses seem to have been built by speculative builders and then sold on. Thomas Morton (who first bought the West End before the city had been created), Reilly Bros, William Gormley, a carpenter and Elliot Brothers were among others who all built multiple dwellings along Burrard in the early 1900s.

Today there’s a rare ‘street wall’ block of brick-clad apartments, called Anchor point. There are three buildings, each a separate strata, nine storeys high designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Architects for Daon Developments and completed in 1978. There have been unsuccessful attempts by developers to acquire enough of the units to trigger a redevelopment, but so far that hasn’t happened. A new tower completed last year beyond Anchor Point, The Pacific, gives a sense of the scale that a replacement might seek to achieve. On the west side of the street, on the corner of Burnaby Street is the Ellington, a 20 storey condo from 1990, while Modern, a 17 storey condo building from 2014 can be seen to the south.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1126

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Posted 30 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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