389 East Hastings Street

There’s not a lot of change to this building in over 40 years, since our 1978 image was taken. The house here was built by builder Robert Maxwell for Dr. Thomas Jeffs, whose home was initially addressed as 341 East Hastings, although his medical practice (in partnership with Dr. W B McKechnie) was on Cambie Street. Dr. Jeffs spent $1,800 on building his home in 1901.

William Jeffs and Margaret Weir brought two of their family to Canada from Ireland: James, born in 1839 and Isaac. Once arrived here, John was born in 1844 in Ontario, George in 1846 (who died in Vancouver), Sarah and Thomas, who was aged 4 in the 1861 census. William was a farmer, and his four eldest sons were shown in 1861 as labourers. The early census suggests Thomas was born around 1857 or 1858, and his death in 1923 aged 65 shows that he was born in Queensboro, Ontario, in 1858, (although other records suggest 1857). By 1871 Isaac had become a clerk, and only George (who was known by his middle name, Armour), was farming with his father. Thomas attended Toronto University to obtain his MD, and initially practiced medicine in Ontario.

Thomas Jeffs married Sarah Waller in 1882, in Hastings Ontario, and three years later, Charles Edward Jeffs was born. Sarah died in November 1887. In 1891 Thomas was in Peterborough, in Ontario with a wife called Minnie, aged 28 (so born around 1863) shown two years older than her husband, (recorded as William), a physician and surgeon. There were no children shown, but Francis, William’s younger brother was in the household, aged 18 and working as a druggist.

Thomas W Jeffs, a physician, and Mary Couen were recorded being married in York, Toronto, Ontario on June 29 1895, with W McKechnie and Annie Couen as witnesses. Thomas was shown born in 1858 and Mary in 1864. Mary’s parents were shown as Charles Couen, and Martha Reid. Mary’s father, Charles Cowan married Martha Reid in 1855, in Simcoe in Ontario. They had a daughter, Annie, in 1868 who married William Boyd McKechnie. (Annie died in Spallumeheen in 1948). They also had a son, Charles in 1865 and a daughter, Martha in 1861 (who also died in Vancouver, in 1934).

Thomas and Minnie (Mary) Jeffs moved to Cumberland in BC in the year they married, then to Revelstoke, and the family were first recorded in Vancouver in the 1899-1900 directory, with the Cambie surgery, and living on Denman. A year later they had moved to 522 Gore, a few blocks from here, and Dr. McKechnie, who had practiced in Revelstoke from 1896 to 1900 had joined the practice. We assume that the doctor’s wives were sisters.

For the 1901 census there were some seriously inaccurate ages recorded; it said Mary was 11 years younger than Thomas (showing him born in 1860, and her in 1871). Thomas’s son, Charles, was now living with them, born in 1888 in Ontario. The couple added William to the family in 1896 and Mary in 1900. In the 1911 census Thomas’s wife was called Minnie, and she was two years older than him, now suggesting 1864, (so knocking six years off his age) with her born in 1866 (so two years less than reality). William was 14 and Mary 10. (When Charles died in Seattle in 1941, in Seattle, his mother was recorded as Minnie Jeffs).

This block of East Hastings was oddly numbered in the early 1900s so this was 341 in 1901 (the year Dr. Jeffs built the house, and was listed that year in the street directory), but by 1911 had been renumbered to 389. By 1903 a second Dr. McKechnie had arrived in Vancouver, Dr. R E McKechnie, who was in partnership with Dr. Tunstall, and as far as we can tell, unrelated.

Dr. Jeffs was a director of the Orange Hall, elected as an alderman in 1906, Police Commissioner in 1907 and was appointed coroner in 1909, a position he held for many years. In 1907 he built a big house on Salisbury Drive that cost $6,000, and the family lived there until 1920. (That house was moved on its site, and restored a few years ago). He built a new home on Charles Street in 1922, but died in 1923.

The Ing Suey Sun Tong Association purchased this house on East Hastings and Dunlevy through donations from members in 1920. It looks as if the store was added in 1921; a permit was approved for $2,000 of alterations that year, designed by H H Simmonds. Wa Young and Co made minor repairs in the 1920s; they ran the grocers in the store. The family association still own the building, although their members are increasingly aged and infirm. In the 1950s new arrivals to Canada could share a dormitory on the upper floor for $3 a month – up to 20 people lived here. Today you’re more likely to find a game of mahjong in progress.

1190

Posted 13 June 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: