Mayfair Apartments – Bute Street

The negative of this 1927 Vancouver Public Library image isn’t in great condition, but it shows the Mayfair Apartments are almost unchanged in nearly 100 years. The picture shows the building when it was almost 20 years old – it was designed by Parr and Fee in 1908 for John A Honeyman, and cost $18,500 to build.

Mr. Honeyman was living at 1522 Comox Street that year, and retired, according to the street directory. He wasn’t in the city in 1901, but fortunately he was in 1911, shown employed in real estate, and living on Bute Street (but not in his apartment building). The 1911 census said he was aged 70, born in Quebec, and living with his daughter, Mabel, (recorded as Mable).

John Alexander Honeyman was one of ten children. His parents, John Honeyman, from Glasgow and Eliza Levit (who was English) moved to Kingston in 1841 from Quebec. Mr. Honeyman was 16 when he moved to Quebec, and 26 when he moved to Ontario and started the Ontario Foundry and later the Canada Locomotive Works. His son, John A was born just before the move from Quebec. His father founded a new foundry in Portland in 1849, but didn’t move there until 1862, after two years in Colorado. He continued to spend time mining in Idaho with one of his sons, building quartz mills for the ore as well as prospecting. He finally settled down in Portland in 1867 (aged 52), and established the City Foundry and Machine Shops with his sons John A and Benjamin in 1873. John A had been working at his father’s foundry in Kingston from 1856 to 1860, but then moved to New York where he became foreman of a foundry, before moving to San Francisco in 1868, working for the Union Iron Works. He moved to Portland, working as a foreman, and then moved to work with his father and brother, Benjamin.

Benjamin was still at home with his parents in the 1870 census, aged 23, but his brother, John, had already married in 1864 and aged 29 was living with Jane (28) who was from Birmingham, England and son David, who was 4, and had been born in New York. In the 1880 census there were three sons, and Mabel, who was aged 1. She was born in Oregon, as were her two older brothers Charles (6) and William (9), and David was now 14. The census didn’t say what John did, but Polk’s Business Directory in 1889 confirmed that he was co-owner of the City Foundry with Benjamin F Honeyman. He was still there in 1897 operating his own foundry, but J H Honeyman  had retired, and died in Portland in 1898. John A had already decided to move his foundry to Nelson, in BC, which prospered, and saw him building a new machine shop on the corner of Hill and Water Street in 1904. The 1901 census found three children; Charles (24) Mabel (20) and Ben (18) all still at home.

John A first arrived in Vancouver in 1907. That year the Oregonian Newspaper announced the sale of the old Honeyman Foundry for $25,000 US. In 1908 John’s wife, Jane E Honeyman died in Seattle. Her death certificate identified her as aged 65, and the cause of death as apoplexy. The informant was D A Honeyman – her son David, who she was presumably visiting at the time of her death. Her body was returned to Vancouver, and she was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. In 1912 John built two houses on Odlum Drive in Grandview, hiring builder Peter Tardif to design them, but supposedly constructing them himself. He moved into 1354 Odlum Drive, where in 1914 he was described as ‘foundryman’, although we haven’t identified a business he was still running at that time. The other house he built was occupied by Frank Taylor, who was doorman at the Pantages Theatre, so presumably that was for rental income.

In the 1921 census John A Honeyman was a lodger in a house on Hornby Street owned by Nathanuel Darling, who lived there with his wife Mary. John was 80, and they were in their 60s, and originally born in New York, but in Vancouver since the 1880s after he worked on the construction of the railway. The street directory said Miss M Honeyman also lived there – we assume his daughter Mabel. By 1923 John and Mabel had returned to 1354 Odlum Drive, and were there still there in 1928.

John A Honeyman died in 1930, as did his son, David, who was aged 65 and in Chicago, although he was buried in San Francisco. Mabel Maud Honeyman apparently never married, and was in Riverview Hospital when she died in 1964.

The Mayfair had 12 apartments, and as with any West End rental building the tenants constantly changed. The first time names were recorded was in 1911, when two of the tenants were female. From 1916 to 1920 Miss Anne Batchelor and Miss Margaret Wake, both professional artists, lived together in suite 7. Anne was the daughter of a Cornish vicar, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria’s household manager. She studied at the Heatherley School of Art, and arrived in Vancouver in 1909, aged 42, and a year later looked after Emily Carr’s studio while she travelled to Europe. in Vancouver she was a Christian Science practitioner. Margaret had studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and established herself as a successful artist. before she came to Vancouver, aged 44, in 1911.

By 1913 the two artists were displaying their work in the same exhibitions, and shared an apartment in the same year. In 1920 Miss Batchelor purchased an residence on Barclay Street, and it was reported that Miss Wake would stay with her for the summer months. Miss Batchelor had a summer cottage on Savary Island, and Miss Margaret and Miss Katherine Wake were often visitors. The two worked together on a portrait commission that is now in the Museum of Vancouver. Margaret became ill, and died in 1930, but Anne was 96 when she died in 1963 in her home on Granville Street. There are far more details of the ladies on westendvancouver. In 1955 half of the tenants were female, all but one listed as ‘Mrs.’, so presumably widowed or separated. Today the suites are still popular in what is now one of the oldest apartment buildings in the West End.

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Posted 16 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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