1172 Pacific Street

We didn’t know who designed this wooden house, seen here in 1931, but we knew who lived in it. Major Matthews, the City Archivist, labelled the image as ‘The Lacy R Johnson residence’. We’ve come across Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson in an earlier post, in a different house, also correctly identified as the ‘Lacey R Johnson house‘. That was on Seymour Street in 1887, but in 1890 the family moved here, to Beach Avenue, identified in the street directory as ‘between Thurlow and Bute’. Patrick Gunn has found that the architect was William Blackmore. In May 1889 the Daily World reported “Mr. Blackmore has just let the contract to Messrs. Bell & McKenzie for the fine double residence to be erected by Lacey R. Johnston, Master mechanic C.P.R., on Beach Avenue, overlooking English Bay.” It appears the family might have relied on well water when they first moved here – water permit 2030 was issued on May 4, 1893 to Lacey R. Johnson, Beach Avenue. Lacey Robt Johnson was still here in 1895 – the first house listed on Beach Avenue, but not yet given a number. That was still true in 1902 when he was listed as Major Lacey R Johnson, master mechanic, CPR.

By 1903 the street had been extended to Granville, and numbered, but that year has no record of Major Johnson. We’re therefore almost entirely relying on Major Matthews to have accurately identified where he had lived. This is on the right block (between Thurlow and Bute) and as the 1901 insurance maps show this to be the only property on either Beach (which runs behind the house to the south) or Pacific, his identification seems solid. By 1912 this duplex was 1172 and 1776 Pacific, with another larger house on the same lot behind addressed as 1171 Beach Avenue.

The newly-built house would have been full: the 1891 census lists Lacy R Johnston, age 35, with his wife, Maria, who was two years younger, and six children, aged from 13 to 2. (There was also 3 month old baby, who seems to have been missed). Their place of birth showed how the family had moved around. Grace, 13, was born in England, Flora, 9, in India and Julia and Robert, aged 8 and 6, in Ontario. The three youngest had been born in British Columbia.

Lacey Robert Johnson was born at Abingdon, England and attended the Grammar School there. In 1870 he started working for the Great Western Railway at Swindon. He became chief engineer of several paper mills, and in 1875 he worked on the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. He was sent to India, and then came to Canada joining the Grand Trunk Railway, and then Canadian Pacific in 1882. He was appointed Assistant Master Mechanic of the Pacific Coast Division based in Vancouver where he was Chief Mechanic of the railway and the marine engineering department of the Pacific Steamship Service. His work required him to be aboard ships bound for Japan and China. In 1901 he became Assistant Superintendent of rolling stock at Montreal, and in 1912 promoted to general superintendent of the Angus shops district. He took a great interest in military matters, and, as Lieutenant-Colonel, was in command of the Heavy Artillery of Montreal which later took part in the First Great War. He died in 1915 at the age of 59.

In 1905 1176 Pacific was offered for rent as a 7-roomed house ‘overlooking the bay’ – $21 a month. In 1906 Errol Chambers, a bookkeeper was in 1174 and George Hay, a contractor had leased 1176. The tenants had changed (and the numbering was clarified) by 1908 when Albert Cruise, in real estate was at 1172, and Dr. William Walkem was at 1176, staying for two years (he was a surgeon born in Montreal, and brother of B .C. Premier George Walkem).

Stuart Matthews and John Laing were here in 1909 and stayed in the houses for a few years. Stuart was still living here for the 1911 census with his wife Elizabeth. He was from Quebec, aged 60, and a labourer. Elizabeth was from New Brunswick, and the same age as her husband. Several children were still at home, Albert, born in 1883, Gertrude, in 1892 and her twin sister Daisy, all born in Ontario. Another daughter, Madeline Bruedrelle, born in 1879 also lived in the house with her English husband, Harry and their children, Harry, Madeline and Archibald, all born in BC and aged 10, 5 and 2. Harry worked for a safe company. Stuart Matthews died in 1918, and Mrs. Eliza Matthews was still here in 1919. By 1921 she had moved out, and died in Burnaby in 1924.

Amund Jacobson was briefly here in 1921, followed by Leo Jessup in 1922. He was listed as a contractor in the street directory. He was from Huntsville, Ontario, and he married Mabel Patrick in Haileybury in Ontario in 1906, when he was 24 and she was 18. They had 2 children, and we can tell from their daughter’s 1932 marriage that her father was from Haileybury and her mother from Sudbury. In 1911 they were still in Nipissing, Ontario, where Leo was an inspector ‘in woods’. In the 1921 census they were living on East 8th Avenue, when Richard was 10 and Leona 13. That year Leo was listed as George, (his middle name), and he was a house builder.

Once they’d moved here, we’re pretty sure it was Mabel was advertising in the Vancouver Sun in 1922 and 23: “NURSE JESSUP, SPECIALIST IN ELECTRICITY; electrical treatments of all kinds; advises ladies to use her female regulators; absolutely safe and harmless. Make happy homes and healthy women. 1172 Pacific St. phone for appointments“. Quite what sort of apparatus Mabel had access to that made homes happy and women healthy was never revealed in detail.

In 1924 the family had disappeared, and Leo and Mabel may have split up, but in 1927 Nurse Maybell Jessup had returned to Vancouver, living on Helmcken Street, advertising ‘Private Care taken’ in the newspapers. Later that year she moved to Walden Street, in South Vancouver. She was listed at Mrs. C Jessup, so had apparently switched to her middle name, Clare (or Clara). In December 1927 she was back in the press, but not in a positive light. An inquest jury heard that Mary Elizabeth Atrey died of Septic poisoning in Nurse Jessup’s home, following an abortion. A doctor was called, but the girl was already dead. Evidence was produced that Nurse Jessup had previously been charged for the same offence, and was out on a suspended sentence. She was unable to give evidence, as she was in the general hospital. We haven’t found any further press coverage of the event to know what happened as a result of this incident, but there were no further advertisements from Nurse Jessup.

In 1932 Leo Jessup was living on Homer street, working as a paperhanger, and his son Richard was also listed. A year later he was working as a carpenter, and living at 1321 Howe Street. The Sun published “The announcement of the engagement of Miss Anne Robertson and Mr. Richard Jessup, as reported Wednesday, is denied by the parties concerned.”

In 1934 L G Jessup (Leo), Richard B Jessup, and Mrs. E Mybell Jessup were all listed at 983 Howe. That year a ‘theft ring’ was broken up; the Sun reported that “More than $5000 worth of allegedly stolen goods were recovered by the police as a result of the arrests, which numbered In all nine men and four women.” The main ringleaders were given three-year sentences, but there was also “Mabel Jessup, who pleaded guilty of retaining stolen property sentenced to the two weeks she has already served In Jail and a fine of $25 or a further month in confinement“.

In 1935 Leo and Mabel, with Richard, had moved to West 8th, and Leo was a miner. They disappear for a couple of years, but were back from 1938 to 1940 when they were living on West 3rd; Leo was a carpenter again, and Richard a driver, but there’s no further mention of Mabel. In 1941 Richard had married Jennie, and a year later Leo was living on Hornby, working as a bolter in the North Vancouver shipyards, and so was Richard (who was listed as Jessop). After the war, in 1946, Leo was working in a sawmill and living on Hornby, and Richard was living on the same block of Howe, as was Mabel C Jessup, who was listed as a widow, and living at Richard’s address. In 1949 Jennie Jessup was a waitress at the Alcazar Hotel, Richard and his mother were still shown at the same address, and Leo had a new job at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. A year later Mabel was no longer listed, and Jennie had moved to Barclay St, but Leo and Richard’s addresses and jobs stay the same. A year later just Leo and Jennie are in the city, and by 1955, just Jennie.

We haven’t found a record of Mabel Jessup’s death. Leo died in 1967 in Burnaby. His daughter Leona (who had married and moved away) died aged 53 in New Westminster in 1960, and son Richard in Nelson in 1956, aged 45. Jennie Jessup died in Kelowna, in 1997.

For much of the 1920s, 1172 was vacant, and Mrs. Jane Prior lived at 1176. In 1929 two 7-room duplexes were available at a rent of $35.00 each, and two at $26.00. In the early 1930s John Brunt, a longshoreman moved into 1172, and 1176 had a revolving set of tenants from 1930. The building was vacant for a couple of years, and then from 1935 C Guy Temple and his wife Marjorie were living at 1172, and leased rooms in 1176. In 1955 they were still running the two addresses as apartments and rooms.

In 1969 The Tallin, a 20 storey rental building was completed. Where the Lacey R Johnson house once stood, the building’s surface parking lot sits behind a hedge.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N12

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Posted 27 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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