169 East Hastings Street

We took a look at this modest 2-storey building’s neighbour to the west (the left) at 163 East Hastings a few years ago, intending to look at 169 when a better ‘before’ image was available. Our 1978 image as as good as it gets, and while the facade today is looking solid, (but boarded up) the building behind was just extensively damaged by fire, so we’ve categorized it as ‘gone’. The Maple Hotel to the east was only slightly damaged in the fire.

The 2-storey building on the left was built in 1903 for George Munro, and designed by Parr and Fee. 169 East Hastings, on the right, was built a year later. The architect, and builder, was listed as A Pare, and the developer was Thomas Storey, who only spent $5,500 on his 2 storey investment. We generally don’t dig into the biography of the architect, but we’ve made an exception of Mr. Pare. That’s partly because he was listed as an architect in the city for several years, but this is the only building associated with his name in the register of building permits. To bring up a family in the city, we assume he must have designed other buildings, but somehow they were not recorded.

The 1901 census showed him as Aime Pare, but other records (possibly with French speaking recorders) show Aimé Paré. His wife was Victorine Langré before she married, and while he was from Quebec, she was French. While later records show him born in 1845, the 1880 US Census shows him 5 years older.

Aimé and Victorine were in Portland, Oregon in 1875, and California from 1875 to 1890, before moving north. In 1880, in San Francisco, his wife was aged 23 and they had three children aged five, three and two. In 1881 Victorine was in Montreal, with her three children, but not Aime. He was in Fresno from 1884 to 1887 (with son Eugene born there in 1885), and he designed the Chula Vista school in 1888. Around 1890 he was in Washington State, and in 1892 he was apparently living in Idaho, where his son Aime Stanislaus Pare was born. That year he submitted a design in the competition for the British Columbia Parliament Building in Victoria.

he was first listed as an architect in Vancouver, living on Barnard street, in 1895. A year later he was listed as a contractor, and in 1897 he had moved to Keefer, and was an architect again. In 1899 only Mrs. Pare was listed, perhaps because Aime’s name consistently appears as an architect in the annual city directories of San Fransisco from 1898 until at least 1914. He was listed in Vancouver again in 1900, and in the 1901 census three of their (we think eight) children were shown living with their parents. Victorine, unusually, was listed as agnostic; Aime was Roman Catholic, and the children were Presbyterian.

The family moved to Pacific street in 1903, and Aime (listed as Airne) was a contractor again in 1904, and a year later when he became Amie. On 23 December 1904 Victorine Pare died in Vancouver. “Mrs. Victorine Langley [sic] Pare, a native of France, aged forty-eight years, died in the General Hospital last night.”

In 1906 Aime had rooms on Granville street, and his son, Eugene ( a fireman) was living in the Pacific Street house with his brother Joseph, a night watchman. There’s no sign of him in Vancouver after that, although his daughters Emma, Leonie and Vina were both still living in the city. Emma married Charles McPhalen, but died in 1909. Leonie married John Weeden, and lived in Chilliwack but later ran the Victorine Langre chocolate shop on Denman Street in the 1930s. She went on to spend many years as a prospector and placer miner and died in Lillooet in 1980.

Aime’s client, Thomas Storey, was also a builder, and also from Quebec. He was listed in the 1911 census aged 46, with his wife Lavina, who was 20 years younger, and their 5-year-old daughter, Mabel. He was doing well enough to have a domestic, who was Scottish. Lavina Campbell had married Thomas Storey in Ottawa in January 1904. He admitted to being 36; she was 20.

In 1913 he developed an apartment building at Heather on the north side of West Broadway. He appears regularly in the press, although not in conjunction with this property. He was regularly awarded construction contracts, and also acquired, and sold property. His other activities apparently avoided news coverage.

In 1922 Lavina Storey’s death was recorded. She was struck and killed by an automobile in Oakland, California, where she was staying for her health. She had been planning on returning to Vancouver, where her parents were still living. It seems likely she was estranged from her husband, who is not mentioned in the death notice, which said “she was well known here, having lived In the city for more than 20 years. She is survived by a daughter, Mabel Storey, who resides with her mother’s family”. In 1926 Mabel’s engagement and forthcoming marriage was noted. She married Charles Whitely, who was divorced and ten years older, in Port Moody.

In 1928 and 1929 Thomas sold properties in the city, also 2-storey buildings, probably originally erected by him. In April 1940 his sudden death was announced at the age of 73. Described as a ‘retired contractor’, he suffered a heart attack while working on a house-painting job, and died before he could reach the hospital. In June his estate of $18,000 was announced, mostly going to his married daughter, who was living in Vancouver again.

The first tenant here was F W Tyrell, who sold ‘gents furnishings’. By 1908 this had been numbered as 151 E Hastings, and was home to The Crystal Theatre, one of the city’s earliest movie theatres, run by Bradford Beers and Edward Trippe. (There had been an earlier Crystal Theatre on E Cordova, run by John Murray Smith). The Province reported “Messrs. Beers & Trippe of Chicago have for a financial consideration of $25,000, purchased a number of Important real estate holdings in Vancouver number of real estate holdings in Vancouver belonging to Mr. J. W. Williams, a well-known business man”. The package included the Exhibit, the Variety and the Crystal. In March, when the Bijou opened down the street, the Crystal responded by offering 10c vaudeville.

At the end of 1908 the property was part of a portfolio owned by ex-alderman W J Cavanagh. He had apparently skipped town ‘across the line’, leaving a heap of debts, including three properties where he held a half share (including The Crystal) valued in total at $20,000, but with $66,000 of mortgages held against them. By March 1909 the mess seemed to have been sorted out. Evans Coleman & Evans had advanced one of the mortgages, and according to the Province, ended up owning the building. The sold it for $40,000 to ‘a local capitalist’. However, in April, court proceeding were still trying to settle Mr. Cavanagh’s affairs. He had apparently transferred property to Miss Lilly Campbell before his flight from the city. She declined to answer questions about the transaction. “She was disposed not to answer questions and declared that she would not be compelled to. When asked where the papers were she reluctantly admitted she could get them if she desired, but she didn’t desire. Mr. Grant asked that the court order her to produce the papers.” We can’t find a further report on Miss Cambell’s dealings with the court, but in August the property was sold again, this time by A E Steels, for $45,000.

None of these transactions affected the theatre, which seems to have specialized for a while in showing wrestling matches and boxing fights. In early 1910 the cinema advertisements announced “The Films at the Crystal Theatre have never been shown in the city before” – although often not what they were. In April it was Tom Thumb ‘bring your children’, and a few days later Sarah Bernhardt ‘strong drama’. In May Cupid In The Motor Boat was showing, followed by Gold Diggers. Tickets were still 10c. The theatre wasn’t mentioned for several years, although there were repairs in 1913, but in 1917 the manager, Mr. Brown, was fined $40 when the Juvenile Detention Home discovered one of their charges was playing truant and watching movies during the day. In 1919, the year the cinema closed, James Connors was remanded for discharging a revolver in the cinema.

By 1920 renumbered as 163, the building became a branch of Vancouver Drug Store, with the Crystal Rooms (still numbered as 151 1/2) over. There was an apparently revolving door of new tenants, and businesses. In 1928 the London & British North America Co. Ltd. were owners and the Gerrard Shoe Co were tenants. In 1935 Bert Henry’s tobacco store was here, and the rooms seem to have closed (although there seem to have been residents in the building again in the 1940s). In the late 1930s there was a confectionery store, and ice cream parlor, but it soon closed and the contents of the business were sold at auction in 1939.

In the 1940s Main Taxi had their office in the front, and there was a billiards hall run by B Tomljenorich at the back. By 1945 they had become Balmoral Cabs, with New Hastings Billiards, but by 1948 were Main Taxi again. Marie Wagenstein was one of the cab drivers, and nearly lost her licence in a sting operation where she was asked to buy liquor for a friend, who was a police operative. She was convicted of selling liquor, but the magistrates granted her a taxi licence despite the legal case. (That wasn’t her only problem – she also had a dangerous driving conviction). In 1947 Veteran’s Amusements and Specialties had a store here – one of their specialties was apparently firearms, as a .22 calibre rifle was stolen from the business, and later recovered. In 1950 a raid on the premises netted 38 charges of being inmates in a disorderly house, and two of keeping a betting house. Jack Green was one of the two two organizers, and he was back in court a year later as part of a huge gambling ring covering dozens of premises in the city, including this one.

In 1965 the International Bookshop was raided by the city morality squad of the Vancouver Police Department, who took away 1,486 magazines and pocket books under the obscenity section of the Criminal Code. The case eventually wound up in court in 1967, only to be dismissed on a legal technicality because the Crown failed to correctly identify the owner of the business. The raids continued in 1968 through to 1971, with both books and films seized and prosecutions brought against the owner (who lived in Surrey). Bail was set in one case at 10c, with the judge saying the arrest was ‘deplorable, unwise and unnecessary’. In another case bail was set at $100, and eventually (18 months later) the business was fined $4,000, and its owner a further $1,250. The owner appealed the case, and sold the business (but not before being arrested again for selling an obscene book to an undercover police officer).

By 1978 the store was still International News, and now offered jokes and an Arcade, as well as gifts and souvenirs. It didn’t serve minors, but did sell ‘herb mixtures’ that claimed to offer a ‘legal high’ (but without any illegal substances). By 1982 the rules seemed to have changed. JNK News ran an advert in the Vancouver Sun for X-Rated video cassettes and adult merchandise. But in 1983 100 tapes were seized by the police from 3 stores, including JNK News. Despite continued raids in the mid 1980s, the store stayed in business. In 1988 it had video peepshow machines showing 70 second clips from porn films for 25c.

When the fire destroyed the back, and interior of the building, it had been used by the Street Church for nearly 30 years. Randy Barnetson founded a church here in 1993, which provided both food and clothing to Downtown Eastside residents, as well as regular worship and bible study. He died in 2020, and lead pastor is now Christina Dawson, who is from the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. The church is looking for a new location to operate from. The future of the buildings is unknown, but with the Balmoral Hotel to the west intended to be demolished and replaced with a new rental building, it’s possible the site could also include these buildings.

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Posted 11 July 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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