1150 Haro Street

This is one of the earliest houses still standing in the West End, dating from around 1892. It would have been based on a ‘plan book’ of standard designs for a local carpenter to erect. This 1985 image shows it before a comprehensive restoration returned its appearance to much closer to how it first looked.

We’re only looking at the earliest residents here, or this would be an even longer post. The first time the building appears in the street directory is in 1892, when it was numbered as 1120, and three different members of the Francis family were listed. Arthur had rooms here, there was Mrs. Lizzie Francis, a music teacher, and William Francis, a professor of music. Miss Maud Purvis was also shown at this address, although the name section shows her as a lodging house keeper on Richards street. The family had been in the city for the 1891 census. Arthur was aged 21, the brother of William, 27. Their mother was Elizabeth, who was 59. Both William and Elizabeth were from the Isle of Java; Arthur had been born in Holland, and it looks like he might have been a hack driver, (the clerk’s writing is hard to make out), while William was listed as a school teacher.

William’s death in 1946 shows his father was Emanuel Francis, and his mother before she married was Elizabeth Purvis. Emanuel and Elizabeth had been born in West Sumatra. in Indonesia, but they got married in Germany in 1860. They had four sons between 1861 and 1869, and Emanuel died in 1874 when Arthur, the youngest, was only five.

The Francis family seem to have done well in Vancouver; in 1910 the ‘Dominion Instant Heater Co’ was incorporated with a $100,000 valuation. The corporate members were William Francis, a broker, Emile Chevalier, an accountant, Arthur Brydon-Jack and Edwin Ross, solicitors, all of Vancouver, and ‘Arthur Oliphant Philip Francis, gentleman, of Victoria B.C.’. The company was established to purchase the rights to Gray’s Instantaneous Heater from Edmund Francis.

William and his brother Edmund were lodging together in 1901, where they were both recorded as accountants. Elizabeth Francis died in 1893, and two of the brothers later married, quite late in life, Edmund in 1908 in Ottawa, when he was 41, and William in 1911 when he was 47. Both their wives were younger, and both had two children. Arthur never married. Edmund died in 1942, aged 75 and William and Arthur in 1946 at the ages of 81 and 76 respectively.

We think this must have been a rental property initially, as the residents changed quite often. In 1894 ‘Campbell Johnson’ was living here. He was Ronald Alexander Campbell-Johnston, born in Suffolk in 1863. He was apparently sometimes referred to as R C Campbell Johnson, and in 1895 he had moved to Granville Street, and this house was vacant. He was listed as a metallurgist, assayer and mining engineer, who had been educated at Sherbourne School, England, and in the Royal School of Mines at London, from which he was graduated in 1881. He managed mines in India, before returning to the United Kingdom, working for a Welsh company, refining nickel copper and cobalt in Swansea before going to the United States in 1888 in charge of the zinc mines at Joplin, Missouri. He was there for two years then moving to manage a nickel mine in Sudbury, Ontario, before setting up as an independent assayer and moving to Vancouver.

He was only in the city until 1896 before heading to the Kootenays, before returning to Vancouver in 1906. His wife, Amy, often accompanied him on trips, collecting many native artifacts and costumes in areas where few if any western women had gone. Some of her collected material, and paintings can be found in the Museum of Vancouver, while the writings and mining reports by Ronald Campbell-Johnston can be found in the UBC Library collections. In the Weekly Report for a Vancouver newspaper Ronald Campbell-Johnston wrote: “Indian relics on this coast, when not carefully preserved, are fast disappearing, and sent abroad; also being altogether and ruthlessly destroyed through the agency of the missionaries, in order to force these tribes to forget their old ceremonies” Amy was also involved in the suffrage movement along with Mary Ellen Smith – the province’s first woman MLA. Her daughter, Masie Hurley, collected an important collection of native art and artifacts that are now in the collection of the Museum of North Vancouver. She, like her mother, advocated for Indigenous peoples’ basic human rights as well as for changes to the Indian Act.

When the family were living on Haro, Masie was shown born in Swansea, and aged nine, and her brother Ronald, born in India was five. Another brother, Alexander was born in Wales in 1900. Both sons died on active service in France in 1918, a day apart and only two months before the Armistice. Their father died in 1929, and Amy in 1948, both in Vancouver. Their daughter, Masie, died in 1964.

In 1896 directory David Sterling and Samuel Prenter were both living in the house. Samuel was chief timekeeper for the CPR, and David was a clerk for the CPR, and the father of Samuel’s wife, Annie. Samuel had been born in Antrim, Ireland in 1865, and his father-in-law David (who was Charles David in some records) ‘at sea’ in 1837. He had worked for the CPR, and his daughter, Annie, was the oldest of six children, born in Bruce Mines in Ontario in 1868. She had married Samuel in 1893, and the family moved to Burrard street in 1897. David was in Seattle when he died, in 1909, and Samuel was trainmaster for the CPR, and living in a different house on Burrard (which was a quiet, wide tree-lined boulevard lined with houses at the time). His family were still in Vancouver in 1921. By then he had become the secretary-treasurer on the Vancouver Brewery, aged 56. Annie was 53, and their son, Reginald, was 25, and still in the family home, which was now on Harwood Street. He was a partner in the law firm Macdonald, Macdonald & Prenter. Daughter Kathleen was 17, and a student. Annie died in 1937 and Samuel in 1938.

John Roland Stitt, a former grocer and dry goods merchant, lived here with his family from 1897. He was previously the manager of the store at Hastings Mill. In 1901 there were four daughters at home. John was from Ireland, and his wife Isabella was French, and John was working in the City Treasurer’s office. They were still living here in 1902, when the numbering reallocated it as 1150 Haro. In 1905 they moved to West 8th Avenue, when John was working at the News-Advertiser but later that year he was appointed to be the Clerk in the Land Registry Office at a salary of $60 a month.

Clara Thicke, the widow of Walter moved in. We’ve seen Clara before, standing in front of her 1893 home on Hornby Street. He husband, Walter, died in 1903, when they were living on Robson Street. Clara was here for two years, before moving again, to Thurlow (with her three sons).

William J Twiss, an insurance manager lived here from 1907 to 1909. He was also from Ireland, from County Kerry, and in 1906 at the age of 36 had married Sadie Jewel Brenton, who was 25 and born in Newcastle upon Tyne. James was the British Columbia manager for Mutual Life of Canada, and played a prominent role in the bankruptcy of the Dominion Trust Company. He built a beautiful craftsman style house on West Boulevard in 1912, and was later described as ‘a prominent businessman, property developer, military man, Point Grey School Board Trustee, and Alderman for the City of Vancouver’. The couple had four sons and two daughters, although one son was killed in an airliner crash in 1941. Sadie died in 1957, and William, aged 83, in 1953.

From 1910 to 1917, Joseph McTaggart, of McTaggart and Sons grocers, owned the house. McTaggart and Sons Grocers was located at the corner of Granville and Robson.  Joseph was from Ontario, and would have been 62 when he moved here with has wife, Minerva, who was shown four years younger, two adult children, (one a lawyer, the other a bookkeeper), and a niece. They had lived ‘over the shop’ on Granville before moving here, and had seven sons, two of whom died as young children. All but the youngest (Charles, born in 1890) had been born in Kemptville, Ontario. Joseph died in 1917, and Minerva stayed for two years before moving to another house on Haro, a block away. She died in Ontario in 1937, aged 84, and was buried in Vancouver in Mountain View Cemetery. Their lawyer son, Donald McTaggart, became the counsel for the City of Vancouver, drew up the Vancouver Charter, and was an alderman when he died in 1956.

For a while this was a seniors centre, but it sold in 2013 for $1.7m and is now a rental property. The 3-bed 2-bath house rents at $7,495 a month.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 791-0727


Posted 21 July 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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