The Selkirk – 1225 Barclay Street

This is another 1920s West End rental building, but unlike many of the buildings built in the mid-war years, this one hasn’t survived. Gardiner & Mercer designed it in a similar ‘mission’ style to several other buildings they designed in the mid 1920s. This was built in 1926, (and photographed a year later) costing J Stenhouse, its developer $55,000 to have Smith Bros. & Wilson build it.

John Stenhouse was the accountant at Vancouver Barber Supply, and he lived next door at 1213 Barclay Street. When the Selkirk was completed, the house became the Selkirk Annex apartments, and John moved to an apartment at 1170 Barclay, the Florida Apartments.

We had problems finding John; we knew his wife was called May, and that they had a daughter in the early 1930s called Carole. He wasn’t in the city in the 1921 census, the most recent we can currently access. We finally found a clipping with an obituary of John’s brother, James, who died of a heart attack aged 50 in 1943. James was a stonecutter, living in Ohio, and his father, also James, was alive, and living in Hawick in Scotland. He died three years later, and his gravestone tells us that John’s mother was Janet Hind, a sculptor. We were able to find John’s birth, in Hawick in 1891, and his wife; Rena May Muttart, who was from PEI, born in 1900. John came to Canada in 1910. In 1916 Rena was living with her family in Edmonton and John was living in Lethbridge. She was still at school in 1918. In December 1934 we find him retired at age 43 with his wife Rena, 34, and their infant daughter Carole (who was born that year) aboard the Letitia of the Donaldson Line travelling from Quebec to Glasgow on a visit.

In 1947 the Province reported an accident: “Propeller Hits Arm, City Pilot Injured John Stenhouse, 60, suffered an arm fracture Sunday when he attempted to start the motor of his airplane. His arm was caught by the propeller. A light plane pilot Mr. Stenhouse is the proprietor of a barber and beauty shop supply house in Vancouver. He lives at 1432 West Forty-seventh.” (John was 56, not 60).

In 1948 Rena was working as a saleswoman for Mme Runge, a clothing store in South Granville, In 1949 It appears that John and Rena had separated, as she was shown living on West 1st Avenue. In 1952 she had become Mrs. Rena Aston, marrying Cecil Aston who was president of the Medical Hall Drug Co.

In 1952, John Stenhouse’s presumed death generated an unusual story in the local press: “Girl Given Two Years To Decide A 19-year-old city girl has been given two years to decide whether to fight her mother’s claim for a half share of the $289,000 left by her father when he disappeared more than a year ago, Chief Justice Farris Thursday adjourned the Supreme Court claim of Mrs. May Ashton, 5611 Chancellor, until Dec. 1 of next year. At that time it will be adjourned for another year. The unique case revolves on the interpretation of a separation agreement between Mrs. Ashton, the former Mrs. John Stenhouse, and her husband. Mr. Stenhouse, proprietor of a beauty parlor supply business here, took off in his light plane to visit his daughter, then in Eugene. Ore., in October of last year and has not been seen since. He has been declared dead. The claim asks simply that the separation agreement be set aside. Chief Justice Farris heard the preliminary application and decided Carol Lynne Stenhouse should be 21 before she is asked to decide whether to fight the action. He adjourned the case accordingly.

Two years later the Vancouver Sun reported on Carol’s decision in the case “Supreme court proceedings over the $300,000 estate of John Stenhouse have been wound up by dividing it equally between his widow and daughter. Sixty-year-old Stenhouse owned three apartment buildings and operated Coast Novelty Co., a barbers’ supply firm. He disappeared Oct. 6, 1951, while flying his own plane to Eugene, Oregon, to visit his daughter, Carol Lynne, who was attending university there. The question, of the estate came before the courts three years ago but was postponed until the daughter came of age so that she could consent legally to an equal division with her mother, now Mrs. Cecil Aston of University Hill.”

By 1957 Cecil and Rena were living in Penticton, and took a trip on the Queen Mary, (New York to Southampton, First Class). In 1961 they applied to buy a 2.4 acre plot on Okanagan Lake to build a summer home. Rena M Aston’s death was in 1964, in Coventry, Warwickshire, England, and Cecil died in 1980.

Lord Young Terrace was developed here in 1989, a 28 unit strata building designed by Hywel Jones for Nova Developments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N255.

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Posted 28 July 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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