Jervis and Barclay Streets

Here’s a West End house that was replaced nearly 50 years ago. ‘The 950’, a 41 unit rental building was completed here in 1974. The house had been built 69 years earlier, and although it had a corner turret that was a signature for the houses designed by Parr and Fee, in this case the architect was W T Whiteway. His client was Thomas Langlois, who paid $7,200 for his new home, which he called Rosemont.

We looked at Thomas’s history when we looked at one of his Downtown office developments. Thomas Talton Langlois was born in Gaspe in Quebec. He arrived in in BC in 1898 when he was 31, and already a successfullang businessman. Here he organized the British Columbia Permanent Loan Co.; was president, of the National Finance Co. Ltd., the Prudential Investment Co. Ltd. and the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Co. He also developed an Arbutus subdivision which had pre-fabricated craftsman style houses built in a factory on West 2nd Avenue, and then re-erected on site. He owned property on Bowen Island, and in 1912 commissioned a 60 foot steam yacht to sail there. In 1910, through the National Finance Co, he acquired much of the Port Moody waterfront for $600,000 for a consortium of investors.

Initially Thomas and his wife, Diana, lived on Nelson Street, then Robson, before he had this house built. He was active in politics (but indirectly, as President of the Electoral Union, and later the Good Government League) and in Wesley Church. Thomas travelled extensively, presumably in relation to business as well as for pleasure. His trips were often noted in the press, sometimes accompanied by his wife. While he would head to ‘eastern cities’, she would visit friends in Victoria. They married in Orangeville, Dufferin, Ontario in 1892, when Diana Hall was four years older than her husband, and a widow. As Diana Baker she had married Marshall Hall in 1883, but he died in 1890. In 1894 Albert was born, and Muriel followed in 1905 while her mother was in England.

In December 1914 the National Finance Co was liquidated. In earlier months the company had been pursuing its creditors through the courts, but the collapse of the economy and the onset of war left the business with more debts than assets. In January 1916 the Sun reported “The many friends of Mrs. T. T. Langlois will be pleased to learn that she Is making some progress towards recovery after a severe attack of la grippe.” This was the Spanish flu, that infected a third of the population and killed over 50 million around the world.

In March the family moved to California. The Daily Province reported it as a regular trip “Mr. and Mrs. T. T. Langlois and their daughter Gwendolyn left on Monday on a trip to Los Angeles, Cal. Their son, Mr. Albert Langlois, is in the city at present and is to leave for England soon to take a commission on one of the fast scouting boats in the British navy.” The trip stretched: fifteen months later “The wedding is announced in Los Angeles of Mr. Albert W Langlois and Miss Flora Wintzel of Newport Ky. The bridegroom is a well-known Vancouverite, a son of T. T. Langlois. He was a graduate of Lord Roberts and King Edward High schools. Last year he left McGill College to enlist with the motorboat patrol but was unable to go overseas and has now re-enlisted with a forestry regiment from Vancouver“. There was no further mention of any of the family in local newspapers  until they visited friends in 1930.

Thomas died in November 1937, and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Los Angeles. Diana died at Suncrest, San Diego, California in 1943, and was buried with Thomas. Albert and his wife Flora had two children in Los Angeles, but Flora died in 1925. He remarried in 1928, and seems to have married again at some point before his death in 1979. Gwen Langlois appears to have never married, and died at Spring Valley, San Diego, California in 1992, and was buried with her parents.

The house barely gets mentioned once the family left. John Harper had moved in in 1917, manager of the Bank of Hamilton, and the address is switched to 1275 Barclay. By 1921 it had become a rooming house – ‘Large room, suit 2 gentlemen, hot and cold water, and toilet’. Henry Dobbins, a mail carrier, was shown as the primary resident. In 1933 Mrs. Dewhurst was overcome by gas fumes when she fell asleep while cooking, and the light was extinguished. A year later Mrs. Sutherland found a man entering her suite through a window, but on seeing her he beat a hasty retreat.

The building was obviously still reasonably prestigious: In 1937, when Freda Bates and Elmer Ackley were married, the reception was held at Rosemont in the suite of Mr and Mrs Robbins, Freda’s grandparents. In 1943 John Vernon died in his suite. He was a successful real estate and mining broker. Various break-and-enters were noted through the 1940s; significant items were taken; a diamond ring in one, a fur coat in another. In 1947 Soren Paulsen Elgaard was running the rental business, but he didn’t own the building (or even have a lease on the property). He sued for damages for misrepresentation that the lease had not been transferred when he took over in 1945 – and lost the case. In 1950 Andrew Novak disappeared from his room. His empty fishing boat was found drifting off Spanish Banks. He had previously run a tavern in Tacoma. Following his death $90,000 was found in two bank deposit boxes, but no will was found. Eventually the cash was split between eight relatives.

In 1955 a resident managed to drive his car into a store on Howe Street. He was fined for impairment, and assessed over $1,200 in damages to the store. In 1958 another resident spent four hours injured in a ditch when the car she was a passenger in drove off the Seymour Mountain Highway.

In 1967 an 18-yearold resident was jailed for two years for possession of marijuana. (His defence counsel denied that he was one of the “hippies” who haunt the public library). This picture was taken a year later.

We haven’t found a reference to who built the replacement building, which is leased as a mix of studio and 1-bed units.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1348-42

[unusually, we have processed the image to lighten the shadows so more detail can be seen]

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Posted 8 September 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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