Archive for October 2022

View west from the foot of Broughton Street

Broughton Street crosses West Hastings and ends in a traffic circle that allows vehicles to turn around and head south again. This is the view standing in the middle of the circle, looking west. In front is the edge of Cascina and Denia, a pair of towers designed by James K M Cheng, completed in 2003. To the north the Coal Harbour marina shelters boats and a few live-aboard homes, but in 1925 this was the water’s edge, with logs washed up on the foreshore.

The landscaping for the condo towers includes street trees planted into pits protected by reproduction circular saw blades. Although there’s no explanation, it’s not a random choice by the landscape architects. Off in the distance was the former Pacific Coast Lumber Co, with a sawmill, drying kiln, planing mill and steel sawdust burner. Today the Bayshore Hotel sits on the land that the mill occupied, and the railtrack that ran along the edge of the water has long gone.

James G Scott was born in Stratford, Ontario in 1860, and came west to New Westminster founding the Pacific Coast Lumber Company in 1891. He had married Lizzie Stewart in Guelph in 1887 and they had a son, Douglas, in 1892. By 1898 Scott was elected an Alderman in New Westminster, and he was elected Mayor for the year 1900. The following year he was elected again, this time by popular acclamation. In 1902 the family moved to Vancouver where he had built a new mill in Coal Harbour, at the foot of Cardero Street.

The decision to allow the construction was not initially supported by Vancouver interests. The approval came from Ottawa, but the Vancouver harbourmaster tried to get construction stopped several times, with threats of injunctions made, but apparently never pursued. In 1902 the mill was expanded, filling in between Pender Street and the rail tracks (which was on a trestle) with a ‘floating dry-dock’. It was a big mill operation consisting of a sawmill and shingle mill, side by side.  From the western end of the CPR railway terminus, a short line was extended to serve the mill.  A large pier jutted out into Coal Harbour to load sea-going vessels, and a loading dock serviced wagon traffic.  The mill dominated the waterfront on the approach to Stanley Park, in an area that had once been natural mud-flats. Mr. Scott ruffled further feathers when he placed piles in the harbour to moor his logs – and was then required to remove them. He became part of the BC Lumber Association and was soon trying to ensure major lumber purchases by prairie lumber buyers went through Association buyers – not always successfully.

The family home was at 746 Cardero in 1904, and by 1907 they had moved to Pendrell. There was an auction sale that year, including fine furniture and an American Billiard Table, and in 1908 the family were living in an apartment on 1175 Haro, where Mr. Scott was shown as retired (although no retirement notice ever appeared in the press). George Gibson had taken over running the mill.

Mr. Scott had an active interest in the North Vancouver Ferry and Power Company for a number of years, and when a rival operation was proposed he sold out his interest to the City of North Vancouver. In 1909 the Scott family were living on Haro Street, but a year later the Province announced an “Auction of high-class furniture and piano at Mrs. J. G. Scott’s residence, 1175 Haro street, Tuesday next”. In 1911 the Daily World reported “Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Scott of Vancouver, who went east about a year ago, have been enjoying a Mediterranean trip during the winter, and have visited many points of Interest on the continent. They are accompanied by their son.”

During wartime the family had returned to Vancouver, and no longer retired, James was listed as ‘lumberman’ and living on Larch Street. Son Douglas was working for the Empress Manufacturing Co in 1916 and was on active service a year later. We don’t know what happened to Douglas after the war, but he survived the war, with his death recorded in Victoria in 1961.

His parents, age 60, were living in, and running the Ivanhoe Hotel on Main Street in 1921. James died on a visit to Chicago in June 1924, and his body was returned to Ontario. His will was probated in August, and he left an estate of $72,286.49 to his widow, Eliza Stewart Scott. She died in 1941 and was buried with her husband in Ontario.

The mill looks to have stopped operations briefly in the early 1920s and reopened as the Vancouer-Iowa Shingle Mill. In 1923 Chinese saw operator was killed when a sawblade he had replaced flew off the machine. The company moved their operations to Marpole, on the Fraser River by 1928, and the mill was no longer in active use soon after this picture was taken.

The site was redeveloped as a rather isolated Bayshore Hotel, with the first building completed in 1959. It was to be called the Edgewater but opened with its current name. A 20 storey tower was added in the early 1960s, and there was a further addition in the early 2000s. Recently purchased by Concord Pacific, it’s likely that a redevelopment proposal will emerge in the future.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N38.




Posted 31 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Beatty Street from the Georgia Viaduct

We looked at the street view of these Beatty Street warehouse a few years ago. This picture was taken 50 years ago, (in 1972) a decade before the stadium was built on the old rail lands between the buildings and False Creek.

The shorter building with the white finish has gone completely. The warehouse was the most expensive of the three. In 1912 a permit was issued for a building to cost $150,000. Designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day for John W Gibb it was pre-leased to the The Canadian Fairbanks Company, who stepped in and completed the building when Mr. Gibbs ran into cash flow problems. The case was resolved in court, Mr. Gibbs ended up losing his interest in the building (to his father), and Fairbanks, a machinery supplier, stayed here until the 1950s.

In the middle is a building that cost $140,000 for the National Drug Co, built by George Snider & Brethour in 1913, designed by H S Griffith. Today it has had a blue tile makeover, and like its neighbour is used as office space. The four bay warehouse was designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for F T Cope. The same builders as its neighbour completed it at a cost of $75,000.

The Fairbanks warehouse was demolished and became the plaza in front of the BC Place stadium, constructed in the early 1980s, (allowing windows to be installed in the side of the National Drug Co building). The Terry Fox memorial, designed by Douglas Coupland, is located here. The rest of the site was part of the land sold to Concord Pacific, and they in turn sold it to PCI Group to develop an office building, initially known for its lead tenant as The Pivotal Building, designed by Busby & Associates, and completed in 2002. A second phase was leased to the Federal Government. PCI developed the site ‘in partnership with high net worth private investor’.

On the right are trees planted at the time the stadium was built, and which will be cut down soon. The former Pacific Press printing works is located on the corner of Beatty and Georgia, built in 1949. It was converted in 1968 to the boilerhouse of Central Heat Distribution who established a centralized heating network throughout the Downtown. New boilers are about to be installed in conjunction with a large, S-shaped office building and entertainment pavilion that will replace the 1940s building while still retaining the heating system operations.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-5


700 Broughton Street

Today the corner of Broughton and West Georgia has the podium base of a residential tower, one of a pair called The Lions. Artray photographed its predecessor, an apartment building called The Majestic Apartments. C Drew had a house built here in 1904, with R McLeod building the $2,000 dwelling, that can be seen on the corner of Alberni behind the apartments. The apartments were built for, and by J J Dissette, who hired architect H B Watson to design his $35,000 investment in 1908. They were described as “Store and apartment building with stone veneer, four stories”. By 1950 (around the time this image in the Vancouver Public Library collection was taken), the stone veneer was only visible on the bottom storey; the top three floors had a stucco finish.

John J Dissette was from Simcoe, in Ontario, and worked as a a carpenter, then builder, then contractor in Minneapolis from the early 1880s until around 1901, when he moved to Vancouver. In moving here he knocked about eight years off his true age when he filled in the 1911 census details. By 1913 J J Dissette’s success has translated to a house in Shaughnessy Heights on Matthews Avenue. That year his recreations were listed as fishing, boating and horse racing.

This was a high-class set of apartments. Georgia Street only led to Stanley Park, so was a relatively quiet street, with some fine houses behind, and there was a view of the Inlet and the mountains. The Social pages of the local papers listed many of the residents in their comings and goings; a 1908 entry in the Province illustrates the kinds of tenants: “The rain yesterday afternoon did not prevent a large number of people from calling on Mrs. J. D. Mather, who received for the first time since coming here from Winnipeg, where she was one of the season’s popular brides. Her pretty rooms In the new Majestic apartments were brightened with clusters of lovely yellow chrysanthemums, while yellow roses decorated the tea table. Mrs. Mather received in an exquisite gown of maize satin brocade with yoke and sleeves of tucked net, while the bodice was draped with rarely beautiful rose point lace. She was assisted in receiving the callers by Miss Mather, who was looking charming in a lovely white lace empire gown. In the tearoom, Mrs. Charles J. Peter who was wearing a cream dress with lace bodice and a white felt hat trimmed with white feathers and touches of black, and Mrs. J. C. Kennedy, who was in a becoming gown of black net over green taffeta and a large black hat faced with white chiffon and trimmed with black plumes and pink roses, poured at the prettily appointed table. They were assisted in serving by Miss Kennedy and Miss Marjorie Mather, both of whom wore dainty frocks of white organdy. Mrs. Mather will be at home on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.”

Many of the suites were advertised as 5-room apartments, and a few had as many as eight, and Mr. Dissette handled the initial leases himself. In 1917 he appears to have left the city for the US, although his wife, Mary, was still in Vancouver, and still running her own real estate business. He seems to have adopted Joseph rather than John as his name, and was in Detroit for a while, and then Tampa, Florida, where he was involved in real estate and formed a loan company in 1930. In 1937 records show that Joseph Dissette was living in Mobile, Alabama, where he died on January 29, 1938.

In 1920 two apartments were ransacked by ‘the suite prowler’ who had been visiting different buildings over a period of two months. At the end of the year another suite was broken into, with clothing and $3.50 being taken. In 1921 a five room suite was offered at $65 a month, unfurnished. A fire was successfully extinguished in 1929, but there was extensive damage to interior woodwork. In 1936 another prowler was disturbed, trying to break into a suite at 3.30am.

In 1946 it was announced that the 14 suite building had been sold by H R Henriksen to Nick Demchuk for $26,700. It was flipped to G F Tull in less than two months for $29,000. In 1957 there was another fire that significantly damaged one suite, and threatened the entire building, but the Fire Department prevailed.

In 1972 a one bedroom suite was offered at $85. The building was demolished in 1974. The Sun covered the story, interviewing John Geldard, the longest serving tenant, whose mother had moved into the building in 1939. “I said I’d stay to the very ‘last day and I did.” said Geldard. “1 was very sorry to see the Majestic go. In the early days it was an attractive building, one of the best in Vancouver. But it had been living on borrowed time for years, you might say. “There was no need to demolish it. but it would have had to have some work on it.

The Guinness people, who owned it before the present owners, were mad. They wanted to put up a space needle, and city hall wouldn’t let them. They (Guinness interests) owned the parking lot alongside and sold it all. The
apartments had various owners in the past 10 years.” Ms. Josephine Boolinoff, who lived at the Majestic for
five years, said she hated to move out. “I loved it. We thought we might have another four to five years, but got our notices. It was full to the very end. As soon as someone moved out, someone else moved in.”

Mrs. John Whalen, who lived in the Majestic for 33 years with her husband, a former city detective, said a Cappy Hendrickson, a fur trader, paid $19,500 for the building in 1923. She recalled when he had to go back to shovelling coal because oil was rationed in the Second World War.”

The site sat vacant for twenty years. Wall Financial acquired it and developed The Lions, a pair of 31 storey condo towers, completed in 1999, and designed by IBI Group.


Posted 24 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Dunsmuir and Beatty – nw corner

We saw the building on the left of the image in its first incarnation as The Vancouver Athletic Club. By the 1980s when this picture was taken, it had been messed about with a lot, and no longer used as an athletics club. Probably designed and built by Albert Cline in 1906, it was remodelled in 1919 by the Navy League of Canada who spent $15,000 on the work, with further minor changes in 1925 designed by Honeyman & Curtis. The military continued to use the premises through to 1945 in various guises, ending up with the Navy League Seamen’s Club.

For a while it was the BC Institute of Music and Drama (in 1950) with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers having their offices here. From 1951 it was known as the Dunsmuir Auditorium, and by 1955 a whole series of unions were also based in the building – the International Union of Mine & Smelter Workers, the Association of Heat & Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers, the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 213, (who owned the building in the early 1960s), the Police Federal Labor Union Local 122, the Union of Operating Engineers Local 115, and the Pile Drivers, Bridge Wharf & Dock Builders Union.

The auditorium was used for plays, a billiards championship, a broadcast of the Hebrew Christian Hour in 1956, showing films about Mexico in 1959, and Japan and France in 1960. The hall became the home of the Vancouver Opera Association in 1969; in 1971 auditions for ‘The King and I’ to be performed at Malkin Bowl were held here. In 1982 the site was sold (by expropriation) to BC Transit for $1.75 million so that the SkyTrain tunnel could be build underneath. The building still had a basement with showers and a swimming pool (filled with files, props and stage sets). It was probably a welcome move, as the Opera Association had an awful 1977 season with poor attendance and sizeable cost overruns, leading to a significant deficit.

Next door Hall & Wallace hired Bedford Davidson to design and build a machine shop in 1909 at a cost of $21,000.  (The permit said $4,000, but the newspaper report noted the larger sum). They were a wagon company, with an earlier carriage works at the corner of Pender and Abbott. The company built an earlier $2,000 carriage shop on Beatty Street in 1905, probably on this property. They were frequently advertising for blacksmiths, carpenters and carriage painters. James A Wallace had the Columbia Carriage Works at 50 East Hastings in 1900, and James W Hall was partnered with John Alexander McRae in a rival business at 38 West Hastings, two of perhaps seven or eight carriage building businesses in the city at the turn of the century. By 1910 there were just two remaining, and Hall & Wallace was one of them.

According to the 1901 census James W Hall was born in 1864 in Ontario, although in 1911 he admitted to 1861. His wife Margaret also said she was 37, but a decade later became 51, and had been born in 1859. They had three sons, Howard, Percy and Ralph, (the only one born in BC, in 1895). James had married Margaret Dixon in Albion in Peel in Ontario in 1886, and Howard was born in 1888 in Sandhill, in Peel District (and died in Mission in 1981). Percy was born in the same place three years later, and his mother was shown as Margaret Dixon when he died in Victoria in 1961. Ralph died in Vancouver in 1975.

In 1909 the ‘gasoline launch’ Ariadne caught fire in Coal Harbour and burned to the waterline, “severely injuring her owner, J W Hall”. James William Hall was 88, and widowed when he died in 1950.

James A Wallace was listed as a blacksmith in 1901, aged 33 (born on January 1 1868) and also from Ontario. He was married to Maria, who had come to Canada in 1879, when she was aged 4, from Cuba, West Indies. They had a 1-year-old son, William B Wallace. The 1911 census showed William was also 3 years older, born in 1865 (and still a blacksmith). There were two more children in the family, Lester and Melvin. When they married in Vancouver in 1898 Maria’s birthplace was listed as Corratillo, Cuba, and her full name was Maria Esperanza Augustina Reed, (showing her mother’s name, Elizabeth Reed rather than her father, William Dane). It looks as if James was in Lytton in 1891, working as a blacksmith.

James Alexander Wallace died in 1944, when his birthplace was listed as Bonville, South Stormont, Stormont Dundas and Glengarry, Ontario, and Maria was 83 when she died in Burnaby in 1958, (where curiously, he father was listed as William Reed, and her mother as Joan Clarkson).

Hall and Wallace shifted from building carriages pulled by horses to making bodywork for vehicles. In 1913 they were advertising the bodies they were supplying on ‘Indiana’ truck chassis, and in 1917 they showed a picture of a hearse built for S Bowell of New Westminster.

In 1920 it was announced that the business had been sold to F W Lott of Seattle. He was described as an experienced paint and varnish expert. It looks as if the sale fell through: the business name didn’t change name, and ran an advertisement in 1922 when drivers switched from the left, to the right hand side of the road.

The company had their safe broken open in 1927 when ‘amateur criminals’ found a small sum of money inside. The firm advertised for someone experienced in fender straightening in 1928, and not long after there was another break-in when an electric drill was stolen. That year the directory had “HALL & WALLACE, AUTOMOBILE WORKS. Jas. W. Hall, Jas. A. Wallace. Auto Bodies, Truck and Delivery Bodies, Painting and Duco Finishing, Wrecked and Damaged Cars Repaired.” Percy Hall was the accountant in 1929, but wasn’t listed in 1930, and his brothers Ralph and Melvin appear to have had jobs as drivers.

The business had closed by 1930. James Wallace became proprietor of Broadway Confectionery, and James W Hall was retired. In 1936 he was proprietor of the Rockcliffe Apartments on West 10th, and James Wallace had apparently also retired. The motor works was home to the Catelli Macaroni Products Corporation – as a packing line and warehouse. There was a strike in 1948, and soon after the business moved out. The office of the National Employment Service opened later in 1948, and in 1958 Ernest Bird, no fixed address, tossed a rock through the window, and then gave himself up to the police. He was granted the winter accommodation he had been looking for (after more five similar offences) and was sentenced to six months jail. He had done the same thing a year earlier, telling the arresting officers he had no job, no money, and nowhere to sleep. He got a six month sentence that year, as well. In 1963 it was announced that the Employment Office would move to the new Federal Building at 125 East 10th Avenue. The building was offered for lease, and Kelly’s Records moved in, with their warehouse and mail order centre here, and seven stores around BC.

In 1994 the site was redeveloped as the HA Simons Building, which morphed into the Seimens Building and then the Amec Building, and now Wood Canada, as the engineering business were taken over and amalgamated into ever-larger companies. It is also home to architect Stantec Consulting, who took over the building’s designers, Aitken Wreglesworth Associates. The corner cantilevers out to allow the building’s foundations to miss the tunnel for the SkyTrain which angles across the site from the station on Beatty Street, and picks up the abandoned Canadian Pacific rail tunnel further west. The tunnel was originally cut in 1931, and allowed the trains from Waterfront Station to be moved to the Drake Street railyards to be cleaned, supplied and made ready for the trip back to the east. Before it was built, full scale steam trains could block the Downtown streets they crossed for up to 20 minutes. Eventually CP’s use ceased in 1979.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-117


Posted 20 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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646 Hornby Street

In the early 1900s Hornby Street was mostly residential, but further north there were some businesses, and City Archivist Major Matthews dated this image to 1907, when the Dixon Brothers livery stables was one of the pioneer companies in the street. He was mistaken about the date; the first year that Gordon and Robert Dixon and their business were listed was 1910. At the time they advertised as both a moving company, and a livery stables. (There was a stables here before Dixons, run by Robert Thorburn. The owner, J C Williams, hired R McKay Fripp to design a new concrete floor for the premises in 1909).

The woman and horse identified by the x’s are Mrs. Thomas Stewart and “Nellie.” Mrs Stewart was probably Mary, originally from Ontario, married to Thomas, a mine owner born in PEI. In 1911 they lived on Beach Avenue with their son, also Thomas. We have no idea who Nellie was.

The 1910 Street directory shows both Robert and Gordon Dixon living at 1023 Robson, as well as Silvester Dixon, their father, who was a carpenter. In 1911 they had moved to 1121 Pacific, and Gordon was still with his parents, Silvester and Jane, but Robert had moved out. They were initially hard to trace, as they were recorded as Dickson, (as they were in New Brunswick in 1881 where the family of three boys and four girls were living in Weldford, Kent, New Brunswick).

Robert Dixon was born in Ontario in 1867 according to his death notice, and was married to Edith Brenchley in Vancouver in November 1909. He was actually born in New Brunswick in 1868, and she was from England, arriving in 1882. Gordon was born in 1874, and we haven’t found any marriage, although he was shown as widowed when he died.

One of their sisters might have been the reason for the family chosing to move to Vancouver. Jessie May Dixon (two years younger than Gordon) married Henry Arendell Edgett in 1896 in Vancouver, had a son, Harry in 1904. Her husband was a successful businessman who had also been born in New Brunswick. He had a store and warehouse on West Pender Street at Cambie. Jessie died in 1911, soon after her brothers moved to the city, having spent some time in the Klondike.

Another sister, Mary, married Richard Coupland Spinks, a lawyer, in St Andrew’s church in 1903. His family arrived in the city in 1886, and his father was one of the pioneer land brokers. Richard signed up to fight in the war, and was killed in action in France in 1917, aged 53. In 1920 Mary was living with her brother, the third son in the family, William, who was foreman of the livery stable on Hornby. He died in 1920 after he was kicked in the head by one of the horses. He first arrived in Vancouver in 1912 when he was listed as a mining engineer, so he too had probably been in the Klondike. A third sister, Elizabeth, married Thomas Jardine in New Brunswick in 1885, and they also moved to Vancouver later in the 1900s.

In 1913 Dixon Bros entered both Dr. Savage and Lady Patrick in the Driving Club races at Hastings Park, while also advertising ‘All Kinds of horses for sale and hire’. Lady Patrick had been entered in races as early as 1910.

In 1915 the brothers both gave evidence at an inquiry into wartime purchasing, and featured in the local press when they accused the military vet of requesting (and getting) a $25 commission to examine and approve horses he was buying for the army. The first cheque they wrote was torn up, and another written that could be cashed (at the Ritz Cafe). In 1920 Silvester Dixon died.

By 1923 the brothers were owners of the Dollar Wood Yard on West Georgia, near Stanley Park. As Dixon Bros and Shultz, they had another stables on Lorne Street, and in 1925 they built new premises at the southwest end of Granville Bridge, and moved the stables from here.

Robert Dixon died in 1941, and his wife Edith in New Westminster just short of her 102nd birthday. Gordon Dixon died in 1955, apparently the last of the seven siblings. He was living on Pacific Street,

In 1926 this became the Maple Leaf Garage – which appears to have used the stables buildings (as no permits seem to exist for any alterations). It didn’t last long – there was a bailiff’s auction in 1927, and by 1929 the premises were being used by a bailiff, presumably to store items before an auction. Further garage uses followed in subsequent years. In 1940 it was home to the Hornby Garage, U-drive Ltd and the Hertz drive-ur-self System. In 1955 it was a parking lot run by BC Quick-Park Ltd. By 1981 almost the entire block was cleared, as this image shows.

We saw the building that would be built here from a different angle. In 1986 the new home for the Bank of British Columbia (and initially called Tower 885) was completed, soon be taken over by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. It was designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership, a Toronto architect with a Vancouver office at the time.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P529 and CVA 779-W05.17


Posted 17 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Maxine Motel – Bidwell Street

We looked at the early years of this West End building in the previous post. Initially developed in 1929, the facade we see today was built in 1936 and 1938, designed by Thomas McArravy and Ross Lort. A further southern addition was added some time after 1939, but before 1954. It was very shallow, as behind it was 1233 Bidwell Street, an early house on the block that had been bought by the building’s owners in 1929.

They were Maxine MacGilvray and her husband, Ivor Bebb. The married in 1928 and became partners in her already expansive beauty products and salon business. The depression in the early 1930s meant a trip to the beauty salon was a luxury many women chose to cut out, and the business suffered. There was also a Beauty School here, training many of the young women then recruited to work in the beauty salons.

In 1940 the US census shows the couple were living in Washington, in Seattle, where Ivor was shown as manufacturing cosmetics for his beauty shop, while Maxine was shown running the shop. Their ages and places of birth were recorded accurately – Maxine was from Wisconsin, and Ivor was 10 years her junior, aged 36, from Wales, (although their advertising had Maxine from Beverley Hills, and Ivor ‘of Paris and London’).

They were still travelling back to Vancouver for their business here. In 1939 “Gaily colored streamers and large green shamrocks decorated the reception-room of the Maxine School of Beauty Culture on Friday evening, when the juniors of the school entertained at a dancing party for, the graduating seniors. Guests were received by Maxine and Mr. Ivor Bebb, president and vice-president of the school, and during the evening prizes were presented to several students.” The house at 1223 Bidwell still showed I. Bebb as resident.

In 1940 Ivor Ewan Bebb became an American citizen, and the application shows he was born near Welshpool. His wife, Max Elwy Bebb was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Ivor said he had moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1930. In 1941 a new business, the Max-Ivor company, was incorporated in the US and continued to operate until 2001.

In 1942 the Maxine Beauty School was shown operating here, but a year later this was the Maxine Apartments – eight in total. The house at 1223 was still listed too. In 1943 The Max-Ivor Motel, on Highway 99 at 6188 4th Ave in Seattle was opened.

In March 1943 the tenants in the Maxine Apartments got their rent reduced on appeal from $45 to $37.50, and George Hodgson, a shipyard worker, was given immediate notice to quit. He successfully sued G L Gillette and Maxine Ltd, joint owners of the property, after Mr. Gillette, who acted as janitor, removed the door to his suite and refused to put it back on. A month later things had escalated: “the tenants were asking for a second reduction in their rent, alleging that the management is neither providing heat nor collecting garbage. The landlady, her manager, and at least four tenants all had something to say” The case had been before the judge six times, and two or three times in police court – and once in the Supreme Court. In 1944 Maxine tried to get the building back from her lessee, Joseph Cuillerier, (who was already in prison awaiting extradition to England on embezzlement charges), arguing he was operating the building as an apartment hotel, rather than a rental building. She initially failed, but then succeeded on appeal. In 1945 1223 was still shown, but now with 4 suites rather than as a house, with Ivor as resident in Suite 1. In 1946 the building had 12 apartments, and the house was no longer listed, so that seems likely to be when the southern alterations and small addition were made.

In 1947 Ivor E Bebb successfully rezoned 5 lots in Seattle to permit a mobile home park, although he continued to keep his apartment in Vancouver, presumably commuting over the border to manage their interests in both Seattle and Vancouver. By 1948 this became the Maxine Apartment Hotel. You could rent a one, two, or three-room apartment with tiled kitchens and private bathrooms daily, weekly or monthly.

Maxine Bebb died in 1952 at the age of 58. We often struggle to find people in the census, but remarkably Ivor and Maxine were surveyed twice in the 1950 US census. In the first record Ivor said he was 50 (adding four years to his age) and born in Wales while Maxine knocked 11 years off her age, to 45, and chose California for her birth state. In the other record Maxine admitted to being 53 (which was only three years off) and born in Wisconsin, while Ivor was shown as 46 (which was true), and was shown born in ‘Wales, England’ (which would have upset anyone from Wales). Their days in the beauty business had apparently ended; Ivor was running an auto court, while Maxine was manager of an apartment hotel. Ivor took a trip to Britain in 1953, following his wife’s death.

In 1960 the Hotel here featured unexpectedly when Joseph Corbett, Jr., aged 32, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for kidnapping and murdering the 44-year-old chairman of the Coors Brewing empire, was captured here. At the end of October, a Vancouver resident thought she saw the man in the West End, and a policeman recalled seeing Corbett’s car outside the Maxine. His landlady identified ‘Mr. Wainwright’ from his photograph, and a combined FBI and Vancouver police team arrested him without incident.

Corbett, who was from Seattle had been convicted of shooting a man in the back of the head in 1951, which he claimed was self-defense. Initially in a maximum-security prison, his good behavior, saw him transferred to minimum security, from which he then escaped in 1955. Adolph Coors had left for work in February 1960, but never got there. His bones and clothes, with two bullet holes in his back, were found in a remote mountain dump in September.

Corbett’s booking shot from 1960 showed a neatly dressed man with tinted glasses. He was found guilty in 1961 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released in 1980, he only gave one interview, in 1996, where he maintained his innocence. With a recent cancer diagnosis, he killed himself with a single shot to the head in his Denver apartment in 2009, aged 80. He left no note, and there was nobody to claim the body.

From 1964 to 1970 Ivor was president of the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club in Seattle. He apparently remarried; when Olaf Stevens died in 1955 his obituary referenced a daughter, Mrs Ivor E Bebb of Seattle, and a granddaughter, who was born, we believe, in 1954. Ivor was aged 85 when he died, in Seattle, in 1989, a year after the Max-Ivor hotel had closed. Grace Rena Bebb, the last person associated with the Max-Ivor company died in Renton in Washington in 2001.

In Vancouver, in 1965 the motel was owned by Maxine-Beach Lodge Limited. In 1968 Mrs. Margaret Finigan, a tenant (28) lit a cigarette while gas was apparently leaking from the stove and suffered third degree burns (and didn’t improve her apartment’s decor). The apartments were still here in 1972, but not for much longer.

In the mid 1970s an architect, Vic Pimiskern, acquired the building, and ran his practice here as well as opening a restaurant here called Maxines, specializing in ribs. In 1978 Denny Boyd, a columnist in the Sun told a moonshine story (but didn’t suggest there were any of the elusive tunnels we mentioned in the previous post). “Maxine’s young charm students were often shocked to find the carcasses of dead sheep hanging in the basement. Maxine used to extract tallow from them to use in the preparation of her own line of cosmetics. It is said that she also had a productive still operating in that basement lab, cooking up prohibition moonshine for her many friends“.

In the late 1980s this was Fogg n Suds on The Bay, becoming Mescalero, a Mexican and south-west themed restaurant in the 1990s, then Balthazar’s, and finally Maxine’s Hideaway, when the owner spun some attractive but totally fictitious stories about tunnels, rum-running and bordellos.

In 2013 the Alexandra, a condo and market rental building designed by Henriquez Partners was developed by Concord Pacific and Millennium, incorporating the facade of the original Maxine Beauty School, now serving as a coffee shop.

Image source: SFU postcard collection msc130-5071-01


Posted 13 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Maxine Beauty School – Bidwell Street

This West End landmark is the source of numerous stories, many of them total fabrications. The part of the facade still standing today was designed in 1936 by Thomas B. McArravy for his entrepreneurial client, Maxine MacGilvray. He was mostly based in Nanaimo, although he did briefly move here, so only a couple of his buildings were in Vancouver.

Maxine’s name first appears in Vancouver in connection with beauty products sold by Spencer’s department store in 1913 in Victoria (left, when Maxine would have been aged 19), and in Vancouver in 1914. Said to be trained in California, she gave talks on skin care at the stores and would later open an in-store beauty parlor. It’s not clear if she had a permanent residence in Vancouver in those early days, although there was M A McGillivray, a hairdresser living at 742 Dunsmuir in 1917 (for only that year), although Maxine was also lecturing at ‘The Bay’ in Edmonton (right).

In the 1921 census, there were two McGillivrays living at 999 Georgia, one a manufacturer of cosmetics. Living with her was a sister, Patricia, who was manager of a hair salon, and five years younger. What’s odd is that ‘Maxine’ was recorded as Annie McGillivray, not Max, or Maxine. It was probably an error as in 1921 Max E MacGilvary and Patricia McGillvary were both shown in the street directory at the same address; the Maxine Hair Dressing Shop, 726, 510 Hastings (The Standard Bank Building). Patricia was a skin specialist and living on Seymour Street. In 1922 Patricia wasn’t around, and Max E MacGilvray ran Maxine Hairdressing Shop, and was living at 999 East Georgia. That’s the same address where she was shown living in the 1921 census. The shop had moved down to the second floor of the bank building, where it remained for a few years, although Maxine herself wasn’t always shown to be living in the city.

She was often travelling in her expanding empire; in 1923 she was on the radio in Calgary, lecturing on the need for vitamins for city-dwellers, and was described there as a physical and health specialist She had an extended series of lectures in Parker’s Departmental store in the same city, covering a wide range of beauty and health topics. In 1924 Maxine’s hair business (Mrs M MacGilvray) had moved to 601 Dunsmuir and the Max Chemical Co (Miss M E MacGilvray) was at 999 E Georgia, where Maxine also lived. Robert Garner was the chemist in 1926, and a year later he had an apprentice, Ivor Bebb, who lived at the back of the property. In 1926 Maxine opened a beauty school in Calgary, and the press had to retract the suggestion that she had severed ties with the Hudson’s Bay Company there. In fact, she was still manager of the HBC beauty shop (as well as her other business interests)

Maxine married Ivor Bebb in Skagit, in Washington, in April 1928. She was recorded in the register as Max Elwy Mac Gilvray, and she was born in Wisconsin in 1894. He parents married in Chippewa Falls, and Maxine was the youngest of seven children. Her father was born in Ontario, and her mother, Adeline was from Wisconsin. Her husband was from Wales, and was ten years younger. It appears that they were discreet about their marriage: in 1929 there’s a description of the colourful lighting display on their home, described as ‘The home of Miss M E McGillvray and Ivor E Bebb, partners in the Maxine Beaty Shoppe‘ and in 1933 the Vancouver Sun reported ” Miss Maxine MacGilvray, Ph.C, and Mr. Ivor Bebb, M.S.C., have left the city on an extended business trip to New York and Chicago, where they will visit the Century of Progress Exposition.

In 1928 there were two houses on the block face, 1203 on the corner, and 1223 next to the lane. (In 1929 both were vacant, but the couple had moved to 1233 for Christmas). In 1930 part of the garden of 1203 had been acquired and a new building had appeared mid-block, and the house at 1223 was shown occupied by Mrs. M MacGillvray. The new School of Beauty had opened in August 1929, with Maxine Beauty Shoppes at 1211, and the Maxine College of Beauty Culture sharing 1215 with Max-Ivor Ltd. In 1931 The Acadia Tea Room occupied 1203, and the directory had corrected Maxine’s title to ‘Miss’.

There was both an advertisement and a write-up in the Vancouver Sun for the August opening of the new building, whose architect isn’t identified. VANCOUVER SUN, AUGUST 3, 1929 – NEW ‘MAXINE’ OPENED IN CITY Ultra Modern Beauty Parlor Built on Bidwell St. With a chain of beauty shops in Canada and the Pacific coast of the United States, the Max Chemical company, with Mrs. Max McGillvray and Ivor Bebb sole owners, has further extended is activities by the erection of a fine new beauty shop at 1215 Bidwell street. Attached to the handsome new building is a college where young ladies are taught the art of the beauty parlor expert. “Maxine,” the name under which all the shops are conducted, has become a household word over great territory, and a visit to the ultra-modern plant on Bidwell gives assurance that this name has been well earned. Mrs. McGlllivray Is a qualified chemist and for a number of years has devoted her time and skill to the manufacture of cosmetics, powders and such like, and all of which are considered necessities for M’lady’s boudoir and bath. “I feel that there is a great future for Vancouver and British Columbia and that is the reason that I have come from the United States to live-here and make my business here,” said Mrs. McGlllivray. “We have an investment of upwards of $65,000 in the business and we feel that this, in itself, is evidence of our faith in this wonderful city.” A fully equipped factory is also attached to the new shop in which the various products are made.

The advertisement suggested Maxine was staying close to home (at least briefly). “The new Beauty shoppe will be under the direct supervision of Maxine MacGiIvray. Ph.C who is also personally supervising the up-town shop Maxine No. I (601 Dunsmuir St.) Miss MacGilvray is also the general manager of the international chain bearing her name. She is assisted by Mr. Ivor Bebb (assistant manager) and a staff of capable licensed operators, who have had years of experience.”

In 1936 the building was extended to the south, and the facade remodeled – that’s the image at the lead of the post. This was built by H A Wiles and designed by Thomas B. McArravy costing $3,500 according to the permit. Two years later another addition was made, designed by Ross Lort and costing $7,200. That’s probably the more ornate addition to the north, the edge of which is just visible in the contemporary picture. That year Maxine and Ivor had slightly altered their names and origins to persuade young ladies to train with them. The year had prompted a nasty shock “‘Fire completely destroyed the roof of the residence of Ivor Bebb, 1223 Bidwell street

The stories that have more recently attached to the building continue to live on – thanks to the internet. One story says that there was a tunnel from the building to English Bay, for smuggling, and another to the Rogers Sugar mansion, ‘Gabriola’. The owner of a nightclub in the building in the early 2000s was quoted in a magazine article: ‘Disguising the spot as a beauty school and boarding house, McGilvray gained notoriety by serving illegal alcohol and running the joint as an after-hours bordello. From his own personal research, Henderson learned the first tunnel was used by sugar magnate B.T. Rogers to access the bordello at his leisure. “The impetus behind the tunnel was bootlegging,” he explains. “Sailors would use the passageways to run rum from the boathouses at English Bay.”

If Maxine had been alive, she might have successfully pursued a lawsuit. Although her business undoubtedly involved attractive young women, there was never a hint of scandal attached to the business. The production of cosmetics would have involved deliveries and shipping, but it would have been unwise to drink the contents. Prohibition was long over in Canada, so smuggling to English Bay (which was then, as now, a hugely popular recreation area) would have been unnecessary (and the Vancouver rumrunners during prohibition were involved in exports, not imports). As for B T Rogers accessing the bordello, the elevation change between Gabriola, and Maxine’s would have made the proposition an incredibly expensive engineering feat, and risky, as the City Engineer might have come across it while maintaining the pipes under the road. It would have been even more expensive, as it was impossible without a time machine. The first building Maxine constructed was built in 1929, and B T Rogers died in 1918.

We’ll look at further developments with the building and the building that replaced it in a future post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4477


Posted 10 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1357 Barclay Street

Here’s another West End old timer, still standing on Barclay Street. We think it opened as a private hospital around 1907; BC Assessment say it was built in 1906. Dr. Thomas Underhill, the City’s Medical Officer of Health, lived next door (on the left), on the corner of Broughton Street, from around 1898. In 1899 there was a garden party in the grounds of his home – with an orchestra – to raise funds for All Hallows Girl School in Yale (an Indian Mission). Although there are references that say the hospital was converted from his home, we think that’s inaccurate. This lot may have been part of the grounds of his home – there was nothing built here on the 1903 insurance map, or shown in any street directory entries until 1908, when the West End Private Hospital was listed for the first time. In January the Province advertised “WEST END Private Hospital, 1357 Barclay street, for medical, surgical and maternity cases; also children”.

We’re not certain whether Dr. Underhill had any role in the development of the hospital business, which was run by Lena M Clermont, and sometimes referred to as “Miss Clermont’s Private Hospital”. While he was associated with the building – the water connection permit was in his name – in November 1908 a notice was published in the Province “I wish to contradict the report that I have sold half-interest in the business of the West End hospital, 1357 Barclay street, Vancouver. Lena Clermont, proprietress.” and if that wasn’t clear enough, two days later “Notice. This is to certify that the proprietorship of the West End Hospital has not changed and the business is solely in the hands of the undersigned. Lena Clermont, Proprietress.” This 1909 advertisement in the Saturday Sunset shows their typesetter made errors sometimes.

Miss Clermont was an Australian, who was 40 when she arrived in 1907, and was shown as superintendent of the hospital in 1908. She was working at the hospital in Temora, New South Wales in the early 1900s. She seems to have felt the need to lose a few years, and was shown as aged 41 in the 1911 census, where she was head of a household of 14 nurses and 3 maids. She ran the hospital (where nurses were trained as well) until around 1917 when Miss Helen G Tolmie had taken over running the hospital. That year a letter was published in the Sun from “Lena Clermont, President BC Equal Franchise Society”. She may briefly have moved to Enderby. A 1919 court case sought repayment of a mortgage there, but it was apparent that she had already moved south of the border.

In 1919 Lena Clermont emigrated to Seattle, and then moved to Texas. Ranger General Hospital, owned by Lena Clermont, with beds for 41 patients, opened in 1919. A history of Ranger says ‘The hospital was beset with problems from the beginning, including a lack of running water, inadequate sewage disposal and problems with electricity’. By 1925 Miss Clermont was in Shreveport, Louisiana. ‘The Post’ reported that ‘The old Haynesville Sanitarium was erected out of material moved to Haynesville from Ranger, Texas, by Miss Lena Clermont, As a practical hospital manager Miss Clermont soon demonstrated to Haynesville that even an old wooden building with ramshackly equipment was a worthwhile investment, and when a greater hospital was planned the board of director purchased the old building and used it in order to keep alive until the new one was finished.”

Miss Clermont was living in San Antonio, Texas, running the Mountain View Sanatorium in 1933 which is where she became a US Citizen in 1939. She was lodging in New York, aged 74 in the 1940 US Census, and had a patent registered in December 1939: “My invention relates to new and useful improvements in women’s under-garments, and more particularly to a brassiere. One of the objects of the present invention is to produce a brassiere that will hold in the diaphragm and hold up the breasts and thus prevent them from sagging on the diaphragm.” By 1944 she had apparently moved to Los Angeles, where she was on the voter’s list.

By 1910 the West End Private Hospital had moved a block away, to 1447 Barclay, and this building became the Nurses Club. It was shown as the Vancouver Graduate Nurses Association Registry in 1913, and became the home of Miss A Macdonald Dewar from 1914. Fortunately, she was still living here in 1921, so we can find her in the census. Amelia Dewar was shown as aged 45, and her sister Sara was 40. They were from Nova Scotia, and ran their home as a boarding house, with eight ‘roomers’, all aged 50 or more, including James Low, the treasurer of a loan company, an insurance broker, a secretary, and several living on ‘income’.

Ten years earlier the 1911 census recorded Macdonald Dewar as born in 1865, (so aged 46) and her sister Sarah was 11 years younger (born in 1876). They were living a block away from here, and neither were shown to be employed.

There are many confusing records that record the Dewar family, but going back to the earliest census records they show Allan and Julia Dewar, living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with six children. The 1871 census showed Julia as head of household and a store keeper, with Annie, born around 1850, Gordon (who was actually Allan), 1856, Harry, 1858, Amelia, (sometimes known in her youth as Minnie) in 1862, Blanche in 1864 and Sarah (called Dolly as a child) in 1865. In 1881 Mary DeWolfe was also living in the household, possibly Julia’s younger sister. All four of the daughters ended up in Vancouver.

Various subsequent events show several family members shaving years – or even decades – off their real age. Annie, born in 1851, died in Vancouver in 1932, shown (accurately) to be aged 81. When she died she was Mrs. Annie Taylor, a widow. Sarah Andrews Dewar was shown aged 66 when she died in 1945, having never married. (She was actually aged 80). Blanche Dewar, who was also unmarried, died in Vancouver in 1953 aged 83; actually she was 89.

In 1923 Amelia McDonald Dewar said she was 40 when she was married to James Low, a widower born in 1866 in Ontario, and her former lodger. When she died in 1948 she was shown born on Christmas Day 1862, (so aged 85) so she was just short of 60 when she married, twenty years more than she indicated, and older than her husband. She had shaved years off her Vancouver census responses to gradually lose the years up to the point she was married.

James Low was treasurer-secretary of BC Permanent Loan, and the couple moved to a house on Beach Avenue when they married. He died at the age of 83 in 1949, a year after Amelia. Sarah Dewar continued to run the boarding house here, but by 1930 A Anderson had taken over. The appearance of the building differs from its early days as a hospital, and it’s possible this took place in 1942, after the 16 suite building was extensively damaged in a fire. Tenants were reported at the time to be able to return to their suites, once repairs had been made. Two tenants had to rescued by firemen on ladders, and one fireman was injured by broken glass in a window he crawled through.

It stayed as a boarding house until at least 1949, but BC Assessment records say it was renovated in 1955, and is seen here in a 1953 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray. It is known as the Halbert Apartments, although some units still have shared bathrooms. The building sold for $2m in 2005, but today is valued at over $7m.


Posted 6 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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The Sun Press Building – Beatty Street

The ‘today’ view will be demolished soon, as this re-purposed printing works will be replaced with a curving office tower to be called SAM and designed by BIG, the architecture firm led by Bjarke Ingels. The Vancouver Sun built their new press building on the corner of Beatty and Georgia in 1949, and it started operating in 1950. We don’t know who designed it. The paper sold 175,000 copies, and the 14 high-speed Scott presses that had been installed could print 60,000 copies an hour.

In 1953, on a slow news day, the newspaper reported that ‘prowlers’ had entered the premises over the New Year holiday and had stolen the chocolate from a vending machine. By 1957 both the Province and the Sun were owned by the same company, and plans were made to expand the building to change to larger Goss presses. Commonwealth Construction built the additions, which were extensive and mostly on the back of the building. In 1964 a replacement printing plant was built on Granville Street, south of the bridge, and the last copies of The Sun rolled off here in July. To ensure continuity of production, the presses from here were subsequently moved to the new plant, where there were already two lines of Goss presses operating.

In 1967 the 15,000 sq. ft. warehouse space was advertised as available to lease, and only a year later construction was underway for its new owners, Central Heat Distribution, adding boilers and chimneys to connect to a new circuit of steam pipes that ran round the Downtown. It was the city’s first private district energy heating company, and was controlled by the Trans Mountain Oil Pipe Line Company. Initially 17 buildings contracted to link up, and one boiler was all that was needed, although in theory there was space for eleven. The system expanded rapidly, and by 1973 a fourth boiler was being commissioned. (The steam that can sometimes be seen escaping from inspection covers is not the system leaking, but ground water in contact with the super-heated steam pipes, which despite 3″ of insulation get hot enough to turn water into steam on the outside).

In 2014 Central heat Distribution was sold to Westbank, who will be developing the new office building and replacing the existing steam generation boilers with a new more energy efficient replacement on site. An application has been submitted to allow the steam to be generated by electricity, which would lower GHG production substantially. The project was nearly derailed when Cadillac Fairview tried to acquire the property based on a 1970 covenant registered against the land. A court case established that the intent was to ensure that Pacific Centre Mall, owned by Cadillac Fairview and currently heated by the plant, would get first refusal if redevelopment threatened their heat supply. As this is not contemplated when the plant is redeveloped, the claim failed. The central heat system is now run as Creative Energy, and has 215 connected customers in over 45 million square feet of buildings.

Image source: Leonard Frank, Jewish Museum, LF.00299


Posted 3 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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