Queen Brothers Stables – Georgia Street

The Queen Brothers were from New Brunswick. The 1871 census shows Elsworth was aged 5, and the census clerk recorded some of the family as ‘Quinn’ and others as ‘Queem’ (all in the same household). (Their parents were from Ireland, and may not have been able write, so Quinn may well have been accurate, but the census clerk struggled with spelling as well). His brother, listed as Charls Quinn, was twenty years older, and there were seven other siblings in between. Three brothers eventually ended up in Vancouver, soon after the fire destroyed the city. The oldest, William, worked for the railway company.

The business known as Queen Brothers – Charles and Elsworth – ran the Stanley Park Stables from 1887. At first they were on Cambie Street (almost at Water Street), and around 1892 they moved west to a new location closer to the developing Granville Street strip, with a new stables at 606 Georgia Street. It took up half a double lot, with the Waverley Hotel on the other half of the lot, which they hired N S Hoffar to design in 1890.

Initially they had tenants running the hotel, but in 1895 Elsworth took over, while Charles L Queen was elected as an alderman in 1894 and 1895, and was running the stables on his own in 1898. In 1899 R B Dixon had taken over the stables, but that was short-lived, and Peppard and Mitchell took over in 1900. They were here until 1902, and then Alex Mitchell ran the stables on his own until 1904. A year later he’d moved his operation to new stables a block away.

There are two copies of this image in the archives, one dated 1889, and one 1898. We don’t think either is correct, as the stables wasn’t built on Georgia until 1892. The last year that both brothers were involved in the hotel and the stables was 1897. The image note says: ‘Photograph shows Frank W. Hart’s funeral hearse’. Frank was a serial entrepreneur; born in Illinois in 1856, he headed north and west, as an Indian scout and bronco buster, and then working in Walla Walla in his early 20s for a furniture and undertaking business. He walked from Semiahmoo to New Westminster and then came to Granville in 1885, setting up a furniture making business. In the fire the following year his losses were estimated at $13,000, but he rebuilt, and added the role of undertaker in the city, with a horse-drawn hearse. He also owned Hart’s Opera House – a relocated roller skating rink. In 1894 he sold up and moved to Rossland. Frank confirmed that the hearse was his in a letter to the City archivist. Built by Nash & Co, he bought it after seeing it in an exhibition in Toronto, where it had won first prize. He kept it at Queen Brothers’ stables, so that suggests the image is from the early 1890s.

Elsworth, (always referred to in print as ‘E P Queen’) moved to Atlin during 1898, where initially he ran the Leland Hotel, although he sold up in 1903. In 1899 E P and W Queen held a timber licence in Atlin. In 1903 he visited Vancouver to acquire some horses that he took back on the steamer ‘Princess May’. That year Charles took a holiday in Harrison Hot Springs, and in 1905 was in San Francisco ‘in connection with his Atlin mining interests’. By 1904 he had 20 acres in cultivation on a ranch just outside the town of Atlin, growing all types of hardy vegetables, oats, and hay, having no difficulty in selling everything locally. He visited Vancouver again in 1906, and seems to have effectively swapped places with his brother in 1910. Ellsworth Queen was listed living in Vancouver, with his older brother, William, (the only one of the brothers who was married, with a wife and daughter living at home), while Charles Queen was living in Atlin, listed as a mine-owner.

By 1913 both brothers were back in Vancouver, Charles at the Waverley and Ellsworth in his house on West 14th Avenue. By 1915 Ellsworth was spending more time in Alberta on a ranch he had bought there. He was listed living near Edmonton in the 1916 census, and was still ranching successfully in 1923, raising beef. He was listed again in 1926, and was selling pigs, and 2 teams of work horses in 1931 in West Edmonton ‘north of city limits’, but we haven’t found a reference to when he died.

In 1918 former alderman ‘Charley Queen’ was reported to have drowned when the Princess Sophia sailing from Skagway in Alaska to Vancouver, crashed into Vanderbilt Reef at a speed of about 11 knots. He had been ‘visiting his valuable Yukon mining properties’, and almost failed to secure a berth on the voyage. It’s likely the crew miscalculated the distance from the shore as there was heavy snow, fog and zero visibility. The ship stuck on the rocks for two days, with rescue boats unable to reach her because of the treacherous seas. After 40 hours the storm tore the hull adrift, snapping it into two, with all 353 passengers and crew lost. Eventually 150 bodies were recovered.

The stables weren’t listed for several years in the 1900s, but by 1910 the Royal Transfer Co were using the location. They were there for a few more years, managed by E C Davison. By 1915 they had gone, and in 1920 a large new theatre had replaced both the Waverley Hotel, and the stables. In 1975 the Vancouver Centre replaced the theatre, with the Scotia Tower on this part of the site.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P84

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Posted 17 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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