Stanley Park Livery – 601 Seymour Street

Alex Mitchell took over the Stanley Park Livery stables on Georgia Street from Queen Brothers in 1900, initially with a partner, W Hill Peppard, and then from 1903 on his own. In 1905 he moved to these new premises on the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour, on a site that Hill Peppard had owned. (We saw the home of Mr. Peppard, also on Seymour, in an earlier post). We know Hill Peppard owned this property, because in 1900 he was required to attend police court for “Failing to place gulley trap at rear of Premises Georgia & Seymour St given to Sept. 7th to comply not complied with + dismissed by request of R.M.” 

Hill Peppard was born in 1870 in the US according to the 1901 census, and was shown with his wife, Mary, who was 3 years younger, from Ontario, and two daughters, aged two and one. Their marriage had been in December 1900, and showed Hill born in Arlington, Virginia, marrying Mary Russell from Barrie. Hill had been in the area for a while; he was in a teamster in New Westminster in 1891, when he was also shown born in the US. The odd thing is that in the 1911 census, (when he was lodging in the Hotel Vancouver), and his birth registration, Hill was shown born in Nova Scotia. (His parents were born there, but it’s unclear where he was actually born).

He was in partnership as a drayman with Herman Robinson until 1899. From 1903 he was delivering firewood from the Coal Harbour Mill as Peppard & Macdonald. Mary died in 1905, and in 1911 he was in real estate, on Granville Street. A decade later he had moved to Chilliwack, where he was listed as a farmer. His brother, Clarence, a building official from Minneapolis, visited in 1925. He sent a telegram telling Hill’s other brother, who lived in Langley, that he was visiting, but it was delivered to the wrong location, so nobody met him at the station. Clarence checked in at the Belmont Hotel on Granville and was never seen again. He supposedly set off on the train to Chilliwack, and there was sighting of someone who might have been him in Marpole, but it was nearly a year later that his body was found in the North Arm of the Fraser River. Hill remarried to Mary Ann Rohrabaugh in 1927, in Whatcom County. He died in 1943, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. His executors, on tying up his affairs, advertised a mysterious message in the press, saying Hill was also known as C W Moore. We have no idea what that refers to – a second family?

These premises were designed and built in 1904 by C Mills, with a $5,000 permit issued to ‘Mrs Roberts’. Exactly who she was, we still don’t don’t know, althouigh we know she was called Mary. Mrs. Mary Roberts was given permission to build a brick retaining wall at Mitchell’s livery, in 1904, and a few weeks later complained that because the dirt had not been filled in against her property, the basement had flooded.

John Roberts, a contractor, lived almost opposite here at 616 Seymour. It seems unlikely his wife would hire another contractor to build her stables. John Wesley Roberts, a teamster, lived very close, at 511 Richards, but it seems less likely to be his wife as he was widowed when he died in 1909, and William Roberts was a hostler living at 560 Cambie, but he worked for Mainland Transfer. In 1905, and 1906 A Mitchell carried out alterations and repairs, so presumably Alex bought the premises in 1905..

We looked at Alex Mitchell’s history in connection to his home on Princess (now East Pender). Born in 1867 in Huron, Ontario, he arrived in 1894, and married a year later. He started as a warehouseman for Thomas Dunn, but by 1900 had partnered with Hill Peppard to take over the stables on Georgia. They brought the Stanley Park Livery name with them – as far as we can tell the stables were never actually in Stanley Park, but you could hire horses and a carriage, and take a ride round the park (pausing to reverse into the Hollow Tree and take a photograph if you had the skill). This image is dated c 1910, but we think it may have been taken around 1906, when another was taken of Alex outside the stables.

By 1911 Alex had built another new building at 1040 Hornby, although this building was still listed as Stanley Park Stables. He was offering Boarding Stables, Nacks, Victorias, Surreys, Carriages and Tally-Ho, so he probably briefly filled both buildings. Gasoline powered cars were still relatively few and far between, and the city was growing fast, so business was good. In 1912 all the business was conducted from Hornby, and for just one year Bligh Stables operated here, run by Herbert Bligh. This building must have been demolished only seven years after it was constructed, because in 1913 The St Regis Hotel opened here, owned by Leon Melekov and designed by W T Whiteway. Unlike many of the local rival hotels from the era, it continues (without becoming a rooming house) to this day. Indeed, it’s one of the smarter and more popular boutique hotels in the city.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-12

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Posted 21 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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