Fidelity Life Insurance – 1112 West Pender Street

This is the new Fidelity Life Insurance Company building on West Pender, designed by McCarter Nairne & Associates. Construction commenced on the $1.6m building in 1959, and it was announced that the company (which already owned a small office in the city) were moving their headquarters here from Regina, rather than moving to Toronto. Harry Cutler was the Canadian manager of the business, and a series of other sibling companies also moved here. A 1961 profile said, “The Fidelity Life Assurance Company is a member of the Friend’s Provident and Century Group of England, whose other Canadian operations include the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company, Century Insurance Company, Limited, and The Anglo Scottish Insurance Company, Limited, all operating in the general insurance field.” That was the year this picture was taken.

At least one of the businesses originated in Vancouver; Pacific Coast Fire Insurance. We saw the company’s first office building, developed in 1911 and still standing on Howe Street. It once had a waterfront view but is now two rows behind newer buildings. The building was developed by the National Finance Corporation with J W Horne, and the insurance company could trace its history back to 1894 when James Welton Horne, David Henry Wilson, and Edward Odium deposited 111,845.65 to act as security against potential claims against the business. J W Horne had tried to get the business off the ground in 1890 with five other sponsors. An additional $15,000 was required in 1906, furnished by the Dominion Trust Company.

Five years after they moved in, the businesses were combined as the Century Insurance Company of Canada. They moved offices to the opposite side of the street in the 1980s, and then to Toronto in January 1987. That year the company discontinued activities, and two years later an order was issued winding up the property and business into the Dominion Insurance Corporation. The building originally had angled vertical aluminum sunshades in front of the east-facing windows – a device seen on contemporary buildings like the United Kingdom Building and the City Library. They were replaced with red brick veneer panels on the balconies that continued onto the Pender facade, so that the building appears to have been built in the 1980s.

Today it has a variety of businesses with lawyers, suppliers of polycarbonate sheeting, and designers of blockchain technology (at least for now).

Image source: Fred Schiffer Jewish Museum L.23530



Posted 22 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Tagged with

%d bloggers like this: