24 East Broadway

Here’s a modest building on Broadway that will soon disappear. Only a block from the new SkyTrain development, Value Group assembled a site with three properties and now Chard are developing a mid-rise office building designed by Musson Cattell Mackey.

The building here today was photographed in 1974, and shows the building looked almost the same 50 years ago. It had been built in 1906 by Robert H Duke, Managing Director of the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company, and cost him $2,000, although as the permit has been lost, we don’t know who the architect was. He added a $250 garage five years later.

In 1926 another permit suggested he still owned the building when he spent another $2,500 to convert it to apartments. That’s incorrect; he died in1911, so it was probably his widow “Mrs. R H Duke” (Barbara A in the street directory). She was living here in the year before the conversion with three daughters. Alma was 24 and was a school teacher, and so was her sister Edna, who was two years younger. Alzina Duke had married George Gardner, who worked in sales for Canadian Westinghouse, and they lived here too. Their brother, Earl Duke (christened Alymer) had lived here in the 1910s, but had married Jean McMyn in 1922 on Lulu Island.

Robert Henry Duke had married Barbara Alzina Snell in Ontario in 1895. They were in Ottawa in 1901 with Alymer and Alzina, and Robert was a manager aged 29. Later that year they moved to Vancouver. The Province reported “Mr. R. H. Duke, formerly of Ottawa, Ont., will arrive in the city on Sunday and will in future reside here. Mr. Duke Is a brother of Thos. Duke of the City grocery and W. J. Duke of Wm. Braid & Co., and his arrival will be quite an addition to secret society and social circles. The following Is from the Ottawa Citizen, concerning Mr. Duke’s departure from that city: “Mr. R. H. Duke of the Canadian Savings, Loan and Building association, was last night waited upon at his house on Sweetland avenue, by the Ottawa staff of agents of the company and presented with an address expressive of their esteem for him, accompanied by a gold chain and locket, suitably engraved. Mr. Duke, who was taken completely, by surprise, made a feeling reply, thanking the friends warmly and expressing his regret in parting with associates with whom his relations had always been so pleasant. He leaves tonight for Vancouver, B. C, where he has accepted a position in the head office of the British Columbia Permanent Loan & Savings company.” In 1904 Robert was elected as Secretary to the company.

He was a protestant; a member of the board of the Orange Lodge, and chairman of the Mount Pleasant Methodist committee. In 1907 his family holiday in Harrison Hot Springs was recorded. A year later he was General Manager of the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company, as well as retaining the role of secretary of the British Columbia Permanent Loan & Savings company. That year he and Barbara travelled to southern California for a month. In February 1911 Robert resigned as manager of the Fire Insurance company to take the same role at the Loan company where he had been secretary. In August he contracted appendicitis, and despite an operation at the General Hospital, he died, aged 40. His death notice acknowledged his involvement in the church, the Orange Order, the YMCA, the Conservative part, and as a freemason.

The house having been split into four apartments, Mrs Duke lived in one, her daughter and son-in-law in #2, and Mrs Jeeves and Mrs Walsh in the other two units. The house was named as Buena Vista Lodge, and Mrs Duke lived here into the 1930s. In her later years Mrs. Duke moved in with Alma, who married Gordon Thompson, and lived close to W 50th on Churchill. She died in 1954, and the building was sold in 1958, advertised ‘offers wanted’ by Sears Realty. When the building was advertised for sale in 1997 there were six apartments, and the asking price was $625,000, and having failed to sell that was dropped to $575,000, and then $550,000, and finally $515,000.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01579



Posted 6 February 2023 by ChangingCity in Mount Pleasant, Still Standing

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