Archive for March 2023

540 Howe Street

This modest 3-storey building had been given a permit in 1927 for $37,500 for Branson, Brown & Co who hired R T Perry to design it. The company opened an office in the Rogers Building on Granville Street in 1928, and commenced work on the building in early 1929, when the cost were reported to have escalated to about $40,000.

The company was created when R P Clark and Co, Victoria stockbrokers, were taken over in 1927. Charles E Brown was one partner, and C L H Branson the other. When they opened here they also had a real estate arm, Branson, Brown & Merrick, with F J Merrick of Vancouver.

In 1930 the market was in turmoil, and Branson, Brown found themselves in court as unhappy clients started realising how much their investments had lost. By January 1931, the company, (shown being run by then as Stewart G. Clark and William George Lythgoe) was bankrupt. In 1932 there were court proceedings for ‘unlawful conversion’, and a further $7,500 was distributed by the trustee. While the stock market was in freefall, the company were accused of selling stocks (at a loss) without getting their owner’s permission. The partners were no doubt doing their best in extraordinary times to try to get their clients some of their investments, but the clients didn’t all see it that way.

The real estate business was still in operation until 1933, but as Merrick’s Ltd. Various other financial businesses moved in, with McDermid, Miller & McDermid Ltd (stocks and
bonds) in 1935, and stayed for three years before moving to The Yorkshire Building.

A year earlier C E Brown was back in business, trading bonds at Bird & Talling. He no doubt had a nasty surprise when the Royal Bank tried to sue the him for $51,000 in 1935, related to his company’s earlier bankrupcy. Mr Branson was well away from the writ, living in Mexico City where he was ‘managing his oil wells’. We’re not sure if the case ever came to trial.

In 1939 Ross Lort, the architect, moved into an office here, and designed the new Maxine’s School of Beauty in the West End here, before moving again, this time to Burrard Street. A year later Marwell Construction had their offices here, and the Provincial Game Office moved in as well, with the Board of Health. New gun registration requirements in 1940 saw a rush to the Game Commission office. The office was here until 1946, when the building was acquired, and altered, by the Vancouver Stock Exchange (who were previously tenants in The Stock Exchange Building on Pender). In 1948 it was valued at $76,500, including $20,000 for the land. The Stock Exchange moved again next door in 1964, acquiring the Canada Trust building.

Prosper Oils and Mines Ltd was here from 1965, after the building was bought by by East-West Holdings and Selective Personnel had offices here in 1969, when it was also the new home of Community Unit Fund, a locally managed Mutual Fund.

In our 1974 image two floors were available to lease, and the main floor was being turned into a retail space that was then occupied by Lou Myles, menswear, until the mid 80’s. In 1984 BCIT’s computing class was held here upstairs, in their Outreach Centre.

In 1986 the building featured in a bizarre incident reported in the Sun. “Vancouver store owner Yaro Priborsky said today he tried to shoot the lock off a door above his store to stop water from a leaky pipe that was threatening his $100,000 worth of stock. But all he got from three bullets from a pistol was a splinter of wood in his hand. The lock held and he had to spend the next four hours catching the flood of water in buckets and moving his stock out of harm’s way.

Said Priborsky, owner of Margetson Ltd., 540 Howe: “I thought the shooting might work. It didn’t. After that I was going like crazy collecting the water in buckets.” The incident started at 5 a.m. Wednesday when the sound of running water awakened Priborsky. He said he had worked late the previous night and decided to sleep in the store. “The pipe had burst on the third floor, perhaps because of the cold weather, and I couldn’t get at it. If I had had an axe, I would have used it on the door, but all I had was the gun,” he said. He said the upstairs property is separate from his store. Priborsky said that, during his four hours with the buckets, he managed to get hold of building officials who sent a plumber to shut off the water. He denied earlier reports that a bullet ricocheted and hit his hand. “It was a splinter of wood; just a scratch” he said.”

The building didn’t last much longer. It was redeveloped as part of the northern part of Pacific Centre Mall which was completed in 1990.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01014



Posted 30 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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631 Seymour Street

This image taken in 1974 is labelled 621 Seymour, but The Clubhouse Restaurant & Coffee Shop was 631. Upstairs was a rooming house, adressed as 621 and called The Bay Hotel.

The building opened in 1912 as The Roslyn Rooms, designed, built and owned by builders Purdy & Lonergan, who obtained the permit for the $33,000 investment in 1910. This appears to be their only substantial investment, (assuming it really was built for their ownership). The location, and the presence of hot and cold water in every room were the main selling points.

Purdy & Lonergan had been builders in the city for many years. William K Lonergan married in 1902 to Kate Ashe ‘from the east’ (actually Halifax, NS), and lived in a house on West Georgia. He was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1870.  A year later Charles Purdy married Elizabeth Boyd in Revelstoke, although his bride was from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Charles was also from Yarmouth, where he was born in 1868. William Lonergan was only aged 60 when he died in 1930, and Charles Purdy was 77 when he died in 1946. We think they both arrived in 1902, joining Charles Lonergan, William’s brother, who was already in the city, working for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The rooms didn’t really get mentioned until 1917, when the Sun reported “Mrs. E. S. Gardiner, residing at the Rosslyn rooms, 631 Seymour street, has asked police assisiance to trace her husband. While coming to the city about three weeks ago, Mrs. Gardiner stopped off on the road to visit friends, and while with them received a letter from her husband telling her he was going north about 40 miles, but that he would return here in a few days. Since then she has not heard anything of him. Gardiner is aged 45, 5 ft. 10 in., 145 lbs., clean shaven, of medium complexion, with grey hair. When last heard of he was wearing brown corduroy pants, blue serge vest and blue woolen sweater.” Strangely, there appear to have been no follow-up story.

In 1931 the valuation of the rooms, and the St Regis Hotel to the north were challenged by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who owned the properties (presumably with the idea of further expansion of their store). The Roslyn Rooms were operating upstairs, run by C C Cook, and the store on the main floor (numbered as 633 Seymour) was Share Bros, a paint store.

In 1946 The Sun carried a story about the Rooms: Fight Ends In Arrest

A charge of damage to property as the result of a fight in a downtown rooming house was laid against Mike Burns, 21, no fixed address, late Saturday. Arrest or Burns followed a report to police by Mike Kohoot, 621 Seymour, who declared that early Saturday he heard someone in the hallway of the rooming house and went to investigate. He said he found two men In the hallway and during the ensuing struggle Burns plunged through a plate glass window in the front door. According to police, Burns sustained several cuts on his hands and face and was treated at St. Paul’s Hospital before he was taken to the city jail.

In 1948 the numbering had altered so that the Roslyn Rooms were 621, run by J Klimchuk, and the store was Pratt’s Beauty Supplies and their cosmetics laboratory. They had renovated the store, and added a moderne storefront, although rather misleadingly the Sun reported that “A handsome modern building with four floors has just been opened at 631 Seymour Street by Pratt’s Beauty Supply Co. Ltd., moving from a few doors up the street.” Mrs H V Pratt ran the business, and the remains of her storefront can be seen under the Clubhouse Restaurant sign.

A restaurant had opened by 1964, and were constantly advertising for waitresses and kitchen help. Chris Levas ran it, (as well as the Argo Coffee Shop and Zenith Cafe). The Club House had Zambra, a reader, available in 1971. She replaced Madame Golar ‘from the East’ who was here in 1969. In 1970 there was a fire on the fourth floor of what had now become the Bay Hotel. In 1977 the restaurant was still offering psychic readings with Mrs Veesk (cards, teacups and wax).

By the mid 1990s the rooms had closed, and the building was boarded up. In September 1997 Harold Munro wrote an extensive story in the Vancouver Sun that started “Ryan Beattie followed the amber glow down the darkened hallway of the vacant building to find his friend Newfie asleep on a mattress that was in flames. He was wrapped in a sheet and that was on fire, too,” said Beattie, 19, who was among 15 young squatters living in the five-storey building in the 600-block Seymour when the fire started at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Beattie helped Newfie to his feet. Flames raced down Newfie’s jeans, melting the rubber toe of his sneaker. Fire singed his goatee, but he got out with only a small burn on his right palm. No one else was injured in the fire. They tried to hurl the burning mattress out the third-floor window, but only succeeded in spreading the fire the wall.” The shell of the building was demolished later that day.

Two years after the fire, the owners of the adjacent Gotham Restaurant added a 40 seat patio garden, which is still there today.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01043


Posted 27 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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951 Seymour Street (2)

We saw the early history of this building, and the story of the funds that built it in a previous post. General Distributors (who mostly wholesaled radios) were here from 1929, two years after it was built. They became Western Agencies, and by 1942 they were wholesalers of Gilson furnaces, that could burn coal for the duration of the war, but then be switched to oil once hostilities had ceased.

Having survived the war, they were appointed distributors of Stromberg-Carlson radios in 1945. In 1950 Appliance and Heating had also moved into the building, distributors of Gilson heating and refrigeration, including the Gilson Volcano furnace, but they moved to Homer St, and Western Agencies remained here, adding Marconi Radios to their wholesale lines in 1952.

In 1956 the building was being offered for lease, but Western Agencies were still here in 1962, wholesaling Sharp radios. We’re not sure when they eventually left, but by 1974, when this picture was taken, and through the 1980s this was the body shop of Dominion Motors, who operated the 3-floor car dealership at the northern end of the block.

The Spot was completed here in 1998, (before this became known as Yaletown – it was advertised as ‘steps to Yaletown’). Designed by Kasian Kennedy, it’s a condo building with a mix of 196 double-height lofts and studio apartments in an unusual semi-circular building. Initial pre-sales in February 1997 offered the lofts from $88,000, although by October all that was left were studios from $84,900, and lofts from $127,900, (although there was $5,000 off, a discounted mortgage and discounted legal fees to entice purchasers). The last 14 were still for sale in June 1998, from $143,500.

Today 646 sq. ft. 1-bed lofts sell for between $700,000 and $800,000

There have always been investor owners offering rentals, and one is available to rent at $3,850. In 2010 they were available at $1,400, and in 2000, soon after completion, at $980 (although the penthouse was $1,350),

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01047


Posted 23 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1339 Richards Street (2)

We saw the early history of this building in an earlier post. It started life as The American Laundry, developed by W J Thomas, who hired N Y Cross to design and build it in 1913. We have two possible developers, and we looked at their stories in that post. The (Chinese) laundry use only lasted about 20 years, and the building went through a variety of subsequent commercial tenants.

By 1934 this was home to Granolite Paint , who sold exterior ‘mineral paint’ for buildings. By 1938 Electrical Sales & Equipment were here. A worker opened the valve on an old tank, bought from a second-hand dealer, in the yard, twelve feet from the open door. The fumes met a stove inside and exploded, resulting in one worker being blown off his feet, and another severely burned. The premises had ‘considerable damage’, but the business was still in operation a month later.

Vancouver Stove Repair were in operation here in 1939. They operated a 24 hour De Luxe repair service, and provided an alternate stove while they worked on the customer’s. In 1941 HKF Machines were here, then three years later Aero Manufacturing’s machine shop as well as Gordon Supply machine shop. They shared the same phone line, so we don’t know which was selling the ’32-foot troller and dogfish boat, with gurdles’.

V-Brick manufacturing joined Aero in 1945, of whom The Sun reported ‘the Arrow Manufacturing Co. Ltd., 1339 Richards, is now producing metal dust pans for the B. C. market’ (perhaps a mis-hearing of Aero?). This was a new line, switching from wartime manufacturing as the end of the war seemed imminent. Previously the plant was making steering wheels for Boeing B-29s. V-Brick was another new business making coloured bricks on Seymour Arm, employing former wartime manufacturing employees. After the war this was home to a roofing company run by T Woodward, but in 1950 Monty’s Spare Ribs were also here, (upstairs).

Owned by Max King until 1962, and named after the maitre d’ of The Cave Nightclub on Hornby, Monty’s advertised ‘toothsome food and a homey atmosphere’. In 1954 Monty’s lost four quarts of champagne and two bottles of wine when thieves broke in. The manager, Dexter Lewers said they also took about $25 from the jukebox and cigarette machine. In 1956 thieves again managed to take liquor and cigarettes. With no sign of a break-in, police believed someone hid in the building until it was closed and locked. In 1958 the ‘after theatre special’ (from 11pm to 2am) offered chilli con carne, toast and coffee for 90 cents. Spaghetti and ribs were $1.95. In 1958 the restaurant lost money again. This time the manager, Don Smith, was relieved of the $475 in takings by a robber holding a .32 calibre revolver. Ten days later a North Vancouver man was arrested and charged for the robbery.

In the early 1960s Fuller tinted glass joined the roofing business on the main floor, while Monty’s continued upstairs until 1967, when the Original Spare Rib House replaced it. That gave way to Sir Edgar’s Dining Lounge in 1972 – ten years later they offered an anniversary special of Bar-b-qued spareribs for $10.95. (Including soup, salad, baked potato and garlic bread). That’s who was here in our 1981 image.

Next up was an Italian restaurant, Antipasto’s which very quickly became Rosolino’s which didn’t do well – reviewed as ‘tomato sauce with everything’, (although there was live jazz on the odd night). Noted local chef Mark Potovsky took it over, and relaunched with classier food in 1990, (one dish was reviewed as ‘better than Umberto’s’), but with dinner for four with two bottles of wine at $157.20, it’s perhaps not surprising that from 1993 to 1995 the restaurant was advertised as immediately available, with full kichen equipment. It reopened briefly in 1996 as Pappa Al Pomodoro.

Today ‘The 501’ is here, a 265 unit condo tower, designed by Hewitt, Tan, Kwasnicky. In the mid 1990s it was too big a project for either Onni or Amacon to take on, so they joined forces, and completed the building in 1999. The tower has a swirling snail’s shell spiral top, but at street level there are several retail units, including the barber’s studio seen here.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E07.29


Posted 20 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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951 Seymour Street (1)

Here’s yet another garage on Seymour Street – this one built in 1927, and seen here in 1929. As with many of the other similar building, it was built by Bedford Davidson, but he didn’t design it; R T Perry got the plans approved for the $10,800 building. The Dana Estate were the developer, and the only possible person we identified who might have been associated with this that we can find, was Albert John Dana. He was a very early Vancouver resident, the purchasing agent for the CPR. In that role he seems to have also handled the leasing of CPR property.

He was born in Brockville, Canada West (later Ontario) around 1844, and presumably arrived with the CPR as he was living in one of the Ferguson blocks in 1888. In 1890 Albert married Edith Empey, who was from Quebec, and 18 years younger than her husband. (Actually, she was probably Edythe). The couple were reported living in The Hotel Vancouver initially, but Albert was building a house on CPR land (naturally) on the corner of Howe and West Georgia, That may never have been the family home, as they seem to have moved to a house at 1230 Robson as early as 1891, in a house designed for Albert by R M Fripp. The road was still dirt, and Mr. Dana was a frequent correspondent to the City Council about getting it gravelled. A daughter was born in 1895. The house on Georgia became a guest house, initially the ‘Douglas House’, then ‘The Georgia’, with an almost annual change of proprietor, and a second very similar building added alongside in the early 1900s.

In 1900 The Province reported “Miss Dana, daughter of Mr. A. J. Dana, purchasing agent of the C. P. R returned yesterday to her home in Brockville, after a pleasant summer’s visit to the city. Mrs Wilgress accompanied her as far as Mission“. It seems that aged 5, she was travelling unaccompanied back to Ontario. The 1901 census showed their daughter was aged 6, also shown as Edith but known by her middle name, Vivian, and living with them at 1230 Robson. (In 1898 Alonza Dana was also in the city, probably Albert’s brother – who was in Brockville in 1901). In 1902 the reason for their daughter living in Ontario was hinted at “Mrs A J Dana continues to improve, although her recovery is somewhat slow”. By August 1905 she had recovered well enough to travel: “Mrs, A. J. Dana, accompanied by her mother,  Mrs. Empy, and her little daughter. Miss Vivian, will leave shortly on a prolonged visit to friends in Montreal. During their absence Mrs. Wilgress and her sons will occupy the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Innes, Nelson street.” She returned after three months, visiting Montreal and Brockville, and reported to have improved health. She presented a tea in May on two afternoons, but in July 1906 however, her death was reported, leaving Albert a widower with an 11 year old daughter.

Albert sold The Georgia House soon after his wife’s death, to Mrs. Benge, for a rumoured $35,000. He owned other property, including the Royal Hotel on Cordova that he jointly owned with J A Fullerton. He had R M Fripp design another house on Matthews Avenue in 1912. Albert died in 1921 aged 77 when he was living in Glencoe Lodge, and we assume his estate managed his property interests and developed this building. It’s possible it benefited his daughter, who had married Thomas Ramsay in North Vancouver in 1920.

The first tenant here (just two months after the permit was approved) was The Motor Car Supply Company of Canada Limited, who, despite the name supplied accessories rather than motor cars. Founded in Calgary, they expanded so that by 1962 they had opened 17 branches in British Columbia and Alberta.

They didn’t stay long in these premises; in 1929 General Distributors moved in, selling (as this Vancouver Public Library image shows) Majestic and Rogers radios, and Grey-Rock Brake Linings. Two years later they had become Western Agencies Ltd were here, appointed Castrol oil distributors, but still also Exide batteries and Rogers radios (which could be bought on a convenient monthly plan). Majestic radios could be bought for $99.50 in 1933.

Today it’s ‘The Spot’ a condo building designed by Kasian Kennedy and completed in 1998.


Posted 16 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1339 Richards Street (1)

This picture from 1918 shows a relatively new Laundry building in what we now think of as Yaletown, (although an earlier newspaper article described it as being in the West End). Its development had been controversial. Despite being called the American Laundry, the name wasn’t fooling anybody – they knew it was a Chinese Laundry. It was developed in 1913 by W J Thomas, who hired N Y Cross to design and build the development. It had two permits – the first was only going to cost $1,250, but Mr. Thomas had to spend $2,150 on a brick building to meet the requests of the inspector.

In August 1913 the Daily World had reported “TAXPAYERS OBJECT TO CHINESE LAUNDRY Property owners in the 1300 block Richards street, have sent In a petition to the civic building comittee protesting against the establishment of a Chinese laundry in that block, on the ground that it would tend to depreciate the value of the surrounding property and that it would be a nuisance. Building Inspector Jarrett stated this morning that although he did not think the city had power to refuse the permit or license for such a laundry as it came within the No. 2 fire limits, he could, and would insist that a substantial brick building he erected with concrete floors and all sanitary conveniences that would tend to eliminate any nuisance.

Just to make sure nobody was fooled by the name the laundry was listed as ‘American Laundry (chinese)’ in the street directory, although they didn’t include it in the list of Chinese businesses. By 1918, when this picture was taken, the chinese aspect of the business had been dropped, although nobody was identified as being involved in operating the laundry. That year the resident of the rather fine house to the south was Salvator Dagostino, and Samuel Blair lived in the house to the north. There had previously been a house on this site too, which was offered for sale in 1910.

We aren’t completely certain which W J Thomas developed the building. One was William James Thomas who was living in the West End, and managed a factory (in 1918 it was Lyall Shipbuilding). Previously he had been a contractor; he sold a newly built home on East Pender in 1915. It seems odd that he would have hired another contractor to develop the building, but it’s possible. There was also Walter John Thomas who had a real estate business on West Pender, although he seems to have mostly sold property on the west side, including Kitsilano.

We can find William Thomas’s son, Earle Hartley Thomas, who by the age of 25 had a medical degree, another in dentistry, and one in medical jurisprudence. He went on to be an oral surgeon in Chicago, but he was born in Halton, in Ontario in 1891. From that we can confirm his father was William J Thomas, and his mother Elizabeth Burns. In 1921 William J Thomas was a resident on Barclay Street, and was foreman of a box mill. He was living with his daughter, Muriel, as his wife (who was known as Libbie, and whose name was actually Nancy, but she always used her middle name), had died the year before. She was from Burlington, Ontario, where Muriel had been born in 1895. In 1901 the family were in Durham, Ontario, where William and his wife were both shown (incorrectly) born in England, with William working as a manager.

In 1911 W J Thomas obtained a permit for alterations to the Barclay Street house he would occupy for many years. It had been built in 1894, but Mr Thomas spent $1,500 making additions to the front. He carried out minor repairs in 1923, and was married again to Isabel Donald, who was 19 years younger, in 1925. William James Thomas died in 1955, in Vancouver, aged 89.

Walter John Thomas was a broker who died in 1922, aged only 44, leaving a wife and three children. He was originally from St. George, New South Wales, Australia, and married Ethel in North Sydney in 1901, arriving in Canada in 1905. He was involved in real estate and was a notary. Either man would have had the funds to carry out this development.

The ‘American Laundry’ name seems to have been dropped by 1920, but Kwong Loy was listed here, and in the Chinese Business section. We’re not sure if he is the same Kwong Loy whose account book for a 1925 gambling den is in the Vancouver Archives. There was also Kwong Loy who ran a Chinese laundry on Albert Street in 1919 and through the 1920s, who was charged with operating an illegal still.

By 1929 Mock Sing had taken over the business. In October the Province reported “Bandit Robs Chinese Laundry at Point of Gun. Mock Sing. 1339 Richards street, reported to the police that a bandit entered his laundry Wednesday night, held him up and robbed him of $27.” The Sun took up the story a week later “VICTIM BRINGS ABOUT HOLD-UP MAN’S ARREST Lowell Chinn Pleads Guilty, Remanded for Sentence.

When Mock Sing, 1339 Richard street, saw Lowell Chinn, no fixed address, on the street. Monday night, he recognized him as a men who on October 2 held him up and took $25. The Chinese told Constable D. Johnston, who happened to be near and the officer approached Chinn, who put his hand to his hip in a threatening manner. Johnston was not intimidated but went for Chinn and placed him under arrest, charged with robbery with violence. Before Magistrate Shaw today the accused pleaded guilty to the Mock Sing charge and also to robbing Sang Kee, 570 Cambie street of 50 cents and Louie, 511 Hornby street of S11.30 on September 2. He was remanded until Friday for sentence. Chinn had in his possession a cigarette case shaped like a pistol with which he is believed to have menaced his victims.” Chinn was sentenced to two years for each offense, running concurrently. A month later the Sun revisited the story, with R D Bouchette adding tortured dialogue that these days wouldn’t be seen in print. “Lobbers ketchum help, bandits!” screamed Mock. “Be aisy, me bhoy,” comforted Denis Johnston. “I’ll get your bandit for ye.” (Constable Johnston was from Kildare. Mock Sing’s home town wasn’t identified).

Today ‘The 501’ is here, a 265 unit condo tower, designed by Hewitt, Tan, Kwasnicky. In the mid 1990s it was too big a project for either Onni or Amacon to take on, so they joined forces, and completed this project in 1999. The tower has a swirling snail’s shell spiral top, but at street level there are several retail units, including the barber’s studio seen here.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-729


Posted 13 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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514 West Broadway

Like the previous post, this small commercial building was developed on West Broadway when it was a much less important, mostly residential street. This one also lasted 100 years, but has been recently redeveloped with a W T Leung designed office and retail building.

E Stanley Mitton designed the building in 1910 for F D Elkins. G Griffiths was the builder, and the permit was for a modest $13,000. Francis (“Frank”) Dawson Elkins was a realtor and insurance broker, born in Reading, England probably in 1873 (on his death certificate and census return), but possibly 1874 (his marriage certificate), or 1875, (his US Naturalization) . The 1911 census said he arrived in 1891, and he’s on a Manitoba entry in Broadview Manitoba in that year, and in Winnipeg in 1901 (with his widowed mother).

He was in Vancouver in 1906, the superintendent for the London Guarantee and Accident Company. He married in 1908, and a year later had a real eatate office on West Hastings with his brother, James. His bride was Edna Cook, the daughter of a prominent Vancouver builder, agent for Otis Elevator (and former alderman), Edward Cook. In 1911 they moved to Shaughnessy Heights, but in 1914 Frank joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, serving in Canada, England and France. He was a captain when was released from military service in 1919.

He returned to working as an insurance agent, but in 1925 Frank, Edna and his mother headed south to live in California. He set up in Santa Monica, (where he had two sisters living) and became a US citizen. His mother died in 1935, and in 1940 Frank was the owner of a wholesale and retail antique business. Edna died in 1954, and Frank two years later.

In 1936 Hatt’s Stove Works would sell you an Aeroflame sawdust burner for your range or furnace. By 1945 you could buy a (slightly) cleaner option, with Melny’s offering Fawcett wood and coal ranges, and Guerney gas broilers. The company were here for 35 years (including when this 1974 image was taken) before being replaced in the late 1970s by Carpetland, replaced a couple of years later by a Chinese furniture importer, the Lacquer Box. In 2004 a restaurant opened here; Dan Yal’s Tandoor & Bar, offering a full lunch for $6.49.

Upstairs were six suites; in the 1930s they were leased furnished. A resident of an apartment here for five years, Mrs Elizabeth Smith, aged 40, a passenger in a car driving on Keith Road in North Vancouver was killed when the car left the road and sheared a power pole in two.

In 1948 Thomas Hammond Griffith, a pensioner, and resident here was featured in the Sun in an article on how to live on $40 a month. ‘Only eat one meal a day’, was Mr. Griffith’s advice. He paid $10 a month for the room, and aged 77, only owned one sweater, and a pair of trousers he bought three years earlier. In 1954 a 4-room suite was $65 a month.

The building was home to a hairdressing school and a Szechuan restaurant in 2017, just before it was demolished.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-00308


Posted 9 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Gone

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566 West Broadway

This modest two-storey building has lasted over 100 years on the same location, but may not be around too much longer. With the extension of the SkyTrain along West Broadway, and a prominent developer advertising its current lease, it’s safe to assume redevelopment is on the cards.

It was built in 1910, and only cost $10,000. The owner, and builder was B Naffzinger, and Townsend & Townsend were the architects. It’s relatively unusual for a building designed by them, as generally they faced the building in beige brisk with a red brick diamond pattern. In this case they added a magnificent pediment with their client’s name prominently displayed, as the 1912 image here shows, with Melvin H. Clapp Shoemaker and Robert G. Woods Candies occupying the storefronts.

This was Mr. Naffzinger’s only development. As half of Tompkins and Naffzinger, he was a property agent with an office, in 1907, at 535 Ninth Avenue (this block, before it became Broadway). In 1908 the business had 21 lots for sale on Ninth Ave, ‘a rare chance for speculation’ (which is a joke, as it seems as if half of Vancouver were involved in property speculation). In 1909 Benjamin Naffzinger was appointed a Notary Public. Clearly the business was doing well; in 1910 is was reported that Mr. Naffzinger and family have returned after spending the winter in Los Angeles. In 1912 he had changed partners to Fred Duerr, and moved their office to closer to Main Street.

Benjamin made it into the 1911 ‘Who’s Who in Western Canada, where he was a financial broker born in Danvers Illinois, starting out as a telegraph opertaor in Chicago. He came to BC in 1906, and had married Florence MacLachlan (born in Aylmer, Ontario) in Chicago in 1886, with one daughter, Bessie, born in 1889 in Chicago. He’d already headed west, as the 1900 census showed the family living in Corning, California.

Benjamin Naffzinger died, aged 61, in 1922. Florence, his wife, was aged 75 when she died in Seattle in 1935.

There were four suites upstairs: A-D, and tenants tended to stay for a while. It was a quiet neighbourhood, although one afternoon in March 1937 Mrs. B J Wood’s window was broken with a stone. Ten years later B W Aubert lived in suite B, and was selling a 1940 Ford coach, and was willing to trade for an older car and cash. In 1954 Allen Orr reported $68 stolen from his suite – a year earlier he had been in a car accident Downtown, ending up with scrapes and bruises.

In 1955 truck driver William Pearson, who lived here, was arrested for stealing a wallet with $125 in it from an Edmonton fan who had come to watch the Grey Cup game. That year a suite leased for $45 a month. In 1964 that had risen to $65 a month, and in 1998, $945.

Our 1974 image shows the Round The Clock Steak and Pizza House, and a realtor’s office. Round the Clock became Kosta’s Pizza Restaurant a year later, and in the late 1980s there was a Sitar Indian Restaurant here. The space upstairs is now an office, with one main floor unit a Yoga and Fitnesss Studio and the other recently vacated by a hairdresser.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archites CVA 1095-00307 and CVA 371-881


1275 Seymour Street

Before it was redeveloped as a condo tower, this was better known to many Vancouver residents as Luv-a-fair, a nighclub that ran for over 25 years from 1974. Needless to say, that wasn’t how the building started life. It was developed in 1937 by the White Motor Company, an American automobile, truck, bus and agricultural tractor manufacturer from 1900 until 1980. The company’s first motor vehicles were steamers; in 1911 President William Howard Taft purchased one of the $4,000 cars, and is said to have enjoyed using bursts of steam against “pesky” press photographers. White switched to truck manufacturing in the 1920s, as well as buses and fire trucks.

Their trucks could be found on Vancouver’s streets, and the company operated in Vancouver in the 1930s at 967 Seymour, but in 1937 White Distributors Ltd hired McCarter Nairne & Partners to design a $14,000 warehouse and garage built by K M Skene.

H G De Bou was the manager in 1940 when the dealership switched to selling GMC trucks, renaming the business General Truck Sales. Here’s the garage at night in 1946, in an Archives image. You could still order a new GMC truck here in October 1953, but by November you were out of luck – but you could buy a Volkswagen quarter ton truck, (or a Beetle), as VW Pacific took over the space. They weren’t here for much more than ten years.

In 1966 the building became The King of Clubs. Initially operating without a licence, (in 1967 28 bottles of liquor were confiscated). Run by Gary Taylor, who was only 25, and a drummer with his own band playing backup to the strippers at the Smilin’ Buddah he was backed by friends who were sports players. The venue had a transmission shop at the back of the building to help cover revenue. There was $3,000 in the safe one Sunday night in September when a handyman heard noises, and called the police, who surrounded the building and caught the would-be safebreakers.

In 1968 Dick and Dee Dee were here for a 2-week engagement in April, replaced by The Mojo Co. Generally the bands were local, including Gerneral Wolfe and the Redcoats, Accent, and Handley Page. In March the licence was limited to 8pm to 2am because of ‘inadequate luncheon service’. (They were operating as a bar, and should have been selling food as well). The licencing executive of the Liquor Distribution Board insisted it wasn’t because the waitresses were topless, ‘which is strictly up to the City of Vancouver’. The doorman must have been pretty effective: in May “Two male bandits wearing hoods and masks fled the King of Clubs cabaret, 1275 Seymour, just before midnight after a doorman refused to let them enter the club”.

Taylor and his backers sold up after three years; he went on to run a show lounge on Granville, and then Hornby Street. In October 1969 it was announced that Nashville rockabilly recording star Buddy Knox would be at the newly named Purple Steer for a three week engagement, during which time he would be buying a controlling share in the business. Billed as ‘Country Music Capital in Western Canada’, Knox often performed here when he wasn’t on tour, and a variety of other local and visiting acts filled the other performances. By 1972 the club had morphed into ‘The Garage’ – in September Sonny Martinez and his Blue Collar Rock Band were headlining, and in November Wildroot.

In May 1973 Robert Leigh Wilkins of West Vancouver had an argument with his girlfriend, and was thrown out by the doorman. He returned in his car, and attempted to drive into the clubs’s assistant manager. He leaped out of the way, and the car removed the club’s doors. Wilkins was charged with attempted murder. The club became a biker hangout, as two brothers found out after being knifed after an argument outside the club in 1974.

In 1974, the club, said by columnist Jack Wasserman to have had 5 names and 15 owners, reported it reopening as Love Affair, run by Barry Maggliocco. Actually it was Luv-A-Fair, and it lasted longer than all the previous iterations of the club, until 2003, just after our main image was taken. A Vancouver Sun epitaph summed up the nearly 30 year run: “The Luv-A-Fair is over. It was a club like no other this city has known – loud and garish and irresistible. Formerly the Garage night club, it reopened under new owners and with a brand new name, befitting a gay club, in 1975, and proceeded to transform itself over the years, evolving along with the city’s music scene and club culture. It has attracted, and entertained, all manner of rocker, punk, skater, goth and disco diva – sometimes on the same night.

Its walls reverberated to the live sounds of alternative bands such as Sonic Youth and Nine Inch Nails. Pop culture icons like Marilyn Manson, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp prowled its poorly lit edges, late at night.” The who’s who of live and DJ’d new wave and alternative music started in 1979, replacing an earlier gay disco version of the club.

The club was replaced with Cressey’s ‘Elan’ 32-storey condo tower in 2008, with a townhouse base, designed by Merrick Architecture.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4786,