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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