Author Archive

2196 Columbia Street

This modest wooden Mount Pleasant church is seen here in a 1970s image. Unusually, we admit to processing the ‘before’ picture slightly, as the image was very dark and slightly discoloured on the Archives website, and hard to make out. The church dated from 1928 when it was erected by the United Church as a mission. While the Japanese community based on Powell Street was well known, and has been mentioned on this blog many times, there was another Mount Pleasant community that’s less well known.

The Japanese community here mostly worked in the sawmills and the other industries along the south shore of False Creek. In 1921, the Powell Street Church board agreed to set up a second mission in Fairview, and rented part of a grocery store at Yukon and West 4th Avenue. The Japanese United Church record that “In 1928, the United Church purchased property at the corner of West 6th Avenue and Columbia Street for the mission. A new building was constructed through a grant of $5,000 from the WMS, $4,000 from the Board of Home Missions, and $2,000 from the Japanese community. The new church was known as the Fairview Japanese Mission, and was always considered an off-shoot of the “Mother Mission” on the corner of Powell and Jackson.”

The Building Permit in 1928 reflects the budget; submitted by the United Church of Canada, G E Copeland was the builder of the $9,000 new church. George was a carpenter who previously had been a chemist in a chemical company. He and his wife Edna were from Ontario, and they had two of Edna’s young relatives, Esther and Evelyn McGill, born in Manitoba, living with them in 1921. We know their father had died in 1912, and their mother may have died in 1916. There’s no reference to any architect associated with the construction.

The new church flourished: “in 1933, in addition to Sunday worship, English night school and midweek prayer meetings, children and youth activities flourished: there were 214 in the Sunday school, 70 in the Saturday school and 55 mothers in the Kindergarten PTA“. Once the Japanese were forced to leave the Lower Mainland in the early 1940s, the Woman’s Missionary Society had a kindergarten here. St Giles church at W10th and Quebec held their Sunday School here until 1949, the year the Board of Home Missions renovated the building and reopened it as the Columbia Street Mission – no longer a Japanese congregation. In 1955, the English-speaking congregation of the Vancouver Japanese United Church began sharing the building with the Columbia Street congregation, worshiping here in the evenings. By 1958, both English- and Japanese-speaking congregations were worshiping here, before moving to Renfrew United Church in 1962. The Columbia Street congregation disbanded in 1969, and the building was sold and demolished in 1977.

The single-storey industrial building that replaced it was completed in 1984. Today the area is seeing huge change as high-tech and bio-tech businesses are moving in, with many new hybrid multi-storey industrial/office projects being developed. It seems likely that a modest low density building like this will be redeveloped.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-32

Posted 14 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, Mount Pleasant

Tagged with

False Creek from Above westwards 2

A recent holiday aerial, posted five weeks ago, showed False Creek looking westwards in 1981, when the mills along False Creek were closed and the idea for organizing a World Fair in Vancouver was being discussed. That became Expo ’86, and put the city on the world map in ways that some loved, and others think was the start of a different and (to them) less attractive city.

Here’s a similar view, but from earlier. This was photographed in 1954, when the Granville Bridge in the distance was shiny and very new, (and the old 1909 bridge was still in place at a much lower level). The Cambie Bridge in the middle of the picture was the old Connaught Bridge, with the pivoting section to allow shipping to reach the eastern end of False Creek. (The new bridge was built alongside on a slightly different alignment).

Expo ’86, and then Concord Pacific Place, replace the railyards and train repair facilities developed by Canadian Pacific in the late 1880s and 1890s. The semi circular engine roundhouse was initially built in 1888, and expanded in 1911. Located almost exactly half way between the Granville and Cambie bridges, since 1997 it’s been the Community Centre for the new residential neighbourhood (and is almost completely lost in the sea of towers in this view).

The BC Place stadium sits on more former railyards, the site of a box factory, and an asphalt plant. The gasholder and plant were on the north eastern side of the Creek, generating the polluted land that remains to this day, that has been partly capped with Andy Livingstone Park. A new Creekside Park will serve a similar role for contaminated land where the coal gas plant once stood, when the area around the viaducts is redeveloped. As there were still lumber mills and a barrel manufacturer on False Creek in the 1950s, it was filled with rafts of logs. Rolling them into the ocean, tying them together into rafts, and towing them to the water beside the mill was the easiest way to transport the logs. The remaining mills on the Fraser River use the same methods today, and there are still booming yards where the log booms are temporarily stored until the mill can process the logs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 228-383 and Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, on her twitter feed on 12 March 2021

1120

Posted 11 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

519 and 523 Powell Street

These two buildings were demolished many years ago, and for the time being are the location of one of the City’s temporary modular housing buildings. The building on the left pre-dated the 20th Century (and looked like it in our 1978 image), while the one on the right was developed in 1912 as an apartment building. It cost $9,000 and was designed and built by W J Prout for E McPherson.

We’ve noted Mr. Prout’s history in relation to a West Pender building. He was originally from Cornwall, and he was a builder who could design the project too; presumably shaving cost and time. His client was variously Ewen, or Ewan, McPherson or MacPherson. Probably the accurate version was Ewen MacPherson, born in Blair Athol in Scotland in 1851. His family ran the Tarbet Hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond. After travelling to Argentina and Australia, Ewen arrived in Canada in 1887 and settled in Harrison Hot Springs. He had a small farm that supplied eggs and milk to the Saint Alice Hotel, a significant property run by the Brown Brothers. In 1888 Jack Brown married Luella Agassiz, and two years later Ewen married her sister, Jane Vaudine Caroline Agassiz. The 1895 directory shows him as ‘E McPherson, gentleman.’ Jane was shown to have been born in Ontario.

In the 1891 census the McPhersons were shown living in New Westminster, where Ewen was listed as a hotel keeper, although the BC Directory shows him in Harrison Hot Springs. In the 1901 census the family were still in New Westminster, but Ewen was shown as a farmer, and there were three daughters aged 8, 7 and 5. (The street directory in 1900 still had him as a gentleman, and still in Harrison Hot Springs.) In 1908 he was in Agassiz, and farming. In the 1911 census all three daughters were still at home, and Ewen’s profession was described as ‘income’

All three daughters married; Florence was 23, shown born in Vancouver when she got married in 1914 in Vancouver to Hesketh St. John Biggs, an Australian. (Despite his impressive name, his work was as a meter reader and clerk with the British Columbia Electric Railway). The family moved to California in the 1920s. In 1920 Constance McPherson, aged 27, and shown born in Vancouver was married to James Hermon in Agassiz. In 1922 Edith was 26, born in Harrison Hot Springs, and was married in Vancouver to Ernest Baker.

Mr. McPherson was briefly proprietor of the Bodega Hotel on Carrall in the 1890s, although shown still living in Agassiz. The street directory for 1891 shows the proprietor to be Alexander McPherson, who was Ewen’s brother. Alexander also farmed in Agassiz later in the 1890s, so it appears the two brothers co-operated on their business activities.

Ewen first moved to Vancouver in 1910, living on Denman Street. His wife, Jane, passed away in 1916 after a short illness. Her obituary recorded the family traveling over the Panama peninsula in 1862 to join their father, who had settled in the area that would subsequently be named after him, after he had been to the gold fields in 1859. Ewen was 82 when he died in 1932.

Given it’s location in the heart of the Japanese community in the city, it’s not surprising that the buildings had Japanese tenants. In 1920 523 was the Kawachi Rooms, with M J Nishimura’s grocery store on the street. 519 however shows a different ethnicity, with Kashi Ram’s confectionery store. The census recorded him as Kanshi, and he was 35, single, and had arrived from India in 1911. Twenty years later Y Hayashi had his confectionery business at 519, and there were four residential units upstairs, and Mrs Taniguichi was living at the rear of the property. 523 had become the Calm Rooms, run by Mrs K Kawabata, and Tomejiro Isogai ran his ‘tranf’ business here – we assume a goods transfer firm.

By the end of the war all the Japanese had been forced into camps in the interior. 519 was ‘occupied’, and 523 was vacant, although the Calm Rooms were still in operation upstairs, run by Nils Engkvlst. In 1948 a new business took over the retail space under the Calm Rooms, the Three Vets Warehouse. They moved on very quickly, replaced by Aquapel Cement Paint manufacturers in 1950, with the Calm Rooms run by E W Haggstrom. That was the last reference to the Calm Rooms – there were no residences shown here after 1951, just a Scaffolding company, and later a construction company, suggesting a vacant building. 519 was still listed, but remained vacant through the mid 1950s. Our 1978 image shows 519 in use, but with no business name, and 523 with Downtown Glass Sales on the main floor, but no sign that the rooms above were in use.

1119

Posted 7 October 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with ,

Methodist Church – Dunlevy Avenue

In 1889 Thomas Hooper was hired to design the Methodist Mission Church, on Dunlevy Street at Princess Street (today’s East Pender). Another church was built across the street to the east in 1905, a Swedish Lutheran chapel, but that was much more modest than Mr. Hooper’s building. There was also a Japanese Methodist Mission designed by Hooper and Watkins and built 15 years later a few blocks to the north.

The Daily World reported “The church will be built of frame with a frontage of 44 feet on Dunlevy Avenue and a depth of 60 feet on Princess Street, and a total height to the ridge of the roof of about 40 feet. The seating capacity will be about 300. The edifice will be put at the back of the lots, of which there are three, so that, later on, it can be converted into a schoolroom when the main church building is constructed. The plans of the building call for a vestry, class-room and choir gallery, apart from the general auditorium.”

In practice, this wasn’t a very good location to try to convert the Chinese population to Methodism, and In 1900 the mission moved to a purpose built building in the heart of Chinatown on Carrall at Dupont Street. In 1901 a new church building was started – the one in this 1905 image. The Province reported “The members of the congregation of the Princess street Methodist church have decided to erect a new edifice to replace the present church, which has become too small to accommodate the ever-increasing membership, and work on the new building will be rushed with all possible speed. This morning Contractor Carter had force of men a, work breaking ground for the foundation of the new building, which is to adjoin the present church. The old building will be utilized as a Sunday school upon the completion of the new. The church was designed by Architect Hooper of Victoria about twelve years ago, And he was recently asked to prepare drawings for a new auditorium, and also for the remodelling of the old building on modern lines. The new auditorium will have double the seating capacity of the present on and in design it will be the latest, the style followed being that known as “the pulpit In the corner church,” with dished floor, and the choir stalls will be at the side of the pulpit. All the windows will be of stained glass, and the ceiling vaulted. A sliding partition In the wall of the auditorium adjoining the Sunday school will give access to that part of the building. A balcony is to be erected in the Sunday school, and It will be subdivided Into classrooms of various sizes by movable glass partitions. The Sunday school building will also contain a commodious lecture-room, ladies’ parlor, library, and other rooms.

The church celebrated its anniversary in 1916 with services from guest preachers, the choir performing in the afternoon, and a surprising event in the afternoon “At 4 p.m. an illustrated address on “Social Diseases” will be given by Dr. Ernest A. Hall of Victoria. This lecture will be for men only and all men are cordially Invited to be present. Dr. Hall is well known as an authority on the subject of his address, and his clear and vivid talk to men has attracted large crowds wherever he has had the opportunity of speaking.” On Monday evening the Rev Hibbert of New Westminster showed lantern slides of his five years in Dawson City in the Yukon. Those were deemed acceptable to the ladies of the congregation.

Princess Street Methodist Church, which had become Central Methodist Church in 1908, became known as the Turner Institute in 1919, in honor of Rev. James Turner, the pioneer missionary of British Columbia. In 1925 the First Presbyterian, which was also nearby, amalgamated with the Turner Institute to form the First United Church.

We know there was a fire here, because there’s a picture in the Archives from 1935, but we can’t find a reference to exactly when it happened, or what happened to the structure, although as a result it seems that the site was cleared for some years.

In the early 1950s the YMCA developed a building here, and operated until 1978 when the Chinese Mennonite Church acquired the building. In 1984, the old YMCA building was demolished and a new church building designed by Siegfried Toews was constructed, and in 1995 the building was extended to add a 32 room seniors home designed by Isaac Renton Donald. Recently the church sold the building to the Atira Women’s Resource Society, but continue to lease the church space, now called the Chinatown Peace Church.

Image source Vancouver Public Library and CVA 447-143

1118

Posted 4 October 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with

Central Business District from above (4)

Here’s another view of Downtown from the air – this time we’re looking at 41 years of change, from 1980 to August 2021 When Trish Jewison posted the image she took from the Global BC traffic helicopter. We’re looking down on the Marine Building, with the Guinness Building alongside on the edge of an escarpment, with railtracks and freight yards to the north on the area reclaimed from the beach along Burrard Inlet.

Where there was a barge ramp 40 years before, there is now the green expanse of the roof of the Convention Centre’s west building, opened in 2009. In 1980 the first Convention Centre building had yet to be constructed.

The two towers in front of the Marine Building today are the Shaw Tower and the Fairmont Pacfic Rim Hotel, both designed by James K M Cheng and developed by Westbank in 2004 and 2010. Both have roads around them which are effectively huge bridges; underneath are the service areas and an underground road network. Those raised roads continue around the Waterfront Centre offices and Hotel, to the east, developed by CP’s Marathon Realty in 1991. Tucked in behind the Marine Building, the University Club is now the base of MNP Tower, a curved blue office tower. To the south was the Customs House by CBK Van Norman, replaced in the early 2000s with a new Federal office building.

Burrard Street runs south, in front of the Marine Building, and as we’ve noted in many posts here had modest buildings on the east side from the 1950s or earlier for many years, until Park Place and Commerce Place were both built in 1984, followed by newer towers including Bentall 5 in the 2000s. Three of the Bentall Centre towers, and the Royal Centre were already built in 1980, and the fourth, and largest, Bentall tower was completed in 1981 An additional 16 storey wood-frame tower has just been revealed, planned to replace one of the project’s parkades. Tucked in behind the Royal Centre is the Burrard Building, in 1980 in its original cladding and today with a replacement skin that looks like the architect originally intended. The more recent curtain wall technology allowed a larger glazing area than was first built, as the architect CBK Van Norman had first sketched.

This might look like an already ‘built out’ area, but there are two more office towers under construction, including the tallest built in the city, The Stack, another James Cheng design towards the top right of the image, replacing a parkade on Melville Street that hadn’t been built in 1980. At least one more already approved at 30 storeys to replace a 1970s building with 15 floors, as well as the proposed additional Bentall building, to be called Burrard Exchange.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-650 and Trish Jewison, twitter 8.8.21

1117

Posted 30 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

27 West Hastings Street

The Army and Navy store closed its doors here in 2020, after 81 years in this location. Before 1939 the store was on the same block, but on the south side of the street. The building the business initially occupied here is the extensively glazed “Five-storey brick store building with basement and mezzanine on first floor; north side of Hastings, adjoining the warehouse of Wood, Vallance & Leggat;” This description was from a 1906 newspaper article titled “New block for Mayor Buscombe” So although the permits for that period are missing, we know the developer was Fred Buscombe, and the plans are in the Vancouver Archives so we also know that the architects were Parr and Fee. Smith & Sherbourne were the builders of the $45,000 investment.

Wood Vallance and Leggat occupied the building to the east which had been built around 1899 for E G Prior & Co. Later it was redeveloped as the Rex Theatre, and subsequently became an addition to the Army and Navy store. Our 1908 image shows Buscombe’s store here was called ‘The Fair’, and it replaced The Brunswick built in 1888 “on the fringe of the woods”. Perhaps this expansion of his business was a bit too much; a year later Stark’s Glasgow House moved in, having previously been on Cordova Street.

Fred Buscombe was mayor in 1905 and 1906. A merchant who had been president of the board of trade before he was elected mayor, he was elected to cut municipal spending, earning him the support of the business class and all three daily newspapers (who seldom agreed about anything). Born in Bodmin, in Cornwall, he was aged eight when the family moved to Hamilton, Ontario. He went to work for china and glassware company James A Skinner & Co. He visited Granville in 1884, and moved to Vancouver (as it had become) in 1891. He bought Skinner’s business in 1899, and had wholesale and retail businesses, as well as a Securities firm. He was also President of Pacific Coast Lumber Mills. A conservative, he was a prominent Freemason and a pillar of the Church of England, helping fund the construction of Christ Church. With his Ontario born wife Lydia the family had at least eight children, only five of whom survived.

Stark’s didn’t last very long here either; James Stark died in 1918, but this had already been renamed as The Hastings Street Public Market. A new tenant briefly moved in, but in 1919 “Terminal Salvage Co. is compelled to move so the entire building can be turned over to a Calgary Concern who will remodel the building for a public market”. This was the Cal-Van Market, and Buscombe Securities spent $3,000 in 1919 for the works for their new tenant. It was obviously a success, as Buscombe hired J E Parr to carry out another $25,000 of repairs and alterations in 1923, and Cal-Van was still in business through the 1930s. It had a boxing gym and whist arcade on the third floor.

The building has been altered behind the facade over the years, but despite the windows being painted over, it offers an opportunity to retain one of the most impressive early retail buildings still standing. The redevelopment of Army and Navy is apparently imminent, with a developer and architect working with the Cohen family (who ran Army and Navy, and still own the building) to design a rental housing, retail and possibly office project.

Image source: Vancouver Public Library

1116

Posted 27 September 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with , ,

West Georgia Street – north side

We had to make up a title for this image, which was taken some time in the 1970s or early 80s. It was part of the City Engineers slide collection – and the best they could come up with was ‘Untitled’. We’re guessing early 1980s, because the park here was established in 1983, with funds from the Calgary-based Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations who provided over $600,000 to develop the site.

We’ve seen in an earlier post that there were buildings along this side of West Georgia as recently as 1964. The land here became vacant in 1959, when the Georgia Auditorium (built in 1927) was demolished. It was a popular venue with 2,500 seats, but became irrelevant after the construction of the QE Theatre Downtown. Behind it the Vancouver Arena had been built in 1911, a much larger arena with 10,500 seats and the city’s ice hockey and curling rink. It burned down in 1936.

Once those buildings had gone, there was still a lot of asphalt, but not much happening on the waterfront here 40 years ago. Since the picture was taken the spindly new trees have matured, and Devonian Harbour Park is effectively a continuation of Stanley Park. There’s a different sort of forest to the east – the forest of Bayshore towers. On the left, on the waterfront, the Waterfront Residences were designed by Henriquez Partners, and completed in 1999. Next to the street, the 1710 Bayshore Drive condo buildings were designed by Eng, Wright and Bruckner and completed two years earlier. The developers were a Japanese company, Aoki Corporation. They acquired the land when they bought the Westin Corporation, which had developed the Westin Bayshore Hotel, visible in the distance. It was designed by D C Simpson in 1961, with the 20 storey tower added in 1970.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2709

1115

Posted 23 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

1030 Robson Street

This 1974 image shows a 3-storey brick apartment building on the 1000 block of Robson. It was developed by Oscar Schuman, (listed as Schumann on the permit), who was owner of the Beaver Cafe, and who lived on Point Grey Road. E J Ryan built the $20,000 development, designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day, in 1912.

Oscar was listed in the 1911 census as a 38-year-old German restaurant owner, with his wife, aged 22, called Olga, from Russia, and a daughter called Margaret who was two. In 1910 he had been fined $100 for selling alcohol in his unlicenced Hastings Street Cafe. In a sting operation, Inspector McMahon ordered whisky with his meal, and paid for it on leaving. Although the owner was not present, he was fined for the offence, as his defence that “He kept the whisky for making sauce, and no one was Instructed to sell It.” wasn’t considered credible. That same year the death of his baby daughter, Anna, was reported.

He first showed up in Vancouver in 1903, when he was running the ‘Saddle Rock Restaurant and Oyster Parlors’ in the Boulder Dining Room on Cordova Street. He sold that in 1907, and this wasn’t his only development – he also built a frame apartment in 1908 on Cornwall Avenue. Despite his German origins, he was still in the city in 1915, running his new rooms here, which were called the Auld Rooms. His family however moved on; there’s a record of Margaret crossing from Washington State to Victoria in 1915, and in 1920 Olga and Margaret were living in a boarding house in Seattle. Oscar himself had left Vancouver by 1916, and we can’t find him after that.

This became the Robson Hotel, run by Charles Pearse in 1918. By 1930 it had become Robson Lodge, a name it retains. Nothing much seems to have happened here. The address appears in the press, but only to advertise rooms. In the 1970s a room was $135 and in the 1980s a 2-room suite was $375 a month. The one excitement was in 1945, when the Sun reported “Police Arrest Silk-Tie Toter. Charles Bryan Codd of 1030 Robson was arrested by police late Sunday in a lane in the 100 block East Pender and charged with theft. Police say they found on him four boxes containing two dozen silk ties, allegedly stolen from the Gum Jang Company, 102 East Pender

In 1974 the Salamander Shoe Store and Happy Feet Shoe Repair were alongside the Robson Florist. At some point the entrance to the apartments was shifted from the centre of the main floor to the east side. For over a decade, this was home to a branch of Cafe Crepe, but that closed during the covid pandemic and the retail space is now for lease.

The single storey stores to the right were developed in 1922 by E Winearls, and built by Bedford Davidson. In 1999 they were replaced with a contemporary glass fronted box, designed by W T Leung.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-323

1114

Posted 20 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

Tagged with ,

Vancouver Auditorium – West Georgia Street

The Vancouver Auditorium – or Georgia Auditorium – initially the Denman Auditorium – was built in front of the Vancouver Arena and opposite the Horse Show Building (which had by then become the Stanley Park Armories) in 1927. It was developed by the Patrick family’s Vancouver Arena Co, and it didn’t have an architect design it, but an engineer, L T Alden and cost $60,000 to build. Frank and Lester Patrick built the 2,500 seat building to promote shows that were too small for the cavernous Arena, next door. In its early days, there were boxing and wrestling matches, (as there had been in the Horse Show Building early in its life) and rallies and political meetings. The Arena was destroyed in a huge fire in 1936, but although damaged, the Auditorium continued in operation.

During World War II, it was taken over by the Canadian Navy and was temporarily used as a storage facility by Boeing Aircraft. The Palomar Supper Club owner Hymie Singer returned from the war, and bought the Denman Auditorium and Arena site apparently intending to build a new Arena (but that was never pursued). He promoted shows in the Auditorium: in 1948 jazz vocalist Kenny Hagood brought his show to town, in 1949 the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and in 1950 violinist Jascha Heifetz performed. The building was renovated as a concert venue in 1952, renamed the Georgia Auditorium, and the mix of shows, rallies and large meetings continued. Dave Brubeck played in 1953, as did Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald. She returned in 1955, and Jascha Heifetz again played the venue.

In 1957 a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary music appeared. The Province critic’s review was less than enthusiastic: “The young patrons, the great majority in the 15-year-old bracket, sat through two hours of brash musical noises highlighted by Fats Domino. The first show started at about 7 p.m. and the Auditorium was cleared to allow another show to go on at 9:30 p.m. The Audience was amazingly well behaved as special duty policemen patrolled the aisles. Guitarist Buddy Knox, who rose to fame with a record called “Party Doll” did three songs and was well received.” That same year both Ella Fitzgerald and Dave Brubeck returned their tours to the auditorium.

A year later Sir John Gielgud appeared in a world tour of “Shakespear’s Ages of Man”, and also in 1958 operatic soprano Lily Pons performed. The venue closed in 1959, with the opening of the new civic theatres Downtown, with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and The Playhouse offering a much better (and more comfortable) customer experience. This image was taken that year, with a sign offering ‘This Valuable Corner Property For Sale’. By August it had been demolished, and the site sat for many years. Various residential tower schemes were proposed, some by local developers, one by a New York developer, but none found acceptance. Eventually residential buildings were allowed further east, and this became a park that joins into Stanley Park known as Devonian Harbour Park after the Calgary charitable foundation that donated $600,000 to move the project forward.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1123-6

1113

Posted 16 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

Robson and Bute – north east corner

This image is labelled as the former Bute Street Private Hospital, seen in an Archives image taken somewhere in the 1940s to the 1960s. The Library have a copy too, and say it was photographed in 1960.

Dr. Simon J Tunstall was born in St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec in 1854, and after qualifying in medicine in Montreal he headed west in 1881, working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Lytton and Kamloops, where he established a medical practice. He was married by a ship’s captain in Victoria in 1885 to Marianne Innes, daughter of the naval storekeeper at the naval base in Esquimalt. In 1892 they moved to Vancouver, where Dr. Tunstall’s office was on Cordova, and they were living initially on Hamilton Street, then East Hastings, and in 1898 at 1036 Robson, with the doctor’s office moving to the Flack Block. The Tunstall family had moved to this house by 1905.

It first appears around 1900, home to Bertha Wolfe, a Jewish widow who had previously lived across Bute Street on the next block along. Described as a boarding house keeper, in 1901 she lived with her daughter, Ethel, her niece, Minnie Meyer, three Chinese domestic servants and eleven lodgers. Bertha (who was also born in the USA) had been married to Marcus Wolfe who was an insurance agent and real estate broker in Nanaimo, born in New Orleans and who died in 1896. In 1881 he was living in Hope, working as a clerk, living with Isaac Oppenheimer and his family. He shot himself in what was described at his inquest as “death by his own hand during a fit of temporary aberration”. He had apparently been in financial difficulties, so it’s unlikely that Bertha had the funds to build the house, although she may have been able to borrow them. She ran the boarding house here until 1904; by 1905 Dr. Tunstall had moved in. There’s no sign of Mrs. Wolfe in the city after this. Her daughter Babette, (Ethel was her middle name), married in 1906 to Alexander Green, who became a bank manager and in 1915 they moved to Victoria. In 1930 he drowned in the Thompson River in Kamloops while he was on a train journey from Vancouver to Toronto.

The Tunstall’s needed the large house; the 1911 census shows five daughters at home, aged 15 to 24. That year Dr. Tunstall built a garage, but in 1902 he had become a much more ambitious property developer, building a large commercial block on the corner of Dunsmuir and Granville. He maintained his practice until around 1912, when the house was sold and the family moved to West 2nd Avenue. He added an additional two floors to the Tunstall Block. In 1913 Marianne was living in the West End – Dr. Tunstall apparently suffering from problems with alcohol, entered a nursing home The Tunstall’s apparently moved again to another house on West 2nd in 1914, although Marianne had taken her daughters on a trip to Europe ‘for a year’ in 1913. Dr. Tunstall died in 1917, leaving an estate estimated at $250,000 (although eventually it was assessed at $134,000). His will had a disputed codicil, added in 1916, leaving funds to Emma Playter and her son. The Tunstall family members alleged that Simon had made the codicil while he was the victim of alcoholic dementia, but the case was settled in 1918 before it could be heard in court. Marianne stayed in Vancouver, and all five daughters married. Her second daughter’s husband, John Browne, died in 1920, and Marjorie and her three young children moved in with Mrs. Tunstall. Marianne died in 1935 aged 73.

The private Bute Street Hospital operated from 1913, run by Mrs. Mildred A Moran. The Province had earlier announced “Bute Street Lot Sold For $80,000: English Capitalists Buy Site of Private Hospital in West End: Will Erect Pressed Brick Business Block in Near Future”, but in practice the house was retained as the hospital. In 1913 (Emily) Pauline Johnson, the poet, died here of cancer, and in the same year, W R Angus, pioneer and developer of a house nearby. In 1917 hockey legend Fred ‘Cyclone’ Taylor had his ruptured appendix fixed, and despite fears that he wouldn’t be able to play again, was skating five weeks later. Fortunately the hospital saw many births as well as deaths: pioneer Vancouver oncologist Dr. Richard Beck was born here in 1913. The last year the hospital was listed was 1931; a year later it had become Minaki Lodge, and it remained a rooming house (again) until it was demolished, probably not long after this image was taken.

Next to the hospital (on the edge of the picture) was J McRae’s 1928 Robson Garage, designed by Townley and Matheson. By the early 1970s this was the site of a Texaco Gas Station, only to be replaced in 1985 with a 2-storey retail building that includes a London Drugs store, and smaller retail units on Bute Street, designed by Hale Architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2011-010.1800

1112

Posted 13 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with