Author Archive

The Van Horne Block

This was one of the first of the city’s office buildings, seen here under construction in 1888. It was on the south-west corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, and was originally designed to be twice as wide, with four retail bays, but just two were built. It was commissioned by an American living in Montreal, William Cornelius Van Horne, the fomer general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway who became vice-president of the company in 1884, and president in 1888.

Having successfully negotiated a route, and to be given a substantial land allocation to put the railway’s terminus in the newly named Vancouver, the Directors of the CPR set about undermining the economy of the old Granville Townsite to the east by creating a new city centre, with Granville Street as its spine, and the new railway station on the waterfront to the north. They built their hotel a block to the south of here, (as this 1889 etching from West Shore, a Portland magazine, published in 1889, shows), and filled in some of the remainder of the street with their own investment properties, different office and retail buildings like this one, all designed in 1888. They mostly ignored the local architects, and favoured Bruce Price to design four of them. He was an experienced American designer based in New York. These would have been relatively minor commissions for an office designing Chateau Frontenac in Montreal and buildings for Yale University. (He also designed a version of the CPR’s Opera House, even further into the recently cleared forest to the south, but a different architect got the design commission for the building that was constructed in 1889).

‘Sir’ William Van Horne was given an honary knighthood in 1894, although as an American citizen he wasn’t technically supposed to use the title. Despite having the biggest salary earned by any North American railway executive, he resigned the presidency of the CPR in 1899, aged 56, and was involved in businesses across Canada, and around the world. He helped create a viable Cuban railway system, spending time in hot climates to help treat  bouts of bronchitis. He was extraordinarily gifted in areas beyond commerce. He was an accomplished artist, an excellent violinist, and an avid and knowledgeable collector of art, Asian porcelain and pottery and fossils. He was said to be able to outlast his friends at both drinking, smoking Cuban cigars and playing cards into the night. He died in 1915, three years after his office building was transformed.

That was stripped out and extended internally to create a movie theatre, the Kinemacolor Theatre, (which two years later became the Colonial), in a $70,000 reconstruction. The 1912 building permit was to the Ricketts Amusement Co and the architect was E W Houghton, a Seattle-based architect originally born in Hampshire in England (who had redesigned the CPR’s former Opera House in 1907). The facade was extensively altered with a different window pattern.

The final movie shown in January 1972 was ‘The Sun Also Rises’, from 1957, with Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner and Errol Flynn. (Flynn died in Vancouver in 1959 having been in the city to lease his yacht, accompanied by a 17-year-old actress). The theatre was demolished in April 1972 – the estimated one million bricks were carefully removed and sold at eight and a half cents per brick, to buyers who came from as far as Seattle.

After several years as a vacant site the third Pacific Centre Mall office tower was completed in 1981, designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners with a lighter colour than the earlier ‘dark towers’ to the south. From 2018 over a period of 18 months the building underwent a total reclad to replace the poorly-performing curtain wall, while the tenants continued to occupy the building. New double-glazed units designed by Perkins + Will were installed from a staging platform that worked from the top to the base of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 92

1255

Advertisement

Posted 26 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with

Horne Block – West Cordova Street

We’ve looked at this building at a distance several years ago, but here it is close up. It’s not the only Horne Block still standing; there’s another on Cambie, and there were two others shown in this 1889 etching published in a Portland magazine called West Shore. Another (The Yale Hotel today) is also still with us – only the White Swan was redeveloped after a fire damaged it in 1894, less than 10 years after it had been built.

There was apparently a slightly different initial design for the West Cordova block, with the illustration obviously drawn before the building had been completed.

The developer was James Welton Horne, born in Toronto in 1853, with a remarkable early life (that he seems to have embellished more than a little). He did extremely well for himself at an early age, developing the new city of Brandon in Manitoba as the railway arrived, and seemingly in close association with the Canadian Pacific Railway, to their mutual benefit. He repeated the relationship in the newly established Vancouver, erecting four buildings before the city was 3 years old. An 1891 biography described him as ‘the heaviest individual property owner in Vancouver’, although that’s also probably self-promotion rather than accurate. With $156,000 worth of buildings he was a major investor, but Isaac Robinson and David Oppenheimer both had more valuable holdings.

He managed for a time to be both a Member of the Provincial Parliament, and an active property developer, but after four years in Victoria he retired from his political role in 1894 on medical advice (aged 41). Before that he had been elected to City Council in 1888 and 1889.

Another illustration of the building showed a somewhat more accurate representation, with the turret and decorative cornice that have both been lost for many years.

The narrow flatiron building (seen here in 1986) has housed a variety of businesses since NS Hoffar designed the building in 1889, including a wholesale shoe dealer in the 1920s, a wholesale stationer in 1952, a towel and sheet distributor in 1972, various fashion businesses from the 1980s to the 2000s, and now the home to a Timber Train Coffee Roasters cafe.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 791-0896

1254

Posted 23 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

916 West Broadway

The Leyland Apartments – nine of them at the time – appeared for the first time in the 1930 street directory. R C Singleton built the $28,000 property for his ownership, designed by William Tuff Whiteway. Richard Cline Singleton was born in 1891, in Winfield, Cowley, Kansas. Cline Singleton briefly appears in 1920, working for Joseph H Singleton, a grocer, who had been in the city for a few years. We think that’s his father, born in 1863 in Indiana. Cline Singleton was listed in the 1900 census living with his parents Joseph and Carrie, who died a year later.

We think that by 1921 Cline Singleton was working in California; he referenced knowledge of a school in Ventura in a letter in the Vancouver press, and was listed in 1921 as the Head Farmer at the California School for Girls (a reform school in Ventura), the year the LA Times ran a story ‘Girls Plotted to Burn Whole School, Escape‘.

Cline married Mary Maverette Stockwell, probably while he was in California; Mary was born in 1885 in Indiana, but in 1920 was still single and living with her father, Lucius, in San Diego. Her mother, Phoebe, had died in 1888 leaving Lucius with four children. She had attended Indiana University, studying English, and in 1910 was teaching English and Botany at the High School in Cloverdale, Indiana. (When her father died in 1941 he was back in Indiana).

By 1923 Cline Singleton was a grocer on East 28th Avenue, and Joseph Singleton was at the same address. A year later Joseph ran the grocers store, and Cline was a partner in Fairview Brokerage on West Broadway. By 1927 both men were listed as carpenters, living on Nelson Avenue in the West End. They both obtained building permits over a number of years. Cline advertised that he would build a bungalow, either on the client’s site, or one he owned. Several examples of his work are still standing today; typical 1920s bungalows with a roughed in basement, (not necessarily high enough to stand in), with a bedroom in the roof with a dormer window. They generally cost $4,000 to build. In 1929 Cline built two apartment blocks, including this one.

Joseph Harrison Singleton died in Vancouver in 1934. His obituary said he was a well-known contractor, who had come to the city 19 years earlier. The newpaper report said he was 71 when he collapsed and died, leaving one son, Cline. That year R Cline Singleton and his wife Maverette were living at The Singleton Building on West 10th Avenue. They were still there in 1937, but by 1941 they were back in San Diego, and were still there in 1950 when Cline was working as a real estate broker.

In 1954 Richard C Singleton and Mary M Singleton of El Cajon, San Diego, successfully bid $3,840 for 640 acres of “rolling hill land, located at an elevation of 3,800 feet and crossed by numerous small gullies. The soil is of first quality, supporting greasewood and other heavy desert growth and chaparral. The land contains no springs; however, water from wells is available in the vicinity. The land is fair for grazing, but is not suitable for agriculture” He died on 5 June 1968, in Carlsbad, San Diego, California, United States, at the age of 77, and Mary in 1982 at the age of 96, also in San Diego.

The apartments were advertised in the Leyland from August 1929 as three-room at reasonable rent. In 1962 the rent for a one-bedroom suite was $80. In 1969 a 2-room suite was $87 a month, electric and heat included. In 1976, two years after our image was shot, a one-room suite was $220. The building was one of only a few residential buildings in a sea of commercial development, and was acquired for the construction of a new station on the Arbutus Extension of SkyTrain. Currently it’s been replaced by a deep hole, future home to the closest station to Vancouver General Hospital, and awaiting the arrival of the two boring machines, Elsie and Phyllis, currently heading to the site from the east. In a few years a new development can be built, but zoning in this stretch of Broadway requires commercial rather than residential buildings, and as the hospital ER Department and the helipad is immediately to the south, the building’s height will be limited.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-00259

1253

Posted 19 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Gone

Tagged with ,

1110 West Georgia Street

1100 West Georgia Street is the corner lot on the south side of West Georgia, at Thurlow. In this 1981 image there was a seven storey office building that we noted recently on a 1955 aerial shot of this part of the Downtown peninsula.

The building was completed in 1950, built by Allen and Viner. The architect for the conversion and addition was Ross Lort, identified in a Journal of Commerce story in 1949.

This wasn’t a wholly new structure – the base was a four storey car showroom and dealership developed in 1926 by Chevrolet Cars at a cost of $80,000. They hired Dominion Construction to carry out the work (and design the building), and there was a second $50,000 permit too. Begg Brother’s who had built an earlier 1912 building across the street were running the facility. When it opened in June 1927 The Evening Sun reported “The building and all of its service, sales, storage and handling conveniences were designed by the management, architects’ assistance being required only for the technical structural specifications. The work, of construction was done by the Dominion Construction Co.” On the ground floor there was a showroom, with a parts department alongside on Georgia, and a service department at the back. There was a ‘spacious ladies’ rest room’ on the mezzanine floor, with the company offices. On the second floor the service department continued, accessed by a ramp than ran up the entire building. (There was also a passenger elevator). New cars were stored and prepared on the third floor, and the fourth was a paint department, which could add a GM Duco non-scratch finish to any other vehicle. Begg Brothers were still here at the start of the 1940s, although now they were a Dodge and DeSoto dealership, but by 1945 they had moved their main showroom to a smaller single storey building just to the west, (although the truck division were still on Thurlow Street) and this was briefly used by Neon Products engineering division.

The first reference to government use of the old car showroom was early in 1946, when Veteran’s Affairs were supposed to move their office here from the Second Hotel Vancouver – but the Neon Products lease was still in place until the end of January. In 1947 Allen and Viner were hired by the owners to remodel the building and add two additional floors. The government committed to buying and paying for the addition in mid 1948, budgeting $1,060,000 in total. Meanwhile the Taxation Department were located here, but they moved out at the end of 1948.

Initially budgeted at $850,000, the work to add the floors and clad the entire structure eventually cost the government, who became the developer of the building, $575,000 more. With the purchase of the building, the bill was double the initial estimate. The Vancouver Sun sent their reporter, Jack Webster, to Ottawa, to question the Minister, and he reported “The extra $375,000, the officials, told me, was necessary to add a third storey to the building (bringing it to a total height of seven storeys). “We had to drive columns down to the foundations in order to strengthen the walls sufficiently to take the additional storey,” it was explained. “But the total price (of $1,800,000) is reasonable, It is the largest block of good office accommodation in Vancouver today.” Questions were raised in parliament because the contract was let on a non-competition basis to Allen and Viner, who a local Conservative member argued were given the contract as ‘friends of the government’. The Minister denied knowing the gentlemen, claiming they werer selected because one of them had worked for Dominion Construction when the garage had been built.

It continued to be known as The Begg Building, home to the Taxation Department once more, but didn’t survive very long. In 1980 it was part of a trade with Marathon Realty, with a valuation of $3m, part of a complex land deal that saw Federal and Provincial agencies swapping sites around the city to obtain a Marathon-owned site to build a new stadium (BC Place). Marathon’s general manager, Gordon Campbell, was already planning new office buildings on the sites they acquired, and the office was demolished around 1983. It stayed as a parking lot for twenty years, and while there was an office building proposed in 1994, that wasn’t built and the land was incorporated into a larger site, with the single storey car dealership buildings to the west. In 2008 the Shangri-La hotel and condo tower, the tallest in the city (and the whole of Metro Vancouver, although not for much longer) was completed after three years of construction.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W12.02 and CVA 99-3748

1252

Posted 16 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Tagged with , ,

Seymour and Dunsmuir Streets – looking south

We saw the building on the corner, 570 Dunsmuir, when it was developed in 1926 as a bus depot, and then turned into a bigger building in 1957. Here it is in its rebuilt form, some time in the 1980s (and seen below in 1974). There was a new bus station opened in 1947 further along Dunsmuir to the east, and BC Electric ended up owning the old terminal having bought out the bus company. They used it as offices, but moved to their new office building on Burrard, in spring 1957 and by December a larger building had been completed here by adding additional floors to the shell of the transit centre. A consulting, design and construction engineering company, The BC Engineering Company, moved in,

They were a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Electric, and their new offices had a bright two-tone blue scheme designed by Townley and Matheson with C B K Van Norman. The company became International Power and Engineering Constultants (IPEC). By 1980 H A Simons, an engineering company specializing in designing mills occupied the space.

They had clearly moved out by 1993, when the Sun reported that “A man has been charged after police raided a vacant office building and found a loaded handgun, marijuana and a home-made lab used to make amphetamines. Vancouver police liaison officer Del Valerie Harrison said the arrest was made at 9 p.m. Monday at 570 Dunsmuir. Charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking is Erberto Ferretti, who was allegedly living in the seven-storey structure.

In 1997 the building was given a further makeover by a company called 570 Dunsmuir Holdings. We don’t know who designed the new blue glazing. The contractors, Ledcor, stopped work when their payments were stopped because a BC-based mortgage company, Eron, run by Brian Slobogian and Frank Biller, were forced to call in the receivers and stop payments to the developer. The men behind 570 Dunsmuir Holdings were said to be Peter Bryant, and Martin Chambers, a dis-barred lawyer with convictions for financial improprieties. 570 Dunsmuir Holdings had an $8.5m mortgage with Eron to pay for the makeover, so eventually the building became part of Eron’s inadequate assets. The building was sold to Churchill Property Corp. in 2004 for $11.19m as part of the foreclosure of Eron.

In 2005 the Canadian Press reported “The Churchill Building, better known to thousands of scammed investors as 570 Dunsmuir St., is part of financial dog’s breakfast that was Eron Mortgage Corp.

Almost eight years after the Vancouver-based firm collapsed, taking $240 million of investors’ money with it, Eron founder Brian Slobogian is to be sentenced today after pleading guilty to one fraud and five theft counts.

His lawyer has recommended a three-year prison sentence while the Crown is looking for six-and-a-half to seven years behind bars.

The hearing will be closely watched by former Eron vice-president Frank Biller, who faces trial by judge alone April 4 on 14 charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust. Both men had previously been found guilty of securities violations, fined $300,000 each and handed trading bans in what the B.C. Securities Commission calls the biggest fraud in B.C. history.

In a parallel process – symbolized by 570 Dunsmuir – Eron’s judicial bankruptcy
trustee is disposing of the last of its assets. Only four of the dozens of Eron developments remain to be sold.

Slobogian was sentenced to six years, and Biller to three, (but they served much less time in prison). In 2022 U.S. Authorities reported that Francis Biller was wanted for involvement in a civil fraud case involving a boiler-room operation based in Medellin, Colombia, that they allege netted US$58 million. Martin Chambers was convicted on other charges of money laundering in the U.S., and spent 13 years in an Arkansas jail from 2002. He died in 2022.

TransGlobe of Toronto paid $15m for the building in 2006, and today it’s still office space on a site with a major re-development potential. Underneath, the base of the building has a nearly 100 year old frame.

CVA 772-1372 and CVA M-15-87

1251

Posted 12 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Tagged with ,

570 Dunsmuir Street

Here’s a 1926 building photographed after dark in 1936. There is a daytime shot from 1938 (below) but it was taken from an upper floor window, so we can’t replicate it. Townley and Matheson designed the building as the bus station for the regional long-distance coach company, Pacific Stages, Ltd. The passenger depot was constructed by E J Ryan for $150,000.

Ivor Neil’s Terminal City Motor Co had initially operated a car hire business, but added some buses. Under a new name, Pacific Stages Transportation Ltd, he expanded to offer service between Vancouver and Port Moody and Coquitlam. Buying up other companies he eventually served the Fraser Valley and south as far as Seattle.

Sensing potential competition to their bus and streetcar network,  BC Electric Railway Co acquired the business in 1925 creating the BC Motor Transportation Co. “Operating All Classes of Motor Vehicles, Including Pacific Stages, Yellow Cabs, Sightseeing Cars, Flat Rate Cars, Drive Yourself Cars and Baggage Transfer.” Their new premises saw services headed to West Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay, through Surrey, to Mission, and even to Harrison Hot Springs, as well as to Seattle. The Vancouver Archives have images of the building’s construction in 1926. The teardrop styled buses in the picture above were built in Vancouver by Hayes.

There was a barber, beauty salon, shoe shine, travel bureau, cigar stand and the Fountain Lunch to provide services to passengers and the surrounding area. Continued service expansion meant a new terminal was built a few blocks to the east in 1946. BC Electric contined to use the building for a while, with their General Sales division occupying the building in 1950. There was also an auditorium, that we suspect may have been created from the bus garage area at the back of the main floor.

In 1957 there was a dramatic makeover of the building. In March the BC Electric staff moved to BC Electric’s new office building, and by December a larger building had been completed here by adding additional floors to the shell of the transit centre. The BC Engineering Company moved in; consulting, design and construction engineers. They were a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Electric, and their new offices had a bright two-tone blue scheme designed by Townley and Matheson with C B K Van Norman. The company became International Power and Engineering Constultants (IPEC) and later H A Simons, a specialist engineering company specializing in designing mills took the space.

After a further reclad of the building by new, and financially dubious owners in 1997, it was bought by Churchill International Property Corp for $11.19m at the end of 2004. TransGlobe of Toronto paid $15m for the building in 2006, and today it’s still office space on a site with a major re-development potential. Underneath, the base of the building has a nearly 100 year old frame.

Image Sources: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-82

1250

 

Posted 9 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Tagged with ,

Denman and Robson Street – north

Yet another Downtown corner that was once a gas station, Robson and Denman had a Chevron station into the end of the 1980s. In 1995 Times Square was developed here – a strata building that has never been sold, and that operates as an ‘apartment style hotel’ (allowing daily booking), and licenced as an apartment house. Designed by Katz Architecture it has 42 suites. The Archives say the image was taken between 1980 and 1997 – but clearly it was before the early 1990s.

This corner was undeveloped as late as 1920, and while there were two houses to the west, the first development seems to have been in 1954 when Dulmage’s Service Station was listed for the first time, as 785 Denman, which was a Chevron station when it first opened. In 1963 Ronald Gibson (aged 21, no fixed address) was jailed for nine months after stealing $300 from William Dulmage’s service station. The police didn’t catch him; he surrendered to Calgary police after attending a bible class there, and overwhelmed with guilt gave himself up.

In the early 1970s it became Standard Station #28, but by 1975 was back to Denman Chevron, and in the early 1980s Parkview Chevron. In spring 1989, Bill and Ken were offering ‘a good selection of Service Station goods and equipment for immediate sale’, suggesting this picture must date to the mid-1980s.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-543

1249

Posted 5 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Burrard Inlet waterfront from above (2)

We have a post from a year ago with an aerial view of the Downtown waterfront in 1965, shot from over Stanley Park, looking eastwards. This one is a decade older.

Our ‘today’ shot is actually from May 2020, and missing two new office towers that are still being built, but there are only a few recent shots that line up with a historic aerial image like this. It’s an image that’s thought to be from 1955. it’s clearly not from before 1955 when CBK Van Norman’s Customs House was completed on West Pender next to the Marine Building. On the bottom edge of the image the roof of the Hotel Vancouver can be seen. Today, on the west side of the street the Burrard Building can be seen, but it’s not in our ‘before’ image. That was completed in 1956, so that means the image must date to the later half of 1955. That was when the city started to see a new wave of development, after a significant wartime and post-war slump.

There are two substantial looking buildings to left of centre. They’re both on Thurlow, on the 1100 block of West Georgia. The narrower building to the right was known as The Alaska Pine Building. Developed by Great West Life (who also had their local offices there) it was designed by Thompson Berwick Pratt and completed in 1953. It was leased to Alaska Pine and Cellulose Ltd, who re-branded western hemlock as Alaska Pine, and so found a way to market a previously disregarded forest tree.

The larger building to the south was developed in 1950. It took the base four storey car showroom developed by Chevrolet in 1926, and added three additional floors. Initially budgeted at $850,000, the work to add the  floors and clad the entire structure eventually cost the government, the developer of the building, $575,000 more. Questions were raised in Ottawa because the contract was let on a non-competition basis to Allen and Viner, who a local Conservative member argued were given the contract as ‘friends of the government’. It became the tax office.

Neither building survived very long. The Government building was demolished around 1983 and stayed as a parking lot for several years. There was an office building proposed in 1994, but that wasn’t built and the land was incorporated into a larger site, it now has the Shangri-La hotel and condo tower, the tallest in the city (and the whole of Metro Vancouver, although not for much longer). The Great West building became the Fidelity Trust Building, but was redeveloped in 1992 with a new 24 storey office building developed by Manulife and leased to BC Gas.

Amazingly very few other buildings in the area were more than three storeys high. There’s just one other bigger building, to the left of the two office buildings. Surprisingly, it’s still standing today, albeit looking very different from 1948, when it was built. 1145 Robson Street was also a government office, developed by Allen and Viner, and also the subject of the same partisan political debate. While the company were just the contractors on the Begg Brothers building, they were the developers here, and the sale to the government for double the land cost and building permit value combined left the Conservative member for Quilchena asking pointed questions about deals for ‘friends of the government’. (Carefully worded questions; the member was a lawyer). The minister replied “I do not know these people at all”.

There’s just one small red building visible in the forest of towers in today’s image. That’s the Banff on West Georgia, which was built as Florence Court between 1909 and 1911. The Stadacona, behind it to the north on Bute, is blocked from this angle by towers. Both were easily visible in 1955, as was the Felix Apartments a block to the west, and also still standing today. The large cleared site on the waterfront was the site of Pacific Coast Lumber’s sawmill. By 1955 it had been cleared away, and the oddly located Bayshore Inn was built here at the end of the 1950s, (at the time) completely surrounded by industry.

Image source: West Vancouver Memorial Library Digital Collection 3385.PR

1248

Posted 2 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Uncategorized

Davie and Seymour Street – sw corner

This 1911 hotel is currently for sale. It has 27 vacant SRO rooms, and a former bar on the main floor, and nobody seems to want it for what the owners seem to think it’s worth. It was developed by Mrs. Priscilla Hunt, who hired A J Bird to design it, and spent $20,000 getting Robert McLean & Co to build it. Mrs Hunt was unquestionably the developer; she was a widow (although her son-in-law was in real estate, and may have advised her). It was built as a rooming house, and appeared as The Glenwood Rooms in 1912, addressed to Seymour Street and run by Mrs. A R Hansford. A year earlier she had been running another rooming house on West Pender that she also named The Glenwood Rooms.

Priscilla Chapman was born in Clinton, Huron, Ontario (in 1869, if her death certificate were to be believed, or 1861 if the headstone on her grave was accurate, and actually in 1856). When she married Jonathan J Hunt in 1884, somewhere in British Columbia, she admitted to being 25 (although she was really 28), and was living in Portland Oregon. Her husband was aged 48, a widower born in Bangor, Maine and running a hotel in Port Townsend, Washington Territory.

He was described as a widower, having married Mary, who was Irish, and building a house in Port Townsend for her in 1864. We think Mary died in 1878. This allowed Jonanthan to marry a second wife, Louisa, who he married in 1878 when she was 20, and they had three children born in 1875, 1877 and 1880, before she divorced him in 1884. (J B Hunt, Jonathan’s son, was killed in a train accident in Pendleton in 1895 when he was riding on the outside of the train, having failed to obtain a seat, and fell under the wheels).

By 1870 J J Hunt was running the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Port Townsend. A 1915 journal article said “the Cosmopolitan was the best known house in all this section of the territory, some not entirely bloodless. Being the port of entry, many seafaring men congregated there, and at times made the town lively in more senses than one” This was probably a coded reference to a fight that turned into a homicide in the bar in the 1870s. The killer spent 14 years in prison for manslaughter, was released in 1891 and swore revenge on the lawmen and J J Hunt.

In the mid 1870s J J sold his hotel for a while, and ran a wholesale liquor business, and in 1875 bought the wreck of the Orpheus, a sailing ship that had been hit by the S S Pacific, sailing from Victoria to San Francisco with 275 passengers and crew (and possibly as many as 400). The steamship was running without navigation lights, and hit the sailing ship, scraping along its side. While the sailing ship was damaged, but able to sail on, the sidewheeler was taking on water and sank with the loss of all but two on board, including Sewell Moody, owner of Moody’s Mill and founder of the north shore township in Burrard Inlet. The 225 ft. ship had a cargo manifest that included $79,000 of gold (91kg) and two barrels of opium.

Mr. Hunt paid $385 at public auction at the end of 1875, and hired the schooner Winnifred and a crew to strip the wreck of the Orpheus of anything of value. (The wreck of the Pacific was located at the end of 2022, and there are plans to attempt to locate the cargo using a remote underwater submersible, with a museum to display the finds, currently preserved in 1,000 feet of water). By 1880 J J Hunt was again running the Cosmopolitan, and in 1883 Hunt’s Hotel, to which, in 1884, he built a three-storey addition.

Three and a half years after his parent’s 1884 wedding, on 18 April 1888, Franklin Sterling Hunt was born in Port Townsend. His birth was registered then, and the same birthday appears on his 1917 Draft registration. Curiously,  some records suggest he had a sister, Violet, born just five months later in October 1888 in Portland. However, her burial record, in Burnaby, shows she was born in October 1883, and her mother’s name was listed as Tessie Chapman. Her mother’s pregnancy was no doubt a factor in her father’s 1884 divorce. Then we noted that Priscilla’s obitiary mentioned that she had two sons, Charles and Frank. Charles Cleveland Hunt was born in Port Townsend in 1882. When Charles was married in 1917 his father was listed as John, a hotelman, and his mother as Theresa Chapman.

In 1888 J J Hunt stood as a Democrat in the election for Congress, but didn’t make the cut. (Skagit chose a Republican). Jonathan Jay Hunt died in March 1893, aged 63. It looks like Jonathan and Priscilla stayed in Port Townsend until his death. We don’t know how long Mrs. Hunt stayed in Port Townsend after that, but her daughter, Violet, married Calvin Gray in Seattle in 1900, when she would have been aged 17.

C Gray is first mentioned in the Vancouver directories in 1903, when he was a machinst for Ross and Howard. A year later he was working in real estate, and by 1911 he was wealthy enough to live on Point Grey Road. In 1913 Calvin and his wife Violet took a three month trip to New Orleans and Southern California. Part of his real estate business was a management agency for owners wanting to lease their property. Calvin was a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade, and appointed a notary public in 1917.

The 1921 census confirms that both Priscilla and Violet preferred alternate names, and ages. The household of Calvin Gray aged 51, real estate broker, consisted of Elvira, aged 36 and Tessie Hunt, his mother-in-law, who said she was 50, and born in the USA. (Violet) Elvira was actually 38, and her mother was really 65. In 1923 a court case to prevent a neighbour from ‘borrowing’ the use of her skid road revealed that  Mrs. Calvin Gray was logging a 1,000 acre of forest near Sechelt.

Violet’s death was announced in June 1935. The death of Mrs. Violet Alvira Gray, aged 46, of 1034 West Fifteenth avenue, occurred Thursday. Funeral services will be held at a p.m. Saturday in Nunn & Thomson’s chapel. Burial will take place In Masonic Cemetery, Burnaby. Born In Portland, Ore., Mrs. Gray had been in Vancouver for thirty years. She is survived by her husband, Calvin Gray; her mother, Mrs. T. Hunt of Vancouver, and two brothers, Franklin and Cleveland of California.

Her husband organised an estate sale in June 1936, with $20,000 of glassware, china and silver on sale. The sale was extended in July when the contents of Mrs. Priscilla Hunt’s home were added. She had died in March 1936, and presumably the contents of her home could not be sold immediately. Calvin Gray retired to Puente in California in 1941, and died there in 1943.

In 1930 Frank Hunt was living in San Francisco. He was still there a decade later, still single, and a lodger. His brother had married in 1917, and in 1930 was in Blue Lake, Humboldt California with his wife and two children, Frances and Calvin.

The rooming house saw an auction of the contents in 1913, with all the brass bedsteads and bedding sold off.  It became known as the Canadian Apartments, and in 1924 was sold to Mr T W Roberts of Fort William, who enjoyed being able to walk around the city in February without an overcoat. One tenant was arrested for theft in 1926, and another had money stolen by a ‘prowler’. In 1945 the owners were Mrs L Thompson, and Axel Isaacson. A fire in her room, caused by a discarded cigarette in the bedding, caused smoke damage, the loss of all her personal belongings, and three ‘elderly men’ (aged between 60 and 70) to be rescued by being carried out by firemen. Renamed the Candian Hotel, it continued to advertise moderate rates and quiet rooms, with housekeeping. In 1959 Frank Saunders was arreested for carrying out illegal operations, but was acquitted, although his co-accused, Olive Williams, was found guilty.

In 1960 the building was ‘for sale, by owner’ for $97,000. The tenants of the building can probably be guessed from almost all the mentions in the press through the 1960s and 70s to the death of a tenant; unsually male, and in their 60s or 70s. One was only 58, but he set fire to his bed falling asleep while watching TV, in 1976. Our 1981 image shows the Canadian Hotel offering housekeeping rooms, and The Canvas Co and Gallery Restaurant on the main floor.

It’s hard to say what will happen to the building long term. At 40 feet by sixty it’s too small to redevelop, unless perhaps it was in conjunction with the Coast Mental Health building built in 2000 to the south, and then only with the two other buildings to the west. The SRO rooms are protected, so it’s likely to remain a low cost rental building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.27A

1247

Posted 29 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

Downtown & False Creek from above

This is another older image matched up to Trish Jewison’s twitter pictures from the Global BC traffic helicopter (on May 16, 2021). It’s from the 1940s, and is one we’ve only recently been able to access as part of the collection that Uno Langmann donated to UBC. We’ve featured pictures of Burrard Street, and how suburban it felt, but this image really brings that into focus. The Burrard Bridge was newly completed, and there were industrial operations on both sides of False Creek on either side of the bridge. To the east of the bridge was a collection of run-down shacks where a residential population squatted on the foreshore.

The Vancouver Block can be seen on the left, on Granville Street, and it’s still visible today, one of the taller buildings on the retail strip. The gasometer on the right of the picture was on the end of False Creek, and the resulting pollution from the coal gas production is one reason for the parks among the residential towers developed by Concord Pacific. (The most polluted land is capped and sealed under a park, rather than risking disturbing it). That’s the earlier Georgia Viaduct crossing the industrial activity and railyards now occupied by the two stadia.

On the left St Paul’s Hospital is just visible, and across the street was Dawson School, where today the dark towers of the Wall Centre have been built. Because the shots were taken from different elevations, although they line up almost perfectly, it’s possible to see further up Burrard Inlet in the contemporary shot. In the foreground it’s easy to see the two newest and noteably taller towers. Vancouver House from this angle looks like any other rectangular condo, as the dramatic scooped cutout is hidden from view. The 54 storey Burrard Place is just left of centre, the first of three towers planned for the same block of Hornby. Between them, the contrasting black glazing and white marble balconies of the Pacific by Grosvenor stands out, another recent addition to the skyline. In the 1940s this part of Downtown was still single family homes, although some had been converted to commercial uses, and others to rooming houses.

Image source: Langmann Collection UBC

1246

Posted 26 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End