Author Archive

Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (1)

Here’s the south side of the 1100 block of Robson in a 1939 Vancouver Public Library image. Today the stores offer clothing to a broad group of shoppers from around the region, and beyond, but in the 1930s they were more likely to be local, looking for a haircut, and food from Safeway. (Both of those can still be found a few blocks down the street). Today, Aritzia, a locally based clothing chain have several stores here, including their Downtown flagship store. The company operates 84 stores, each individually designed, throughout Canada and the US.

In 1939 there were far more small businesses, with a grocery store on the corner of Thurlow, just out of the picture, then the Glaz-O-Nut Doughnut store at 1102-and-a-half Robson, Woodall’s Hand Knitting Shop and on the left of the picture, F B Patterson’s barber salon. The Cookie Crock bakery was to the west, then P B Dean’s delicatessen, the Egg Basket selling butter, cheese and eggs, and then Safeway’s grocery store. The New Coleen Confectionery store was at 1116, with Edmund Daem, a CPR porter and his wife, and daughter Josie, a stenographer lived upstairs. The rival Silver Star confectioners were next door, and then Moore’s cleaning and dyeing business.

The Safeway store and several other buildings revealed their origins as a residential rather than retail street. Safeway’s 1110 Robson had been a house in 1901, 1106 Robson. It was occupied by Henry Vaughan, a clerk, with Frank Filion, a grocer living in a house to the east and Thomas Bradbury, a contractor to the west. Frank designed a new house himself, in 1902, and had P Dermes build the stone foundation. (He had previously been a hotel-keeper in Gastown, before moving to the West End). The future Safeway store was owned by Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Co in 1919. It was apparently still a residential building in 1936, when Mrs. E M Jenkins, a dressmaker lived there, but a year later it was the Safeway store.

Beyond it, the two storey building two doors to the west was designed for Gillingham & Korner for D M Hourigan in 1920, and cost $4,000 to build. In 1921 Daniel Hourigan was 51 and from Ontario, and seems to have owned at least two of the buildings here. He was married to Alice, a 53 year old American, and seemed to be living on the income from his investments. In 1911 they were living in Toronto, where a daughter was still living with them. Daniel died in 1944, and in 1949 The Medicine Hat News reported that Alice, and her daughter, Mrs. Moyer (who lived in Medicine Hat) had driven 2,000 miles for her to visit her native Illinois for the first time in 38 years, at the age of 82. Their daughter, Mary, had been born in Illinois.

The three storey building to the west is still standing today. It was built in 1912 for Esther P Buchanan, who hired W P White to design it. Allan Brothers built the $35,000 ‘Apartment/rooms; three-storey brick store and apartment’. Esther knew the site well, as she lived here, in a house, before it was developed. She was wife of Richard G Buchanan, and in 1911 she was aged 32 and from Quebec. (He was 12 years older, and from Ireland, arriving in Canada as a boy in 1880. He sold china and glassware on Granville Street, and before that on Westminster Avenue). There were three boys, aged 10, 6 and 4. The family moved to Haro Street when the new building was developed, and Richard’s china shop moved to the main floor. In early December 1913 there was a 25% sale in the china store; an unusual time of year for such an event. The advertisements explained that ” In order to close the estate of the late R. G. Buchanan we must have $15,000 in 30 days”. Presumably things worked out for the business: in the next few years Mrs R G Buchanan was running the business, and she lived in one of the apartments above the store. In 1917 Stephen Ira DeBou (a 33 year old unmarried contractor, from New Brunswick) married Esther Permelia Buchanan, a 39 year old widow, daughter of Thomas B Hyndman of Ottawa. In 1921 they were living on Nelson Street; there were three of Stephen’s stepsons still at home; Esther’s fourth son, Richard was born around 1912. Her father, Thomas, was also living with them. We’ve see Mr. Hyndman’s work in the city in an earlier post. He developed some houses on Robson Street, and had worked for R G Buchanan before becoming vice-president of Woodwards Stores, and then running a real estate business. Esther died, aged 61, in 1940, and Stephen in 1964.

There was a Piggly Wiggly store next door in the building in 1928, and upstairs the rooms became the Hotel Biltmore. The grocery store closed very quickly, reopening as the Leong Market. In 1955 Safeway and the Biltmore Hotel were still in operation, but the food store was now Tom’s Market.

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Taylor Building – Water Street

This office and warehouse building was built in 1911 for W and E C Taylor, who hired Grant and Henderson to design the $36,000 investment. Walter Taylor was the founder (in 1890) and managing director of the Empress Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which dealt in imported coffees and manufactured local jams and jellies, becoming one of the early successful local food supply companies. Edward C Taylor was his son, who was company secretary at Empress. (On the left is the former Edward Hotel, built in 1907 built for Charles Edward Beckman, a Swede, and on the right 322 Water, designed by Townsend and Townsend for William McPherson in 1912.

Before this new building, the Oriental Hotel was here: one of the first buildings completed after the fire of 1886, and so not built of fireproof materials. In 1911 the Taylor’s Empress business was sold to new owners, with William Hunter running the company.

By 1914 Edward had moved on to a new business, Horne Taylor & Co, insurance agents, where he was in partnership with Amedee P Horne. (He was from England, son of William Horne, of Paddington. He was generally known as A P Horne; was in the city very soon after it was created, and initially worked for the CPR in the land surveying department.) Walter Taylor was retired, living on Pine Crescent, and Edward was also living in Shaughnessy on Hosmer Avenue. Walter died in 1915, and his burial record shows that rather than being 44 as he claimed when the 1891 census was collected, he was actually already aged 50, so his retirement at aged 70, and his death five years later wasn’t at all surprising.

The Taylor Building became occupied as warehouse and office space. The earliest tenant was J A Tepoorten, a drug wholesaler established in 1910. They moved into the new building a year later. In 1923 the business was acquired by a syndicate of local retail pharmacists known as United Retail Druggists.

They had moved out by 1930, and it was known as the Commercial Building, with manufacturers agents and wholesalers of shoes and drugs among the tenants, and 25 years later the tenants included an electrical equipment supplier, wholesalers of shoes, clothing, wire and cables and several other manufacturer’s agents. It was still similarly occupied in 1979, when this picture was taken.

In 2003 the upper floors of the building became 22 strata residential units developed by the Salient Group, with Acton Ostry designing the conversion.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-179

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Posted November 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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False Creek eastwards from above

Here’s another of Trish Jewison’s recent shots from the Global BC traffic helicopter, manipulated slightly to fit an earlier Archives image – this one from 1947. This one was taken in May this year, as the twisting Vancouver House was nearing completion. From this angle it looks like a large, but perfectly normal rectangular tower, but it has a triangular base (to fit next to Granville Bridge), which gradually grows to a rectangular upper portion. Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, it’s the most dramatic new building seen in the city in decades. It includes a new local shopping centre, with supermarket and drugstore, as well as public art suspended from the underside of the Granville Bridge. In 1947 there was a 35 year old 4 storey warehouse, and some single storey commercial buildings, which all remained until redevelopment started in 2015.

In the foreground Granville Island had even more buildings than it does today, all in industrial uses, mostly related to the fishing, logging and sawmill industries. There was a chain maker, saw blade supplier, forge and rope manufacturers. There was a net loft and a rigging company, a ship repairer (and a coffee shop). Today there are many more coffee shops, and the only real industrial use is the Ocean Cement plant next to Granville Bridge.

The rail bridge that was still around in 1947 was the Kitsilano trestle. It was built by the CPR (but the last steam train to Steveston ran in 1905) and was then used by the BC Electric Railway. The trestle started out as a link in an electric passenger transit system using street cars and connecting downtown Vancouver with farms on the South Side of False Creek and beyond. It connected the south shore of Vancouver to the railyards that filled the land between Yaletown and False Creek. The rail ran all the way to Carrall Street, where the Interurban headquarters was located. The trestle was removed in the early 80’s as it was in poor condition, rarely used and a navigational hazard. The original right-of-way can still be seen, curving around the Harbour Cove and Mariner Point residential buildings built in the mid 1980s.

Om the north side of False Creek, once the railyards were removed, BC Place Stadium was constructed, moving major sports into Downtown. The rest of the site became home to Expo 86, which reached round the Creek all the way to Granville Bridge. Sold as a single piece of property to the company now known as Concord Pacific, thousands of apartments (including non-market and seniors housing) have since been built on the land. There are still a few remaining sites to redevelop, and inland there are plans to add another tower as tall as Vancouver House on the opposite side of the bridge. Further towers will be developed to the north when the loops from Granville Bridge are removed. The site at the bottom of the pictures will see the greatest change; the Squamish Nation have unveiled plans for 6,000 apartments in 11 towers on the Indian Reserve land they were given back after the rail use was abandoned.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 59-03 and Trish Jewison, Global TV traffic helicopter.

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Posted November 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

1233 West Georgia Street

This 1918 picture shows a car dealership built in 1913 for H A Bowers and designed by William Dodd, built at a cost of $10,119. It wasn’t the first building here with that use; in 1909 T W Fletcher hired M D Campbell to design a $9,000 garage here, and two years later Mr. Bowers was the owner, obtaining a permit for $6,500 of work to add to a building here and reconstruct part of it. We’re not sure if he followed through on that idea, or whether it’s more likely that the Dodd building was built as a replacement. It closely matches an adjacent garage for McLaughlin, that was built in the same year, next door. It looks like the project was scaled back from an earlier version: The Pacific Coast Architect, an American publication had announced in 1912 that “Architects Doctor, Stewart & Davey prepared plans for a two-story reinforced concrete garage, for H A Bowers”, but those architects never obtained an permit.

Thomas W Fletcher, the developer, was shown in the 1911 street directory as retired, and had moved to a home in the newly built and up-market Shaughnessey sub-division, but he was only aged 43. The census said he was in real estate, but we don’t know if the garage he apparently built in 1909 ever had an occupant before Mr Bowers acquired it. In 1921 Mr. Fetcher had Mackenzie & Bow design a new home in Shaughnessey, and was shown as working again, as an adjuster. A year later McCarter & Nairne designed another house for him, on Minto Crescent.

Herbert Bowers was an American, aged 31, and only recently arrived in Vancouver. In 1911 he lived two blocks west of here with his wife Hazel and their three children, Robert, Alice and Herbert junior. They has recently lost another daughter: the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California reporting that year that “Mr. and Mrs H. A. Bowers, who removed from here to Vancouver, have suffered a sad bereavement in the death of their little daughter Doris, who is well remembered here by many friends both young and old. The child’s death was due to pneumonia, which occurred March 6.”

Herbert ran the Central Auto and Supply Co, and the family had apparently left Vancouver and returned to California by 1913. In 1922 Herbert junior died in perculiar circumstances in Vancouver. The Daily World reported “A coroner’s Jury, with Dr. Sutherland of Port Coqultlam as coroner, sitting this morning at Murchie’s undertaking parlors, brought in the following verdict on the death of Herbert Bowers, whose body was found on the Pipe Line road In the bottom of a ravine under an automobile on Sunday: “We find that the death of Herbert Bowers was accidental, he not being familiar with the road, which is dangerous at this spot.” Mrs. H. A. Bowers, mother of the dead man, and Mr. W. D. Woods, manager of the Barron Hotel, Vancouver, Identified the body. Mrs. Bowers stated that her son was 18 years of age. The family reside at Santa Clara valley, California, and were here on a vacation. She said that she had no idea how her son came to take the car. They had been staying at the Barron Hotel and he was away visiting friends In South Vancouver on Saturday night. She had four other children, who are at present at their camp on Howe Sound. Bowers had several letters on his person addressed to “My dear wife” and the contents were of a peculiar nature. The mother said that the initials that appeared in the letters were not those of her son. W. B. Dishman of Bellingham, who was driving the car at the races the day before, gave evidence to the effect that the auto was In good condition. He said that he had never seen Bowers in his life. In Richmond police court yesterday Dishman, charged with driving to the common danger after an accident in which Mrs. David Buchan was injured, forfeited $100 ball when he failed to appear. Oscar Olsen, also of Bellingham, has reported to the police that he also had never known Bowers nor knew how he came to have the car.” Herbert and Hazel Bowers was still living in Santa Clara in California in 1940, with their son Thomas, who was born in 1920 in California. The family’s new life wasn’t that of a garage owner: Bowers Park in Santa Clara is named for Herbert, a pear grower in Santa Clara who was also an organizer and director of the Santa Clara Pear Association. He also served on the Jefferson Union School Board in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The replacement garage operator was the Franklin Motor Company, who moved in by 1913 and manufactured a luxury vehicle in Syracuse, New York. The Franklin was very reliable, being air-cooled (and so unlikely to be frozen up in the middle of the night). It also had extensive use of aluminum in the body, and some models offered better gas mileage than some vehicles today. They moved out after two years, and had no showroom in the city until 1918 when a Franklin dealership opened on Granville Street.

In 1915 Dominion Motors briefly occupied the building. There’s an unidentified early 1910s image of this building in the archives that shows a Packard, Hudson and Baker Electric dealership. Those were all brands sold by Dominion, but the economy was in a bad way, and they went out of business in less than two years. In 1918 the Sigmore Motor Co Ltd, selling Studebaker cars were operating here. Studebaker of Canada moved into the building in 1917, and out again in 1923 briefly to West Pender, then back to West Georgia in 1923 to a new garage less than a block from here.

By 1925 Southard Motors (with the MacDonnell-Scott Garage and Vancouver Auto Towing Service sharing the address) were selling Essex cars here – a part of Hudson Motors of Detroit. In the 1930s they had relocated to Granville Street, where in 1938 they were selling Chryslers. For a brief period in the early 1930s this wasn’t a garage; the B C College of Arts were using the building.

From 1936 to around 1942 Walmsley Motors moved in, (seen on the right in selling Cord, Auburn and Willys. Soon after, like the adjacent garage, the building became used as the Canadian Government Ordnance Machine Shop. By 1950 Canada Dry were using the building as a warehouse, and by 1955 Maynard Auctioneers were here. Pictures from the 1980s suggest the buildings were still standing, although with a new façade.

Where 1233 West Georgia stood today there’s a condo tower called Venus, designed by Howard Bingham Hill and completed in 1999.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5332 and CVA 99-4851

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Posted November 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1219 West Georgia Street

We’ve seen several car dealerships that were developed along West Georgia Street in the early part of the 20th century, including Consolidated Motor Company who were located on the other side of the street from here. On the north side the showroom of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, seen in an image that’s undated, but which we’re guessing might be 1918. McLaughlin started manufacturing automobiles in Oshawa in 1907. They had previously been a carriage company, so it wasn’t a dramatic shift. When they were unable to get their own engines designed, they used Buick drive trains, built in Flint, Michigan. McLaughlin became part of General Motors, and car production under the McLaughlin name continued until 1942.

Before this garage was built there were several houses, dating back only a few years, but demolished for this 1912 building, designed by W M Dodd for H W White who spent $30,000 on the new investment. Harry W White was the manager for McLaughlin Motor Cars, so we assume they paid for the development. As well as McLaughlin, the building was home to the Pierce-Arrow Motor Co, a US car manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, from 1901 to 1938.

In 1911 Harry was 63, and from England; his wife, Lydia was from Ontario, and they lived on West Pender Street with three daughters and a son still at home, aged from 14 to 37. Their journey west can be traced in their province of birth; the eldest, Rosa was born in Ontario, but Ethel, Mabel and Percy, the youngest were all born in Manitoba.

McLaughlin moved from here in 1926, to new premises on Burrard Street, where the vehicles were sold by Clark Parsons Buick. Gray Campbell Ltd took over this showroom as a Chrysler dealership. By the mid 1930s A E Stephens Ltd were based here, run by Alfred Stephens, selling used cars. During the war the building became used as the Canadian Government Ordnance Machine Shop. By 1950 Clarke Simpkins auto dealership was here. Clarke Simpkins was Ford of Canada’s vice-president, and he sold their cars here, and repaired them on Seymour Street. He had moved a block to the west by 1955, when BC Garage Supply Ltd ‘auto jobbers’ were using the building.

Today the site is the garden of Venus, a 36 storey residential tower designed by Bingham Hill Architects and completed in 1999.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5178

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Posted November 4, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1402 Comox Street

We looked at the history of the building on this site in a post we wrote a few years ago. The Broughton Apartments were developed by builder Peter Tardiff (really Pierre Tardif, from Quebec), and designed by Parr and Fee. Completed in 1912, and costing $100,000, they weren’t the first building here. That was this house, (seen above around 1900), which was addressed to Comox although the front door was on Broughton. It was one of the earliest houses in the West End – seen on the left in 1890, according to this picture (when it was on the left  edge of the picture).

It was owned by George Stevens, who was an agent for J Stevens and Sons of Toronto, surgical instrument manufacturers. He can first be seen in the city directory in 1890, although the company history says he was here in 1889. By 1892 he was one of five George Stevens in the city. He was a son of the company founder, James Stevens, who learned instrument making in England, and the company was developed from 1874 when George’s brother Daniel established the Canadian business. They built a new warehouse and office in the 1920s, on Richards Street, and The Stevens Company continues as a family owned distributor of medical equipment today.

The 1891 census failed to find the family, because while George arrived in Canada in 1888, his wife didn’t make the move until 1892. Fortunately we have this supposedly 1895 image, taken in the yard of 1091 Broughton (the alternate address for the house) and a 1901 census record. George and his wife Georgina, who was six years younger, had all seven of their children still at home that year, six of them (four daughters and two sons), born in England, and eight year old Frank who was born in BC. He was born in February 1893, and as that’s undoubtedly him in the middle of the picture, the picture must date from 1894. Frank died in 1980 in Surrey, and from his death certificate we learn that his mother was Georgina Herbert when she married George. In 1901 they had a servant, Alice Holdich, who was also from England, and George’s younger sister, Eleanor was also living with them at the time, although she returned to England soon after.

In 1911 five of the children were still at home, two daughters and three sons, and there were two lodgers as well. The other daughters had got married, and moved away. Son George was manager of a Royal Bank branch at Robson and Granville Street, and his brother Fred was a ledgerkeeper at the Alberni Street branch of the same bank. By then the family had moved out to West 6th Avenue. D B Stevens (George’s brother Daniel) was president of the company, George was vice-president, and the company offices were on Homer Street. George died that year, aged 66, and his obituary identified the location of the business before they moved to Homer as being in the Arcade building, redeveloped as the Dominion Building.

Soon after George’s death the apartment building was completed, and unlike the house which lasted about 20 years, over a century later it’s still standing.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Dist P60, Dist P59 and Dist P39

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Posted October 31, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Thurlow Street – 1000 block, north side

This is the corner of Nelson and Thurlow in 1957. We haven’t been able to identify who developed the three (undoubtedly speculatively built) houses, but we posted the picture because it shows how even long-established parks were once something else. There were in fact four homes, in a row, then a lane. The were numbered as 1025, (off the picture to the right), 1029, 1033 and 1037, and they first appear in 1901, with Sidney M Young living on the left, John Damer, a traveller, in the middle and Joseph Paul, a watchmaker on the right. Only John Damer was still here a year later, supporting our theory that they were rental properties. He wasn’t in the city before moving here, so isn’t in the 1901 census. Mrs Grant Hall moved in on the right, but didn’t stick around, and in 1903 there was another new occupant – and one we do know something about. Bedford Davidson moved in, a builder and sometimes architect, who developed houses, apartments and commercial buildings across the city. He stayed here for a couple of years, and John Damer was still next door, with J M Graham, a secretary in the house on the right.

Mr. Davidson moved here from a variety of eastside addesses, where he was initially inaccurately recorded as Batford Davidson. The census in 1901 got his name right, and had him lodging with Rachel Urquhart, a widow who had a rooming house on East Hastings. We don’t know if Mr Davidson developed the properties – it would have been an ambitious undertaking for a 25 year old from Nova Scotia, but not impossible. (In fact, earlier census records when Bedford was still at home with his parents in Amherst Shore, and then Tidnish, in Nova Scotia, show he was aged 28, and the 1901 census was incorrect). He developed a series of increasingly expensive properties from 1901 to 1903, several on East Hastings and then hiring G W Grant as architect of at least three business blocks on the 500 block of Granville, that he had presumably also bought the sites for. (By 1911 the family had moved to Broughton Street, Bedford, his wife Evangeline, also from Nova Scotia, two daughters and a baby son. Ten years later all the children were still attending school, and there were two more additions to the family. Bedford Davidson died in 1963, aged 91).

In 1911 the house on the left was home to John B Williamson, a merchant, who had lived there for several years. John was from Ontario, and was married to Martha, who was from England (arriving in 1883 as a two year old). They had a baby daughter, Jean, and Gertrude Rothwell, an Ontario-born relative. John was partners in Williamson Jenkins Co, who sold glass and crockery wholesale. In the middle was Frederick F Jones (according to the street directories) and Albert Lloyd, and his wife May, according to the census. Albert had arrived in Canada only three years earlier, and was a cashier, but May was from PEI. On the left the street directory recorded ‘Aurilous J Mangold’. The census had ‘Aurel’, for the 53 year old Frenchman, whose occupation was listed as ‘Book’. He was shown as a steward at the Terminal Club in the street directory, but The Daily World showed him running the Conservative Investment Co. on Pender Street. He offered investors an opportunity to invest in West End rental property. A year later the street directory had Mrs M Mangold as resident (in 1911, 38-year-old Mary Mangold, from England had three children at home, Lillian, 17, Aurel, 12 and Josephine, who was three). In 1913 she had moved to Kerrisdale, and was listed as a widow. Lillian was a stenographer. In 1917 Aurel Mangold (the son) was mentioned in a news story when gave evidence at an inquiry, having  helped lift a car off the body of Mrs Dixon, who was run over and killed by a Ford driven by Mrs. Muriel Johnson, outside the Birks Building. Soon afterwards the family had moved from Vancouver, apparently to New York, where Aurel became an ophthalmologist.

From the early 1950s the City of Vancouver, through the Board of Parks, acquired houses in two blocks to create a new urban park for the West End (which had a growing population, and no inland green space). By the 1970s all the houses on this block had been demolished, and the lane was incorporated into the park. The adjacent block, which was also to be demolished, was spared and became the Mole Hill Housing Co-op. Development funds were used in 2007 to restore and renew the park.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives Bu P508.97

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Posted October 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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