Author Archive

West Hastings Street, east from Hornby

This 1910 image shows two recently built buildings, the R V Winch office building, and the adjacent Post Office. The Winch Building was completed in 1911, and the Post Office opened a year earlier. It was designed by David Ewart, the Government’s Ottawa based head architect of the day, while R V Winch hired local architect Thomas Hooper, and then spent a reported $700,000 to complete the project – the most expensive in the city at the time it was built. The Post Office contract was first approved in 1905, and took some years to complete. The building is faced in granite (more precisely, Kelly Island grandiorite) while the Winch Building’s honed grandiorite came from Fox Island at the mouth of Jervis Inlet.

Both buildings are still standing today, part of the federal government’s Sinclair Centre. To the west were houses. On the corner of Howe was 801 West Hastings, initially the home of Harry Abbott, designed in 1887 by T C Sorby, and when the photograph was taken occupied by Richard Marpole, also general superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Next door was 815 West Hastings, the home of A G Ferguson (later renumbered to 837). The Ferguson house was the first to be demolished, replaced soon after this picture was taken, for the Metropolitan Building. Mr. Ferguson commissioned a new home at Fir and West 17th in 1912. The house on the corner lasted longer; it appears to have been demolished around 1912, not redeveloped until 1923 with the Merchant’s Exchange, developed by A Melville Dollar.

The Metropolitan Building was redeveloped in the mid 1990s, and replaced with the Musson Cattell Mackey designed Terminal City Club which has a club, hotel, offices, condos and retail space. The Merchant’s Exchange was redeveloped in the early 1970s, replaced by an Eng and Wright designed nine storey brick-clad office building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N118.2

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Posted March 25, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Ceperley residence, 1116 West Georgia Street

This 1888 picture shows the newly completed home of Henry Ceperley, born on Oneonta, New York, in 1850. (Henry was obviously a popular name in Oneonta that year; future railway baron Henry Huntingdon was born in the same small town, in the same year). He went to school locally, and then became a local school teacher before moving to Minnesota at age 21 and starting work in the produce and commission business. Five years later he moved to New Mexico, where he worked as a cashier and bookkeeper for a company that was building the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. He married in 1881, back in Minnesota, and in 1883 he moved to Livingstone, Montana, where he stayed for about three years. He worked in the cattle ranching business, and also set up an insurance agency. He arrived in 1887 in Vancouver with his young family, and by 1888 was living in the new house in the picture. It was still the only house on this part of the block in 1891. In the picture Henry’s daughter, Ethelwynn, was aged four, and son Arthur was two. His wife, Jennie, was 13 years younger than Henry.

Ceperley partnered with A W Ross to form the real estate business of Ross and Ceperley. Arthur Wellington Ross came from a very similar background to Henry Ceperley. He was born in a farming township in Ontario in 1846, trained as a teacher, and taught in Cornwall in Ontario, impressed the trustees there so much that in 1868 they hired him as headmaster of the high school. He continued to study, to become a lawyer, and moved to Winnipeg in 1877 with his younger brother William, who was already qualified. He was called to the Manitoba bar a year later, and quickly established real estate as a specialty, and as a business. By 1882 his real estate assessment was around $210,000 and he had the eighth highest individual assessment in the city. He speculated in Métis scrip, lands owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company, town lots in Brandon and Edmonton, and various rural properties, apparently using inside information to acquire the best deals. His land speculation – and his fortune – disappeared in 1882 when the land bubble burst. He was trapped between his creditors, most notably the HBC, which relentlessly demanded payment, and his customers, many of whom were also speculators (on a smaller scale) who were prepared to walk away from their investments and obligations. In 1878 he added an interest in politics, and became a Liberal MP. He became associated with the promotion of the Manitoba and North Western Railway and served as its vice-president. He opposed the Canadian Pacific monopoly in 1880, favouring a rival bid. He won election again in a different riding; Selkirk, and in 1884 when the Canadian Pacific were trying to secure additional funds to complete the railway, Ross surprisingly switched to supporting their case. That paid off – by the late summer of 1884 he was in Vancouver acting on the CPR’s behalf to assemble land for its western terminus at Granville. Ross also was ideally placed to speculate himself and he purchased town-site lots from the CPR. In 1886 he opened a real estate business, which was run for a short time by his brother-in-law, the city’s first mayor, Malcolm McLean.

In 1888 the Lady Stephen Block became the Post Office, and also home to Ross and Ceperley who became one of the most active real estate promoters in the city. By now Ross was only a part-time resident in the city; he had rooms in the Hotel Vancouver, but in 1887 he had been reelected, with a little help from the CPR, as a Conservative in a Manitoba riding, so divided his time between Vancouver, Manitoba and Ottawa.

By 1891 Henry Ceperley had moved out of the house, which was now occupied by Isabela McLennan, and J C Keith, the manager of the Bank of British Columbia. He had dropped his partnership with Ross (who moved back to Manitoba in 1891), and was now Managing Director of the Vancouver Loan, Trust, Savings and Guarantee Co, with offices on Hastings, in what was then known as the Thompson-Ogle Block, and he had moved house to Burrard Street. He was absent for much of the year; his wife was ill, and ended up back in Winona, Minnesota, with her parents. She seemed to be recovering, so Henry returned to work, but rushed back when she got worse, and died in 1892. His bookkeeper, Francis (Frank) Rounsefell had worked for Ross and Ceperley. He had moved to join his father, a real estate promoter, from Brandon, Manitoba. Frank kept the business going in Henry’s absence. In 1894 Henry married again, to Grace, another American, who claimed to be 12 years younger than Henry, but was actually only nine years younger.

By 1896, Henry Ceperley had established a new company called Ceperley, Loewen & Campbell, Ltd., which acted as insurance and financial agents. Their offices were in the Inns of Court Building at 300 Hastings Street. In 1898 the company applied to change the company name to Ceperley, Mackenzie and Rounsfell Ltd, and by 1902, the company was called Ceperley Rounsefell and Co, with offices on the second floor of the Molson’s Bank Chambers at 597 West Hastings Street, and Frank Rounsefell as managing director. In 1910, Henry Ceperley retired from active participation in the company, although he stayed on as president. Frank took over the control and management of the business. Henry was also the managing director of the British America Development Company and was one of the provisional directors of the Bank of Vancouver, which started business in 1910.

Henry’s house was apparently replaced with two houses before 1912. They in turn were redeveloped with two car dealerships around 1920. More recently, in 2008, the 62 storey Shangri La Hotel and condominiums was completed here Where the house and car dealerships stood is part of the development: an Urban Fare store to the west and an art instillation location curated by the Vancouver Art Gallery with regularly changed site-specific artworks.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P290

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Posted March 21, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Looking north from Cambie Street

The City’s viewcones, that protect views of the mountains from selected spots, get a negative review from some of the city’s architects and developers. Buildings have to be shorter, or their shape altered to avoid blocking parts of the view. The most extreme example was the Trump Tower, that was designed to twist out of the way of the viewcone. Here’s the view north from Cambie at West Broadway. The picture is from further down Cambie than from where the view is protected, but the same mountains are involved.

The before picture is dated somewhere between 1960 and 1980. Off in the distance is the tower of Granville Square, completed in 1972, and on the left is the concrete bunker of the CBC Building, completed two years later. Although the Harbour Centre is now a very obvious element of the city skyline from this spot, it’s not showing in the image. It was completed in 1976, so we can pin the picture down to around 1974 or early 1975. That’s the older Cambie Bridge, on a slightly different alignment, replaced in 1985 with the new box girder structure.

This bonus 1976 image shows that the view of Downtown from the east sidewalk (nearly at 12th Avenue) has almost completely disappeared when the trees are in leaf – here in in the fall. That’s the VanCity office building, (now owned by the City of Vancouver), under construction, with a steel frame. Although that type of construction might suggest greater seismic performance, the building has recently had a comprehensive retrofit with angled steel bracing on the outside to improve its seismic rating.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-275

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Posted March 18, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Mount Pleasant

999 Seymour Street (2)

In 1926 (or thereabouts) a new car service and parts building designed by Swinburne Annandale Kayll was developed by Boultbee Ltd. Later Clarke Simpkins, owner of the city’s largest Ford dealership, took the building over and used it as his parts and a service facility. By the early 1960s that use had ceased, and in 1963 the building took on a new life as Seymour Billards, owned by Edmonton restaurant operators. Inside there were large charcoal drawings of famous pool players on the walls, with a small snack bar at the back. It was a big space, with 36 full-sized, 6 x 12-foot Brunswick round-cornered tables. Outside was one of the city’s fabulous neon signs, with three sequentially lit ‘9’ balls (to signal the address) above a revolving ‘Seymour Billiards’ name.

By 1981 when these pictures were taken there were fewer patrons for the hall. A Ford dealership (Dominion Motors) was still on the block, but in the former Vancouver Motors building to the north. That too converted to a different use more recently, as Staples office supplies, with office space on the upper floors. The billiards use eventually closed in 1999, and after a period as a parking lot, a new condo building designed by Acton Ostry Architects was completed in 2014.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.06A and CVA 779-E03.05A

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Posted March 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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999 Seymour Street (1)

This corner of Seymour and Nelson was developed as an auto parts and service business in 1926. Up to then there were houses here, one on the corner built before 1900, and two more to the north built in the early 1900s. William W Boultbee was president, and Herbert N Boultbee vice-president of the company who built the new garage, and they hired Swinburne Annandale Kayll to design the $10,000 building, built by Robert McCoubrey. Kayll was from Manitoba, initially working for several local architects before training in Philadelphia and then fighting in the First World War. He returned to the city in 1919, and practiced with Max Downing, designing Leckie’s warehouse on Water Street in the early 1920s. He was working solo again when he designed the garage.

The Boultbee business imported a variety of named auto parts, mostly from Britain, and offered to service your vehicle using those parts. The founders were brothers; two of a family of ten children. Their father, John Boultbee, brought his family west from Ancaster in Ontario in 1882, and was a signatory to the Petition for Incorporation for Vancouver, and the city’s first Police Magistrate. William, like his father, was also born in Ancaster, but Herbert (who was eight years younger than his brother) was born in Vancouver in 1887.

Both brothers worked for C Gardiner Johnson and Co (shipping agents), and in 1913 Herbert became the managing director, and William the president of the Boultbee-Johnson Company. William had a variety of other interests, including, towards the end of his life, a significant share in the Bralorne gold mine that produced four million ounces of gold over a 40 year period.

By 1944 (above) the building had been given a makeover, and some of the glazing had changed. Herbert Boultbee continued to run the business; William died in California in 1936. A few years after this picture, the business moved to 1025 Howe Street and Clarke Auto Supply moved in. They morphed into Clarke Simpkins, run by Ford of Canada vice-president Clarke Simpkins. He opened his dealership in 1946 to take advantage of a four-year wartime production hiatus that created a frantic demand for vehicles. His showroom was on West Georgia Street with several other dealerships, as we have seen in earlier posts. This building (seen below in 1948) was used as the repair department until the 1960s.

Today 999 Seymour is a condo building designed by Acton Ostry, completed in 2014.

Image Sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1546

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Gore Avenue – 600 block, west side

These three small houses, seen here in 1969, stayed for around century until the site was redeveloped in 2006. The developer had intended the building to be seniors rental, but went into receivership, and the City of Vancouver allowed  it to become a condo building called Strathcona Edge, after the units had sat vacant for three years.

The houses had been built early in the life of the new city – they were already developed on the 1889 insurance map. Early street directories identified who lived here, but no numbers had been allocated to the cottages. In 1891 Chas Macaulay, a fitter, Joseph Black, a clerk and Robert Brechin, a bookkeeper lived here. None of those names appeared in the 1889 directory, so all were probably newly arrived in the city. Remarkably, in a city where almost everybody moved around regularly, Robert Brechin was still here in 1901, listed as a teacher. He was aged 48, and had been born in India, arriving in Canada in 1888. His wife Maggie was 34, and from Nova Scotia, and they had three children aged 17 (already an engineer), 15 and 12, and a lodger, Arthur Critchlow, from England. The two older children had been born in Nova Scotia, but their daughter Katie had been born in Murrayville in BC. Robert taught at the Strathcona School, and in 1901 was paid 55 dollars a month. He died in 1905 (after the family had moved round the corner to Keefer Street) and the Mount Pleasant Advocate newspaper noted his death, identifying him as the Provincial Organizer of the Orange Order. He was also a Past Noble Grand of the International Order of Odd Fellows.

George Bingham, a 35 year old painter from London, England, who had arrived in Canada in 1886 lived next door with his wife Frances, and Ernest Wood, a 25-year-old hack driver from Ontario was in the third cottage with his wife, Mabel.

The building to the south was designed by Bird and Blackmore for Leon Way & Co in 1911, and Adkison & Dill built the $30,000 rooming house that year. To the north is the Stratford Hotel, developed by Mrs Walter Sanford at a cost of $100,000 in 1912.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-333

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Posted March 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

East Pender Street – 100 block, south side

While parts of Chinatown (including these buildings) are seeing change to the businesses occupying the main floor retail units, the bricks and mortar have remained unchanged for several decades. The exact date for the image is unknown – it’s said to have been taken between 1960 and 1980. In the background, across the street, the sign for the Marco Polo Club is visible. It was demolished in 1983, and opened at the end of 1964, so we can narrow the date a bit, and our best guess is the early 1970s – possibly 1972.

The most westerly building on the block (on the right) is the Sun Ah Hotel, home to the Ho Ho Restaurant (more recently Foo’s Ho Ho, currently being refurbished). It was designed for Chinese merchant Loo Gee Wing by R T Perry and R A Nicholais, and completed in 1911. The European style of architecture has no obvious reference to Chinatown, even though the client was a prominent Chinese merchant and property developer. There was an earlier building on the site, with Chinese merchants based here from before the turn of the 20th century (when the street was still Dupont Street). The Lung Kong Tien Yee Association acquired the building in 1926, and today it’s an Single Room Occupancy dwelling.

Several of the city’s ‘working ladies’ had houses in this location in the late 1890s, including Bilcox McDonald and Gabrielle Delisle. In 1909 the middle building in the group was constructed, replacing one of the houses. It was a very different style – occupied by The Chinese Benevolent Association. In the first half of the 20th century this was the most important organization in Chinatown. We don’t have an identified architect for the building, started in 1908 and supervised by Chinese merchant Yip Sang. In 1909 Michael O’Keefe was hired at a cost of $10,000 to design and complete the Chinese Hall here, and he had designed and built other properties for Yip Sang’s Wing Sang Company in the early 1900s. The imposing council hall featured a shrine to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, and the room was furnished with elaborately carved armchairs from the Qing Dynasty. In the 1970s, the CBA lost most of its influence. It has since been restructured and has once again become an important organization in the Vancouver Chinese community.

It housed an organization with deep roots in China. It evolved from the Hongmen movement, which is said to have originated as a group opposed to Manchu rule. In 1910 and 1911, the organization, in their old Vancouver headquarters at Pender and Carrall streets, hid Dr. Sun Yat-Sen from the agents of the imperial Manchu government. The organization is also said to have mortgaged its previous building with the proceeds going to help pay for the Chinese revolution of 1911. Today, the Chinese Freemasons in Vancouver through the Dart Coon Club own and administer this and another building on Pender Street, and two non-profit housing projects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-473

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