This image from around 1930 shows Canadian Pacific locomotive 2614 headed north-east along the tracks that cut a 45 degree angle through the East End of the city. We’re familiar with pictures of tracks running down the street carrying the interurban and streetcars of the BC Electric Railway, but don’t often see the full-sized locomotives that could shut the street down for several minutes. The engine was probably coming from the Canadian Pacific Drake Street Yards – here’s another view of the Class G2E 4-6-2 locomotive built by the American Locomotive Company in the yards (on the right). There’s another picture in the City Archives of the engine in the station below Cordova Street in the 1930s, attached to a passenger train. The locomotive was sold for scrap in 1959.
There’s a challenge in lining up the contemporary image: the right-of-way that the train ran on has been built over. We’ve seen the building in an earlier post. It’s part of the Four Sisters Housing Co-op; this part was a newbuild component and there’s an attached heritage warehouse that in part dates from 1898. In 1988 the heritage building was converted to residential use, with the new structure replacing the right-of way as a part of the Co-operative, designed by Davidson and Yuen Partners for the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.
Image source: City of Vancouver CVA Can P103 and BC Archives
We first looked at the Masonic Temple built at Georgia and Seymour in an earlier post (only our second on the blog – so 600 posts ago). It was designed by Dalton and Eveleigh in 1909 and was built at a cost of $45,000. Before this there were three different lodges meeting in different leased spaces. Subscribers from the membership of the three lodges; the Mount Hermon, Cascade, and Acacia Lodges, raised the funds to build the new hall, which was opened on March 15, 1910.
The picture from 1938 shows a Safeway store and J S MacLaren’s Children’s Shop. Safeway had 35 stores in the city in 1938, having absorbed the Piggly Wiggly chain in 1935. Safeway had operated here from the early 1930s, replacing the Fountain Lunch that was here in 1930. The store closed down in 1946, was empty the next year, and in 1948 became a piano store with the ticket office of the Vancouver Symphony Society; the Freemason’s still occupied the upper floors that year.
The building was redeveloped in 1971, although we’re pretty sure that the frame and elements of the structure remain. The staining on the northern, wider bay on the Seymour Street façade suggests that underneath that part of the building has a different construction. The building is part of the Bay Parkade site, and now that the owners are reaching the end of the construction of their building now known as the Trump Tower, and have completed designs for their Little Mountain housing project, we may see a development proposal for this location.
Image source City of Vancouver Archives Bu N445.2
This 1927 warehouse and office was the second location for Wilkinson Steel. The company was founded by Frank Wilkinson in 1910 on Beach Avenue as the sole distributor for U.S. Steel in British Columbia. Frank Wilkinson was born in England, and arrived in Canada in 1891. His wife Alice was also English, but had arrived a year earlier. They must have spent quite a bit of time in Quebec as all their children, (they had at least six), were born there, the youngest in 1909. In 1911 Alice’s sister, Hilda Baker was living with the family; in 1921 they had a domestic servant.
There were two houses built on this corner in 1904; they only survived a little over 20 years. In the 1920s the neighbourhood was changing from a residential area to an industrial and commercial area, although there are still a few residential pockets even today. This image was shot in 1946, and shows a couple of houses still located on Columbia Street, behind the warehouse.
In 1958 the company moved to SW Marine Drive, where they still operate today. In 1973 the existing two storey office and production space was built; which we’re pretty certain incorporated some of the original warehouse building. It’s now home to City TV’s studios.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4769
Here’s another of the unidentified Archives images. Like others we’ve looked at where there’s no location or date, so we’re slething out an identification. The location is easy – the street sign has been flipped round, but even the building on the corner is the same. It looks as if it was vacant then; today it’s one of the few remaining XXX Adult stores on Granville – or anywhere else. The building dates back to 1909. Originally the single storey retail on the corner was built with 125 foot of frontage (the 75 feet to the north were redeveloped with 3 floors in 1960). Maclure and Fox were the architects for T Godman, and the whole development cost $20,000. We’re pretty certain that the developer was Richard Temple Godman, a London businessman from a military family. He was in partnership with a Vancouver-based broker, and built a couple of other investment properties here; he also seems to have had interests in San Francisco which he visited several times, and the Godman family had built the earliest buildings in Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, and operated a cannery there.
In terms of dating the image, that’s a Mark 2 Ford Cortina (1967-1970), so we’re at the end of the 1960s or early in the 1970s. There’s no sign of the Scotiatower in the Vancouver Centre, so it’s before 1975, and the sign on the Vancouver block was removed in 1974, so it’s earlier than that. When it was removed it read ‘Birks’ – the ‘Gulf’ version was a year or two earlier, so this is probably somewhere in the first few years of the 1970s.
In the older image today’s Templeton restaurant was the Fountain Café – ‘Chinese food, fish and chips, steaks and chops’. It was Adele’s Cafe in 1934, in 1956 it was sold to Top Chef Cafe and renamed Top Tops and it became the Templeton in 1996. There a mural on the end wall by artist and activist Bruce Eriksen which dates from the late 1960’s. Leslies Grocery was Sunny Grocery – but the 7up sign was the same one. Q Carpets and Interiors had a huge sign, competing with Belmont Furniture across the street in the Glenaird Hotel – now a backbacker’s hostel. Behind it the Capitol condo tower has filled in a big chunk of sky, replacing the Capitol Theatre. Nobody in the early 1970s was listening to music, or checking their phone as they crossed the street.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2102
To the north of Emery Barnes Park there is a 1910 building which these days is called Brookland Court. It was built by two brothers, who are referred to in the architectural history books as ‘the Lightheart Brothers’. William and Joseph Lightheart were builders who designed their own developments and owned the sash widow factory that was on the site before they built the apartment building. Two other brothers are sometimes mentioned in passing as well, but there were in fact at least six different Lightheart brothers, all of whom ended up living in Vancouver and all apparently involved in construction and development. Strangely, none of the brothers seem to be mentioned in any of the contemporary biographies of worthy citizens, but at least seven of their apartment buildings are still standing today.
In 1901 William and Joseph Lightheart had both recently appeared in Vancouver and both lodged with James A Johnston and his family; 25 year old William working as a builder and his 23 year old brother Joseph as a carpenter. They appear in the 1901 City Directory at 604 Hamilton Street, which presumably was their works yard. Their family roots were in Nottawasaga, Simcoe in Ontario, (on Lake Huron). In 1901 William built a house on Burrard Street and in 1902 he built a house for George Whatmore on 8th Avenue. Joseph built a house in the same year on Burrard Street for himself, and it was a substantial house too – it cost $2,200.
There’s a period where the city’s building permits have been lost, so we don’t know for certain that this building is their first major investment, but it looks to be so. William’s wedding in Escondido in 1906 was mentioned in the Daily World, as was George’s wedding in 1907. Various house-building projects were noted by several of the brothers. In 1911 advertisements started to appear for the newly completed Lightheart Apartments, offering both furnished and unfurnished rooms.
In the 1950s the building was known as the Hollywood Apartments. At some point an additional floor was added, and in in 1989 major renovations were carried out that reduced the number of units to 86 self-contained apartments of non-market housing.
Image source: BC Archives D-09176
We’ve looked at many of the buildings on Water Street on this blog, but somehow overlooked the Terminus. It was completed in 1902 at a cost of $8,000 for W Jones, replacing a building erected quickly after the 1886 fire, possibly designed by Bunning and Kelso (according to the first edition of Exploring Vancouver). They weren’t architects, but they might have been builders; in 1888 Bunning was a carpenter. This attribution of this building thought it dated back to 1887. (There was an even earlier saloon run by Bill Blair before the fire that was originally a restaurant run by George Brew ‘when he wasn’t drunk or in prison’.)
The façade still standing today was designed by Emil Guenther, and for five years (including in our picture) all that was visible was a three storey façade and the side wall propped up with steel bracing after a fire destroyed the building in 2000. Given the ferocity of the fire, it’s remarkable that the front of the building stayed standing. The Heritage Statement still describes it as a propped façade, but that’s very outdated as in 2008 a new development was completed along with the adjacent Grand Hotel to restore the retail use and add condos on the upper floors (and two additional floors set back from the heritage element). The Grand was an earlier building, dating back to 1889, and the owner, Thomas J Roberts, was killed in while attending a card game in 1918, as we noted in an earlier post.
The owner of the new Terminus Hotel when it was built was William Rees Jones; one of six people called William Jones in the city in 1901. He was either born in England into a Welsh family (1901 census) or in Wales (1891 census), and he had arrived in Canada in 1858 when he would have been aged about 15. He was running the Terminus from 1890, buying it from Bill Blair. William Blair was from Maine, and he appears in very early Granville (pre Vancouver) street directories; the first we’ve found him in was in 1882 when he was running the Deighton House, built by ‘Gassy Jack’ many years earlier. Before he arrived in Granville he was in Victoria from 1877. Around 1884 he’d moved up the street to run a saloon at this location, with Blair’s Hall at the back, where dances, meetings (and church services) were held. After he sold the bar, Blair became a general contractor.
In October 1901 the replacement building for the Terminus was announced. The original hotel and saloon weren’t torn down; rather, they were moved to the rear of the site (which hadn’t been redeveloped as a hall after the fire) to clear the space at the front for the new structure.
In what reads suspiciously like an ‘advertorial’ – but which was typical of the day for the thoroughness of the description, the Vancouver Daily Work of 22 March 1902 announced the completion: “On the Site of a Pioneer Water Street Hotel Rises a Complete Up-to-date Structure. Many people thought that the lot on which the Terminus hotel stood could not be made useable for a hotel. It was enclosed between high buildings on either side and the light was shut off. Since the days when Vancouver was a baby the Terminus had been there. It was one of the first hotels that reared itself phoenix – like above the ashes, and Mr. William, Jones hated to change the locality. He therefore decided that once again the house should arise, and he entrusted the work of making the plans to Emil B. Guenther. The result is that there stands today one of the most complete hostelries in Vancouver on the site of what was the old Terminus. The building has a brick front with stone finishings, with a series of bow windows on the front that give a view direct across the Inlet from the front and also a view each way east and west. The general contractor for the building was E. Cook, the well known contractor, whose foreman on the contract was George W. Maynard. The sub – contractors were: (including heaters in bar for hot water. Cope & Frey; heating, hot water, Leek & Co.; for fixtures, Robertson and Hackett: plumbing. W. Brown; painting. H. Miller; furnishing, Chas. Hach; bedding, Pioneer Mattress Factory, R. F. Campbell, manager.
The architect Emil Guenther, went to Seattle and Tacoma to see if anything had been overlooked. The result is that from his own ideas and what he learned abroad on the old site of the Terminus has arisen the most perfect hotel that is to be found of its kind on the const. It was enclosed on either side by high wholesale houses, and the greatest feature was to secure perfect light. This has been done by the judicious use of a skylight that takes in the whole roof. Through this it has been arranged that there is not a dark room in the house. The main entrance is from Water street, but on either side are entrances to the basement, in which are situated a barber shop and a day and night restaurant. The latter will be under the charge of Mr. W. McArthur. The dining room is connected by speaking tubes and bells with the bar, and that is in itself a credit to local workmanship, it is finished in polished oak with tile floor and gutter. The bar is 40 feet long and the back is designed in a series of arches with half – curved pilasters and capitals. The wainscoting is terra cotta cement with enamelled surface finishing, ensuring absolute sanitariness, and the walls and ceiling are finished in pressed steel in tastefully blended shades, making a complete poem in color. The kitchen is supplied with a flue 8 feet by 1 inches, clear to the top, so that it is impossible for any odor to reach the storeys above. The bedrooms are supplied with good, substantial furniture from the well known house of C. Hach, and all the beds have the “D. P.” springs and the “Jumbo” soft mattresses. The house was open to the public today at 11 a.m., and is many ways as regards completeness and novelties not overlooking, for example, the electric water heaters supplied by Cope & Frey will be of interest to the public generally. Mr. Jones’ confidence in the city is shown, by the fact that he has invested in this building $35,000. Old timers will remember the Terminus locality. Near it was our first church, and on the lot on which it stands was a building in which Sunday services were held in the early days. Those who were here in the old times will remember the gospel hall and will he pleased to know that the man who so freely gave his Premises for the carrying on of any good work in the early days has prospered.”
This suggests Mr. Jones might have been a really ‘old timer’ in the city. There are hints of this elsewhere – a reference in the Archives notes of Major Matthews to “Dissolution of Partnership between William Jones and John Thomas (“Navvy Jack” Thomas – another Welshman), and “Partnership Notice” between William Jones and Joseph Mannion, published in Mainland Guardian, 5 April 1873.” Indeed, looking for references to “Billy Jones” reveals more references to his early saloon, next door to the Granville House Hotel (which he had originally partnered with Mannion to acquire from Ebenezer Brown). In 1874 he was in partnership with Mannion. Despite this we haven’t found any early directory references to William (or Billy) Jones in Granville. At least one interviewee thought he was an American. The first reference to the Terminus is in 1889 when Bill Blair was proprietor before William Jones bought it a year later. We have no idea what William Jones – assuming it’s the same William Jones – did between the mid 1870s and buying the saloon in 1890, but he wasn’t in Granville/Vancouver.
The new hotel’s early history is recorded in the newspapers of the day; a drunk who tried to kick out all the panels of the hotel; underage drinkers identified by the police; theft of a visitor’s bicycle wheel. A more serious case was a 1905 attempt to remove Mr. Jones’s licence because he was present when his barman was serving drink ‘after hours’ when the curtains had been pulled to indicate the bar was closed. (It was during one of the periods in the city’s history when the forces of temperance were trying to restrict the serious drinking that took place). W J Bowser, the lawyer defending the case successfully persuaded the Magistrate that it wasn’t an intentional lapse of the law, as one drinker was resident in the hotel (and therefore a member of the household who could legitimately drink at any time) and the other was understood to be resident – although he had in fact moved to a different establishment a short while before. In 1906 the Daily World announced “WATER ST. HOTEL SOLD. S. Swoboda, mayor of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, has purchased the Terminus hotel, Water street, from William Jones. Mr. Swoboda has no intention of starting in the hotel business, hut he talks of selling out his extensive interests in Alberta, and coming to the coast. The Terminus is one of the oldest hotels in the city.”
In February 1908 the hotel was mentioned several times when a patron was stabbed. In 1909 the hotel, with 33 rooms, was offered for sale again. Leased at $250 a month, it was offered for sale at $33,000. The licensee, George Patton, was in court later that year, accused of allowing gambling on the premises. The attempts to sell the property don’t seem to have been successful, or Mr Jones had second thoughts as W Jones, was still the owner in 1912 when he had R H Atkinson design an alteration to the store here. The 1911 street directory shows that he wasn’t running the hotel by then; that was R Fiddler and James Thompson. Thompson had run the hotel on his own from 1905 (although he was mis-identified as Johnson that year), but William Jones was shown still living in the hotel, but from 1906 he was in retirement.
At some point the hotel ceased offering the full hotel facilities: In 1912 it was still a hotel run by Robert Fiddes, but by 1914 it was the Terminus Rooms, run by Henry Savinar and in 1917 by H Avoca. The ethnicity of the owners changed over the years. In 1936 it was listed as the Terminus Hotel (rooms) run by G Iguchi. In 1948 the rooms were run by H Summers, and the 1955 listing was for the TERMINUS Hotel (Wong Jun Ming) rooms.
Here’s another of the undated and unidentified location shots from the City’s Archives. From the cars we’re putting this into the 1970s; it’s at least 30 years ago as the Expo 86 pavilion now occupied (for only a short while longer) by the casino is just visible today. We’re looking north on Columbia Street towards False Creek and the mountains.
Back then Downtown seemed a whole lot closer to the Mount Pleasant industrial area. You could see the Woodwards ‘W’, The Sun Tower, and the Dominion Building. Today there are two rows of buildings in the way; the residential towers built on the Expo lands, and the more recent buildings of South East False Creek.
The industrial area hasn’t really changed that much – at least, not here. There are still a few of the houses that show how this area first developed, including one on the corner of 5th Avenue that dates back to 1909. It’s clearly visible in the 1970s, and hidden today by one of the street trees added in the past 40 years.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-239