Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Seymour Street – 900 block east side

Back in 1981 this was yet another Downtown gas station, this one run in conjunction with Dominion U-Drive, and a B F Goodrich Tire dealership. (Gas was 34 cents a litre, and you could collect the free tumblers as well!) Ford dealer Dominion Motors occupied much of the rest of the block, with the Dufferin Hotel (now the Moda Hotel) at the end. Dominion Motors had previously been located further up the same block of Seymour, on the west side, in the former Vancouver Motors building, which they had taken over in 1940, and before that had moved several times since their first West End premises in 1910.

Originally there were houses on this block, all the way to the hotel. By the mid 1940s there were a couple of car sales lots next to the hotel, but the houses on the rest of the block were still occupied through to the 1940s. By 1950 the Vogue Garage and auto sales had been built mid block, but from the corner with Nelson there were still 7 houses; two rooming houses and one occupied as offices by the BC Govt Registrar of Voters. In 1952 just two houses remained, and Vancouver Motors were using the corner as a parking lot. By 1955 the U-Drive operation had been established here, and the company had taken over all but one of the houses – the one housing the Registrar of Voters.

Dominion Motors closed down in 1986, and we think the site was used for parking for several years. In 2002 two new rental towers with 430 units were built here, with retail on the main floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E06.23


Posted February 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Robson and Hornby – nw corner (2)

We looked at a different view of the Richmond Apartments in a post a few years ago. The building was developed by Edward Hunt in 1910, and designed by W T Whiteway. C P Shindler built the $70,000 building, seen here in 1945. There were three Edward Hunts living in Vancouver in 1911, one a fireman for the CPR, one a building contactor, and one a retired 57 year old, living in an apartment on Robson – in this building. He first arrived in the city in 1910, when he stayed in the newly built Homer Apartments on Smithe Street. He was English, (born in Gloucestershire in 1855) and married to Florence, who was American, and thirty years younger than her husband. Edward had arrived in Canada in 1876 (seven years before his wife was born), and to British Columbia in 1888, while Florence had arrived in 1903.

In 1901 Edward Hunt was living in Richmond, shown as aged 47, and a merchant, living with his English wife Louisa, who was also 47, and their son, Edward S Hunt. The street directory tells us he was the Postmaster, and a General Merchant in Steveston. Edward Hunt was living in Vancouver in 1891, with his wife, son and mother, and they each had a store. Edward’s was a grocer’s store at the corner of Nelson and Hornby, while his mother, Emily (who was then aged 69) ran a grocers on the Westminster Road (Main Street today).

He moved to Richmond in the early 1890s. He was elected to Steveston Council in 1893, was working for the Steveston Cannery Co in 1894 and set up a general store there in 1895. He split with his former business partner, J A Fraser in the same year, expanded it in 1896 and was one of three owners of the Steveston Cannery, capitalised at $50,000 in that same year. His store later became the Walker Emporium and was on the corner of Moncton Street and 2nd Avenue. He was a magistrate in Richmond in 1900, and the first to sign a requisition to call out the militia to prevent violence during a strike by Fraser River fishermen. He was on the Council again in 1898 and from 1900 to 1902. In 1907 he became Reeve of Steveston, when this picture was published.

The census shows he was still living in his Robson apartment in 1921, but on his own, and the street directory shows him in the same apartment in 1941. He died in 1943, aged 88, recorded as a widower.

Today there’s an office building addressed as 777 Hornby, completed in 1969, and designed by Harry Roy. The architectural practice who supervised construction of the building was Thompson, Berwick, Pratt and Partners.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4162

Posted February 19, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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626 Seymour Street

This small retail unit sits on part of the assembled Bay Parkade site, that will one day be redeveloped by the Holborn Group. Seen here in 1974, it was part of the Y Franks appliance chain. Our ‘after’ shot was photographed over two years ago, when the Source electronic chain still operated here. Today the unit is vacant (and under 24 hour video surveillance, according to the developer’s rather ominous website images).

The building was constructed in 1921, built by Baynes and Horie and cost $12,000, designed by Thomas Fee for F G Evans. In the early 1920s Fee spent much of his time in Seattle, but continued to design Vancouver buildings. Frederick Evans was shown in the street directory as the manager of Dominion Canneries B C Ltd, with a house in Shaughnessey Heights that he had built in 1920 at a cost of $15,000. However, the census for 1921 shows his occupation as ‘none’ which implies he had just retired at 52 (although he actually continued to manage the canning company until the early 1930s), and suggests that this was an investment property. He was born in Ontario, as was his wife Sarah, but the two children, 17 year old Muriel and Winifred, 13, had been born in BC. In 1911 the family lived on Haro Street, and Frederick was listed as a produce broker. In both census records they had a servant as well – in 1911 from Scotland, and in 1921 from England. The canning company handled fruits mostly, but also Green Beans, Peas, Tomatoes, Tomato Soup, Pork and Beans, Jams, some late vegetables and citrus fruit for marmalade. In the mid 1920s they opened a new production facility on Drake Street.

When the building was first completed, the first tenant was William Ralph, who had built his own property on West Hastings in 1899. Ralph sold stoves, and other appliances. In 1929 the premises were vacant, and then V A Wardle, a furniture company moved in. In 1932 they were replaced by Y Franks, the stove and appliance company run by Yetta Franks, the widow of Zebulon Franks, and her son David. Over 40 years later the company was still operating here.

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-415

Posted February 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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651 and 657 Richards Street

This pair of houses is thought to have been photographed in the 1890s. That seems likely, as the two buildings to the north (where’s there’s a gap on the photo) were built a little later that the others on the block. When they were built these houses were numbered as 623 and 625, but the numbers were bumped up and regularized around 1900. The houses first appeared in 1892, when A M Beattie, an auctioneer was in 623 and Joseph Page, a real estate clerk in 625, with M H Hirschberg, an accountant and Mr Barnett who worked at the electric power house.

We’re guessing the houses were rented, as the occupants changed almost every year. In 1894 William Tufts was in 623 and Mrs. M Swinford in 635. In 1895 and 1896 R G Penn was at 623 and TA, PB and JB McGarrigle at 625. In 1898 E D Knowlton, a druggist was at 623 and Mrs. Captain Reide, widow at 625. A year later W J Beer was sharing 623 with Mr. Knowlton, and Thomas Wallace and F C Campbell shared the Reide residence.

We have no way of definitively identifying the family in the doorway, but clearly the sidewalk is newly built and in 1891 the Beattie family had three daughters, including Edith and Kathleen. She is in a Central School group photograph, but not specifically identified, but there is a resemblance between the girl on the porch and one in the group, although that isn’t strong evidence of this being the Beattie family. If it is, we’ve already noted their history in connection to Mr. Beattie’s auction house near City Hall on Westminster Avenue.

This site was redeveloped in 1959 with the Bay Parkade, more recently sold to developer Holborn and now called the Parkwell Plaza, with a covenant requiring the replacement of several hundred parking spaces (presumably underground) once redevelopment takes place.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 172.


Posted January 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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835 Cambie Street

This modest 1929 warehouse has been repurposed as an office building for many years. Originally it was built for Electrical Distributors Ltd, a company wholesaling electrical wires, cables, conduit, lamps, ranges, heaters and radios. They were also the BC Distributors of Ice-O-Matic Electrical refrigerators (still in business today making commercial ice machines). Gardiner & Mercer were the architects for the building, and in 1991 Musson Cattell Mackey designed the conversion to office space, used as classrooms by the Law Society who built their offices on the adjacent site to the south.

The electrical supply firm only occupied the space for a few years; by 1936 it was vacant, and at the end of the 1930s Barham Drugs were using the warehouse. From 1940 for at least 15 years this became a warehouse for Coast Paper, later joined by Package Productions, who were wholesalers of cartons. Before it was restored in the early 1990s it was also used as a distillery and as a restaurant. It’s seen here in 1985.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1776

Posted January 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Mackinnon Block – West Hastings and Granville

We looked at this building on the corner of Hastings and Granville in a very early post (in 2011) from a different angle. It was designed by W T Dalton for John Mackinnon (on the right), an early and successful resource baron in the city. (The press frequently called him McKinnon, but as the advertisement for his business shows, that was wrong). It was built by Henry Bell, who also built the Dunn-Miller block on Cordova Street, and many Canadian Pacific stations. It was completed in 1897, twelve years after John left Scotland, and only six years after he arrived in Vancouver. Born on the small Inner Hebrides island of Eigg, John travelled to Edinburgh to study then set off for a new life in Canada in 1885, but not as he had expected. As a 1913 biography noted “It is a matter of interesting history to know that Mr. Mackinnon purchased the first ticket the Canadian Pacific Railroad ever sold in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Victoria, British Columbia. The railroad, however, was unable to get him ‘through and so transferred him in New York and he came to this province by way of the Northern Pacific and over the line of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, the Canadian Pacific not having been completed until the following year.”

Once here he promptly headed south to the United States, running a sheep ranch in The Dalles, in Oregon before heading back to BC in 1891. He purchased Hardy Island off Powell River in the same year, retaining it as a game reserve. He became a land and investment broker, acquiring land, mining and lumber interests, as well as property. Initioally he was in a partnership as Mackinnon, Macfarlane & Co. The 1913 biography referenced this building: “In 1897 he erected the Mackinnon building in Vancouver which was the first office building of any importance to be built in that city and which, at that time, was considered the most modern building in the city.”

He sold it after a few years, to a Mr. Williams. The last reference to the Mackinnon Block was in July 1907, and in the same month the first to the Williams Block although Mr. Mackinnon continued to have his business offices in the building, next door to architects Grant and Henderson. The name change came a few months after a tragic accident occurred “William Lawson, a stonecutter, who lives at 1235 Homer street, was instantly killed this afternoon, by being struck on the head by a heavy stone, which was being hoisted into position at the McKinnon block, corner of Granville and Hastings streets. Lawson Is a married man and leaves a family. Repairs are being made to the front of the McKinnon building, and Lawson, together with the other workmen, were hoisting heavy stone and other building material to workmen above, when the tackle broke and fell, striking him on the head and killing him instantly.” The building however had been sold seven years earlier to an absentee overseas investor. Frederick De La Fontaine Williams, a London businessman, had visited Vancouver, seen the building, and struck up a deal to buy it for $100,000, as reported in ‘The Prospector’ in October 1900.

By 1916 it had been acquired by London & British North American Co, and in 1921 Townley & Matheson designed a $15,000 alteration for owners Sharples & Sharples: “Removal of nearly entire north wall of Hastings St. frontage to be replaced w/ plate glass front, other minor alterations” From later photographs there’s no suggestion that such a dramatic intervention was carried out – although there were slightly different fully glazed storefronts by 1940. As the job was for Service Tobacco Shop, it seems likely to have just been the main floor of the Hastings Street frontage (the north wall) that was being replaced.

Mr. Mackinnon’s mining interest included being president of the Bend’Or Mines in the early 1900s. He created the Canadian Pacific Pulp Company, Ltd., at Swanson Bay on the Inside Passage in 1906. (Today it’s a ghost town after the mill closed in 1918). He owned 20,000 acreas of timber land along the coast, and also a 1,200 acre ranch in Lillooet with 300 acres growing fruit and the remainder used as a cattle and horse ranch. In 1914 he was prospecting for coal and petroleum on Graham Island in Haida Gwai.

These days the corner of Granville and Hastings has the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in 1957 it was designed by Semmens and Simpson who only practiced together for about 10 years, but produced a significant set of quality modernist residential and commercial buildings, almost all in the West End and Downtown.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-390

Posted January 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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569 Hamilton Street

Older than it’s neighbour to the north, the building on the left was first shown in 1910 as ‘rooming house’ and in 1911 was named as the Hamilton Rooms, with Albert L Allen running the building. He arrived in Vancouver in 1911, and apparently missed the census (or was missed by it). The building looks like it was it was approved during the ‘lost records’ period, in 1908, so we don’t know neither architect, but thanks to Patrick Gunn’s sleuthing we have the likely developers: J J Grey and L Barry – from the Daily World “A permit was taken out this morning for a $16,000 three-storey brick and stone building, to be erected at the corner of Hamilton and Dunsmuir streets. The building, which is to be 50-ft x 120-ft, is to be fitted on the ground floor for stores, while the two upper flats will be laid out for an apartment house.” In 1910 Lawrence Barry was living two blocks from here at 719 Hamilton, and John J Gray, a real estate agent on West 6th Avenue.

In 1913 John E McIntyre was in charge, and in 1914 it had become the Hamilton Hotel, run by Mrs Mary Nash, and S Howe a year later. From 1916 to 1918 the building was vacant, reopening as the Marshall Rooms, run by James Marshall. After the constant turnover of proprietors, Mr. Marshall brought stability to the building’s management, continuing to manage the rooms until the 1930s. Very little seems to have occurred in the hotel. The only instance we found was in 1918 when it was reported that “Mrs. M. J. McDougall, Marshall Rooms, Hamilton Street, was the loser of a quantity of Jewelery, value unstated, which was stolen during the night by someone w ho obtained possession of a passkey to her room.”

During the war Mrs K Sabotka was running the hotel – in 1935 she had been running the Cadillac Hotel (now the Del Mar) next door. In the late 1940s S R Vassey & R M Rose ran the Marshall Hotel, a name it retained until it closed in the mid 1980s soon after this image was shot. In the early 1990s BC Hydro had managed to acquire enough land to build their new headquarters office; a vaguely post-modern tower intended to show a stream running from a mountain peak in its design. Completed in 1992, it was designed by Musson Cattell Mackey. This part of the site became a landscaped open space with an oddly located clocktower.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1847

Posted January 15, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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