Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Burrard Street – south from Burnaby Street

It’s 1914, and we’re looking south on Burrard street from around the top of the hill that slopes down to False Creek, a little further north than the previous post. Down the hill there are extensive industrial operations, including a brickworks, a sawmill, boatbuilding and wharves along the water’s edge. There was no bridge until the early 1930s, so no transit ran along this stretch.

The fire hydrants are almost in the same location 108 years later, but now there’s also a bigger, blue hydrant that would allow the fire brigade to fight fires with seawater in the event of an earthquake. The smoking object down the street is a mystery. It could be a piece of heavy equipment, perhaps related to paving the road (at last – it’s been unpaved for over 25 years). As far as we can tell there was no significant building or industrial plant on that alignment, only a boat building yard and construction materials storage.

We know a little about the row of houses on the left. They’re the 1300 block (even numbers) on Burrard, and they were almost all built after 1905 and before 1909, in the few years where the permits have been lost. Five houses were built earlier – and we have some records for their construction. There were two larger houses that each occupied a lot-and-a-half, (so with a 50 foot frontage). P P Findlay owned, designed and developed 1348 Burrard, a $2,000 dwelling, in 1904. It wasn’t occupied until 1906, when Thomas Allen, who was in real estate, moved in.

George Sills was recorded hiring A Sykes to design a house at 1352 in 1905. (We think the clerk made an error, as we can’t find a George Sills in Vancouver). G Thorpe built the $2,000 house, and in 1905 it was Thomas Sills, a CPR employee, who was living there. Thomas had emigrated from Yorkshire, England when he was one, and was married to Sarah Kilpatrick in Vancouver in 1891, who was 19 years older, and born in Ontario. He was a fitter in the CPR shops, and as well as building his own home, Thomas dabbled in the province’s other main obsession, mining. He applied to buy 640 acres in the Cassiar District of the Skeena in 1910, when he was described as a machinist. In 1911 Sarah’s brother, George Kilpatrick, and her sister, Elizabeth were living here too. Sarah died in 1915, aged 69, and in 1919 Thomas married Elizabeth (who although 8 years younger than her sister was still 11 years older than Thomas). Elizabeth died in 1936, and Thomas 21 years later at the age of 91.

The first house on the block was 1310 Burrard, and in 1905 George Fortin, owner of the Louvre Saloon in Gastown lived there. In 1905 he obtained a permit for a $2,200 frame dwelling. We looked at his history in connection with the block he developed on West Cordova.

At the far end of the block Jacob Hoffmeister’s permit was also in 1905 for a $2,000 dwelling, and in 1906 he was living at 1386 Burrard. His next-door neighbour up the hill at 1378 was Ansil Thatcher, a machinist, and he carried out $400 of alterations in 1907. We looked at both Jacob and Ansil’s houses in an earlier post of this row looking north from Burrard Bridge.

The other houses seem to have been built by speculative builders and then sold on. Thomas Morton (who first bought the West End before the city had been created), Reilly Bros, William Gormley, a carpenter and Elliot Brothers were among others who all built multiple dwellings along Burrard in the early 1900s.

Today there’s a rare ‘street wall’ block of brick-clad apartments, called Anchor point. There are three buildings, each a separate strata, nine storeys high designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Architects for Daon Developments and completed in 1978. There have been unsuccessful attempts by developers to acquire enough of the units to trigger a redevelopment, but so far that hasn’t happened. A new tower completed last year beyond Anchor Point, The Pacific, gives a sense of the scale that a replacement might seek to achieve. On the west side of the street, on the corner of Burnaby Street is the Ellington, a 20 storey condo from 1990, while Modern, a 17 storey condo building from 2014 can be seen to the south.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1126


Posted 30 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Burrard Street – south from Harwood

We took a while to pin down where this image should be shot from. The 1930 picture shows Burrard Street at it’s southern end, heading downhill close to where it stopped at False Creek. Because the Burrard Bridge was yet to be constructed here, the wide boulevard of Burrard was only partially paved, and there were wide verges that cars parked on.

There’s a single house down the street on the right, and from the insurance map we think that must be 1000 Beach Avenue. It was an isolated house, next to a brick factory owned by the Pacific Pressed Brick Co in 1920, with Champion and White’s Building material wharf and gravel bunkers beyond it on the side of False Creek. The house appeared in 1906, and the occupant was William W White, manager. He wasn’t too bothered about the builders yard because he was the ‘White’ in Champion and White. We looked at the biography of Samuel Champion in connection to a property he developed on Powell Street.

William W White was 38 in the 1901 census. (He arrived from England in 1889, and was shown as living alone and a general labourer in the 1891 census). His wife, Alice, who was a year younger, arrived in Canada in 1891, and they married in July. In 1892 their daughter, Hilda, was born, followed by Eveline in 1894, and son William Wall in 1898. Mabel came along two years after the census in 1903.

Alice Urch married William Walter White in Vancouver in 1891. She was born in Newington, and brought up in London. He was born in Manchester, but his parents had married in London. His mother, Rebecca Fosdick, and her mother, Emma Fosdick, were probably related as they came from different households in Devonshire.

In 1911 William was also president of Coast Quarries Ltd. He died in 1919 when he was only 55; Alice was listed as his widow that year, living in the same house with her daughter Evaline who was a teacher at Franklin School and son William, who was working for Champion & White. Evaline married William Mann, a Scot in July that year and Hilda married David Irwin in October. Alice was still here in 1921, when Mabel, a stenographer, was still at home, and William, who now worked as assistant manager for McBride & Co, one of Champion & White’s rivals. A year later only Mabel was listed in the city, living on West 10th Avenue. William married Ada Nicholson in January 1922.

John Donaldson, of the ‘Exclusive Shop’ moved into the house here. In 1931 Knud Jensen, a labourer at Coast Cement was here, the house was vacant a year later (unsurprisingly as the bridge was under construction almost on top of it), but in 1933 Miss E H Fraser, a telephone operator at BC Tel was living in the house. She stayed for several years, and so too did the house. In 1955 W Percy Beale, listed as a mate, was living here.

Alice White was 80 and still in Vancouver when she died in 1944. Her daughter Hilda died when she was living in Trail, in 1965, and her husband, David, a year later. Her daughter, Evaline Mann died in West Vancouver in 1972, and Mabel Bayley in North Vancouver in 1983. William died in Nanaimo in 1987.

Today the spot the house stood on is part of Sunset Park, to the north of the Aquatic Centre, the windowless swimming pool that was completed in 1974, and supposed to be replaced in a few years time. At 1005 Beach, across the street, ‘Alvar’ a 28 storey condo tower was developed by Concert Properties in 2004.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, Walter E Frost, CVA 447-103


Posted 26 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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1365 Seymour Street

Today’s view leaves a great deal to be desired – and it won’t be changing any time soon. This block of Seymour Street faces the off-ramp from the Granville Bridge, and is narrowed to half the width the road was before the ‘new’ Granville Bridge was built, so the ‘before’ image would have been located across the street just beyond the ramp. (There’s a mysterious room under the ramp at this point, with a solid steel door).

Vancouver Parts Co Ltd. developed the building in 1928, hiring Henry Sandham Griffith to design it, and spending $18,000 having G R Coulson build it. It was built with reinforced concrete, and was inaccurately described as a car showroom in the Engineering and Contract Journal. Before they developed here, the Parts Co were at 1260 Granville Street, sharing with Hayes Anderson Motors. The company first appeared in 1922, when D Hayes was the company secretary. Douglas Hayes was the manager of Hayes-Anderson, so the parts business was initially an adjunct business, but one he knew well, as that was his business before establishing the truck company. By 1928 William E Anderson was shown as company president, while Doug Hayes was listed in association with their truck business (although William Anderson was also president of that business). A year later, when they moved in here it was Doug Hayes who was listed as running the business.

In 1934 the business management switched to Alex Eadie, a year after this picture was taken. He had been working at the parts company when Hayes and Anderson were still involved. In 1921 William Anderson lived on Vancouver Island, but he moved back to Vancouver in a new $20,000 home on Angus Drive that year. He retired around 1930, and was no longer living in Vancouver in 1931. Douglas Hayes was originally from Dublin, Ireland, born there in 1887. He married Ella Beam in New Westminster in 1923, and they had two sons, Donald and George, and a daughter, Eleanor. It was Douglas’s second marriage; his first was in Manhattan in 1914 to Lillian Rosin, from Ontario, who died in 1923 aged 32. When he married Ella he a son, Douglas and a daughter, Lillian from his first marriage. Douglas Hayes was 95 when he died in Duncan on Vancouver Island in 1983.

Vancouver Parts were only at this address until 1951, when Sanford Addison was the managing director. The business moved to West 4th Avenue, and the 24-year-old building was demolished for the construction of the new Granville Bridge Seymour Street off-ramp. There are plans to remove the loops beyond the ramp, and create a new road grid and six new buildings, but the on and off ramps that link to Howe and Seymour steets will remain.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4567


Posted 19 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Mercantile Building – West Pender and Homer

John Helyer, in partnership with his son Maurice, designed several of the city’s biggest buildings in the first decade of the 1900s. The Dominion Building from 1908 was easily the most prominent, but there was also the Metropolitan Building, the Stock Exchange Building, and this one – the Mercantile Building. There was a difference from those steel framed buildings, because this has a concrete frame. It was only a year after the first tall (six storey) concrete frame had been built in the city, (the Hotel Europe addition), and while for that building an American company were brought in to supervise that construction, here the General Engineering & Construction Co carried out the work on the $60,000 investment. It was run by engineer and sometime architect Kennerley Bryan, and was possibly related to a Seattle business with the same name.

Some sources claim this building was originally designed as the Board of Trade Building, “constructed for the Trustee Company under president James A Thompson, who was the owner and president of the Thompson Stationary Company.” We haven’t been able to find any contemporary references that show the Board of Trade were ever associated with the building. It was developed by the Trustee Company, Ltd., as this 1909 Directory entry shows, which was headed by James Thomson. He was one of Thomson Brothers, pioneer stationers who also had extensive real estate interests. James A and Melville P Thomson (not Thompson),  first established a stationery business in Vancouver in October 1886. They were already in business as Thomson Brothers in Calgary, and Melville arrived on the first train into Port Moody, although he hadn’t travelled all that far.

Born in Ontario, (James in Belleville in 1858 and Melville in Erin in 1860), they followed the CP line westwards, opening their first bookstore in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, in 1881. As the line reached Moose Jaw, so did the Thomsons, with Calgary next in 1884. The 1887 City Directory entry for their Vancouver store shows they didn’t limit themselves to books; Seth Tilley already had a bookstore in what was a tiny, but fast-growing town, so they also sold wallpaper, fancy goods, toys, and fishing tackle. (They were the Indigo of the 1880s). Adding printing to their business, they moved around on Cordova Street, to ever-larger premises, and then to West Hastings. They added a store in Nelson too, but by 1903 they had closed all but their Vancouver business, with both brothers living in the city from at least 1899.

The 1901 census inaccurately recorded one brother as Thompson. Melville lived with his Irish wife Marcella, and their two daughters and three sons, all aged under 12. They had an English ‘help’, Bessie Sorby, living with them in their house on Robson Street.

James Thomson had married Lillian Anderson in 1899 when she was 25 and he was 39. He had previously been married to Harriet Wood when he lived in Portage La Prairie, and they had three children before her death in 1891. In the 1901 census the family were living on Georgia, with James and Lillian, his three children, his sister, Florence, and his mother, Eliza. From 1903 to 1909 Lillian added four more children to the family.

In 1908 the brothers sold the stationery business (but retained their real estate portfolio). They became directors of The Trustee Company, a real estate development firm founded in 1908, and soon acquired a controlling interest. In 1913 the company was renamed Mercantile Mortgage Company Ltd., and the company and a spin-off business called Estates Investment Ltd. built up a significant real estate portfolio in the city and in other parts of British Columbia.

James Thomson died in 1926, and that year the street directory showed 55 businesses located in the building, with most employed as manufacturer’s agents, but others ranging from a clothing manufacturer, a camera repairer, freight forwarders and importers, wholesalers, the Aurora Silk Co and the office of Coast Publishing. His brother, Melville died in 1944, when the building had even more manufacturer’s agents, although there was a woolen jobber, a printer, a raw fur dealer, and Agnes Hughes made blouses on the 7th floor.

The Thomson family maintained control of Mercantile Mortgage and Estates Investment (whose offices were also here) until the early 1990s. Today the small businesses occupying the space include interior designers, architects, digital renderers, real estate management, a phone fraud detection and management business and a company manufacturing ‘handcrafted eyewear’

Image source City of Vancouver Archives copyright CVA 810-26


Posted 9 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Elgin Apartments – 961 Howe Street

The Law Courts were built here in the 1970s, but two entire blocks had to be cleared for their construction. 961 Howe was a $20,000 apartment building designed by A J Bird in 1909. The developer, Hector McPherson was a 48 year old retired businessman. In 1911 his address was in his new investment at No. 6, a suite he lived in until 1920. There were 12 apartments, although in some years there were two apparently un-related tenants. Initially the street directory compilers got very confused, allocating some tenants to a fictitious 643 Howe, and others correctly to 671, which was known as the Elgin Apartments.

Despite Hector’s obvious Scottish Pedigree, the Elgin wasn’t a direct reference to Scotland. Hector’s grandparents were born in Scotland, but he was one of nine children born in Elgin, Ontario. In his case, it was in 1861, as noted on his stone in Mountain View Cemetery, when he died in 1949. Although he was initially elusive, not being in Vancouver in earlier census records, we found the death notice for his wife, Elizabeth, in 1918. ‘Before going to the mainland to live, Mrs. McPherson … had resided in Victoria for many years‘. Mr. McPherson was on a business trip to Brandon when his wife’s sudden and untimely death occurred. She was frequently mentioned in the press in the 1910s, usually in connection with the activities of the Canadian Scottish Chapter of Daughters of the Empire.

That turned out to be inaccurate, but a more detailed death notice clarified (and complicated) the family’s story.

Mrs. Hector Mcpherson, one of Vancouver’s best known social and patriotic, workers, was suddenly stricken with hemorrhage of the brain and passed away about 5:30 o’clock Saturday evening. She had Just returned to her study from the lower part of the building and was apparently in usual good health. The exertion is believed to have been the cause. Mrs. Mcpherson having just entered her study when she suddenly fell to the floor and expired in a few minutes. Mr. Mcpherson was superintending harvesting operations on his farm, north of Brandon, Manitoba, and is expected to reach the city on Tuesday morning. Deceased is also survived by her daughter, Flora, whose husband Major Howey Brydon, was killed in action at Vimy Ridge. The family has resided in Vancouver for the past eight years, coming west from Brandon and taking up their residence in Victoria, where they remained a short time before moving to Vancouver.”

We were able to find Major Robert George Howie Brydon, who married Flora McKelvie in 1916, and was killed in action in 1917. Flora Mae McKelvie was born in Brandon in 1893, her father was John McKelvie, and her mother, before she married, Elizabeth Anne Steele. John was from Quebec, and died in Brandon in 1901. We haven’t found Hector and Elizabeth’s wedding, but we assume it was in Brandon; Hector was living in Brandon in 1901.

We could find Hector McPherson in 1911, living with his wife, Elizabeth, and Flora McKelvie, his step-daughter in Vancouver.  Both Hector and Elizabeth came from Ontario, and he was listed as a farmer. Shortly before her death, Mrs. Hector McPherson and Mrs. Howie Brydon spent a week at Harrison Hot Springs.

Hector stayed in his Howe Street apartment until 1920. After that he appears to have moved south. In 1922 he travelled to San Francisco on the steamship ‘Columbia’. His previous address was with his sister, Mrs Neil Love, at 11th Avenue in Vancouver, and he had been living in Portland earlier in 1922. He was aged 60, 5′ 11″ tall, with a fair complexion, brown/grey hair and grey eyes, and was a retired farmer.

We were able to find Hector’s death record, which showed he died in Los Angeles in 1949 where he had been visiting for 5 months, living on Signal Hill. The informant of his death was his step-daughter, Flora Brydon, who lived in Long Beach. He was described as Construction Engineer, (ret) Canadian Pacific R.R. The cause of death was listed as ‘suicide – cut wrists with knife’.

We don’t know when Hector sold the Elgin, or whether it was part of his estate, but it was almost always fully occupied. Our Vancouver Public Library image dates from 1928, when there were still houses standing on either side. It was still standing in 1972, but by the mid 1970s the site was cleared for the new Arthur Erickson designed Law Courts, completed in 1980.


Posted 2 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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716 West Hastings Street

The cafe in this 1931 Vancouver Public Library picture was (briefly) the Chocolate Shop Cafe #2. Leonard’s Cafe had been here for many years – we saw it, (but didn’t look at its history), in an earlier post. The 1920 insurance map shows a restaurant, and the 1924 street directory said it had been in business for over 30 years. Originally the cafe here, and one at 163 W Hastings were run by George (or Clayton) Leonard. He opened the Cafe that bore his name in 1902, but had previously run the Oyster Bay Restaurant on Carrall Street, from 1894. The 1871 census showed him aged 9 as C George Leonard, and the 1891 census showed him in St Stephen, New Brunswick, listed as Clayton Leonard, married to Nellie. In 1903 G Clayton Leonard hired Parr and Fee to build a $3,500 house at Bute and Barclay. In 1905 Clayton G Leonard visited Honolulu – so he switched between using his first and middle names fairly frequently, and sometimes the order was switched as well.

The cafe here was apparently developed by Mr. Leonard in 1906, and reported by the Daily World. “Its opening marks a new era locally in the business in which Mr. Leonard is engaged, and a visit to the place is well worth one’s while simply for the purposes of inspection.”  “He engaged the design services of Mr. James Bloomfield who decorated the restaurant as well as designed the furniture.  Entering the nearly one hundred foot dining room from the street, diners stepped across a tiled entry in which a mosaic of the famous Leonard badge of the head of a setter bearing a bird was inlaid.  The design was repeated on some of the light fixtures.  The dining room was decorated in a west coast theme featuring scenes of First Nations peoples in four large murals entitled The First SockeyeThe Clam GatherersThe Homecoming, and The Lone Paddler.  Four large folding screens were decorated with scenes of birds and morning themes featuring paintings of English Bay, the Prospect Point lighthouse and other local scenes and landmarks.”

One feature was unique to the establishment: ” A grand staircase at the back of the dining room lead up to a rooftop garden which would be open seasonally for dining and, at the time of its construction, afforded views of Burrard Inlet”. There’s more about Mr. Leonard and his restaurants (and their china) on the Neumann Collection blog. The 1911 census shows he was born in New Brunswick, and his wife Nellie was American. They were divorced later that year, and he married Jeanette Rice in March 1912 in San Francisco.  He sold his business in 1915, although the name lived on after his death (In 1916, at his new home in Los Angeles). He’d accurately said he was 50 when he married, but his death certificate also said he was 50 (which was inaccurate – he was 54).

In 1924 there were repairs and alterations to the building that cost Edwardes and Names $2,600, which seems likely to be when the new facade appeared. We suspect they weren’t the owners of the building, but rather the agents who looked after its leasing and repair. Dixon and Madill owned the Leonard Café operation after Mr. Leonard sold it, and in the mid 1920s it was sold to the Michas family who ran it for nearly twenty years, until 1944. They moved their restaurant operation to 831 Granville Street in 1929, and this briefly became the offices of an oil and mining stockbroker. Leonard’s business on Granville was sold to the Menzies family of Chilliwack in 1944. The business moved again in the late 1940s to 720 West Pender and the café burned down in 1961, taking the Arctic Club, located on the second floor, with it.

The image above, and on the right, were taken in 1931, when it reopened as The Chocolate Shop Cafe, run by Nicholas and Dennis Sagris. (Chocolate Shop #1 was at 160 W Hastings). The Chocolate Shop was a short-lived operation; in 1934 this was the Melrose Cafe, managed by Tom Latsoudes. He’d been running his cafe 2 doors to the west at 724, and stayed here for many years. In 1936 he acquired the second floor, and could cater weddings and club parties in the new Golden Room. The staff increased from 45 to 60. Wally Thomsett reminisced in the Vancouver Sun how “our family of five would go for dinner to the Melrose Cafe, just west of Granville on the south side of Hastings. Dad would order five full-course meals for 25 cents each. Even in those days, it was hard to believe, but true!” The Museum of Vancouver have one of the menus, and it shows prices had risen by the 1950s (although you could still go wild and have Eastern Oysters for 35c).

Today this is part of the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in two phases in 1957 and 1960 it was designed by Douglas Simpson just after the breakup of his practice with Hal Semmens.


Posted 21 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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903 Homer Street

This former printing works has barely changed in appearance in the 40 years since this image was taken. The original ‘Brick Printing House’ was developed by the B C Printing & Engraving Company in 1907, and cost $15,000. They had previously been on the corner of Water and Abbott Streets, and C B Wainwright was manager of the lithography company. In 1912 there was a development permit for the Hon. H Bostock, who had Dalton and Eveleigh design a $10,000 addition built by Robert McCullough. (That may indicate who designed the original 1907 building as well – built in the few years that we have no permits to identify an architect).

Hewitt Bostock was an absentee owner, born in 1864, in Surrey, England. He had money, and a law degree. He arrived in Canada in 1886, and ranched in the Thompson Valley in the area that would be known later as Monte Creek. He returned to England in 1890 to marry, and only returned to Canada in 1893. He founded the Province newspaper as a weekly in Victoria in 1894, and invested widely in other businesses, including lumbering, mining companies, another newspaper and commercial buildings in Kamloops.

As far as we can tell this was his only Vancouver investment, and it appears he owned the printing business. He moved The Province to Vancouver in 1898, making it a daily paper, initially printed by BC Printing and Engraving. He had run for parliament and won, representing Yale-Cariboo in 1896, but didn’t run again in 1900. In 1899 The Province became an independent business, with Hewitt Bostock retaining a minority interest until Walter Nichol bought him out in 1901. In 1904, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate and became the leader of the Liberals there in 1914.  In 1921, he was briefly appointed the minister of public works in William Lyon Mackenzie King’s first administration. In 1922, he became the speaker of the Senate. In 1925, he was a Canadian delegate at the sixth assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1930, the year Hewitt Bostock died in Monte Creek, Bulman Bros. Ltd. of Winnipeg bought out BC Printing & Litho Ltd. They had printed a wide variety of material, including postcards and salmon can labels. From the printed samples that still exist, Bulman Bros. showed a similarly varied client list: picture postcards from the 1930s, a 1959 campsite map for British Columbia, apple crate labels for the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Exchange and even a school exercise book. In 1938 Thomas L Kerr carried out alterations to the building for the business, which closed in Vancouver in 1962 (and in Winnipeg in 1993).

In recent years there have been a variety of businesses in the building, with office space on the upper floors and an art gallery and coffee bar now replaced by an Italian restaurant.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.07


Posted 4 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Burrard and West Pender Street, south-east corner

We caught a glimpse of this apartment building in an earlier post, but here’s a better image of the corner block. Shown on the insurance map and in the City Directory as The Glenwood Rooms, it was completed in 1907, and is seen here a year later. J J Honeyman (of Honeyman and Curtis) obtained the building permit for the $20,000 building in August 1906. It was built by Bedford Davidson for Mrs E Charleson. This was Eliza Charleson, who lived at 2003 Haro Street with her husband Donald in 1911. They had moved out of their home, which had been on this site, by 1906, moving to their new house, identified initially as on Chilco, but subsequently as Haro (as it was on the corner).

Eliza Mahon MacWhinney married Donald Brims Charleson in Sarnia, in Ontario, in 1872. Donald’s parents were from Scotland, and had settled in Quebec, where he was born. Donald was aged 30 when he married, and Eliza was 19, the daughter of W H Macwhinney. The Charlesons had a son, Donald, who died in the year he was born, in Sarnia in 1874. Donald was in the lumber business, and owned two schooners, the Bavaria and Siberia, for transporting logs, and he logged oak around Sarnia. Percy was born there in 1875, Edith in 1877, Gertrude in 1879, and Clare in 1883. Before they moved west, Donald was involved in logging the area. An 1881 report said “Mr. D. B. Charleson, of Sarnia, who is one of the heaviest lumber dealers in Western Canada, has had delivered at Brigden station, on the Canada Southern, for shipment east, 70,000 feet of square timber and a large number of staves. It will require 250 cars to convey all this material to its destination.” After they arrived in Vancouver they had a final son, Donald, born in 1891.

The Charleson family arrived a year before the fire, in 1885, and Donald worked for many years with the Canadian Pacific Railway; initially for them, and later as an independent contractor. From 1886 he cleared much of the Vancouver townsite; the Archives have the letter from 1886 appointing him to clear the land, at a salary of $65 a month, and once a contractor, through clearing the land he was also a lumber supplier. (It was a different contractor that inadvertently started the fire that destroyed the town of Granville, and no doubt Donald and Eliza’s first home here with it). Mr. Charleson soon became an active member of the new city – he was a School Trustee in 1886 when the first school outside the mill was built, and he was a founding member of the Vancouver Club, and one of the founders of Christ Church.

Walter Moberley recalled “On May 24, 1887, we had horse racing on Granville street, which had just been cleared, and the stumps taken out from Georgia to Pacific street. And that reminds me that there was one other house south of Hastings on Granville, a very rude sort of building in which Mr. Charleson boarded the promiscuous gang of men who were clearing the townsite. Downstairs was an eating room, and upstairs at night the men lay like sardines round the walls.” In 1889 he got a contract to clear the south side of False Creek, and he also had the contract loading and unloading the C.P.R. trans-Pacific liners. Donald also developed an investment property on Granville Street, also designed by Honeyman and Curtis.

Eliza’s investment property was clearly identified with her; ‘Charleson Block, 1908’ was prominently displayed on the cornice. The rooms were apparently going to be called the Stanley Apartments – the name in gilt over the doorway, but they were called the Glenwood Rooms from their first day of operation.

This was not a nominal investment by Eliza on behalf of he husband; she had actively traded property in her own name in the early 1900s. (She’s seen here in a portrait from the early 1900s). She sold this property in 1920: The Province reported “BURRARD-PENDER PROPERTY IS SOLD FOR FIFTY THOUSAND Negotiations were completed this morning for the sale of a piece of property at the corner of Pender and Burrard streets to a local firm of auctioneers. The sale is the first reported in that district In some time. The property has a frontage of 78 feet on Pender street and a depth of 120 feet along Burrard street. It is occupied at present by a three storey brick building which the purchasers will remodel for their business. The deal, which involved $50,000. was put through by Sharples & Sharples. The vendor was Mrs. E. Charleson of this city.

Their son Percy still lived at home. He was a stock and investment broker, operating the first stock exchange in the city. He apparently lived a very comfortable life, sailing in his 30 foot sloop called Halcyon. In 1922, aged 47, he was already living off his investments, which included buildings on Granville Street (including the one developed by his father).

In 1922 he was dramatically killed in a train accident in Unity, Saskatchewan, while on a hunting trip. A car in which he was travelling was hit by a train, and he and a companion were killed. He had signed in to the local hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Charleson, but his father confirmed that Percy wasn’t married. It was a month later, after he had been buried in Mountain View Cemetery, that his companion was identified; Mrs. Ruth Cleveland, of Vancouver (formerly from Tennessee). The Regina newspaper claimed Mrs. Cleveland had been living with Percy for some time before the accident, although the Vancouver press chose to drop that paragraph. His estate was worth $492,000, and his will left it to his mother, and in the event of her death, his father. Eliza died in 1926, and Donald in 1928. Charleson Park, on the south shore of False Creek is named after the man who logged the slope.

The manager of the Glenwood Rooms was William Hansford who was 66, born in Clarksburg (West Virginia) when he married widow Alice Doster born in Wabash, Indiana, and aged 57 in 1907 There’s no sign of them in the city before the year they got married. By 1911 the proprietor had become A R Hansford and  Alice Hansford was identified in the 1911 census living with her lodgers and niece, Marie Jones. In the census there were 40 lodgers living in the building, with a huge range of employment including an American capitalist and his wife, F W Liddle and R M Ward who were both musicians, Mr and Mrs T F Curror, from South Africa, who had no employment, Harry Davidson who was a brickmaker and M C McQuarrie who was a barrister.

This building (the second on the site, after the Charleson’s house was redeveloped), lasted about 40 years. For a while Johnson Motors operated on the corner, then in 1955 a new four storey office building designed by McCarter and Nairne and named for its tenant, the National Trust (a Montreal based bank) was completed. That building lasted just under 30 years; today it’s the plaza in front of an office building occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P137 and CVA Port P327


Posted 28 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Richards and Helmcken Street – south-west corner

In the 40 years between these two images another building was constructed, and has already been replaced. In 1981 this was a Chevron gas station, across the lane from Brookland Court, developed by William and Joseph Lightheart and originally called the Lightheart Apartments.

This site was originally developed with four houses facing Helmcken, with the Star Laundry next door to the south on Richards. They had been developed in 1905 by Mrs. Desrosiers, and they were obviously investment properties as M A Desrosiers carried out repairs to them in 1921. Magloire Desrosiers had arrived in 1888, and became the city’s best-known cornice maker, having started out as a tinsmith. Marie, Magloire’s wife, who had (nominally at least) developed the houses here, died in 1934, and his death was in 1936. The houses were still standing in 1955, so the gas station was developed after that (and the gas bar design has a 50s style). It was one of two gas stations on the same corner – we saw the Shell station on the south-east corner in an earlier post. We also looked at the houses still standing on the north-east corner.

In 1985, Jubilee House was developed here, a low-rise building with 89 units of non-market housing. By 2015 it was described as “falling apart”, with no sprinklers and poor accessibility to those with disabilities. The building was owned by the City of Vancouver, who subsequently swapped the site with developer Brenhill for one they owned across the street. They built the larger New Jubilee House first across the street, to allow all the tenants of the old building to stay in the same area (and 73 more below-market rental units to be added in the new, larger building). Brenhill were then able to develop 8X on the Park, a 36 storey condo and rental tower with a total of 388 units. This fourth development to be built on the site, it’s likely to last a lot longer than all the previous buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E07.02


Posted 17 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Central School – West Pender Street

This was the most prominent school building in the central part of the city, when it was built in 1889. It was an impressive structure for a city that was only three years old. Thomas Hooper won the contract to design the building, (with Balston Kenway, the supervising architect for the Provincial government) seen here in 1902. In 1892 the High School was built on Dunsmuir Street, at the back of the same lot. It can be seen in the background, on the right.

Central School was the first masonry built school, and opened in 1890. The principal, Alex Robinson noted in 1891 the difficulties of running a school with untrained teachers. “An earnest desire to promote the advancement of the pupils was noticeable in the work of all the teachers, and any cases of failure that may have occurred in the teaching of the particular branches are to be ascribed rather to inexperience than to a lack of enthusiasm. A Provincial Normal School is urgently required. As matters stand at present, to place over divisions containing 75 pupils and upwards, young teachers fresh from our High Schools, whose knowledge of method has been acquired by the reading of some text-book on the subject, is manifestly unfair both to the pupils and teachers themselves.” A ‘Normal School is one where teachers were trained in the ‘norms’, but it would be 10 years before one was built in Vancouver.

The School closed in 1946, and was demolished in 1948 to make way for the first Vancouver Vocational Institute building. This was a novel enterprise, initiated by the School Board, and designed by Sharp & Thompson, Berwick Pratt. There was significant unemployment during the depression, and many men went untrained straight to the war. There were many returning veterans needing training for peace time employment, and high school graduates needed specific pre-employment training. The Vocational Institute (and today, Vancouver Community College) offered courses to train for many trades that traditionally required a three or four year apprenticeship – which weren’t available in sufficient numbers.

The high cost of the building (two million dollars) and its large equipment content, meant an intensive utilization of the facility was planned from the first day. It was used in the evening for part-time apprenticeship and vocational upgrade courses as well as the full-time day programs.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Sch P27 and Vancouver School Board.


Posted 3 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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