Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Robson and Jervis Streets

This fine craftsman house at 1300 Robson Street was built in 1904 by Bedford Davidson, and cost a significant sum for the day – $6,000. It was designed by Honeyman and Curtis for Dr Boyle. He was a medical doctor, but also a property developer. In 1909 he built the Travelers Hotel, which is now called the Metropole Hotel, on Abbot Street. He also developed the Royal Hotel on Granville Street in 1911, and he had Bedford Davidson build four houses in 1903 on Thurlow, and another set of four on Broughton.

Dr Robert Clarke Boyle first moved to Vancouver in 1899 or in 1900 and appears in the 1901 census with his wife, Margaret, and daughter Mildred, who was six. They had an English nurse, and Robert’s sister, also called Margaret was living with them. A decade later, when they were in this house, the family had grown with 10 year old Bidwell, and Edward, who was three. They had both a nurse and a servant. Dr. Boyle and his wife were both shown as born in Ontario, but Mildred was born in Manitoba. If the 1935 obituary noting his sudden death is correct, his wife was in Winnipeg when they met, where Dr. Boyle studied. He initially practiced medicine in Morden, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver.

Unlike some of the city’s property developing physicians, Dr. Boyle had a widely regarded medical practice, based in his home, and became president of the Vancouver Medical Association. The family’s wealth meant that they could afford to educate their children in England. A 1914 newspaper report noted “Mrs. Robert C. Boyle returned to town on Monday from a lengthy stay in England. Her daughter. Miss Mildred Boyle, and her elder son, who have been attending school there, will follow later, arriving here in August. By 1920 Dr. Boyle moved to Richmond, to Sea Island, then back to Vancouver (on Beach Avenue) in the 1930s. His practice was based on Granville Street. In 1931 the newspaper reported “Dr. R. C. Boyle one of the best-known surgeons of Vancouver, was operated on at St. Paul’ Hospital yesterday for , appendicitis, following a hurried trip from Campbell River, where he was holidaying.” Bidwell Boyle married Zaida Dill in 1929, and later moved to the US. He and Zaida were living in Oregon when he died in 1966.

Over the years the house was occupied by several residents – we don’t know if Dr. Boyle sold it, or leased it out. It’s seen here in a 1930 Vancouver Public Library image when Frank J Lyons, a barrister, was living here. A few years later the BC Teacher’s Federation and publishers J C Dent had their offices located here. We’re assuming that the building was retained, rather than redeveloped for offices. A 1969 aerial appears to show little redevelopment of the houses in this location at that period. The Listel Hotel was developed here in 1986, designed by the Buttjes Group, and opening as O’Doul’s Best Western Motor Hotel.


Posted March 12, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1082 Granville Street

Remarkably, this single storey retail building has remained undeveloped for a century. Today it’s a “Irish” bar, but in 1922 (three years after it was built) it was the showroom for Dodge Brothers motor cars. We saw it in the street context in an earlier post, in 1926, when it had become a store selling stoves and ranges. An earlier building had been erected in 1913, designed by Parr, McKenzie and Day for Union Welding Co, but that only cost $500. This building was designed by W M Dodd and cost $6,300. Their client. was McQueen, Mrs. M. J. (of 1455 Laurier Ave). It’s helpful that we know the home address, as there were two McQueen families living on Laurier Avenue. 1455 Laurier was slightly inaccurate, but 1453 was home to James McQueen, and his wife Mary Jane. When she developed this building she was aged 70, and James was ten years older. Two daughters were living with them, Annie and Kate (who was a teacher at King Edward High School). Mary Jane McQueen had also developed two houses on Granville Street in 1903, while James had carried out several developments, also mostly on Granville Street, but also in the West End.

The entire family had been born in Ontario, and Kate bequeathed some of the family papers to the City Archives, which tell us how James made the family fortunes “File includes a traveller’s descriptive account entitled Trip to Vancouver, by James McQueen (1891); correspondence and other material concerning McQueen’s real estate holdings, including receipts re: building at Bute and Haro Streets (1895); and miscellaneous personal papers.” There’s also a 1970s radio interview where she discusses how the family moved from Ontario to BC in the 1890s to settle her uncle’s estate. The uncle was James Whetham, a doctor who developed several important early Vancouver buildings, so Mary Jane had a lifetime experience in property development.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Trans N20


Posted March 9, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing, Uncategorized

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1043 West Pender Street

Here’s H J Tucker’s garage on West Pender in 1940 in this Vancouver Public Library image. To the east (on the right) were the Essex Rooms, (described in the permit as a warehouse), and a garage and rooms developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, while to the west there was an office building developed in 1909 (the first development on the block).

There was a building on this site in the early 1900s, but it was where the single storey structure is located. In 1899 it had 3 storeys, and was home to Smith Bros who ran the BC Mattress and Upholstering Co here. The street directory identifies the names of the 10 employees as well as the owners, David and James Smith. In 1905 the company became B C Bedding & Upholstery Co Ltd, with James Smith as president; His brother, David was no longer associated with the company by 1908, when he was running a furniture store on Granville Street. Arthur was born in Michigan, raised in Ontario and Winnipeg, where he became an upholsterer and carper repairer. He arrived in Vancouver in 1889; Smith Brothers was a retail furniture store that made its own upholstery and also operated a carpet-cleaning business.

The newer 2-storey building had been developed before 1911 when John A Crowe had taken over as president of the business; Arthur Smith having branched out (like half the city, it sometimes seems), into real estate. With the collapse of real estate he landed the interesting new job as a member of the provincial government’s film censor board. In 1931 James became the chief censor. There was a 3-storey building at the back of the lot, seen in this 1940 VPL picture (right).

The upholstery business had gone by 1912, when Walker Automobile Co moved in for a year, to be replaced in 1913 by the Terminal Sheet Metal Works Ltd. They carried out alterations in 1914, when the building was owned by Heland Furman & Fulton – although there’s no business of that name, and nobody called Heland in the City. (The only person called Furman was Annie, a waitress who lived two doors to the east of here). The sheet metal works was run by James Oliver and J T McDonald, and the company were here into the 1920s. By 1933 Hemphill’s Engineering School had moved in, run  by C D Mackinnon. The building was vacant in 1935, and a year later Tucker’s Garage moved here. The company had been in business for many tears. In the 1910s they were based two blocks away, and were the B C Distributor for Federal Trucks. In 1901 Heber J Tucker was listed in the census as aged 24, from Newfoundland, living with his wife Mary and working as a bicycle repairer.

The garage didn’t last here too much longer. By 1941 it had become Service Auto Metal Works, run by S Fairley, and in 1944 it was storage for the Empress Dairy. By 1948 it was being used by O’Neil Builder’s Supply business, and they stayed here into the 1950s. Today the Oceanic Plaza office is here, designed by Charles Payne (who also designed the earlier Guinness Tower nearby) and completed in 1975. The developers were British Pacific Building Ltd, the Guinness family company, the purchasers of the adjacent Marine Building.


Posted March 5, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Nelson Street east from Seymour

We’re on the lane before Seymour Street in 1961, with Seymour Billiards on our left (at 999 Seymour), and 1002 Seymour across the junction on the right. The billiards hall started life as a repair garage in 1926, designed by Swinburne Annandale Kayll for William and Herbert Boultbee. Just beyond is the edge of a sign for a U-Drive parking lot – seen better in 1981 in an earlier post.

We haven’t found the permit for the two storey stucco building on the right, so we don’t know who built it, probably in 1909. It’s first tenant was Edward MacLeod, a shoemaker who lived on Water Street, who was here in 1910, and joined a year later by James Fraser, a grocer, who lived a block away. The last date that’s easy to trace the occupants of buildings is 1955; in that year the California grocery store was here, as it had been since at least the early 1930s, although in the 30’s it was Harry Chapelas running the store, and in 1955 Ramon Chapelas, who had added a coffee bar.

Down the hill on the junction of Homer, on the CPR Reserve lands released for development in 1909, is the warehouse built by Richard Bowman and occupied initially by the Bogardus Wickens & Begg Glass Company. It’s still standing today, part of the true ‘Yaletown’, although these days it’s an office building over Shopper’s Drug Mart. Leading up to it Polygon Homes built three similarly designed residential towers in the 2000s, and there are also residential towers on the north side of the street, but with a retail base.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-19


Posted March 2, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1176 Hornby Street

This 1911 building was reported to be designed by the owners, the Richmond Dairy & Produce Co., Ltd. and built by J T Herritt & Co at a cost of $25,000. The foreman of the business was John Glasgow. He left in 1918, and the Vancouver Sun reported “A pleasant ceremony took place last night, when John Glasgow was presented with a handsome set of pipes by the boys of the Richmond Dairy & Produce Co., Ltd., on the occasion of his resignation from the staff. Mr. Glasgow had been the foreman of the concern for the past seven years, and was held in highest esteem. His resignation will be regretted.

That suggests he had been in this location from when it opened, although he had arrived in 1909 and in 1911 was a carpenter, from Scotland. In that year’s census he was in lodgings, but a year later he was listed as a checker at the dairy, with rooms in the Tourist Hotel. The manager of the new premises was Earnest Sherwood. Before moving to this location Richmond Dairy & Produce were managed by Alfred Mason, and were in premises on West Pender and Abbott Street. In 1918 there were changes in the dairy, which might explain Mr Glasgow’s decision to move on.

While early dairy farms supplied Vancouver from Richmond, the opening of the electric railway interurban to Chilliwack allowed competition from the dairy farms located in the Fraser Valley. Fierce competition for markets, unreliable customers and high freight rates ensured that farmers were making little profit. In 1913 new legislation allowed the creation of a dairy marketing co-operative, which by 1916 covered 97% of milk production. As markets stabilized, the question arose of what to do with surplus milk. Three properties were leased to deal with the milk, in Sardis, Chilliwack, and the Richmond Dairy Company on Hornby Street. In 1926 the Port O’Van Ice Cream Company was formed, which in 1938 became the Arctic Ice Cream and Dairy Co. By 1936 when this picture was taken the business was operating in the converted house to the north as well, and the Arctic name was already in use. Operation continued into the 1950s as Dairyland, a business that continues today as part of Saputo Foods.

The Ice Cream plant (and Diamond Ice) continued to operate here through the 1960s, but production had moved to Burnaby in the early 1970s. The Swan Wooster Building, designed by Romses Kwan and Associates was completed in 1984, incorporating the site of the Elcho Apartments on the corner of Davie as well.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4857


Posted February 20, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Yaletown From Above

Here’s another aerial image paired with a recent shot – the more recent one taken in 2018 from CTV’s helicopter. The historic Yaletown district can be seen clearly as three streets of relatively low buildings, surrounded by more recent residential towers that the real estate industry has attached the Yaletown name.

The historic area was developed in remarkably short order between 1909 and 1913. When the original building permits were issued, many of the buildings didn’t have a street address, and the legal description was ‘CPR Reserve’. The railway company released the land for new development of warehouses in 1908, when Water Street’s storage buildings were oversubscribed. Household names like Otis Elevator had buildings here, later joined by Ford and Heinz, but the majority of developers were local businesses expanding their warehouse space. Woodward’s Stores, Mainland Transfer and Empress Manufacturing all built new storage or manufacturing premises here. The name was brought from Yale, where the CPRs original maintenance facility was located, before it was moved to Vancouver. (The roundhouse, just above David Lam Park, still stands today, now repurposed as the area’s community centre).

The area remained a mixture of storage and manufacturing buildings, with high rail loading docks on the downhill side of the block, and tracks running down the street. During the 1980s and 1990s this gradually changed; a few restaurants and retail stores opened in the area, and then as industry moved away and adopted different (often container based) freight handling, the are saw hugw changes. Residential and office conversions were carried out; the rail docks became extended covered patio space for a surprising number of restaurants, and developers looked to add additional storeys as buildings were converted and upgraded. A couple of buildings were in such poor condition that only the façade was retained, and one warehouse burned down and was replaced with the Opus Hotel, whose dimensions replicated the warehouse that was lost.

Our before picture dates to 2001 so there were already plenty of residential towers that had been built in the 1980s and 90s, including many built by Concord Pacific as they commenced developing the land they acquired from the Province following Expo ’86. The first towers were built on the north side of Pacific Boulevard, but in 2001 they were well on the way to complete West One, the first tower of the Beach Crescent neighbourhood (in the foreground) which even today has a couple of yet-to-be-developed non-market housing sites. The eight Concord towers in the picture developed since 2001 added over 1,100 units, and once complete the whole neighbourhood, clustered around George Wainborn Park, will have over 2,000 apartments, including non-market rental.

While much of the rest of Downtown South (to the north of the Concord lands) has been built out, one large tower is still under construction next to Emery Barnes Park, another on Smithe Street, and there are a few more infill sites left. The greatest potential change in this picture will occur when the 1948 Hudson’s Bay warehouse (today an office building on an entire city block) gets redeveloped – undoubtedly into residential towers.


Posted February 17, 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Yaletown

965 Granville Street

This 1916 Vancouver Public Library image shows the Dominion Theatre. The marquee says it was showing ‘Notorious Gallagher – a 1916 American silent drama film directed by William Nigh and starring Nigh, Marguerite Snow and Robert Elliott. Nigh also wrote and produced the movie for Columbia Pictures, but the plot seems to have been lost to history.

The building however, is still with us: having just received its latest makeover to reopen as the Colony Room bar, having previously been the Caprice nightclub. The building was designed by Parr and Fee, who probably designed a majority of the buildings in this part of the city. E J Ryan built the $50,000 building, which was only really a single storey space despite the second floor windows. It was built of reinforced concrete & brick, and the Daily World were probably going beyond accuracy by describing it as “one or the finest moving picture houses in America” The newspaper promised “one of the most costly mosaic fronts will adorn the street entrance with a large overhanging colored prism”, but we have lost that as well as the ornate pediment.

The theatre added sound, and then colour, and Ivan Ackery, who would later run the Orpheum, was manager in the 1930s. It became the Downtown Theatre in 1967, then the Caprice Showcase Theatre, closing as a cinema in 1988 but retaining the name in its new incarnation as the Caprice Nightclub.


Posted January 30, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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