Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Dunsmuir and Howe – ne corner

This is the Hambro Building which dates from the 1920s. In 1930, when this image was shot, A H Stephenson & Co occupied the corner unit. Before 1927, when they moved in, the Reliance Financial Corporation were here in 1926, managed by R R Knight, and a year earlier Carter’s Oriental Trading Co, managed by Miss M U Alexander, and a year earlier Radio Specialties Ltd, who seem to have been the first tenants in the new building in 1923.

Although the Hambro name is generally associated with the merchant bank founded in London by the Danish Hambo family, but we haven’t been able to confirm any specific connection. Instead, Patrick Gunn tracked down the building permit to Pemberton and Sons, hiring architects Downing and Kayll and builders Hodgson, King & Marble in 1922 for this $29,000 investment. The Hambo name was only associated with the building for the first two years until 1925. Pemberton & Son (or inaccurately, Sons) were a Victoria-based real estate and insurance brokerage, founded in 1887. The Insurance part of the business moved to Vancouver in 1910, based in the Pacific Building just north of here at Howe and West Hastings, developed by W A Bauer and later known as the Pemberton Building. As the Howe and Dunsmuir building was only single storey, we assume it was purely an investment by the Pemberton’s, who also operated the Pemberton Trading Co and significant financial operations in the 1920s

By 1935 A H Stephenson were still in the building. In 1927 they were real estate agents, as they were in 1935, (although they were also insurance agents by then) E J Gibson had also moved into the building. They were stock and bond brokers, managed in 1935 by Glenn S Francis. The company seems to have been established by a Spokane ‘mining man’, and the company appears to have been involved in mining stocks. Quite what the audience were tracking on the huge blackboard in this Stuart Thompson image seemed a little puzzling, but a 1936 newspaper report from Spokane suggests an eager Vancouver audience: “To aid in the relief of business in the E J Gibson office at Vancouver B C swamped by the volume of trading, Miss R E Nolting, cashier of the Spokane office, flew by the Northwest Airlines and connections yesterday morning. She reported by telephone the office there filled and besieged by a crowd that was massed back in the street. The boom, but a few days old, was touched off by the reportedly sensational strike in Minto Gold. It extended to other issues”. Minto Gold Mines Ltd. mined the Minto Property in the Bralorne region of BC for gold, copper and lead between 1934 and 1940. Historic production was reported as 17,558 ounces of gold, 21,327 lbs. of copper and 124,421 lbs. of lead. E J Gibson also had an office in Butte, Montana, another mining centre.

Today this is the northern part of the Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1990 with an 18 storey office tower designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership.

Images sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N510 and CVA 99-4719

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Posted August 7, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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752 Thurlow Street (3)

Our previous posts looked at the Women’s Building on Thurlow Street that became Oil Can Harry’s club in the 1960s. Before that building, there was a house here, built around 1894, and seen here in an image at the Vancouver Public Library dating from around 1900.

William and Mary Henderson Garden arrived in Vancouver from Helensburgh, Scotland, via Liverpool and a cross Canada train trip in April 1889. William opened up Garden and Sons Wholesale Tea and Coffee on East Hastings and Carrall. The Ceylon Tea Co (who also sold coffee), run by Charles Gordon was on the same block of Carrall Street (also listed as the Albion Tea Co).

The Garden family, (William and Mary and their two sons William and John) lived on Richards Street, but moved by 1895 into this new house at the corner of Thurlow and Alberni Street. Eve Lazarus has more about the family on her blog, including a wonderful family picture of William and Mary riding around Stanley Park on tricycles. William Garden died in 1897, but in 1901 his widow was still living here, along with John, manager of the Hamilton Tea Co, and William a clerk with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Two years later John was a salesman with William Ralph, and a year after that William and his mother had moved to Broughton Street and his brother John had apparently briefly left the city. In 1905 Jack Garden was living with his mother on Broughton, and William had his own house, initially on 7th Avenue, and by 1911 in North Vancouver where he lived with his wife Harriet and sons Hugh and Jack, aged four and two. Like many in the area, William now worked in real estate. Mary and her son Jack had moved to Haro Street; Jack was now bookkeeper with the Terminal Lumber and Shingle Co.

After the Garden’s moved out it was home to William Lamont Tate, who by the time he moved here was described as a retired sawmill and lumber baron, having sold his mill to the Rat Portage Lumber Co in 1903. During the mid 1890s he lived in Fairview, where his sawmill also operated, run with three sons. Like the Garden’s, Mr. Tait was a Scot, born in Dumfrieshire in 1847. He went to school in New York, and arrived in Canada in 1863. He operated mills in Gravenhurst and Orillia, Ontario, before moving to Vancouver in 1891.

Early memories of the mill were of a shingle mill – Major Matthews recorded that “Tait’s Mill (was) a small sawmill on the shore exactly where the bridge reached Third Avenue, and a few feet to the west of it; the mill was in operation in 1888 at the time the first bridge was built.” If the date is accurate, Mr. Tait acquired a mill that was already in operation. The bridge was on Centre Street (which was Granville Street), but on the south shore of False Creek. When he first started, Mr. Tait’s equipment was modest: W H Gallagher recalled “Tait’s little portable mill? He didn’t build it; he just set it on the ground; he was head sawer, tail sawer, and everything else. When the saw took a cut you had to wait two or three minutes for the boiler to get up steam before it would take another cut.”

Mr. Tait hired Parr and Fee to design two investment properties, The Manhattan (across the lane from this house) and The Orillia, further east on Robson Street. His other major investment, also designed by Parr and Fee, was his home, Glen Brae, an enormous house in Shaughnessy completed in 1910 at a cost of $100,000. (Today it’s the Canuck Place children’s hospice).

When the Women’s Building was built to replace this house, it appears that the house was moved rather than demolished. There’s a 1956 image in the City Archives of the back of the house, looking somewhat the worse for wear, but still standing.

As we noted earlier, today there are up-market retail stores in the Carlyle, a residential condo building completed in 1988 and given a significant retail renovation in the past year.

Posted August 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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752 Thurlow Street (2)

Our previous post looked at this building in the 1970s when it was Oil Can Harry’s club. Long before the club use the building started life in 1926 as the Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox. Here it is in 1927, soon after it was completed. There was a house here before this building was completed in 1927; it was bought in 1911 by delegates from twelve Women’s organisations who had raised funds by subscription. Judge Helen MacGill, an outspoken advocate for women and children’s legal rights was one of the founders, and remained active in welfare reform and women’s rights issues throughout her life. The house became a resource centre for women’s groups, with office space and meeting rooms, and a 10c a day childcare centre for working mothers, Canada’s first such public institution.

By 1913 21 organisations with 5,000 members were shareholders, and membership continued to grow. The crèche had moved in 1917 to Cambie Street, and by 1924 funds had been raised to allow the design of a new building, although the original house wasn’t demolished, but moved to the back of the lot. The new building had shareholders from 80 organizations and 500 individuals; it was smaller than had originally been hoped, but the war and economic downturn reduced the scale of the building. As with many businesses and groups, the recession of the early 1930s hit funds hard, and by 1933 the shareholders were finding it difficult to repay the remaining debt associated with the building. By 1940 it was impossible to retain the premises, and in 1941 it was taken over by the Salvation Army. By 1950 it was vacant, and in 1955 Pedersen’s Catering operated from the building. In 1966 Oil Can Harry’s club opened, lasting in various versions until 1977. The Carlyle, a residential and retail tower replaced the 1926 premises in 1988.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N292

Posted July 31, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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752 Thurlow Street (1)

This Downtown location has seen a dramatic transformation in the past few years as it has become an extension of the luxury shopping area that has expanded from Alberni Street. Today’s retail stores include Saint Laurent of Paris and Moncler, a clothing brand founded in France but now based in Milan. The stores are newly redesigned and refitted for their brands, but the building they’re in has been around for nearly 30 years: The Carlyle was designed by Aitken Smith Carter and completed in 1988. There are nearly 150 residential units here: they were initially rented, but were sold as strata units from 1989 onwards. Until the recent transformation there was a 7-11 on the corner of the building, and these units were part of The Keg steakhouse and bar.

The building here before the Carlyle was more modest; a three storey building that in this 1974 image was home to Oil Can Harry’s club. The club opened in 1966, and towards the mid 1970s there were effectively three clubs in one. On the main floor was a lounge usually featuring a singer with a rhythm section. Beyond that was the largest room of the club which usually had R&B bands and the occasional jazz group and upstairs was a jazz club.

The club was owned by Danny Baceda, who later also owned Issy’s and The Cave (before his company ended up in receivership in 1972), but his cousin, Frank Hook effectively ran the club. Despite seeing bookings for legendary performers including Ike and Tina Turner and Charles Mingus, disco eventually killed that version of the club. New management ran the club into the early 1980s as a disco club, complete with a pool and bridge in the middle of the room (where the dance floor might have made more sense).

The origins of the building are quite different from a nightclub. On 12 April 1911, women’s organizations banded together and formed Vancouver Women’s Building Ltd. The following year they purchased a lot at 752 Thurlow Street and spent years fundraising to erect their own building for meeting, office, and daycare space. The Vancouver Women’s Building, designed by A A Cox, opened in 1926. We’ll look at the history of that period in another post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-433

Robson and Thurlow – north side

The building on the corner of Robson and Thurlow today is Joe Fortes restaurant, with a roof-top patio and a reputation for great seafood. Underneath there are smaller retail units with a shoe store on the corner; back in 1969 when this picture was taken the corner restaurant was the Traveller restaurant and steak house – licenced, and open 24 hours. It made no lasting impact on the written records of the city – the Archives have a place mat from 1960, and otherwise there’s nothing. The 1955 street directory show the Manhattan Foods restaurant here, and the menu from a few year’s earlier (in the Museum of Vancouver) suggests that like Joe Fortes it was a seafood restaurant. Despite being here for several years, that establishment also has no other online records associated with it. In 1955 it was run by Charles and Beatrice Bennett, and earlier, in 1948 it was run by L A Hobbs, (and we also can find Mary Shupenia and Ann Smith, the waitresses , Ann Loveless, the cook, and Beatrice Cook and Frances Morrison, the dishwashers in the street directory).

Next door was India House gifts. In the 1950s the Art Emporium was here, run by Frederick Michell, and next door was the Yarn Barn that had replaced the Normandie Beauty Shoppe run by Mrs T M Bayzand which shared a doorway in 1955 with P Campbell’s Modern Barbers. In 1969 the New York Barbershop was in the other half of the 2-storey 1926 building. The corner building and the two single storey retail units were redeveloped in 1985. We think that all the single storey buildings in the ‘before’ picture were built in the 1930s.

These obviously weren’t the first buildings here. When the West End was first developed, this was a residential stretch of street. Mr Whitehead built two houses on the corner, fronting onto Thurlow, and designed and constructed by Thomas Hunter in 1901. J M Whitehead moved into one house, and B Douglas, widow, into the other. Mr Whitehead was chief clerk for the BC Packers Association, and he was still living in his house in 1922, when he was the general manager of the BC Fishing & Packing Co. In 1912 he appears to have been appointed as the Belgian consul to British Columbia. The two houses remained residential into the 1930s. One was occupied for many years by Reinhart Hoffmeister, who built several Granville Street properties

Next door to the west D M Fraser built one house in 1901, and another on the other half of the lot (where the 1926 building was constructed) in 1904. The first house was occupied by Mr. Fraser himself, with another contractor, W Brehaut. By 1922 the second house had added a retail use at the front, the Robson Dairy, although there was still a house behind.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-402

Posted July 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Dunsmuir Viaduct – western end

As the plans evolve to remove the only vestiges that were built of the 1960s Downtown freeway plans, the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, this image shows that even the parts we have today have evolved over time. Back in 1974 the viaducts had been completed for a couple of years, and rapid transit into the Downtown was still just a very good idea that hadn’t actually been built.

The row of warehouses on Beatty Street ended abruptly in a warehouse advertising French Maid products. We have no idea what those were, and don’t bother trying to research that on the internet! Where the new Chinatown Stadium SkyTrain station was completed in 1985 there was a vacant site, with a slip road heading north onto Beatty Street from the viaduct.

The recently completed 564 Beatty Street office building, a heritage warehouse with a four storey addition, hides the Sun Tower, but we were able to line the image up because the light fittings haven’t moved and are now over 40 years old. These days they help light up the separated bike path and the bike share station that represents the most recent addition to the corner.

All this will change again soon as the viaducts get replaced. Dunsmuir Street will see the start of a new elevated active transportation bridge (bike and pedestrian use only) that will run through and past some of the new buildings to be constructed between this location and False Creek. Some vehicular access will continue here, on a two-way street to link to Citadel Parade, but mostly this will be the Downtown connection to an elevated linear park.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-64

Posted July 6, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Granville Street – 400 block east side (2)

This picture was taken in June 1945, showing a No. 11 Stanley Park car turning onto Pender Street from Granville Street. The #11 travelled along Kingsway, then Main Street and along Cordova before West Pender and ending up turning in Stanley Park. Streetcar #406 was a PCC, ‘President’s Conference Committee’ car, designed just before the second war to offer a North America rival to the ever-expanding automobile.

Only one Canadian manufacturer built the cars, Canadian Car and Foundry, and in 1939 when the new design was first ordered for Vancouver they were rapidly shifting production to build Hawker Hurricane aircraft for the war effort. Only 36 of the new cars arrived in the city through the war years. Around the time this picture was taken there were serious questions being asked about whether the investment in replacing all of the other vehicles, (like the one on the right of the picture), and maintaining the tracks and electrical equipment was worthwhile. Instead the decision was taken to move “from rails to rubber” and replace the network with buses – in the case of Vancouver those would be electric trolley buses.

The decision was compounded by the fact that streetcars ran down the centre of the road, not at the curb like buses. Getting off and on was becoming increasingly dangerous with the rise of the automobile. The decision to replace Granville Bridge with a new structure added to the potential cost as new tracks would have to be laid. The conversion from streetcars effectively left the network intact, but with trolley buses.

The buildings here are all featured elsewhere on this blog; on the right is Gould and Champney’s Rogers Block for Jonathan Rogers, completed in 1912. Beyond it is the 1908 Canadian Bank of Commerce designed by Darling and Pearson, and across West Hastings is the 1929 Royal Bank building designed by S G Davenport. One thing that unites these buildings is that none were designed in Vancouver. Gould and Champney were from Seattle (although they opened a Vancouver office managed by Albert Wood, and A Warren Gould who designed the building was originally born in PEI), Darling and Pearson practiced in Toronto and S G Davenport was the Royal Bank’s chief architect, based in Montreal.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-3876.

Posted July 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing