Archive for the ‘East End’ Category

Knox Church – East Cordova Street

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This church was the third church built here, and the building shown in the picture was, we think, built in 1903. The first First Presbyterian Church was built here early in 1886, and burned to the ground in the Great Fire only a few months later. A replacement was quickly built at the back of the site with access from the lane; at the time the street was called Oppenheimer.

That second building was replaced in 1903 with this building, designed (we think) by Arnott Woodroofe who won a competition to design a 1903 Vancouver Presbyterian church (with C O Wickenden). The Presbyterians had already built a huge new church only a few blocks away at Hastings and Gore (where today’s First United Church is located) in 1892.

By 1903 this street had become East Cordova, and although the street directory says this was the Knox Independent Presbyterian Church, with Rev Merton Smith as pastor, the Congregational Yearbook for 1903 says it was actually a Congregational Church. By 1907, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, the street directory had caught up and this address was listed as the Knox Congregational Church, with the Reverend Smith still running the show.

In 1912 Rev. Smith resigned, and took over as president of Terminal City Press Ltd, publishers of the Western Call newspaper, based in Mount Pleasant. The newspaper tells us that he was born in Glasgow and had been in the USA for 20 years before moving to Vancouver from Chicago in 1902. His church responsibilities hadn’t inoculated him against the real estate fever sweeping the region; he was listed as a director of the Lilloouet and Cariboo Land Co as well as a director in the Albion Trust Co Ltd (who announced a $1 million office to be built in Victoria).

Rev A K MacLennan from Boston took over, staying until 1915. That year the church closed; it became the Cordova Hall. Two hundred local Japanese volunteers started training in the hall, hoping to see service in support of Canada’s war effort. That never came to pass – instead many made their way to Alberta where they were accepted into the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles Regiment and went on to fight in Europe. This part of Cordova was predominantly Japanese, but after the war the International Longshore Men’s Association (Auxiliary) took over the premises which then became listed as the L W I W Hall, and later in the 1920s the Longshoremen’s Union Hall.

It’s not clear how long the building survived. From the 1930s the Peterson & Cowan Elevator Co Ltd manufactured elevators here, but we’re not sure if it was in the old hall or a new structure as we haven’t found an image of this part of the street. The site was cleared for many years, and has just been developed as ‘In Gastown’, a striking condo and retail building designed by Christopher Bozyk Architects.

Posted March 23, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gastown, Gone

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164 West Cordova Street

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This small wooden building only lasted at most 14 years before it was redeveloped, but the replacement has managed to remain for 116 years so far. This picture of Charles Anderson’s store is thought to date from between 1892 and 1895. It’s certainly no later than 1899 when the current building was constructed by McDowell, Atkins & Watson and soon occupied by Stark’s Glasgow House. The new building was one of J E Parr’s first in the city (whether with or without Thomas Fee) and features a series of cast iron windows between brick piers.

Chas Anderson was a wholesale and retail grocery, fruit and fish merchant in 1891. Fortunately for historical research purposes, it looks as if he stayed in the city, switching to becoming a fish curer in 1896. He still had that job in 1901, when the census reveals that he was Scottish, arriving in Canada in 1891 with his wife Margaret and their two year old daughter, also called Margaret. By 1901 she was 12, and had two younger sisters, Jessie and Helen. That’s quite likely to be a young Margaret with her father in the picture, which would suggest it was taken closer to 1892 than 1895. Charles and Margaret had her parents living with them as well, John and Isabella Nicol, who were in their early 60s.

Charles continued to cure fish in the city for many years; his premises were at 1547 Main in 1919, when he registered a new Ford Truck (an event recorded in the British Columbia Record), and he was manager of Chas Anderson Fish Curing Co. In 1922 he gave evidence to the British Columbia Fisheries Commission on the state of the fishing industry. We can trace where Charles and his family were living before they moved to Canada: in 1917 his daughter Margaret Isabella married William Oswald, also a Scot. Her marriage record tells us that she had been born in Banffshire, Scotland. Margaret died in 1970, aged 81, still living in Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P512

Posted March 9, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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64-72 West Hastings Street

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For the time being this is a vacant site, although not for much longer as the City of Vancouver are planning a 10 storey building including non-market housing here. In 1923 there was a more modest 2-storey structure shown in this Vancouver Public Library image. To the east, just coming into the edge of the shot was the Columbia Theatre, built in 1912.

We haven’t managed to definitively pin the owners and developers of these two storey buildings down, but we suspect it’s another of the investments owned by full-time architect and part-time property developer and investor Thomas Fee. He certainly appears to have been the owner when alterations and repairs were made in 1916, and Fee and Stevens were listed as owners when more extensive repairs were carried out in 1913. He even hired architect W T Whiteway to design alterations to number 70 in 1909, and Baynes and Horie to design and make repairs in 1919, following a fire.

In the picture, these buildings contained BC Barber Supply at 64 W Hastings, the United Empire Club upstairs with Stag Billiards at 68, and Samuel Cohen’s Army Surplus store at number 70. Sam’s business expanded into other premises down the street over the next few years and became the Army & Navy store. At 72 the Pacific Coast Development Co (where R H Wright was Manager) had their offices.

Posted January 5, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Alexander Street at Columbia

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This image from around 1930 shows Canadian Pacific locomotive 2614 headed north-east along the tracks that cut a 45 degree angle through the East End of the city. We’re familiar with pictures of tracks running down the street carrying the interurban and streetcars of the BC Electric Railway, but don’t often see the full-sized locomotives that could shut the street down for several minutes. engine-2614-drake-st-yard-1920s-bc-archivesThe engine was probably coming from the Canadian Pacific Drake Street Yards – here’s another view of the Class G2E 4-6-2 locomotive built by the American Locomotive Company in the yards (on the right). There’s another picture in the City Archives of the engine in the station below Cordova Street in the 1930s, attached to a passenger train. The locomotive was sold for scrap in 1959.

There’s a challenge in lining up the contemporary image: the right-of-way that the train ran on has been built over. We’ve seen the building in an earlier post. It’s part of the Four Sisters Housing Co-op; this part was a newbuild component and there’s an attached heritage warehouse that in part dates from 1898. In 1988 the heritage building was converted to residential use, with the new structure replacing the right-of way as a part of the Co-operative, designed by Davidson and Yuen Partners for the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.

Image source: City of Vancouver CVA Can P103 and BC Archives

Posted November 28, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

East Pender Street, south side from Dunlevy

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Like the last image we posted, we’re looking at Mau Dan Gardens. These are the four storey apartments that are part of the Mau Dan Co-op, designed by Joe Y Wai and completed in 1981. It’s not so easy to line up the contemporary image because Dunlevy Avenue used to go through this site, but today it’s an internal area within the Co-op’s gated enclave. We’re pretty certain our image dates from the 1960s, before the site was cleared in the 1970s. The Co-op pay an annual fee to the City of Vancouver to have exclusive use of the roadway: when the project was first built there was still public access, but in 1995 City Council agreed to lease the land to improve safety, security and privacy for the residents.

Before the comprehensive redevelopment of this block there was a mix of residential and commercial property here. This was the 300 block of East Pender; Merv’s Auto House had once had a gas bar, but by the time this picture was taken had became a welding and repair shop with ‘Bee Line frame straightening’. This was a very Chinese part of town: all the names on Dunlevy and this part of E Pender were Chinese in the 1950s, and the Lore Yee Jang Tong had their fraternal house just out of shot to the west, with the Yin Ping Society a little further down the street on the same block.

This corner site was first developed with two houses; architect and builder W H Chow was hired to make repairs to one of them in 1914. By 1912 it was known as East Pender, but it had been named both Princess and Dupont before that. In 1926 this was identified in the street directory for the first as the Downes Super Service, run by A Downes, but the rest of the street were described as ‘chinese’, which in 1930 became ‘orientals’. A decade later a few Chinese names were recorded, as well as the Ten Yick Reading Room next to the tong house. Downes Super Service were still in business until 1940, still run by Arthur Downes, who lived on W10th Avenue with his wife Cornelia. The service station briefly became the Harry’s Super Service, then the Victory Service Station, but by 1943 it was closed. In 1946 Lees Transport were operating here, and from 1950 the premises were G Vernon’s tire service.

Posted November 24, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Keefer Street, north side from Jackson

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When W E Graham took this picture in 1966, Strathcona was an area of the city that was still threatened with obliteration. The ‘urban renewal’ of the neighbourhood and parts of Chinatown were still on the table – although it was becoming apparent that the local community weren’t going to roll over and allow their homes to be bulldozed, at least not without a fight. Several blocks of houses and businesses had been flattened, and new rental housing (at higher densities) had been built, ostensibly to rehouse the community. The McLean Park housing development between Union, Keefer, Gore and Jackson is immediately behind the photographer; construction was started in 1963, and completed in 1970 (although the design dates from the 1950s).

The homes in the picture had already been expropriated by the City of Vancouver some years before. We don’t know who built them, or exactly when, but they were already built when the 1901 Goad’s Insurance map was published. In 1967 it became apparent that even if the City of Vancouver still favoured ‘slum clearance’ of the entire area, other levels of government wouldn’t be funding the remainder of the program. We’re not sure exactly when the houses were demolished; there’s an Archives image that shows a few were still standing on the block in 1973. The dramatic change in levels that resulted from the redevelopment can be seen clearly – the houses were on a much higher level because, as with much of Strathcona, the streets were leveled after the houses had been built.

The City’s plans for this site intended it to be sold to a private developer for market housing, and it was sold for a third of the cost to assemble it. The purchaser blew the deal and didn’t develop the land as promised; lawsuits ensued and the city eventually regained the land. The City then proposed that a fire hall should be built on the site, but after local objections that was built on Prior Street and the land was reserved for family housing. Mau Dan Gardens was developed by the Strathcona Area Housing Society, (a spin-off from the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association – SPOTA – the community group who successfully fought the comprehensive redevelopment of the area). It was designed by Joe Y Wai and Spaceworks Architects, and built by the Turnbull and Gale construction company. Some of the units were sold, and remain freehold properties.

The majority of the 128 unit project is a housing co-operative. The founding membership of the Co-operative were predominantly of Chinese ethnicity, but included families of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese and Canadian origin. In the past couple of years the complex has been comprehensively updated for the first time since its 1981 completion. New energy efficient windows and roofs were provided, the wooden frame repaired where needed and a new rainscreen stucco finish applied to the outer walls over improved insulation and soundproofing.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-35 (reversed)

Posted November 21, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main Street – 500 block east side

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This part of Main Street has changed a little since Walter E Frost shot the 1972 original. According to BC Assessment records the building on the corner was built in 1954, and its still there today. laying-tracks-main-st-1912Several other buildings have been redeveloped to the north over the past 40 or so years. The only apparently significant old buildings on the block are on the far left of the picture at the north end; dating back to just after the turn of the 20th century. However, this 1912 image of track laying along the street suggests the building on the corner is actually much older – presumably getting a significant re-build in 1954.

The 1903 Building permits show James Main & Co. Hardware, building a $10,000 stone and brick store here, built and designed by J W Balmain, with the design submitted by John Walker. J W Balmain advertised as a civil engineer and architect based in North Vancouver (where he became City Engineer). In 1901 he was apparently lodging in Victoria, where he was described as Scottish, aged 61, and having arrived in Canada in 1889, and he was shown living in Vancouver in the 1891 census, also lodging. John Walker Balmain had been married in Bombay, India in November 1869 to Marion Watson, but there’s no mention of his wife in Canada. They had a son, Marion Watson Chalmers Balmain in 1870, and a daughter, Janet King Smith Balmain two years later, but they seem not to have moved to Canada. John died in 1910.

James Main was also Scottish, and confusingly for us there are two people called James Main in the city (fortunately both were Scottish, so that’s accurate). We think its likely to be the one identified as a merchant, aged 40 in 1911 and living in the West End at 1823 Comox Street with his brother, Alexander, (a grocer in 1911, but working with his brother the following year). There were also three sisters in the household, Janet, Anne (who was a nurse) and Margaret. James had arrived in 1890, while Alexander was most recently arrived in 1906 with Margaret, and the other sisters in 1902. James looks to have learned his trade with Thomas Dunn, working as a clerk in Dunn’s hardware store in the 1890s. (There’s another Alexander Main who was also a grocer on Commercial Drive).

renardIn 1909 James was a director of a Vancouver-based company planning to introduce the Renard Road Train to Canada. Invented by a Frenchman and developed by Daimler in Britain, the system was sold to Australia, India and Egypt but we’re not sure that it was ever actually introduced into Canada. The carriages were linked and steered through interconnecting rods, and powered with a Daimler 16L engine that powered the middle wheel of each carriage.

The last time James Main was in the city was 1914, although Alexander and Janet were both still shown living on Comox Street for several more years. In 1915 the R L Brown Hardware Co replaced Mark Drummond Hardware, who had taken over the James Main business around 1910. That was the year that Westminster Avenue became Main Street – so there never was a Main on Main.

Image sources: City of Vancouver CVA 447-309 and part of SGN 1068.11

Posted October 13, 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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