Archive for the ‘East End’ Category

13 – 23 West Pender Street

These buildings were constructed some time before 1900 (for the building on the right) and in the early 1900s (on the left). This image from the 1910s is pretty much all we have as a record of the early buildings on this part of Pender Street. Tracing them isn’t easy using the street directories, as the numbering here was very odd at the turn of the century. The building with the clear ’13’ was numbered as 47 on the 1901 Insurance Map; in the picture it was Bow On Tong’s store. The doorway in the middle that presumably led upstairs was number 15 in this image, a Chop Suey restaurant, and the store to the left was Kwong Wing’s barber shop. In the next building number 19 was the home of Canadian Scharlin Bros, wholesalers of ‘gloves, underwear, sox, shirts, caps, sweaters, braces and toilet requisites’. At 23 was Yucho Chow’s Photo Supply House.

The combination of businesses helps narrow down the date of the image. In 1919 that was the list of businesses here; (a year earlier there was a tailor occupying the vacant unit). The restaurant would have been Ton Wah Law. In 1922 the whole of Scharlin’s stock was sold off by the Army & Navy store, following their closure. They were presumably called Canadian Scharlin Bros to avoid confusion with a San Francisco business with the same name, although the two were probably connected. German born John Scharlin ran a San Francisco dry goods business with his eldest three sons, Nate, Jacob and Abe. When the Scharlin Brothers business first opened in 1914 in Vancouver, Nathaniel Scharlin was listed as managing director, living initially at the Grosvenor Hotel. In subsequent years he was listed as Nat.

It seems likely that he was the same Nathan Scharlin, of Scharlin Bros, San Francisco, who spent time in 1911 locked up in Hawaii for smuggling 110 tins of opium, for which he was convicted and paid a fine. At the time the brothers were described as running a store and import-export business, and Nathan visited Hawaii to supposedly import a line of men’s clothing. They were arrested again for a rum smuggling operation in 1923, and they received further press attention when Abe Scharlin was kidnapped by the Chicago mob in New York and held for $400,000 ransom in 1927. The police heard about the kidnapping, and kept negotiations going (with the ransom reduced to $20,000), while two of the kidnappers were identified. One was shot in Central Park by a motorcycle policeman, and the other arrested. Abe was released without the ransom being paid a short while later.

Yucho Chow was the most prominent Chinese photographer in the city. He came to Vancouver around 1908, worked as a houseboy, and then as an assistant to a photographer before striking out on his own. He photographed every aspect of Chinatown life, from new born babies, weddings, family groups through to the recently deceased, (to return to China with any money that might be left). His studio moved several times, and he photographed members of the Punjabi and Japanese communities, as well as Chinese Canadians. His equipment case is now in the Museum of Vancouver, and there’s currentl a Chinatown History Project panel next to the Chinese Cultural Centre on West Pender.

Kwong Wo Lung’s grocery had been in the city (at 13 W Pender) for many years; they were one of the businesses that received compensation after the 1908 anti-Asiatic riot. By 1919 they had moved a couple of blocks east, replaced by Bow On Tong Co, a tobacconist.

From the building permits for repairs, it looks as if the western building was owned by BC Electric. A building permit in 1912 show J W Vickers building a $6,000 alteration to the building, listed as owned by BC Electric. Two years later J G Price designed $800 of alterations to the eastern building for Lew, Chong & Company. Other permits were issued to Wong Leong and Long Wing, but it’s impossible to tell who was owner, and who was a tenant carrying out alterations, although it’s clear that these buildings were undoubtedly part of Chinatown. We’re not sure how long the western building lasted. By the 1950s BC Electric had their carpenter’s shop here, but we’ve been unable to trace any images of this block after this picture until the 1970s, when the site was cleared. It’s possible that the carpenter’s shop was in the old buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 789-46


Posted June 4, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (2)

We looked at the story of Alexander Pantages, whose name graced Art Clemes East Hastings Street theatre from its opening in 1908 for about a decade in our previous post. The theatre was built in a hurry – the developer was fined $10 for covering up the foundations before they could be inspected by the city’s engineer. George Calvert managed the theatre when it opened in January 1908, seeing a range of vaudeville acts revolve through the stage door, playing several houses a night as the management sought to charge lower prices than rival theatres, but still extract a profit from the operation. They ranged from musical comedy to animal acts, (Madam Lucretia with her leopards and panthers), whistlers, acrobats, a quick change artist (Mlle Fregolia, the first popular woman to perform Quick Change with prepared costumes), blackface and boxers (Bob Fitzsimmons, the ‘Famous Freckled Fighter’ from Cornwall, the lightest heavyweight champion). Alexander Pantages checked the theatre out in November 1908.

In 1909 Miss Nada Moret of Australia offered charming high-class songs, with a ‘dainty’ operetta as the headlining act. That contrasted with Sullivan and Kilrain who fought America’s last-ever bare-knuckle prizefight in 1889, and continued to cash in on it twenty years later. In 1910 Hamad’s Arabs appeared – not horses, but acrobats: “Abou Hamad’s Arabs, nine in number, said to be the best troupe of sons of the desert, will be on the bill. It is one of the best of foreign acts.” The Daily World reported “Eddie Martin, playing at the Pantages this week, will be seen in a specialty song and dance act that is one of the best in the business. Mr. Martin has the reputation of being one of the finest clog and fancy dancers in vaudeville”. Earlier that year The Great Pauline had been the attraction, “the wonderful French scientist and physician, whose demonstrations of the superiority of mind over matter have been the talk not only of the vaudeville votaries of the States and Europe, but also of physicians and psychologists in every city that he has appeared in.” This description might not make it obvious that Pauline was a male hypnotist and mind reader – one of the highest paid performers in vaudeville. He was French only if you had been hypnotized to believe that Rochester, New York, was in France. In October “an abundance of laughter will prevail during the turn of Chas Allen and Jack Lee who have the reputation of being the funniest pair of Jew comedians ever sent over the Pantages circuit.”

A year later, in August the Three Marx Brothers appeared for the first time in Vancouver in “Fun in Hi Skool”. Groucho played as a Dutch-accented schoolmaster and alongside his brothers his Aunt Hannah was one of the pupils. That year there were two attempts to break into the theatre’s safe. The Marx family returned again to play a week’s residency in 1913 as The Four Marx Brothers, and didn’t return to Vancouver again until 1918, when they had transferred their allegiance to the rival Orpheum circuit. It continued to operate throughout the war, adding drama to the roster of performances, including Arizona Joe’s Cowpuncher’s performing ‘Pastimes of the Plains’.

Once the new larger Pantages theatre opened a couple of blocks west, the old theatre continued under new owners, although Pantages had to sue to prevent the old name continuing in use. It became the Theatre Royal in mid 1918, and the owner, Mr Royal, chose a pink and gold redesign which could still be seen when the theatre was closed in the 1990s. Touring dramatic performances continued to provide most of the bookings, initially provided by Jim Post and his Musical Comedy Company, who worked up and down the west coast. There were still hypnotists and mind readers, and the occasional visiting songstress, but business was clearly falling off, and by the early 1920s the theatre was sometimes dark, and sometimes was showing films. Kelly’s Comedians performed here, but they moved to another theatre near the new Pantages.

In the late 1920s the theatre was converted to a movie house. In 1933 it survived having a bomb being thrown into the building, destroying the projectionists booth, and a car parked outside on the street. The aftermath damage is shown in our 1933 VPL image. Surrounding businesses including the Balmoral Hotel and the Dawson Building had their windows blown out, and discovered their insurance didn’t cover bombings. It was supposedly carried out by a Russian-born Chicago mobster and extortionist known as ‘Willie The Pimp’ working for union interests trying to create a monopoly union. (Years later, in 1955, having ratted out his gangland partners and despite being given a new identity by the FBI, Willie Bioff was killed when his car exploded in his Phoenix driveway).

Later it became known as the State, the Queen, the Avon and City Nights. As the Avon, in 1953, it saw a police raid in the middle of a live theatre performance of ‘Tobacco Road’. Five members of the regular cast were taken to jail, charged with taking part in an indecent performance. The play was an adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s book about life, love, and poverty in the American South. Despite having run on Broadway for 8 years and being turned into a film, the VPD viewed the performance as “lewd and filthy”. It turned out that the raid was prompted by complaints from the production team to generate the response, and hence free publicity. It paid off; the cast returned after 90 minutes to complete the performance, and the play sold out for the rest of the run.

It last operated as the Sung Sing, a Chinese-language theatre, which closed in 1994. Several attempts were made to resurrect the theatre by community based groups, but holes in the roof started to see significant damage to the decorations. An appeal to the City of Vancouver to purchase the theatre was rejected, and the property developer owner was allowed to demolish the structure and the single storey retail buildings to the west. He built a woodframe condo building that was supposed to offer low cost home ownership over revitalized retail with a courtyard. However, the courtyard is gated, and locked, and the ownership model does not ensure the relatively low initial costs of apartments are maintained in subsequent sales, so units have been flipped to new owners at higher prices. The one tangible benefit are 18 units on non-market rental. The new Downtown Eastside plan wouldn’t allow a condo building in the area in future.

Posted May 31, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (1)


The Pantages Theatre stood on East Hastings for over a century. It was built in 1907 and was the Vancouver base of Alexander Pantages and his Seattle managed vaudeville circuit, and was the oldest surviving Pantages Theatre in Western Canada, and until its demolition one of the earliest purpose built vaudeville houses remaining in North America. It’s seen here in a 1910 postcard in the Vancouver Public Library collection.

Alexander Pantages had only a loose affiliation with accuracy when it came to recording his history (not least because he was effectively illiterate, so kept few records, although he could speak six languages). He was possibly born on the island of Andros in Greece as Pericles Pantazis, probably in 1867, and he almost certainly ran away from home (in Cairo at the time) at the age of nine and travelled around the globe as a deck hand. He headed to north America (after a stint digging the first attempt at the Panama Canal) in the early 1880s. His 1910 census record said he arrived in the US in 1881; in 1920 he said 1883, and in 1930, 1885. (His year of birth shifted as well, from a probably inaccurate 1872 to an even less accurate 1874).

He settled initially in San Francisco where he worked as a utility boy in a vaudeville theatre, as a waiter and as an unsuccessful boxer. By 1896 he owned a restaurant and in December of that year he was arrested for smuggling 185 tins of opium. He was found not guilty after he established that at the night of the alleged crime he was training for a prize fight. An incidental detail in the case revealed that he had a surprisingly healthy bank balance for the owner of a small restaurant. Like many others he headed for the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 or early 1898, ending up in Dawson City. As other successful Klondike entrepreneurs, Pantages found there was more money to be made from the miners than from mining, especially if you’re only five feet six and would rather avoid digging in sub-zero temperatures. He worked as a waiter in Charlie Cole’s Saloon, which became a dance hall. He became business partner (and lover) of a Kansas native, and step-daughter of a Spokane judge, dancer and singer Kate Rockwell, (later to be known as “Klondike Kate”). Her specialty act, developed at Dawson City’s Palace Grande Theatre in 1900 involved wearing a red sequined dress spinning around in 200 feet of red chiffon cloth as if she was on fire. With Kate’s financial help he acquired and operated a small, but successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum.

(There was another, and less flamboyant Yukon citizen known as Klondike Kate, with a Vancouver connection. Katherine Ryan was from New Brunswick, and in the late 1890s was set to marry her boyfriend, and when he decided instead to become a priest, Kate headed west and became a nurse in Vancouver. Tales of the goldrush led her to Whitehorse where she ran restaurant for many years. Eventually she ended up living in Vancouver again, where she died in 1932).

Unlike other female dance hall employees, as a named headliner on the vaudeville bill Kate Rockwell would not have been expected to ‘be available’ to patrons, but she would be expected to help relieve them of their money by drinking with them after the show. Champagne was $20 a bottle, and the girls were reimbursed for every cork they collected. Kate was successful as a dancer and entertainer – although not top of the bill – and she apparently saved money – although almost certainly nothing like the $150,000 that some sources suggest. She also didn’t stay the whole time in the Yukon; in 1899 she was part of a large vaudeville company that visited Victoria for a week and in 1900 she was on the bill as a dancer at the Savoy Theatre on Cordova Street. She briefly left for the States, and returned with an infant that she claimed was an orphan of a destitute mother. It’s possible that ‘Lotus Rockwell’ was the outcome of her affair with Alex.

In 1902, as the easiest gold had been found, Pangages headed south, and settled in Seattle. He rented a store on Second Street, fitted it out with hard benches, bought a movie projector and some film, hire a vaudeville act, and opened the Crystal Theatre. The funds he used included some of Kate Rockwell’s savings.

Kate was still touring; she was in Victoria at the Orpheum in 1903 ‘performing her beautiful electric serpentine dance’ and in Washington state in 1904, billed as a ‘spectacular dancer’, and had still been sending some of her earnings to Pantages. She was listed as the proprietress of the Orpheum in Victoria in 1903, having bought it for $350. Within a year she sold the theatre for $1,500 and returned to Alaska. Alex had been dictating regular love letters to Kate in which he expresses concern that she was drinking a lot, and in 1904 Kate returned to Seattle. She performed at the classier Alcazar Theatre, as Alex couldn’t afford to pay the salary she could command as a performer. She headed to Texas, which was going through an oil boom, and Alex bought yet another theatre, The Strand in the Skid Row area.

Kate understood that they would be getting married and settling down, so she wasn’t at all happy when A Pantager (sic) married Lois Mendenhall, a violinist from Oakland, in 1905. (Lois solemnly swore she was eighteen years or older – she showed her age as 25 in the 1910 census, but only 31 in 1920. She generally maintained her 1888 birthdate after that, suggesting she was actually only 17 when she was married.)

In 1905, while she was performing in Spokane, Kate heard from Alex that he was married, in a letter sent four days after the ceremony. In the summer she sued for breach of contract for $25,000. After effectively winning the suit, she settled out of court, and although some reports suggest she got $5,000, a contemporary newspaper report said she only got $800. She had to head back to Alaska and then out on the vaudeville circuit again, appearing in Vancouver with her Comedy troupe in 1907. She eventually settled in Oregon, was married at least three times, and became increasingly famous with the stories she told of her days in the Yukon – although the name ‘Klondike Kate’ appears not to have been used until 1929. She died in 1957.

Alex opened the first Pantages Theater in Seattle a few years after the Crystal, and in 1906 the even larger (1,200 seat) Lois Theatre. A year later the Vancouver theatre opened, designed by local architect E E Blackmore. Costing $100,000, it was bankrolled by local developer Art Clemes, who would go on to build the Regent Hotel next door to the theatre a few years later. Alexander supplied the acts, developing a circuit which saw his shows and acts constantly touring, always starting in Winnipeg. At the peak of his career in the 1920s, Pantages owned or controlled more than 70 vaudeville theaters, virtually all under his direct personal management. He and Lois had three children, and he moved to Los Angeles, living in a mansion. A second daughter was living with the family in 1920, Marjorie Nelson. A friend of the Pantages’ daughter Carmen, Marjorie was orphaned and adopted by the family. She later became Dixie Pantages, an actress who often doubled for her friend Carole Lombard in movies.

In the 1930 census Alexander and Lois Pantages were living apart. Lois and her children, Rodney, Lloyd and Carmen were living with her mother, Elvira, and four servants. Alexander’s census record identifies him as an inmate in San Quentin jail. 1929 had been a devastating year for the family. In June Lois caused a car accident that left a man dead and several others injured. In August, Alexander was arrested and tried for raping a 17-year-old woman named Eunice Pringle. Found guilty in a jury trial, Pantages sought a retrial, and finally in 1931 was found not guilty of the charge. The legal battle, however, exhausted a large part of his personal fortune. He had sold all but his flagship Broadway theatre to other owners, including RKO Pictures whose controlling investor, Joseph P Kennedy has been suggested to have been involved in framing Alexander on the charge. Paid in stock, rather than cash, the family fortune declined even faster as the market collapsed. Alexander Pantages died of heart failure in 1936. In Vancouver he had built a new, larger Pantages theatre which opened in 1918, and the old theatre continued under a new name and different management, finally to be redeveloped a few years ago.

Posted May 28, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Gore Avenue and East Cordova Street

This 1889 Archives picture is titled “Mrs. Sullivan’s house – N.W. corner of Gore Avenue and Oppenheimer (E. Cordova) Street”. It’s not entirely accurate; the house was not actually Josephine Sullivan’s, but the newly completed home of her son, Arthur, although she did live here. In the 1891 census Arthur W Sullivan was living here, aged 31, listed as a general merchant. He had been born in BC, and his wife, Annie, was born in New Brunswick. Their infant son, also called Arthur, was obviously living with them, as was Charles, Arthur’s younger brother, Josephine, their 71-year-old mother and Lillian Wood, their domestic servant. The 1891 street directory identified both Arthur and Charles as musicians, rather than merchants. Annie and Arthur had been married in 1887. In 1895 Charles Sullivan, born in New Westminster, married Amy Lilian Wood of Wasbro, England.

Josephine was born in the US, and her late husband, Philip, in the West Indies, and they were both among the earliest black residents in the Lower Mainland. (In a 1934 interview W R Lord said neither were negro; both were ‘mulatto’, and Isaac Johns said she was part French, named Josephine Bassette). Philip and Josephine arrived in BC in 1859. Although some records suggest they came from San Francisco, her obituary shows her arriving via Panama, crossing the isthmus on mules, suggesting an eastern origin. Their son Arthur was baptized in New Westminster in 1860.

Accounts suggest the family settled on Water Street, with the first Methodist services being held in the family kitchen. Initially Philip may have been a cook in gold mining camps in the Cariboo, but by 1870 he was a steward at Moody’s Mill (on the North Shore), and Josephine apparently helped her husband to prepare the meals. Philip was also musically talented – he played the organ at the Methodist church. Josephine may have had a restaurant on Water Street in 1875, although we haven’t found any contemporary records that confirm this; similarly we can’t find anything to confirm Alan Morley’s statement that they ran the Gold Hotel on Water Street for a while, which may be connected to the fact that the Sullivan two-storey store run by Arthur was next door to the hotel. Interviews with Major Matthews suggest that the store and restaurant were separate premises, and Josephine may have run the restaurant while her husband worked on the North Shore at the mill.

Because BC joined Canada in 1871, just after the census was conducted that year, there are no records until the 1881 census when the whole family were shown living on the North Shore. Philip’s origin in the census record was altered from ‘West Indies’ to ‘Irish’, suggesting where his father (and his surname) may have come from. Philip was aged 64, his son John, also a steward, was 40, while Arthur was 21 and Charlie 17. There were at least two other children who had left home by the time that census was taken. A year later Arthur had a store in Granville, but Philip was still shown living in Moodyville.

Philip died in 1886 and by 1889 Josephine had joined Arthur, across the inlet in Vancouver, where he had established a general store when the town was still called Granville, in 1882. Charlie Sullivan was working as a clerk in his brother’s store in 1884. In 1889 the Daily World recorded that the house that the Sullivan family had occupied on Cordova Street had been moved to Water Street. The same year Sullivan’s Hall appeared on Cordova, half way between Abbott and Carrall, presumably occupying the location of the former house. Major Matthews recorded in his historical Archives notes an interview that said Philip Sullivan had cleared the land himself, and the family probably lived there before the fire, and rebuilt the house that was later moved, after the fire. It was a ‘squatted’ site on Cordova, and built around 1879. On the day of the fire Arthur Sullivan had sailed to the Mission on the north shore in his sailboat, and so escaped the blaze. At the time Josephine was staying in Joe Manion’s hotel, but escaped the flames. Sullivan’s Hall was used for musical performances, union meetings and other civic and entertainment purposes. It was briefly used as a courthouse with Judge Begbie presiding.

In 1889 Arthur was the subject of a sensational court case when he, and a Dr Langis were accused of procuring and carrying out an abortion. This was the first time in British Columbia history that the charge had been laid, and both men were found not guilty by the jury. When the trial commenced, and some of the preselected jurymen failed to show up, there was a rush to the doors by the crowd waiting to watch the trial – but enough failed to get out fast enough to avoid being immediately pressed into jury service.  A married woman, Mrs. Amanda Hogg, was the woman involved, but her testimony at trial (reported in great detail over many days and pages of the newspapers), was inconsistent and unreliable. There seems to be some doubt about whether Arthur had a dalliance with the lady in question (who he had met in the Methodist church choir), and there was confusion about whether there was an abortion or a miscarriage as a result of a fall, and the description of the dead child implied that it was unlikely to have been fathered by Arthur (identified as Negro in the 1901 census, and spoken of negatively in that connection by Mrs Hogg’s husband, James). Mrs. Hogg’s attempt to obtain $2,000 from Mr. Sullivan probably didn’t help her cause.

It appears that the case didn’t adversely impact Arthur’s standing as the town’s leading musician and ‘most popular master of ceremonies’. He and his brother and their families continued to live on East Cordova Street, and were said to own several other properties. James Hogg seems to have stayed living only a block away for at least a couple of years, but Amanda Hogg, not surprisingly, seems to have left town. Josephine Sullivan died in 1893, and in 1901, Arthur, Annie and Arthur junior lived in the same house as Charles and Amy; the house in the picture. Arthur still had his store, and Charles Sullivan apparently made his living as a musician, playing the piano and later being described as ‘just a barroom thumper’. He drowned while getting on board his rowboat at Andy Linton’s boat house at the foot of Carrall Street in 1906. His widow, Amy, moved to the West End, and that year Arthur moved to the north shore. Although he disappears from the street directory, his son, Arthur G Sullivan continued to be listed, and his father, Arthur was living in North Vancouver, a widower aged 61 when he died in 1921.

Once it was demolished, the site of his home was used as a parking lot for the adjacent court building for many years, and in 1983 was redeveloped as a remand centre with a jail block designed by Richard Henriquez. The cells were taken out of commission in 2002, and in 2011 Henriquez Partners designed the conversion of the building to non-market housing, adding windows to replace the widowless cell pods.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P73

Posted April 19, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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316 and 324 Powell Street

This pair of rooming houses were both built in 1912, and are seen here in a Nikkei Museum collection photo, which incorrectly suggests the picture dates from 1925; it’s likely to have been taken over a decade later. The car looks like a late 1930s Buick, and the building on the right of the picture, the Fuji Chop Suey restaurant, was only completed in 1931. The picture is additionally misleading because the third building in the row, the King Rooms, has been cropped out of the photo, although it was developed in 1912 in the same year as the two buildings shown.

This image shows both stores of Furuya Shoten at 318 and 324 Powell Street. The clothing store at 318 Powell Street displays women’s clothing on the right side of the window and men’s on the left. The goods store at 324 Powell Street displays Japanese staples in the large window and barrels of Japanese staples in the other. Beside the store is an entrance way to the Lion Rooms upstairs, and the Furuya Co. clock is hanging on the third floor level.

Today both the rooming houses shown in the earlier image operate under one name, the Lion Rooms, but earlier there were two establishments, the Lion Rooms and the Burrard Rooms (on the left). No proprietors were listed for the Burrard Rooms when they opened – they were just listed as ‘Japanese Rooms’, but the Lions Rooms were shown as being run by S Fukumura. Initially C Hagiwara, a watchmaker worked here, and S Kato, a shoemaker as well. The Powell Pool Room was next door, with the Yuen Lee laundry operating at the back of the property. The Nikkei Museum says that Ichiji Sasaki built one of the biggest bathhouses, the Matsuno-yu at 318 Powell Street in July 1916. It cost $4,600 to build and was ‘elaborate and popular’.

Interestingly, these buildings weren’t developed by Japanese investors; the 1912 permit for 316 was for N Symonds design for Mah, Sam  Yuen. It cost $23,000 and was built by R G Wilson & Co. Next door at 324 the same developer and architect had got their permit for a $25,000 building a few months earlier, and Norman Symonds also designed the King Rooms, and R G Wilson built it for $22,500. L A Lewis was the developer.

We’re not sure if the Sam Yuen who was an active Vancouver developer as early as 1899 is related – he protested to the courts when the health officer of the day wanted to burn one of his Chinatown properties. It’s quite possible as he came here from Guangdong Province in China to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway. When these buildings were developed, Mah Sam Yuen was Manager of King Fong Co, and dealt with their financial transactions. He gave evidence (through a translator) to a 1910 Inquiry “regarding Chinese merchants attempting to enter Canada on Empress of China”. A recent profile of his grandson (who lives and works in Hong Kong, but who studied at UBC,) describes Mah Sam Yuen as ‘an entrepreneur who looked for business opportunities in both the U.S. and Canada’. The attempted move of Chinatown to Franklin Street in 1912 also saw investment there by Mah Sam Yuen & Co, whose offices were then identified as being located on on Carrall Street. A 1929 US Court case saw Mah Sam Yuen givi ng evidence to support a fellow Chinese merchant in Seattle, who was fighting deportation. The evidence reveals that Mah Sam Yuen was also known as Mah Ai Joon (his married name), and that he was still manager of the King Fung Store.

L A Lewis was probably a New Westminster mill owner, Lewis Allen Lewis, from Ontario who was owner of the Brunette Saw Mills. (No doubt to avoid confusion, he was known as L Allen Lewis). Norman Symonds was a relatively unknown architect, but over a brief period designed quite a few buildings constructed in the tail end of the early 1900s boom. He formed a partnership with W S Duncan, who moved to Vancouver from Calgary in 1912. He was from Ontario and lived with his wife, two children and three lodgers on Pender Street in 1911.

In 1919 S Misme sold cigars under the Lion Rooms, while Mrs K Ushijima had a dry goods store next door at 324 Powell, under the Burrard Rooms numbered as 324 1/2. The King Rooms were to the east. The stores remained in Japanese ownership, changing over the years. In 1930, F Takada ran a confectionery store with Powell Taxi run by H Sarayama and I Hashimoto sharing the floor beneath the Lion Rooms. H Higashiyama Co, a dry goods business were under the Burrard Rooms. Next door under the King Rooms U. Morimoto & Co. dry goods rented the storefront at 328 Powell in 1920 and 1921. Nearly a century later the company name is still written in the tiles at the entrance to the store.

Furuya & Co were based on West Hastings during the early 1930s. They moved to Powell Street – but to the 100 block – in 1935, and only in 1940 do we find Furuya & Co main floor (exporting Canadian Goods, and importing Japanese Merchandise and Products) and the Matsunoyu Baths in the basement. These are the companies shown in the image. Bessie Hakkaku had run Tokyo Archery at 324 for a number of years, and only disappeared in 1941 – our best guess for when the picture was taken.

Furuya’s growth was abruptly halted when the Japanese were all moved to camps away from the coast in 1942, and briefly Powell Street was almost deserted. This part of the street gradually reopened with Chinese owned businesses. In 1946 the Lion Rooms were still operating, with L Yet running a pool room downstairs. 324 Powell was still vacant, but the King Rooms had the Newcomer Café on the main floor, run by H Chee. That was still true in 1950, and the pool room was still operated by Yet Lok in 1955. At 324 an unusual situation was recorded – Kingo Matsumoto was operating a grocery here. He had fought in the Canadian forces in the Great War, and was one of very few to return to the former Japantown after internment (in his case in Slocan City). In 1947 he had written to the Federal government requesting the return of his fishing licence on the Fraser River, although at that time wartime limitations on Japanese ownership and location were still in place.

Today the Lion Hotel is still a rooming house; now one of the remaining privately owned SRO hotels in the area. In recent years it has featured as lacking heating and hot water, and breaching fire regulations, despite receiving government grants for improvements.

Posted April 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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314 Powell Street

This is a building now incorporated into the Sunrise Market, but when it was first developed in 1931 (when the picture was taken) it was part of Japantown. It was a restaurant which served an early fusion cruisine: Fuji Chop Suey. The Nikkei Museum says  that from 1936-38, Ichiji Sasaki started the Fuji Chop Suey restaurant with Mr Wakabayashi at 314 Powell Street. As the restaurant opened in 1931, that’s clearly not accurate, and during those years Ichiji Sasaki was caretaker of the Howard Apartments on East Hastings, and later proprietor of the World Hotel on Powell.

The Vancouver Archives have a copy of the architect’s drawings from late 1930. William Dodd designed the building, and thanks to Patrick Gunn’s diligence we know it cost $17,000 and was built for somebody recorded as Sasika Maikawa Kaino by Harvie & Simmonds. It’s most likely that this is one of the Maikawa brothers who had a number of businesses on Powell Street. Sadakichi Maikawa owned a grocery business across the streets, and a few years later Nippon Autos a little further west. The family have written about the restaurant as ‘Maikawa Fuji Chopsuey’.

Before it was built there was, we think, a single storey retail building here. In the early 1920s the street directory shows Samuel E Williams running a shoe shine business here alongside several other retail stores for a number of years. He carried out repairs to the building several times between 1917 and the early 1920s. Samuel added a different ethnic mix to the neighbourhood. He was aged 58 in 1921, married to Effie, and they had both been born in the US. Samuel’s father was born in Cuba, and his mother in the West Indies, and the couple were recorded as racially African, having arrived in Canada in 1912. They lived further west on Powell where they rented a four room apartment for $15 a month.

When it first opened in 1931, the street directory says I Murakami was running the Fuji restaurant, but by 1934 S Maikawa was shown as president of the restaurant company. We think this was Sadakichi Maikawa who we believe developed the building, and at this time also running a grocery, meat and fish store at 333 Powell. His name was listed as the restaurant owner through to the early 1940s when all Japanese were forcibly removed from the coast, and their property confiscated.

Audrey Kobayashi recalled how the restaurant operated. “The second floor was rented as a private dining room for weddings or other large gatherings, and opened onto a balcony overlooking Powell Street. This was one of only a few restaurants where Japanese-Canadian women and children could go. Most of the Japanese restaurants in the area were the domain of men, and restaurants in other parts of Vancouver usually would not serve Asian customers. In 1942 the banquet hall was used by the federal government to administer the uprooting of Japanese Canadians

The building remained vacant through the war years, and only in 1946 were there new businesses; Orloff’s Ltd wholesale drygoods and Hemenway’s Ltd display letters. By 1955 View-Master distributors and A D T Sales, manufacturers agents were here. In the mid 1970s Sunrise Market opened here, expanding from the adjacent building. Arriving in Canada in 1956, Leslie and Susan Joe began making small batches of fresh tofu in the back of their grocery store. As demand for tofu grew throughout the 60’s and 70’s, so did the business and in 1983 factory space was purchased nearby to transition the small operation into a large scale manufacturing plant. Sunrise Market still operates here, and Sunrise Soya Foods is now Canada’a largest manufacturer of tofu.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3873

Posted April 2, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Empress and Phoenix Hotels – East Hastings Street

Here’s the Empress and the Phoenix Hotel on East Hastings in 1981. The Empress was built in 1913 for L L Mills, while next door the Phoenix (as it was called in 1981) had been built as the Empress Hotel in 1908 by V W Haywood.

Vicker Wallace Haywood, (who understandably preferred to be known as Wallace), was born in PEI in 1864. He worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, and Esquimalt Dry Dock in 1885, and arrived in Granville in time for it to burn to the ground. He became a policeman in Vancouver in 1886, featuring in the posed image of the four policeman standing in front of the City Hall tent. (That image was taken several months after the city rebuilding had started). His police post became a little precarious in 1889, when he and Jackson T Abray, another constable, were accused of pocketing fees for rounding up absent sailors and returning them to their ships, as well as using the chain gang to clear their respective yards. As the other two policemen at the time faced more serious charges, (and Chief Stewart was dismissed), they were allowed to return the fees, pay $10 for the use of the prisoners, and keep their jobs. In 1892 he was still in the police but jointly owned the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Cordova Street with Jackson Abray, (who was no longer a policeman), and by 1895 he was a Sergeant, but continued to face accusations of corruption from a vindictive Alderman W H Gallagher, described by the Daily World as a ‘despot’.

There’s more about Mr. Haywood on the WestEndVancouver blog. He took the opportunity to leave Vancouver in 1897 and headed off to the Klondike to find gold. Unlike many of his compatriots, he was very successful, bringing back $55,000 of gold from his stake on Bonanza Creek in his third year, and featuring in the New York Times. (His first year was said to have been worth $60,000). He spent winter 1898 in New York, and met Captain Jack Cates in the Klondike, and on their return they jointly owned a steamship, the Defiance, and in 1900 bought a property on Bowen Island established by Joseph Mannion. They renamed the property the Hotel Monaco, with campgrounds and picnic sites but in 1901 Mr. Haywood sold out to Captain Cates, who continued the enterprise with new partners, Evans, Coleman & Evans.

That year Mr. Haywood returned to PEI and married Minnie Woodside, and in 1907 he formed a real estate agency with his brother, William. In 1908 he developed a hotel, designed by H B Watson, and when it opened in 1909 called the Empress, run by Alex Burr.

L L Mills apparently acquired the hotel in 1910. Lyle Le Roy Mills was born in the US, in Iowa, and in 1911 was aged 42. His wife Elsie was from Sweden, three years younger, and like the Haywood family they lived in the West End. It was an extended family as Lyle’s mother, Margaret who was 85 was living with them, and Elsie’s mother, Carrie Swensen, and her sister, Ellen. Lyle’s brother, Oscar and his wife Cora were also living at 1967 Barclay with their children, Oscar Le Roy, 13, and Earl Van, 11. Oscar worked as a barman at the Hotel. Lyle and Elsie had married in Washington state in 1904, and it may not have been Elsie’s first marriage as she was Elsie Anderson.

In 1912 Mr. Mills obtained a permit to build a new much bigger hotel addition next door. The new Empress, costing $90,000 was described as the ‘world’s narrowest tallest hotel’ when it was built, and was the only Vancouver building designed by F N Bender. Like Mr Mills and his brother Oscar, who also worked at the Empress, the architect was an American, working in Independence, Kansas, and he almost certainly got the job because he was married to Lyle and Oscar’s sister. Elsie Mills was recorded as designing a building a house for herself on East 46th Avenue in the same year.

The last reference to Mr. Mills as proprietor of the Empress was in 1917. He disappears from the street directory that year, and seems to have moved to Seattle. There’s also a more detailed biography on the WestEndVancouver blog. He died in Lakeview, Washington in 1948, fourteen years after his brother, Oscar, who died in Vancouver in 1934.

It appears that he might have sold the hotels back to V W Haywood (or perhaps the financial arrangement for the two hotels was more complex). In 1918 W Haywood carried out repairs to 235 E Hastings. Mr. Haywood stayed in the city for many years, and seems to have a variety of investment interests; (in 1930 for example he was listed as a fox farmer). V W Haywood died in Vancouver in 1950, and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Burnaby. His wife Minnie died in 1956 and was buried with her husband.

By the 1930s the two hotel establishments were operated separately; in 1935 the newer building was called the “New Empress Hotel, 235 E Hastings. Edith M. Gilbert, Owner and Manager, 60 Rooms with Private Baths. Fireproof, Strictly Modern. Rates at Moderate Prices”. Next door was the Old Empress Hotel (H Iwasaki) rooms 237 E Hastings. Today the Empress is a privately owned SRO Hotel, while the older hotel is now the Chinese Toi Shan Society family association building.

Image source: Peter B Clibbon

Posted March 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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