Archive for the ‘East End’ Category
The New World Hotel (also known as the Tamura Building) was built in 1912, although not completed until a year later, and featured one of Townsend & Townsend’s most exuberant set of added details. By the early 1970s, some of these had been lost, as our ‘before’ image shows. After extensive renovations and restoration funded by BC Housing, those details have recently reappeared. They include the huge and elaborate gabled roof top pediments, that the architects also originally added to a residential block in Mount Pleasant, as well as seven feet high vases.
The Townsends were father and son, (although published biographies suggest they were brothers), probably from Manchester and only in the city from 1909 to 1913. Their client here was Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese businessman who emigrated, first to Victoria in 1888 aged 25 where he worked for a sulphur producing company who made him their purchasing agent, operating from Hokkaido. He was from a samurai family from Kumamoto, and apprenticed to a textile shop in Osaka at the age of 13. When the sulphur business went bankrupt in 1891 he moved back to Canada, this time to Vancouver. He initially worked in a sawmill, but soon established an import business, shipping (among other things) rice, soybeans, silk and oranges. He added an export element to his business, shipping salmon and lumber back to Japan. He was able to grow his business when he received a $150,000 insurance payment from a shipment of salmon that was lost at sea.
In 1903 Tamura was asked by the Canadian government to help sell Canadian goods to Japan. He advised on the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka exhibition where the star of the show was a bakery producing bread baked from Canadian wheat – a food item little known in the country at the time. Tamura Shokai, his trading company, was the exporter of the wheat to Japan. He was Canada’s first trade commissioner to Japan, and was listed in the 1911 edition of Who’s Who in Western Canada, the only Japanese represented in the publication.
He added banking to his businesses, founding Nikka Chochiku K K, in 1907, looking after the earnings of the Japanese community and arranging transfers of money back to Japan. His business was initially based on Granville Street, rather than in the Japanese community on the east side. That changed after he built the Tamura Building, which housed his businesses downstairs and the World Hotel above.
Tamura had returned to Japan by 1918 – the year he filed a US Patent for the design of an automobile suspension system. He became president of the Kobe Board of Trade, as well as a member of both the Japanese House of Representatives, and the House of Peers. As Baron Tamura he was an important figure in Tokyo in the 1920s. His business continued in Japan and in Vancouver (and Seattle) with family members representing the company. He died in 1936.
Today Tamura House has regained its New World Hotel entrance and is a rehabilitated Single Room Occupancy hotel. Managed by Lookout Emergency Aid Society, it provides 105 units for people who are struggling with issues such as addiction or mental health that put them at risk of homelessness. Thirty five units are for residents in the Tamura House Tenancy Program which offers staff support, such as advocacy and medication dispensing, seven days a week.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives W E Graham CVA 1135-15
When this picture was taken in 1932 it was noted as being a picture of the last locomotive to cross West Hastings Street. It was on the route that angled through the Downtown from Alexander to the freight yards by False Creek. From July 1932 a newly bored tunnel allowed trains to move between Burrard Inlet and False Creek. The tunnel – or much of it – still exists because SkyTrain now runs through it to head to Waterfront from Stadium station. The tunnel was dug a little deeper to allow the SkyTrain tracks to be stacked on top of each other – the tunnel wasn’t wide enough to allow two trains to run side by side.
We’re not trainspotters, so we could be quite wrong, but this looks as if it was Canadian Pacific’s locomotive 232; an old 0-6-0 steam engine that would have probably been used to haul carriages and freight cars over short distances within the city between CP’s various freight yards. In an earlier post we featured one of the bigger locomotives used to haul the passenger trains across country, sitting on the same line, on Alexander Street.
The building on the left of the picture was the Headquarters of the BC Electric Railway Co who ran the tram and interurban system, which by the 1930s was apparently also doing double duty for Westminster Motor Coach. The odd thing is that this appears to be the only reference to an organization of that name. We haven’t found any records for an operation with that name, and it doesn’t appear in any street directories either. W Marwell Somervell designed the building, completed in 1911, and still in use today as a lighting showroom with offices above. (The building permit for the $350,000 project identified him as M Somervell).
One other thing we noted is the sign on the building for “BC Rapid Transit Coaches” We had no idea the term was in use so early – although with a slightly different meaning. In 1930 there was a scheduled coach to Seattle (which went through Sumas) and another to Chilliwack. Fares from Chilliwack to Seattle were $3.50, return $6.00, but to Bellingham only cost $1 ($1.50 return).
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Can N32
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.
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
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.
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. The 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
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.