Archive for the ‘East End’ Category

213 – 215 East Cordova Street

This 1927 image shows the new premises of the Tairiku Nippo Sha, or Continental Daily News, a Japanese language newspaper that started publication in 1907. There’s a cartouche with the initials ‘TNS’ on the upper part of the building. As Japantown, centered on Powell Street, grew and prospered, the newspaper was able to move into modern accommodation.

Patrick Gunn from Heritage Vancouver tracked down the building permit; it was approved in April 1927, and the business seem to have moved here in August that year. Gardiner & Mercer were the architects of the building with an unusual combination of recessed balcony and a Mission style roof. Moncrieff & Vistaunet built the $28,000 project. When the newspaper moved here it was run by “Mr. Yamasaki” Yasushi Yamazaki, who bought the Nippō in 1908 (after founder Dosa Iida ran into problems related to his attack on Japanese prostitution, and the men who controlled it). Born in Toyama in 1871, Yashudi arrived in B.C. in 1893, working as a logger, fisherman and miner. He was Secretary of the Japanese Fishermen’s Union in Steveston in 1900 and active in the Japanese fishermen’s strike. In the 1901 census he was listed as Y Yamasaki, a lodger, working as a laborer.

He began publishing a newspaper in Seattle in 1902 before returning to publish the Vancouver paper. Far from backing down from challenging the Japaeses sex trade, Yashudi continued the campaign against the prostitution of Japanese women, including publishing their pictures in a book published by the newspaper. He was President of the Canadian-Japanese Association from 1909-17. At the outbreak of war, hoping to get Japanese Canadians greater acceptance, and potentially the vote, he organized the Canadian Japanese Volunteer Corp (WWI). The corps of 200 was rejected as too small, but many members were accepted into the army in Alberta, and fought in Europe as Canadian soldiers. While remaining in charge of the Vancouver newspaper, from 1917-33 he was also editor of a newspaper in Japanese-held Manchuria. In the 1920s he lived on the next block, but although continuing as President of the newspaper, by 1930 he was no longer living in Vancouver. The newspaper was closed down in 1941, and Yasushi Yamazaki died in 1947 in Japan.

It appears from the street directory that the upper floor of the building might have been converted to residential use; in 1947 this address was the Mayfair Hotel Rooms (and next door were cabins, that can also be seen in the 1927 image). In 1955 the Mafair rooms were still here, with the lower floor shared by ‘Can Govt Agriculture Health of Animals’, and ‘Nifty Noodles’. By 1973 this had become the back of the new $6m Courthouse, designed by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss.


Posted March 30, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and Powell Streets – south east corner

The building on the corner was constructed in 1903, built by J L McTaggart at the modest cost of $2,500. It no doubt helped that Mr. McTaggart claimed to design and built the structure himself. John L McTaggart was in the hardware business as McTaggart and Moscrop, with a store on Carrall Street. He was already in partnership with Mr. Moscrop in the hardware business by 1898, and he may have been in the city as early as 1890. In 1893 he was shown as aged 31, from Middlesex, Ontario, running a flour and feed store when he married Carrie McArthur from Yale, Michigan, who was 10 years younger. By the 1901 census they had two daughters and a son.

In 1912 he was running a grocery store at the corner of Granville and Robson. He was the victim of impersonation, when George McKay was accused of saying he was Mr McTaggart when telephoning orders for butter and eggs, which he requested to be left on the curb. He then stole them for sale in his own premises, leaving Mr McTaggart with a bill for goods he knew nothing about.

In 1914 he was on the Board of Control of the Exhibition Association, who ran the PNE site, and in 1917 he was considering leasing the failed City Market. The Daily World reported “The city council, sitting as the market and exhibition committe, and Mr. J. L. McTaggart. prospective leasee of the old city market building, on Main street, failed to come to any agreement on the renting of the city’s “white elephant” at the meeting; of that committee yesterday. Mr. McTaggart some time ago offered the city council to take a five year lease of the market for $800 per annum, but the committee to which the question was referred, did not think that was enough rental, especially as Mr. McTaggart wanted the use of the market weigh scales and slips. It was stated by Aid. Kirk that the market slips were already bringing in a total of $140 per month to the city although only a portion of the market building was leased. Ald. Gale moved that the city lease to Mr. McTaggart the unoccupied portion of the market together with the use of the wharf but not the right to charge wharfage for boats landing there. In supporting the motion Ald. Hamilton declared that It was important that the public should not be debarred for the next five years from landing produce in boats at the wharf. Mr. McTaggart declared those terms were not altogether satisfactory.” Council agreed to lease the building, but without a monopoly on the use of the wharf, at a subsequent meeting, although he quickly abandoned running the operation, which attracted very few customers.

Mr. McTaggart was well-known enough to have a cartoon in the local press. On at least two occasions, in 1909 and 1920 he ran (unsuccessfully) as an independent candidate for Alderman. Mr. McTaggart died in 1934, survived by his wife and daughter. He seems to have sold his development here fairly soon after it was built. It was initially leased to U Kawasaki, who sold Japanese goods, and a few years later it was a liquor store. By 1911 G T Sakie owned it, carrying out repairs, and two years later Marshall Smith carried out more repairs.

Next door the Queen’s Hotel opened in 1907, Harry Hopkirk, proprietor. In 1906, Henry Hopkirk ran the Queen’s Hotel at 423 W Cordova, so the new building inherited an existing business. There was work here in 1910, designed Dalton & Eveleigh and built by William O’Dell at a cost of $6,250 for ‘Mr. White’. That may be an error on the part of the clerk: the White Grocery Co Ltd occupied the main floor of the premises in 1911, moving from two blocks further south, but it was actually run by Randolph Fox and David J Turner. We suspect the name may have implied the lack of Asian involvement in the business. In 1910 G B Shepherd ran the Queen’s Hotel, and in 1912 L J Jamieson and L Falk.

In 1915 the property had some minor repair, when ‘J Beaty’ was listed as owner. There’s nobody listed under this name in the city, although there was a J Beattie. The hotel and café and grocery underneath didn’t have any proprietors listed, just their ethnicity. In 1919 U Kakitachi was listed as the owner of the building, carrying out $400 of repairs.

Unlike many of the city’s hotels, the Queen’s Hotel never changed its name. J Lee was running it in 1955, with Lee Lind operating the Queen’s Lunch on the main floor. This image (by Walter E Frost) dates to 1971, just before both buildings were replaced in 1973 with the contemporary brutalist Courthouse, designed by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss. The $6 million building went to Council in 1971, where it was noted that “His Honour District Judge Eckardt spoke in connection with the matter, generally in favour of the report and the City Prosecutor appeared stating he was not in agreement with the proposed concept of the building.” It still operates as the Provincial Courthouse nearly 50 years later.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-369



Posted March 26, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and Powell Streets – north east corner

We didn’t know who built the buildings on the corner of Main and Powell, seen in this 1941 Vancouver Public Library image until Heritage Vancouver’s Patrick Gunn pulled out a piece in the Daily World from 1905. Samuel Champion of Champion and White acquired the lots from J W Horne for $3,000 and built the stores with rooms above at a cost of $3,500. Samuel K Champion was a builder and developer in partnership as a building materials supplier as Champion & White. A few years earlier he had built a property on East Pender. He was from England, and migrated in his twenties to Ontario. His obituary, in 1930, says he arrived in Vancouver the day after the fire, and went on to own a building supply company with William White. He obtained sand and gravel from Spanish Banks, although with no powered tugs to haul the loads, the first scow ended up at the bottom of False Creek. Census records suggest Mr. Champion was a bachelor for most of his life, but Samuel Kenrick Champion married Oliva Kohler, a widow, in 1925. On his marriage certificate Mr. Champion claimed to be 58 years old, which would put his birthdate around 1867. In earlier census records he was shown born in 1861, and his birth certificate shows that he was born in Clifton, in Gloucestershire, in 1855, so he was actually 70 when he married. Sadly, his marriage didn’t last long, as his death certificate shows he was already a widower.

The garage to the east (on the same legal lots) was developed in 1922 by T. Natahara, built by J B Arthur at a cost of $7,000. Although the 1921 census didn’t seem to find him (or mis-spelled his name) Toshiro Natahara was in Vancouver, living on Alexander Street with his wife Kikie. In 1919 their recently born daughter died soon after her birth. One reason he seems to have produced few records is that more directory entries spell his name as Natsuhara, although the census didn’t spot him with that spelling either.

Between at least 1918 and 1920 T. Natsuhara had a general store a block to the east of here, and K. Natsuhara worked as a clerk. Klyojiro Natsuhara first appears in the 1917 directory; working as a millman. T. Natsuhara is first here in 1918, when he acquired a Maxwell automobile, and in 1923 he was shown managing the Safety Garage, (although just in that year he also managed to have another entry as T. Natahara.)

The corner building was repaired in 1912, when S Ogasa was listed as the owner – although the street directory and the census says he was S Okada, and he was a general merchant, born in Japan and living at the same address with his wife and two sons. There was no building here in 1903, although there were three houses where the garage was later developed.

K Okada’s general store appeared in 1906, and the following year was damaged when The Asiatic Exclusion League  organised a riot, vandalizing Chinatown and Japantown. Later that same year, the Federal Government held an inquiry to look at providing compensation the Asian community, and Mr. Okada was awarded $241 for the damage to his property. Keiji Okada had arrived in Vancouver in 1901, and by 1911 he was aged 43 and living on West 1st Avenue with his wife Hisa (who was 20 years younger) and their 2-year-old son. As well as the store owner he was the manager of Sun Ban, another store, and vice-president of the Japan & Canada Trust & Savings Co Ltd. It’s safe to assume K and S Okada were related, most likely brothers. The store changed hands in tragic circumstances. The Daily World reported “Keiji Okada Manager, of the Sun Ban, Dies by His Own Hand; Shot Himself Twice; No Cause Known.” “One of the best known Japanese in Vancouver, Mr. Keiji Okada, manager of Sun Ban, the Oriental store on Granville street, committed suicide by shooting, early today, his body being found on the mud flats at the foot of Jackson avenue. He leaves a wife and child who are at present on a trip to Japan. According to local Japanese there was no reason for the act and it is believed he took his life while temporarily Insane.”

By the late 1930s through to 1941 when the picture was taken there was a confectionary store on the corner, with three rooms above, one used by a massage practitioner, K Ushijima. A year later the street was almost empty, with the Japanese community forced to leave the coast. Mr. Ushijima’s name still appears in the street directory that year, and Ernie’s Ice Cream (run by E G Jones) had taken over the corner in what must have been a very quiet neighbourhood.


Posted March 23, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Main and East Cordova Streets – north east corner

This was a 1910 bank developed by the Bank of Montreal, who hired local architects Honeyman and Curtis to design the $65,000 building, constructed by McDonald & Wilson.  The bank only occupied the premises for twenty years. In 1931 the building was being used by the Scandinavian United Church, but by 1933 the Army & Navy Veterans in Canada had moved here, and used the building through the war. In 1947 it was home to Steffens-Colmer Ltd, photographers, and in 1950 they were sharing with Trans-Canada Films. Don Coltman was manager of the Steffens-Colmer Studio in the early 1940s; the company was founded in 1920. In 1944 he took over the business and operated under the company name Steffens-Colmer Ltd. until 1951 when he renamed it to Don Coltman Photographic Company (Don Coltman photos), moving to new premises. The film company was run by Wally Hamilton, who was from Vernon, but learned movie making in the 1920s and 30s with Vancouver Motion Pictures.

The building was empty in 1952, and briefly used by Jordan Co, public weighers and J Kinney & Co Importers & Exporters. By 1955 it had become home to the Seafarers’ International Union of North America, (“serving unlicensed sailors since 1938”) sharing the space with the Pacific Fishermen and Allied Trades Union. The Seafarers Union were still here in 1971, when our image was shot, and still exist today in a different location.

The site was redeveloped in 1973 with a new Courthouse designed in the brutalist concrete style of the day by Harrison, Plavsic and Kiss

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-385


Posted March 19, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Georgia Street – 200 block, north side

This 1960s image by W E Graham shows very little change in this part of Chinatown over sixty years. On the right hand edge of the picture are the Arno Rooms. Completed in 1912, they were designed by E E Blackmore and S B Birds for Leon Way Co. When they opened in 1913 they were called the International Rooms, but they closed within a year, and didn’t reopen again until 1916 when they were called the Sunnyside Rooms. Two of the stores were vacant that year, but a Chinese grocer, Wing Sun Co occupied the corner. There’s no contemporary sign of a ‘Leon Way’ in any document other than the Development Permit, and it’s possible that it was a Chinese name that was recorded by the clerk as he heard it.

Next door is 271 E Georgia, which dates back to 1905. There’s the original house structure set back behind the store front. The next two-storey buildings were built in 1938 and 1936. The three storey building to the west of these was developed by A Urquhart in 1911, and designed by Stroud & Keith. It cost $20,000, and Allan Urquhart was also listed as the builder. He had added to a house further down the street to the west as early as 1903, and in 1909 was in partnership with Roderick McLellan in a liquor wholesaling business. There were apparently three Urquhart brothers, all born in Ontario. Hugh, John and Allan were in partnership from around 1891 to 1911. In 1912 the main floor was a Chinese grocer’s Kwong Chong Co, with the Urquhart rooms upstairs.

Stuart & White designed the four storey building for someone recorded on the building permit as M K Nigore. The building cost $30,000 and was built by Dominion Construction Company, also in 1911. The street directory identifies this as the home to the Japan Rice Mill, owned and operated by K Negoro. There were two people with that name in the city in 1901, both arrived from Japan, one in 1898 and the other in 1911. As neither seem to have been identified in the 1911 census (at least not with that spelling), we don’t know whether it was either of them, and if so which one ran the Rice Mill. There’s a 1906 advertisement for the Rice Mill located on the opposite side of this block; the business got its rice from the Sam Kee Company’s wholesale rice importing business.

Beyond that, one of the oldest houses on the block has recently been redeveloped. 245 East Georgia was replaced with a nine storey rental building in 2018. Beyond it, in 2002 the Lore Krill Co-op replaced a warehouse designed by E E Blackmore in 1910 for T T Wallace, and home to Ah Mew’s produce business

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-34


Posted February 24, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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800 block Gore Avenue – east side

Although the houses seen on the right look (kind of) old, these are all recent buildings, replacing some seriously old ones on the left. This part of Gore Avenue was initially developed early enough that we don’t know who built the buildings, only how some were altered over the years. To the north of the lane (on the left) were 802 to 808 Gore – that’s 808 in front of the car; 806 set back and peeking over the top, and 804 on the left. To the south were 830, 834 and 836 (two addresses sharing a sub-lot), 840 was the house on the right and beyond it, off the picture to the right, was 848 Gore.

The earliest permit we have for the block was for William Main spending $200 in 1902 on an “addition to frame dwelling”. In the street directory he had already moved, but in 1901 he lived at 840 Gore, the house on the right. William was a laborer, so he’d done well to own a house and have $200 to add to it, presumably before selling it and moving on. We’re reasonably confident that several of the buildings on this half block were here in the 1890s, but were initially numbered as 810, 812 and 814. They were occupied in 1895 by Alex Main, John McPherson, and David Main. Even earlier, in 1891, William Main was listed – but no numbers had been assigned to the street at that point. He was a seaman, aged 30, living with his wife Margaret (30) and two other relatives, James Main (a cousin, who was a carpenter, aged 21) and Alexander Main, also a seaman, 24, all born in Scotland.

They had arrived in 1889; in 1890 William was living on Prior Street, so the house looks to date from around then, and was the first on the block. In 1901 William was 42, a sailor, Margaret was 35, and they had two nephews living with them, Robert and James, aged 8 and 6 (both born in BC), and a lodging couple, Archibald (a tinsmith) and Jennie Bell, from Ontario. By 1911 the family had moved to Manitoba Street: William and Margaret added (or admitted to) a few more years – he was 57; Margaret was 51 and his brother, David was with them, as well as three nephews, and their daughter, Elizabeth, who was 15 and shown born in Scotland.

The next building to the north, 830 Gore, appeared as a house in 1895, with John McPherson, a carpenter, living there. In 1900 it was Edward Downing, a gas-fitter and in 1902 Harley Wylie. That suggested it might have been a rented property, but Harley owned it in 1911 when he added a $50 addition to the frame house that was here. Harley was from the US, and lived with his mother and sisters in 1901, when he was a 21 year old bottler, which was what he was still doing in 1911, working for the Pacific Bottling Works, run by William Quann, not too far from here, on Railway Street. In 1922 Ben Gerdo was here, but in 1923 R Leonard carried out $1,200 of alterations to the property – although there doesn’t seem to be anyone with that name in the city. By then there were Chinese residents on the block, and the directory tended to put either ‘Occupied’ or ‘Chinese’ – on properties, including this one, which after then had two addresses, so presumably two units.

802 Gore, which was a store, disappeared from the directories some time in the 1910s, (probably readdressed to Union Street) but the other three houses were here for decades. All the houses first appeared around 1901, and were probably approved just before the records we can easily access.

The houses gradually disappeared after this 1958 image. By 1962 the ends of the block had been demolished, and by the 1970s 806 had also gone. By 2003 only the two houses on either side of the lane were still standing, and in 2008 the three new houses to the south were developed, designed by Intarsia. In 2012 a second strata with five houses were built to the north of the lane, designed by Weidmann Architectural Design.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P508.52


Posted February 13, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

62 East Hastings Street

Today there’s a vacant site, used temporarily as a Downtown Eastside market, but in 1985 there was a substantial building still standing next to the Shaldon Hotel (built in 1909 for H D Wright of Seattle). The first permit for the taller building was in 1904 for a $4,000 designed by J Young (who was actually a builder) for A Clemes. The first building mentioned here was in 1906, and it was probably the one in the picture, and had cost quite a lot more than the initial permit. (Strangely, this entire block of East Hastings was still vacant in 1903). It’s possible the 1904 permit was for an initial building on Market Alley, the lane at the back of the property, or that the $4,000 was an error and the sum was actually more. It’s possible the permit for the building was issued in 1905, and has been lost.

While we don’t know for certain whether it was Art Clemes who developed the building, it’s very likely. A few years later he developed the Regent Hotel down the street, (designed by Emil Guenther) and also the former Pantages Theatre there as well. He had built an earlier investment in 1903, so was in Vancouver and developing real estate in the early 1900s. In late 1905 James Young advertised in the Daily World that he had just completed the Clemes Block on East Hastings. A year earlier the same newspaper reported the acquistion of an East Hastings site: “Later Mr. Clemes will erect a handsome block on Hastings street. While this is the top price paid for unimproved property on that part of Hastings street, the purchase is considered by real estate men as a first class investment.”

In 1906, when the building was first complete, E S Knowlton had his drug store here, Minnie Olson had a rooming house, and Joseph Barss sold confectionery. A couple of years later the B C Concrete Block & Brick Co and Green and Melhuish’s real estate office had replaced the drugstore, and the Hastings Rooming House (run by Charles Mohr) was upstairs.

By 1918 the building was owned by the Palmer Land & Investment Company. The company was almost certainly run by Russell H Palmer, a contractor who came from PEI and had arrived in BC from the Yukon around 1907. The 1921 census shows his household consisting of Russell, aged 54, his younger sister, Gertrude and two sons; one aged 15 born in the Yukon, and one aged 13 born in BC. In 1912 he was sued with Palmer Brothers, and the Palmer Land & Investment Co, which we think establishes his connection to the investment company. His brother Arthur was a partner in the contracting business, and for a while so was Peter Henning. In 1918 the Investment Company hired builders Dixon and Murray to carry out $1,000 of repairs; ‘New marble base front installed & interior of bldgs. being given general overhauling’. The company ‘ceased to transact business’ in 1920.

The site, and the Shaldon Hotel are both going to be redeveloped as a new First Nations non-market housing building with 111 new apartments.


Posted February 3, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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