Archive for the ‘East End’ Category

27 West Hastings Street

The Army and Navy store closed its doors here in 2020, after 81 years in this location. Before 1939 the store was on the same block, but on the south side of the street. The building the business initially occupied here is the extensively glazed “Five-storey brick store building with basement and mezzanine on first floor; north side of Hastings, adjoining the warehouse of Wood, Vallance & Leggat;” This description was from a 1906 newspaper article titled “New block for Mayor Buscombe” So although the permits for that period are missing, we know the developer was Fred Buscombe, and the plans are in the Vancouver Archives so we also know that the architects were Parr and Fee. Smith & Sherbourne were the builders of the $45,000 investment.

Wood Vallance and Leggat occupied the building to the east which had been built around 1899 for E G Prior & Co. Later it was redeveloped as the Rex Theatre, and subsequently became an addition to the Army and Navy store. Our 1908 image shows Buscombe’s store here was called ‘The Fair’, and it replaced The Brunswick built in 1888 “on the fringe of the woods”. Perhaps this expansion of his business was a bit too much; a year later Stark’s Glasgow House moved in, having previously been on Cordova Street.

Fred Buscombe was mayor in 1905 and 1906. A merchant who had been president of the board of trade before he was elected mayor, he was elected to cut municipal spending, earning him the support of the business class and all three daily newspapers (who seldom agreed about anything). Born in Bodmin, in Cornwall, he was aged eight when the family moved to Hamilton, Ontario. He went to work for china and glassware company James A Skinner & Co. He visited Granville in 1884, and moved to Vancouver (as it had become) in 1891. He bought Skinner’s business in 1899, and had wholesale and retail businesses, as well as a Securities firm. He was also President of Pacific Coast Lumber Mills. A conservative, he was a prominent Freemason and a pillar of the Church of England, helping fund the construction of Christ Church. With his Ontario born wife Lydia the family had at least eight children, only five of whom survived.

Stark’s didn’t last very long here either; James Stark died in 1918, but this had already been renamed as The Hastings Street Public Market. A new tenant briefly moved in, but in 1919 “Terminal Salvage Co. is compelled to move so the entire building can be turned over to a Calgary Concern who will remodel the building for a public market”. This was the Cal-Van Market, and Buscombe Securities spent $3,000 in 1919 for the works for their new tenant. It was obviously a success, as Buscombe hired J E Parr to carry out another $25,000 of repairs and alterations in 1923, and Cal-Van was still in business through the 1930s. It had a boxing gym and whist arcade on the third floor.

The building has been altered behind the facade over the years, but despite the windows being painted over, it offers an opportunity to retain one of the most impressive early retail buildings still standing. The redevelopment of Army and Navy is apparently imminent, with a developer and architect working with the Cohen family (who ran Army and Navy, and still own the building) to design a rental housing, retail and possibly office project.

Image source: Vancouver Public Library

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Posted 27 September 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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308 Harris Street

This 1905 Vancouver Archives image shows the southeast corner of Harris and Gore. Harris today is East Georgia, and doesn’t actually exist (as a street) in this location. Instead there’s an oddly shaped area of open ground, with some mature trees; an unplanned bonus from the abandoned Eastside Freeway that would have bulldozed much of Strathcona, Gastown, and all of Water Street. There’s housing just to the east, on a superblock that runs between Union and Keefer. The demolished block of East Georgia that used to be here had buildings on both sides, that were replaced in the late 1960s with the Maclean Park housing project, part of a ‘slum clearance’ that was intended to redevelop all the old housing in Strathcona, but was only completed on a few blocks before it too, like the freeway plan, was abandoned.

Maclean Park housing was designed with a gentle curving perimeter in this location. It’s the sort of even curve beloved by road engineers, as the freeway connection from Highway 1 (which would have tied in to the viaducts a block to the west of here) would have seen a spur heading north, obliterating Gore Avenue all the way to a new freeway along the Burrard waterfront. The curve of the unbuilt off-ramp is still there in the railings around the edge of the housing.

The Royal Soap Co had been manufacturing Royal Crown Soap here since 1900, and was run in Vancouver by Frederick T Schooley until the late 1920s. He was born in Grantham, in Ontario, married there in St. Catharines, Niagara in 1887 and was a grocer before coming west. Royal Crown Soap Ltd. was purchased in 1889 by Manlius Bull who enlarged the business and moved the factory from St. Boniface to King Street in Winnipeg before selling the company to Lever Brother of England in 1910, with Bull continuing as its Canadian head.

The soap became Royal Crown early in the company’s history, and the Lever name was only adopted in the 1940s. (The Museum of Vancouver have a box of soap in their collection). In 1923 the Vancouver Sun reported “Viscount Leverhulme of Port Sunlight, England, and party, reached Vancouver, Tuesday night, and will remain for three days before sailing for Australia, This distinguished visitor is head of the famous Lever Bros., soap manufacturers. The party was met on arrival by F. T. Schooley, manager of the Royal Crown Soap factory in Vancouver. On his last trip to Vancouver Lord Leverhulme purchased extensive waterfront properties.

There were five houses on this site as early as 1889, and they were replaced with the building on the corner of the lot in 1900. The insurance map label read: “Raw materials Bast Warehouse & Framing 1st floor, Boiling and Preserving 2nd, Store Room 3rd.” An addition was built in 1905, and gradually over the years further buildings were added. The company used known architects for many subsequent brick additions and replacements; builder A E Carter a brick warehouse in 1912, J P Matheson a $7,000 warehouse/factory a year later and H H Simmonds a major new building in 1927 costing $17,000, and Bowman & Cullerne the same year with $4,000 of alterations.

By 1934 the complex was producing 6 million pounds of soap and soap products a year, and J E Stinson the managing director allowed a Vancouver Sun journalist a guided tour for a full page piece that would be an ‘advertorial’ today. In 1939 the Leonard Frank Studios photographed the operations of the factory, and VPL have copies (left).

By 1949 production had ended, and the building was vacant. A year earlier it was still in use, but listed as Lever Bros, warehouse, so production had presumably ceased some time earlier.

The buildings were still in use in the 1950s; in 1955 Ryan’s Carriers and Fraser Transfer were based here. The rest of the block was cleared in the 1960s, and the former factory was the last to go.

It was photographed some time in the early 1960s, looking from the southeast corner of the block to the back of the buildings. Although the residential buildings had been designed in the 1950s, delays saw the project’s first buildings completed in 1965, and this block saw construction get underway in 1968.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 312-27, Vancouver Public Library and CVA 780-339

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Posted 23 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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936 Main Street

The larger building on the left is the American Hotel, (the Clarendon Hotel when it was built in the early 1900s). It might have been designed by William Blackmore – he had a commission for a building here, but only apparently for a single lot, not the double lot that was developed with the hotel, so we’re not sure whether he actually designed the building that was completed around 1907. The smaller 936 Westminster Avenue to the south was built soon afterwards.

In 1901 Mrs. Mary Walker had built a $600 frame dwelling here. We don’t know who Mrs. Walker was. She wasn’t obvious in the census that year, if she lived in Vancouver. The two Mary Walkers were married to men with low wage employment, and neither were in construction. She didn’t appear to move into the house; it was vacant in 1902 and a miner, Jacob Shermer lived there in 1903.

This building was apparently constructed in 1907. It was certainly built by 1908 when Belcastro & Co, tailors were here with Arthur Adams, a barber. In 1911 we have a permit that says developer R Stafford hired Coffin & McLennan to carry out $1,400 of work (we assume repairs) on the building. That year a fire affected another building close by on this block that the news report said was owned by J Stafford. We think the fire was in the building next door, (where there was already a vacant site in our 1985 image) and the owner would most likely have been Jonathan Stafford, who owned a stables and delivery business in Mount Pleasant. He was from Ontario, born around 1855, and had been in Brandon, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver. Jonathan Stafford was 95 when he died in 1949.

The only possible local resident was a Richard Stafford, who was living at the Commercial Hotel in 1907 and retired and in a rooming house on Burrard Street in the 1910s, but he had been a labourer with the Parks Board, so seemed an unlikely investor. The legal title was held by ‘Richard Staffors’ from 1907 to 1921, although the retired Parks Board worker died in 1915, when he was also shown having been born in 1855, single, and also from Ontario.

So we, and others, haven’t been able to make any sense of who actually developed the building, or even exactly when, and with no permits now available from the early 1900s we can’t identify the designer either.

The tailors weren’t here long. By 1910 this was occupied by the Ross Second Hand Store, run by L Rossman
& M Goldskin. By 1912 this had become Main Street (renamed from Westminster Avenue), and Nick Castis was running a restaurant. That didn’t last long; as the war started William Freeman was selling furniture, and by the end of the war Sun Fat Co were selling produce. In 1920 the State of Maine Junk Co run by Samuel Gordon and Abraham Green had moved in, after the building owner, D Goldberg, had carried out repairs to the staircase. In 1924 Louis Davis’s Coast Junk Company made more repairs to the vacant store, and had moved in by 1925.

In the 1930s the Nathan Perelman’s Tacoma Junk Co were here – and owned a Ford truck for the business.  Nathan made the news in 1945 “Nathan Perelman, 68 of 445 West Twenty-ninth, proprietor of the Tacoma Junk Company, after getting off one street car was struck by another going the opposite direction. He suffered severe head lacerations and was taken to General Hospital by Kingsway Ambulance. His condition is reported “fairly good.

They were still here in 1953, with Morris Burnstein running the store with Mr. Perelman, although a 1958 obituary for Joseph Sussman said he was the overall owner of the business, which originated in Tacoma and also operated in Seattle. Nathan died in 1953, and a court case led to his name in the press for a final time. “Chief Justice Farris awarded Mrs. Lena Burnstein, 445 West Twenty-ninth, $20,000 for taking care for 22 years of the late Nathan Perelman, Vancouver merchant who died last April. Perelman made his home with Mrs. Bernstein and her husband, Morris, but paid no board on the understanding that he would remember Mrs. Bernstein in his will, He left an estate of $81,000 and distributed about $10,000 to named beneficiaries, but left nothing to Mrs. Bernstein. The balance of the estate, Perelman directed, was to go to charities to be selected by his executors, David A. Freeman and Morris Bernstein. As counsel for Mrs. Bernstein on her petition for payment for the care she gave Perelman, A. A. Mackoff suggested $15,000. But Chief Justice Farris said $20,000 would be a more appropriate compensation.

Morris Burnstein continued to run the business here through the 1960s. They were an early example of recycling, as they collected beer bottles which the sorted and returned to the breweries. They paid the public 25c a dozen.

The building has been abandoned for many years, after significant fire damage. A plan was approved to construct a rental building that would have incorporated the facade, but earlier this year BC Housing acquired the site as well as the adjacent vacant site and the American Hotel, with a view to redevelop one day on the full 100′ frontage.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0669

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Posted 19 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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420 Hawks Avenue

We’ve seen the rooming house on the corner of Hawks and East Hastings in an earlier post. It’s the Rice Block, designed by Otto Moberg for D H Rice. We think he was Daniel Rice, an American grocer who became an insurance agent, and he lived in a house here in 1911, the year before the apartments were built.

Behind it, to the south, is a vacant site awaiting a non-market housing building. In our 1978 image there was a house standing here, that had been built in 1903 by W Cline. The developer was Mrs. J A Gosse, and she spent $1,650 to have the house built.

Initially we thought that she might be the new wife of Captain Josiah Gosse, of Victoria, a master mariner. Annie Kendall had married Josiah Gosse in Vancouver in 1902; he was a widower, shown as aged 46 (although his death record suggests he was 3 years older), from Newfoundland, and she was 34 and a widow, born in Suffolk, in England. (Josiah’s first wife, Deriah had died in 1901).

However, there was also John Gosse, who lived in Mount Pleasant and was also a mariner, the master of the North Vancouver steamer, and later the St George, the North Vancouver’s sister ferry. Once built, the house was occupied by Bart Gosse, a fisherman, so that didn’t really confirm which of the two J Gosses it might be. The death in 1917 of Bartholomew Gosse in his 83rd year ‘a well known resident of Spaniard’s Bay’ (in Newfoundland) helped clarify the likely developer. On his death his family were recorded as John, of New Westminster, and Richard, Bartholomew, and Abraham Gosse at Vancouver, and a daughter, Mrs. E Martin, also in Vancouver.

That would mean Mrs. J A Gosse was the wife of John Gosse, born in 1865. John married Mary North, from Conception Bay, Newfoundland, in Vancouver in 1892. At the time John was a fireman; in the census the year before he was a general labourer, and in 1893 and 1894 he shared an address on Lorne Street (W 2nd today) with Mark Gosse, who we think was a cousin. By 1896 John was listed as a mariner, and he worked for the North Vancouver Ferry Company from 1900 to 1906, when he took the captaincy of the new fishing steamer Flamingo, with a crew of 21. He continued to live on Lorne Street, (as did Mark Gosse, but at a different address). John and Mary had Walter in 1896, Winnie in 1898 and Gladys in 1900. By 1908 Captain John Gosse was president of the Equity Brokerage Co. He had returned to captaining the steamship ‘St George’ that year, but by 1910 there was no sign of the family in Vancouver.

The 1911 census shows John Gosse, a master mariner, living in New Westminster with Walter, Winnifred, Gladys and Gordon (born in 1902). His wife was now English born Elizabeth, who was two years older. Mary had died in 1904, aged 39, and John married Elizabeth Miles, a widow in 1906. Bert Gosse was still living in 420 Hawks that year, but by 1908 it was occupied by Albert Keepings, a grocer. We don’t know if it was retained as an investment, but we suspect John sold it.

In 1953 when it was the home of L B Shortreed, the Sun reported ‘LOST Small white female cat, answers to name of Pussums. Please return. Reward. Child’s pet.’ Phyllis Shortreed, who lived at 420 Hawks, reported the death of her father later that year. Gordon Brooks, a sawmill worker, drowned while working on his boat, having had a heart attack.

It was later divided into suites, and in 1975 the Vancouver Sun classifieds showed ‘PRICE REDUCED Owner leaving city must sell quickly. Prime revenue. M-l zoned. $8,700 gross income. 6 suites. 50’x60 lot. Price $64,900’. It’s been a vacant lot for many years, and there are plans to build a 6-storey family non-market modular housing block on the site.

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Posted 16 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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968 – 1004 Main Street

This 1985 image shows three buildings that were demolished many years ago, and replaced with a new non-market housing building in 2010. Designed by NSDA, it’s run by PHS Community Services, and there’s an office of an interior design company on the main floor.

The Archives caption says these were 968, 980 and 1004 Main Street. The slightly shorter building in the middle is the only one we can pin down a developer; the other two date from the early 1900s when the permits have been lost.

The building on the left was originally 966 Westminster Avenue, and first appeared in a street directory in 1909 as The Livingstone Rooms. A year later the main floor had a tenant; Philip Branca, who was a grocer. Filippo Branca moved his store a few doors to the north of here by 1913, to 622 Main (as it had been renamed). He had previously been in a building at 620 Main, later redeveloped as Tosi’s grocery store. His eldest son, Angelo, would go on to become not only the Canadian amateur middleweight boxing champion, but also one of Vancouver’s most celebrated lawyers who would eventually sit as a provincial Supreme Court judge. In 1920 the upper floors were vacant, and the British American Junk Co operated on the main floor. By 1950 the Waterloo Rooms were upstairs, run by Miss Cecelia Krips and the Advance Second Hand Store was on the main floor run by Moses Saperstein.

The similar two bay building two doors to the south was numbered as 1016 Westminster Avenue, and we think it appeared as a rooming house run by Mrs. P Murphy in 1906, with the Chinese Cascade Restaurant on the main floor. Alonzo Wilband took over the rooms in 1907, and Mrs Eva Thomas in 1908. The restaurant became home to the showroom of Walworth-Rolston farm implements in 1907,  until they moved to a new building immediately to the south in 1910. In 1920 the Oakland Rooms were upstairs (causing some confusion as there were also the Oakland Rooms on Richards Street). The Vernon Feed Co. were on the main floor. By 1950 the block had finally been renumbered in sequence, and we think this was now 1002, with the Victor Rooms upstairs and Gunnar Electrical Sales & Equipment on the main floor.

In between was 980 Main. The 1913 insurance map shows the Bonanza Rooms here, but that was inaccurate; those were actually three doors to the south, and we’re pretty certain this site sat undeveloped until 1921 when the Davis Junk Co hired Snider Bros to build a new store that cost a remarkably accurately estimated $9,949 to construct. No architect was listed on the permit.

Still in business in the city today, trading scrap metal, the company was started in 1909 by David Davis who initially dealt in horse hair for mats and sand bags for flooding. He was a Jew from Lodz, in Poland, and initially he investigated making a new life in South Africa. He was there for three years, leaving his wife and three daughters behind, before trying North America, initially in Winnipeg and then arriving in Vancouver in 1907. En route to joining her husband in Vancouver his wife, Dena, gave birth to her fourth daughter in Liverpool, and then another in Vancouver before a son, Charles was born in 1913..

According to his son David spoke a little English, Yiddish and Hebrew, Polish and a little German. Dena “if she did speak any other language, she never seemed to practice it; she probably only spoke Yiddish with a smattering of English” Main Street had several Jewish scrap and second-hand dealers, and Davis Junk was one that survived the longest. David negotiated bottle returns with Henry Reifel, who ran the brewery just to the south in Mount Pleasant, and that helped the business survive the depression. Charles joined the business in 1933 having attended Strathcona School and then getting a degree in commerce from UBC. In the early 1920 the company’s premises were on the opposite side of the street, with a wharf on False Creek (when it was larger than today).

This building was initially occupied by Schwartz Auto & Marine Salvage, but they moved out in a year, so it was vacant for several years until 1925 when Service Auto Wreckers moved in, owned by J Yochlowitz, another Polish Jewish escapee from the pogroms in Eastern Europe . As the company history recounts: “In 1912 after arriving with his family in Vancouver, Joseph Yochlowitz, began scratching out a living as a junk peddler and backyard scrap dealer. His sons, Daniel and Charlie, soon joined him in his labour and by the 1920’s the family business was established on Main Street as Service Auto Wrecking.

By 1935, 33-year old Daniel Yochlowitz was ready to invest in his own scrap metals shop, independent from his father’s. In 1949 he established ABC Salvage & Metal. In the following two decades, the company expanded to occupy multiple lots on Main Street, Prior Street and Union Street.” Today, ABC is also still in business, with 9 locations throughout British Columbia and Alberta, with facilities in both Burnaby and Surrey.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0668

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Posted 12 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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311 East Pender Street

The three-storey building on the left is 110 years old. It came close to not making it to standing today, as a few years ago a storm ripped apart a partially-built six storey concrete block wall on an adjacent construction site, doing significant damage to the building and the house to the east, which has still not been repaired several years later. It’s impossible to see the facade in any season today, as the evergreen tree, fairly newly planted in our 1978 image, hides the building year-round.

The building was commissioned in 1910. The architect was recorded as D McAuley. He was shown in the street directory that year: Daniel McAuley, architect. Lives North Vancouver. This is one of only two buildings that he designed in Vancouver, but others were on the north shore and in New Westminster. The developer of the $9,300 investment was recorded as J B Johnston. Other permits showed him developing a few houses near here, and one in the West End on Comox Street in 1908. That helped pin down the developer, as there were hundreds of Johnstons (and Johnstones and even more Johnsons). John Binns Johnson was (at the time) in partnership with George William Richardson in an Insurance, Real Estate and Finance business on West Hastings. There were many more permits for J B Johnson, the correct spelling of his name, including another East End apartment building.

He was from London, Ontario, but at 19 moved to Chicago. He was a clerk there, and back in London for two years to 1885. That year he moved to Victoria, then Nanaimo, and then briefly to Seattle. He married Bertha Mohr in Ontario in 1889, and ran a store in New Westminster from 1890 to 1895. He moved to Rossland, and made money, not by mining, but from miners. He was a real estate, financial agent, and mining broker. He was an alderman there in 1897 and President of the Board of Trade in 1901, and was still resident in 1905. He first showed up in Vancouver a year later; initially he had rooms in the Hotel Vancouver, then he moved to the West End, and into the house he commissioned in 1908. He was a member of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, a rival to the Vancouver Stock Exchange. It became the Vancouver Mining Exchange, and in 1910 he was president. In 1914 he moved to a new house on Angus Drive in Shaughnessy Heights, but in 1920 moved back to the West End. His wife died in 1924, and he remarried in 1926, and died in 1933.

When the building was first occupied the retail stores were definitely part of Chinatown. While upstairs were the Russell Rooms, on the main floor were Sang Yick Chan Co, grocers joined later by Tom Yick watchmaker. Mrs Margaret L Kennedy ran the Russell Rooms in 1911 and was living here with her three sons and her sister, Lily Mathews who worked as a waitress in a hotel. The sisters were born in Ontario, as was her 18 year old son, Earle. Her middle son, John, was born in Alberta 15 years earlier, and her 12 year old, Cyril, was born in BC. She moved on to manage the larger Hotel Reco, and by 1915 Lily Matthews had taken over here. In 1920 Hong Yan Tong had a grocery store, and the rooms were vacant. Two years later Lin Hin Fong’s store was also here, and the apartments were just ‘Chinese Apartments’.  In the 1930s the Good Samaritan Mission, aimed at making converts to Christianity among the ‘Orientals’ of the Province, occupied the main floor, and in 1932 the Pender Rooms opened upstairs, run by Mrs. R Petit; advertised in the Vancouver Sun: “9 ROOMS, NICELY FURNISHED. CLEAN, bright. 311 E. Pender”

In 1942 The Missions to Orientals had taken over the main floor, and the rooms had no name again, and the residents were listed as ‘Orientals’. That year the press reported that “Wing Wong On, 60, was admitted to General Hospital Monday night for treatment of a deep axe cut on the left side of his neck. The Chinese told police the wound was inflicted by an 84-year-old countryman after an argument He was struck by the axe after he threw a cup of water over the other man, he said. The alleged axe-wielder is held at police headquarters for investigation“.

Ten years later the rooms were run by Gee Hing Jong and Gee Jack Ting, and the Glad Tidings Mission were in 313 E Pender. The building was in the press again that year: “Poo Jen Jew, also known as Chew Quan, 70, of Room 16, 311 East Pender, was found dead on the floor of his room Saturday by police who broke down the door after being summoned by the landlord. Detectives from the police science branch photographed the room and took samples of food’ from it for analysis. Poo’s son Chew Yuen, No. 1 Road, Steveston, told police his father had never been under treatment by a doctor.

Our 1978 image shows the building’s main floor home to the Chinese Cultural Centre, who were based here before their building was completed in the heart of Chinatown in the 1980s. Today this is home to The Lee’s Benevolent Association, who moved here in the 1980’s after their original headquarters was destroyed by fire. There are no residential spaces in the building today. In 2010, as part of the Great Beginnings Inter-governmental Initiative, a mural featuring Lao Tse was installed on the west wall of the Lee Benevolent Society building. When the adjacent site was developed with a six storey rental building, the mural was obscured, but it has been repainted is a smaller format on the upper part of the flanking wall (after it was rebuilt).

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Posted 5 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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527 East Georgia Street

In 1910 when the permit was obtained for this building, it was described as ‘stores and rooms’. Out 1978 image shows that the stores haven’t been apparent for over 40 years. For some reason the Assessment Authority think this dates from 1905, but for some reason almost nothing was built on this block in the first decade of the 1900s, unlike all the other blocks in the area.

The developer was shown as Alexander, R. (Mrs.) and the architect was H McKinnon. The only logical person in the city was Hector MacKinnon, who was a real estate broker with an office nearby on Main Street. H McKinnon had permits as a builder, owner and architect of various projects, mostly in the East End of the city. He was in partnership with Murdoch Campbell in 1909, but sole proprietor of the business a year later. He was Scottish, and proved hard to find as the census either missed him, or mis-named him. We can find his wife, Catherine (formerly McLeod) who was mentioned in the local press a lot, as she was a violinist. Hector was only 54 when he died in 1930. His wife was living in White Rock when she died in 1945.

Mrs. R Alexander could have been the wife of Richard Alexander of BC Mills. Isabella, from Ontario, and was 34 when the building was constructed. However, other permits suggest a different Alexander. The builder of the $7,000 building was shown as Alexander & McKinnon. There’s no identified business with that name in the street directories, or the press, so we suspect it was a one-off partnership, probably of relatives of the architect and developer. In 1908 R Alexander had a $5,000 house built on Larch Street – the first building in the area. Robert Alexander was in Real Estate, and already retired at 55 according to the 1911 census. His wife was Mary, from Ontario, who was 46. The family had a domestic servant, but no children at home. In 1911 the family built a garage at their home; the architects were Alexander & MacKinnon and the builder H MacKinnon, presumably the same H McKinnon who also built the house in 1909. That permit is why we think Mary was the Mrs. R Alexander who developed this building.

Mary was 42 and single when she married Robert in 1908 in Revelstoke. He was a widower, and his profession was shown as ‘gentleman’. Robert was 54, from Forfarshire, and Mary was born in Beaverton, Toronto. The marriage certificate didn’t include a line for her occupation, and the 1901 census – when she was still living in Ontario – didn’t show one either. She was head of a household with her two younger sisters and two boarders. In 1921 Robert and Mary had moved to Alberta Street, and Robert is shown as a ‘retired merchant’. He first appeared in a Vancouver street directory in 1906, and was already shown as retired. It’s possible he was the Robert Alexander who died in Vancouver in 1923, leaving property in Saskatchewan that the BC Government attempted to tax on his death. They failed, after two court cases. Mary Grant Alexander died in 1952, aged 87.

When they opened these were the Harris Rooms – the name of the street they were built on at the time. The BC Candy Co was on the main floor to the east, and Atkins Co to the west. The Harris Rooms were run by Miss C M Morgan, who lived on the premises, and Atkins Co were sheet metal workers, installers of cornices, and furnaces. It suggests that perhaps the plain box seen in our 1978 image wasn’t the original appearance of the building, but we haven’t seen other images of this block that are earlier.

By 1920 Harry Barzman (who lived in a house next door) was running his butchers business in one of the stores. The other was vacant, and oddly, the rooms aren’t mentioned. In 1925 The Zion Kosher Meat Market was in 527, run by Coleman Kolberg. The Harris Rooms were at 531, and the other store, 533 had Joseph Costanzo’s grocery store. In 1930 Guiriato Attilio had taken over the grocery store, and in 1936 Kametaro Mochizuki was running the rooms, and the second store was the Maxim Gorky Club. In that year it was reported that “Meat valued at $45 was stolen from the Kosher Meat Market”. Five years later “Russian residents in Vancouver collected $2457 for medical aid to the Soviet Union at meeting held Sunday at 533 East Georgia Street, under the auspices of the Russian Committee in Aid of the Native Land. The money will be forwarded through the Red Cross.” The hall was vacant later that year, as was the hall, and the rooms were run by O Kawaguchi. They would be removed from the Lower Mainland a year later as war was declared with Japan, and John Berezowecki (who was a shipyard worker) took over running the rooms. The Russian National Committee had taken over 533. They would later move to the nearby Russian Hall. By 1955 this had become the Cathay Lodge rooms, with one store vacant, and Benson Hoy living in the former hall location. Benson, and his wife Edna ran the Cathay Lodge.

Some reports continue to list the building and its 33 rooms as Cathay Lodge, but the owners changed it to ‘Metro’ several years ago.

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Posted 29 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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54 East Cordova Street

Like the rooming house to the west, (more recently known as the Wonder Rooms) this building was designed by Hugh Braunton, in this case a year later in 1912. The developer was W G Harvey and the building opened as the Alvin Rooms, although they didn’t appear in a street directory until 1914, when they were run by H McIntyre.

The first year he was in Vancouver, 1895, W G Harvey’s store was at 322 E Cordova, and he was living at 515 Westminster Avenue. In 1896 the store had moved to 326 Westminster Avenue, and was described as ‘the leading East End Dry Goods Store’. In 1898 the store was at 400 Westminster Ave, and the family were living at 338 E Hastings, and in 1901 they had moved again, to 800 Hornby. That was the family home through the 1900s, although the store moved again to 70 W Cordova, and then in 1910 to the Hornby address. A year later William had retired, and moved to Shaughnessy, to the corner of Matthews and Granville.

Mrs W G Harvey died in 1919, and was only 58. We can trace from the details on her death certificate that Florence Gabriel married William George Harvey in St Mary’s Church St John’s, Newfoundland in 1891. The family must have moved west quite soon after that; Beatrix Harvey was born in 1892, in Victoria. (She married Ernest Williams in Vancouver in 1919, just before her mother’s death, and died in 1966 in Victoria). Lancelot William Harvey was born in 1893 in Victoria, married in 1921 and died in Coquitlam in 1980. In the 1901 census the children were recorded as Beatrice and Lance, and their uncle (W G’s brother) Herber Harvey was living with the family. W G Harvey was 64 when he died in Vancouver in 1925.

Miss J Anderson was running The Alvin Rooms in 1930, and Mrs S Saiga in 1940. In the 1940s these became the Franklin Rooms, in 1945 run by Choy Chin, and then by 1950 The Cordova Rooms, the name previously held by the building to the west. Choy Jung was shown running them that year, but by 1955 it was shown as Choy Chin again.

The Cordova Residence, as it’s now known, was part of the SRO Renewal Initiative of public owned heritage hotels, so we have documented evidence of the state of the building prior to restoration, and some of the more unusual aspects of the structure. It has a solid wooden frame – the main floor timbers are 12″ x 16″ with 2″ x 4″ laminated floors – suggesting a warehouse or perhaps industrial intended use. There’s an original wooden framed manually operated freight elevator from the main floor to the basement, and a belt-drive jack shaft to power a lathe also survives in the basement. The basement was linked to the building next door, and there’s an original rolling metal-clad fire door across the doorway. All of these elements were preserved in the renovation.

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Posted 22 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gastown, Still Standing

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B C Electric Substation, Main Street

The Vancouver Public Library say this image was shot on 8 July 1920 by the Dominion Photo Co. It shows the electric substation for BC Electric that dominated the street – and especially the wirescape – around this stretch of Main Street. It was built and rebuilt several times over a few years. Some work was designed in-house, but in 1903 Blackmore & Son had designed the substation on the corner here, costing $32,000 and built by E Cook.

This image shows a $12,000 addition built in 1912 as well; (the building on the right). A year earlier one of the the concrete smoke stacks had cost $16,000, designed by C C Moore and Company. They were specialist engineers who also supplied the boilers in the sugar refinery, and they had constructed the first $6,000 chimney in 1910 designed by Weber Steel Concrete Co, a US specialist chimney designer.

After this image was shot, in 1923, Coughlin & Sons were hired to carry out another $15,000 of alterations, although there’s no obvious difference to the buildings in this 1929 VPL image, except there seems to only one chimney remaining for the auxiliary power supply. (B C Electric had built a hydro-electric generating station at Buntzen Lake as early as 1903).

B C Electric built a new substation just to the north of these buildings, between 1945 and 1947. The Murrin Substation is still standing, and in use, today. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, the open air transformer yard replaced the buildings to the west, down Union Street. A new smaller substation building designed by Sean McEwan was added more recently on the corner. (William G. Murrin was the president of the British Columbia Electric Railway Company from 1929 to 1946.)

The Murrin Substation is currently expected to be decommissioned around 2030. BC Hydro reviewed a number of options, including rebuilding a new substation on the Murrin substation site. A new site has been acquired, as upgrading the existing facility isn’t a viable option because it sits on seismically unstable soil. It’s technically not feasible and cost prohibitive to seismically upgrade the site to appropriate levels.

With the viaducts to the immediate south expected to see removal and redevelopment, this stretch of Main Street will look very different in a few years time.

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Posted 15 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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468 Union Street

This rooming house has seen better days, but we were surprised to see how much it’s gone downhill since our picture from 1978. Back then there were still patterned stucco panels and windows with coloured glass and fancy glazing bars.

The 1911 census showed Jerome Martin was 57, living at 466 Barnard (today’s Union St), with his wife Mary, who was 42, and their 2 year old son, Harold. Jerome was a bricklayer, born in Belgium, and it said he arrived in 1905 and that Mary was from Ontario. She was, but Jerome had married Mary in Vancouver in April 1904. His marriage certificate said he was a bachelor, and a bricklayer. (It also, inaccurately, said he was born in 1858). Historian James Johnstone found that Mary Jane O’Brien applied for the water connection for a house at 466 Barnard in August 1904 (Although she was actually Mary Jane Martin by then)

In 1905 they were living in a house at the rear of 757 Prior, and Jerome was shown working as a mason. He got a permit for a frame dwelling on Barnard St in 1905, and another in 1906. From 1906 to 1908 the family were living at 466 Barnard, and Jerome was shown as a bricklayer. In 1908 J C Martin of 466 Barnard obtained another permit for a house on Prior Street. From 1909 to 1911 the Martin family lived at 753 Prior. (Different families were living at 466 Barnard over this period). In 1911 J C Martin had a permit for a $1,000 1-storey frame dwelling house at 466 Barnard. That was probably an initial permit for this building, although oddly, there doesn’t seem to be an detailed permit for an apartment. The water permit was obtained in October 1912 by Jerome Martin, so the building was completed at that point.

The 1912 street directory showed J Clement Martin as the proprietor of the Whitehorse Rooms, and living at the renumbered 468 Union. Later that year, in December, the Daily World reported “Chief Justice Hunter yesterday gave judicial sanction to the separation of Jerome Clement Martin and his wife, Mary Jane Martin. The custody of a child will remain with Mrs. Martin, and she will be paid $15 a month. This decision was the result of the chief Justice holding a private conference with Mr. and Mrs. Martin and effecting a settlement with the aid of counsel.

The 1913 street directory showed Jerome C Martin as proprietor of the White Horse Rooms at 468 Union, and the Roma Restaurant was shown here run by Guiseppe Giovanetti. In September that year the marriage was reported in the Tacoma Times of Jerome C. Martin and Eva Macfadden, both of Seattle. Eva was from Montana, and had been married once before; and this was recorded as Jerome’s third marriage. In 1914 the White House Rooms had no proprietor listed, and Mrs Lipovsky ran a grocery store. A year later the rooms weren’t mentioned, and Mrs Lipovsky was still running her store. She was a Russian-born widow; her husband, a sheet metal worker, died of acute appendicitis at the age of 42 in 1912. In 1916 Sarah Lipovsky had moved her grocery store to 433 E Georgia, and Jerome Martin was running the grocery store here.

Jerome Martin died in Vancouver in June 1917, and was shown as married, aged 63. In 1917 and 1918 468 Union was shown as vacant, and the rooms were not mentioned by name, but their address was shown as 468½ Union. Generally the proprietor of the rooms is shown, but not the tenants. Victor Dorigo was at the address in 1921, with his son, and sister. He was shown in the directory, but not George Carr who was living here with his wife Viola, or Daniel Strickland, a lodger. Roger Victor is shown in the directory, although it’s not clear why, as he worked for the CPR.

Bizarrely, in the 1921 census Victor Dorigo was shown as being born in the USA, his parents were born in Finland, and his ethnicity was shown as Russian. He and his son spoke Italian. He was also a storekeeper, with the confectionery store on the main floor that had previously been run by Eugenio Falcioni. Before them Abraham Charkow had an egg store at 468 Union in 1919. An online biography suggests the census clerk was getting very confused. Vittorio (Victor) Dorigo was born about 1893 in Fregona, Italy, to Guiseppi Dorigo and Regina Piazza. He arrived in the Port of New York, New York, on 16 May 1914, aboard the La Provence from Le Havre, France; age 21 with his destination as Michel, British Columbia. He married Vivian Walimaki about 1920. Victor and Vivian relocated from British Columbia to Ontario, Canada, sometime before 1929.

Herbert Strickland took over in 1923, running a butchers store, then in 1925 the Union Tailor Shop run by Louis Battistoni, joined by his brother’s shoe repair business. Upstairs J Moir ran the rooms, in 1928 with V A Warn.

In the early 1930s the Ungren family moved into 466 Union (on the lane), and John Ungren was shown running the Lethbridge Meat Market under the rooms. By 1932 his wife, Dora had taken over the store space as a grocery and John ran the rooms, and by 1939 they’d swapped again, with John running a confectionery store, and Dora ran the rooms, which the family had moved into. They renamed the rooms Adora Court in the early 1940s. The name stuck, although by then the Ungren’s weren’t there. A variety of names of tenants of the store, and the proprietor of the rooms cycle through the 1940s. At the end of the war John Ivancic was running the rooms, and the store had apparently become a residential address, with the Few family living there, replaced by William and Adwina Jones a year later.

In 1948 George and Katie Kohut were running Adora Court, in 1951 William Baert became caretaker, and in 1953 the rooms became ‘Chinese’, and a year later ‘Mrs Lam Ho’ was added as proprietor. She was still here when our 1978 image was taken, but new managers took over in the 1980s. The name ‘Lucky Rooms’ was adopted in 1999, and then the New Lucky Rooms, (although there was no obvious improvement to justify the name). There are 24 units here, with shared bathrooms. Although advertised as ‘Student Residences’, the rooms let like many others in the neighbourhood, to anyone who can pay the requested rent.

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Posted 12 July 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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