Archive for the ‘False Creek’ Category
These big industrial buildings were first constructed in 1899, and initially expanded in 1903. W T Dalton designed the first buildings, and Dalton and Eveleigh the expansion which was for an iron frame car barn costing $14,000. It was this building, so the building at the front is probably the 1899 structure, and the barn behind the addition. The BC Electric Railway Co ran the trams (streetcars) and suburbans that helped to shape the expansion of the City of Vancouver, and many of the suburban municipalities as well. There’s a bit of a debate about the date of this image – the City Archives think it’s from 1899, but other authors say it’s 1904 (which seems to make more sense). It had nine parallel tracks that could squeeze 45 streetcars inside the largest single-storey structure in the city at the time. There were four repair pits and an electric hoist. There was small store (behind the streetcar) run by George Aldrid where employees could buy fruit and tobacco.
The building was further expanded in 1912 when the BC Electric Railway Co planned a $40,000 addition built by Snider & Brethour. We’re unsure what that involved, as the 1912 insurance map shows a much larger building already completed along the entire street to Prior Street. We assume this happened sometime in the late 1900s when there’s a gap in available building permits. (In 1914 the rapidly expanding fleet saw the company build a new two-storey reinforced concrete barn at Main and 14th Avenue, replacing earlier structures at a cost of $300,000).
The expanded buildings that were built here can be seen in this 1969 W E Graham Archives image, long after streetcars had gone, and before the buildings were torn down to be replaced with the new Georgia Viaduct (at the eastern end it’s some distance from Georgia, between Union and Prior Street). The view will change again once the viaducts have been removed.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P212 and CVA 447-355
It’s not often that we feature our own image for both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images, and even less often that the ‘before’ is less than a decade ago, but the dramatic transformation of South East False Creek warrants a look. We took the initial image in 2007, long before the BC Place stadium got its new roof. We calculate that there are over 1,100 new apartments in the contemporary image, including 129 in ‘First Place’ the non-market housing building across the lane from the gas station.
The picture will change a little more as Concert Properties are developing around 600 apartments beyond the sites that have already been built – one tower crane is just showing on the left. One detail that you can’t make out at the resolution we post these images: in 2007 gas was 108.9c per litre; when we took the current shot (back in April) it was 111.9c.
This is another Mount Pleasant industrial building, built in 1942 as the Cemco Electrical Manufacturing Company Factory. According to the recently published heritage statement for the building “Cemco commissioned the factory to house its expanding electronics business which supplied equipment for ships being constructed in local shipyards. Not much is known about the company, as is the case with many industries during the War which were subject to a certain amount of secrecy and security. Cemco remained at the site for a couple of years after the War ended, and then ceased to exist. Until recently, the building was occupied by N. Jefferson Ltd., a family owned textile supplier which has been operating since 1926 and continues to do so at a new location”
Cemco weren’t as mysterious as this suggests, and they didn’t disappear after the war. They had been in operation since 1934, in the Mount Pleasant area, with S Darnborough as Managing Director. Before this new factory was built they were at 165 W 4th Ave. S Darnborough was Sidney, (although he was really T S Darnborough), and before Cemco he was president of Canadian Electrical Manufacturing Co (which would be CEMCO’s precursor), with a home on Osler in Shaughnessy. Before CEMCO, in the 1920s, Sid Darnborough was an electrical contractor, living on West 8th Avenue.
The company were still operating from this E 5th address in 1949, with Sid still running the company, having moved to University Boulevard. They were here in the mid 1950s but by then Sid had retired and B W Ball had taken over as President of the company. A year earlier they had expanded eastwards by adding a new factory in Granby, Ontario. At the time they were described as specializing in switchgear for industrial uses. They also made electrical instruments, street light fixtures “and many other products of a similar nature for industrial and commercial use”. The 1943 image of the factory floor shows what looks a lot like light fittings being assembled by a workforce with a high proportion of female workers.
A little more insight about the company is contained in a 1946 court case where the company’s salesman, Peter Van Snellenberg, sued for wrongful dismissal after discovery that he had added commission on the sales tax payable on a few of the orders he had obtained. He was dismissed in 1943 (the year our images were shot), so although the company has been described as ‘building radar and radio equipment for ships being built for the war’ (which they may have been doing), they were also selling their products on the open market. In 1958 the Federal Pacific Electric Company of Newark New Jersey acquired Cemco, where it was described as “engaged in manufacture and sale of electrical switchgear, air circuit breakers, air switches, load break switches, fusible breakers, cable terminal potheads and related apparatus for the distribution and control of electricity”.
The Cemco Factory was designed by Australian-born architect H.H. Simmonds, and used pour-in-place construction that retained the marks of the formwork. It supposed heritage value earned it a reprieve from redevelopment, but also permitted a larger office project (yet to commence) to be built behind the retained walls.
CVA 586-1783 and CVA 586-1784
This 1927 warehouse and office was the second location for Wilkinson Steel. The company was founded by Frank Wilkinson in 1910 on Beach Avenue as the sole distributor for U.S. Steel in British Columbia. Frank Wilkinson was born in England, and arrived in Canada in 1891. His wife Alice was also English, but had arrived a year earlier. They must have spent quite a bit of time in Quebec as all their children, (they had at least six), were born there, the youngest in 1909. In 1911 Alice’s sister, Hilda Baker was living with the family; in 1921 they had a domestic servant.
There were two houses built on this corner in 1904; they only survived a little over 20 years. In the 1920s the neighbourhood was changing from a residential area to an industrial and commercial area, although there are still a few residential pockets even today. This image was shot in 1946, and shows a couple of houses still located on Columbia Street, behind the warehouse.
In 1958 the company moved to SW Marine Drive, where they still operate today. In 1973 the existing two storey office and production space was built; which we’re pretty certain incorporated some of the original warehouse building. It’s now home to City TV’s studios.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-4769
Here’s Vancouver new Union Station seen perhaps as early as 1917. Completed in 1916 by the Great Northern Railway, it was designed by Fred Townley. It was built for passenger trains operated to Seattle through Blaine and for the Northern Pacific Railway to Seattle by way of Mission and Sumas as well as Vancouver, Victoria & Esquimalt services into the Kootenays and Northern Washington. The Great Northern was J J Hill’s rail empire; initially he was part of the consortium behind the Canadian Pacific, but when he couldn’t get the route linked to his American network he resigned in 1883 and expanded his own system.
Hill died in 1916, the GN scaled back their Canadian expansion, but their Vancouver terminus was already under construction next door to the Canadian Northern station. (completed a couple of years later). Both stations were constructed on the newly infilled eastern end of the False Creek Flats. The Canadian Railway & Marine World reported that the company had filled the area to an average depth of 12 feet. “As the whole property is a fill, the building is supported on a pile foundation, cluster piles being driven and cut off below the line of perpetual saturation. Upon these concrete piers were poured, which support reinforced concrete beams, which in turn carry the exterior walls, columns and floors. The skeleton of the building is reinforced concrete, hollow tile, and concrete floors and roof. The exterior has a granite base, carrying up and around all exterior doors terracotta surbase, and red brick above, with terra-cotta trimmings and cornice.”
The two-storey steel and concrete building was constructed by Grant, Smith & McDonald at a cost of $390,000. The significant expense was partly explained by the finishes: “The main waiting room will be panelled in Alaska marble, 7 ft. high, and will have marble and terrazzo floors and ornamental plaster ceiling. Provision has been made in the plastering of the end walls for placing oil paintings showing the Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.” There were a series of other permits for additional buildings designed by Townley, adding up to over $200,000. One was the power house, located 150 feet east of the baggage room wing, with a brick stack at the east end 90 ft. high. The power house supplied heat to the different buildings through an underground reinforced concrete tunnel, steam to the passenger cars at the stub tracks, and to the passenger car yards. In connection with the passenger car yards there were a commissary building, an oil house, car repairers’ building, car foreman’s building; car cleaners’ building, a carpet cleaning building and a coal house.
By the mid 1930s many of the GN Rail lines had been shut down or abandoned (including the Northern Pacific operation). Passenger service to Vancouver from Seattle lasted until 1971 when it was transferred to Amtrak. The terminal in Vancouver was demolished in 1965, ostensibly to reduce property taxes.
The lot has remained vacant ever since, and is today used as a temporary parking lot and movie shoot base. It is intended to be the future home of the relocated St. Paul’s Hospital.
Photo source: thanks to Arthur Babitz at The History Museum of Hood River County who sent us this image photographed by Alva Day, a resident of Hood River, Oregon, born 1887 died 1955. He took a trip to Alaska in 1917; this may have been photographed as part of the trip. See the photoblog http://historichoodriver.com/ for more Hood River images.
Today it’s a condo building called Exchange, but when it was built in 1913 it was the B. C. Telephone Co., Ltd’s new warehouse and office – and not, as some sources (and the name) would suggest, a telephone exchange. It cost $35,000 to build, and the company claimed to be both architect and builder of the four storey ‘brick and stick’ structure built in the same style as warehouses found in Yaletown. It’s possible the design was completed in-house; it’s equally possible that an architect was hired but the company then submitted the plans themselves. If so it’s quite likely to have been Thomas Hooper, who designed other buildings for the company around this period, and who had plenty of experience designing straightforward industrial boxes.
In 1913 1st Avenue was called Front street, and the permit here was for 366 to 376 Front Street. Once it was operating the building often had a Wylie Street address, although initially this was addressed as Yukon Street. It was essentially a warehouse for spools of cables and wires, telephone and related equipment, and the Archives have a 1915 image that shows BC Telephone vehicles and crew ready to service their customers, parked in front of the Wylie Street façade. There’s another 1922 image showing a row of service vans lined up.
Around 1927 an addition was built to the east of the 1913 building, in a different style without the large lintels of the earlier building. There was also a low, single storey wing extending further to the east. At a later date some of the small Wylie Street windows were replaced to match the larger windows.
In 1982 Best Facilities Services moved into the building and operated from here for over 20 years. Our 2003 image shows the building when they were still located here. They offered a range of property management and related services. As the Southeast False Creek development evolved, the buildings were sold for development, but the developers, PCL, chose to carry out a heritage conversion rather than demolish and replace the warehouse. They were given a Heritage Bank allowance worth over $2 million to retain and repurpose the building. A new six storey block was built to the east, with the whole project designed by Burrowes Huggins Architects. the elevator core that serves both halves of the project helps provide seismic stability to the older buildings.
Today the building is surrounded by other SEFC housing projects, with the final part of the block across the lane to the south expected to be built very soon. To the west the Maynards Block has been developed, and further development can be anticipated across the street to the north in the near future.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives AM339-S7 CVA 17-19
There’s a three storey building in our 2011 ‘before’ image that dated back to 1912. Designed by William O’Dell for Albert Milton when 2nd Avenue was called Dufferin Street, this was described as a factory/warehouse three storey brick stable. Assuming that the Albert Milton who built this is the same Albert Milton in the 1911 Census (which is a pretty safe bet as he was the only Albert Milton listed), he was from Ontario, already retired at the age of 50 and living with his 38 year old wife Luretta and their four children, Ada, Ernest, Aletha and Edward. Ada was aged 18, and all the children were born in BC, so the family had been in the province for a while.
Before moving to Vancouver Albert had been down the valley – the 1901 Census shows him living in Surrey, farming in Cloverdale. 56th Avenue was once called Milton Road, so it was a reasonably important farm. Daniel Milton, his brother also lived with the family then. Albert was the Treasurer of the Surrey Agricultural Association in 1895, (a role that would have been much more appropriately performed by the Association’s Secretary, Mr. Thrift). In the 1880’s Mr. Milton built the first Campbell River Bridge – Mr. Thrift recalling the story in his memoir: “the Hon. Prov. Secretary instructed the Council to let a contract for the erection of the bridge and to draw on the Government for the amount of $500 when complete. This was done, Mr. A. Milton of Cloverdale took the contract and erected the bridge and when completed the Council attended the official opening, a grand dance was held on the Bridge, the settlers ran pony races across the structure and there was much jollification in celebrating the opening of the Campbell River Bridge on the Coast Meridian Road.”
William O’Dell in Vancouver wasn’t really an architect; he was a builder. He constructed an East Cordova hotel, but the owner hired an architect to design it. He also built one of the buildings in an earlier post. In the 1880s however he was one of four architects in Nanaimo, so had the ability to design this structure with no difficulty. It was indeed a stables, run by Burke & Wood Co Ltd, a transportation company. In 1913, when they were first shown having their stables located here, their transfer office was on Water Street and H Vasey was company president. There was another Water Street firm of draymen, Burke and Cameron, and we assume it might be the same Mr. Burke; Allan (or Allen) L Burke. In 1913 Mr. Wood was no longer associated with the company, but he was S P Wood, and in 1910, like Mr. Burke, he lived at 791 Cambie Street. The company had a stables then at 102 Harris Street – today’s East Georgia Street.
It’s surprising how long horse-drawn transportation remained viable in the city: the company operated here all the way to 1920 – then the building was shown as vacant. In 1923 the street name switched to East 2nd Avenue, and Burke & Wood Co Ltd are shown here again all the way to 1930. In the early 1930s it became home to Vancouver Art Metalworks Ltd, run by J Woodman. From the early 1940s until at least 1955 Hume and Rumble, electrical contractors, were based here. The South East False Creek area was identified to be ‘let go’ from industrial to residential uses in the late 1990s, but development only took off a few years ago. The residential over retail building here, called Proximity, was designed by IBI/HB for Bastion (who also developed Opsal nearby), and was completed earlier this year.