Archive for the ‘Gastown’ Category
We looked at this corner, with its early flatiron building, in an earlier post that took a more distant view of this building. This 1892 Vancouver Public Library view of the Holland Block shows it just completing construction. It was designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, described as ‘an early real estate developer’.
Nothing seems to have been recorded of Mr. Holland’s history – other than his middle initial, and his area of employment. Before 1890 he was in partnership with W O Elliot as Real Estate Agents, as his partnership was dissolved that year. He also had interests that year south of the border: “Jas. M. HOLLAND has been appointed agent in Blaine for the Northern Pacific railroad, thus giving Blaine even advantages with other places in securing traveling privileges“. He may have been in a real estate partnership in Blaine as well; the Blaine Journal reporting that “HOLLAND & McFARLAND have just completed them a real estate office at the corner of H and Washington avenue“.
In 1891 James M Holland was registered in the Canada census as aged 32, an American and a lawyer. The Daily World confirmed that in 1890, announcing that “James M. Holland, the well known real estate agent of this city, has been admitted as an attorney in the Superior Court of Washington”. He was listed as lodging rather than owning property in the census, which the street directory confirmed; he was living in rooms at the Leland rooms at 131 E Hastings. His offices were on Cordova Street where he dealt in real estate, loans and insurance.
The first time he appears in a directory was in 1888 when he was the manager of the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange. Representatives from 25 companies created and signed a formal constitution and bylaws. The Exchange collapsed after almost three months and 24 meetings; there wouldn’t be a similar organization in the city until 1919. James didn’t stay here too long; the last entry we can find for him was in 1895, when he was listed as a capitalist, and living here, in the Holland Block. He had previously moved to Seattle in 1891, but apparently returned and built this corner building after that.
He was in a business partnership in Seattle as early as 1890, so seems to have divided his attention between BC and Washington State over several years. In 1892 he was president of the Bank of Sumas, in Sumas City, announced in the Daily World in 1891. In 1893 he acquired property in Blaine: “Documents were signed last week which makes James M. HOLLAND of Seattle the owner of the Lindsey block, sitting on the corner of Washington avenue and Martin street. The sum named in the conveyance is $20,000. This is one of the finest pieces of rental property in the city, being built of brick and in every way central and convenient. Mr. HOLLAND is to be congratulated on coming into possession of this fine piece of real estate, and it can but prove a remunerative investment. Mr. HOLLAND, as is shown by this investment, has an abiding faith in the future prosperity of Blaine.”
An 1895 announcement suggests he had got married: a Blaine newspaper reported that “Mr. and Mrs. James M. HOLLAND of Vancouver have gone for a visit to New York City.” Earlier that year the Holland Building in Whatcom was destroyed by fire, but was fortunately insured. There the trail goes cold; there are no further references in any Seattle, Vancouver or Blaine publications we can find.
We now know that he initially stayed in New York – James M Holland wrote in 1931 from Wall Street, recalling joining Theta Chi (a fraternal organization) fifty years earlier in Vermont “During fall quarter in 1881, Norwich University was reduced to only 12 students and Theta Chi’s membership was reduced to one undergraduate member, James M. Holland. In November of that year, Phil S. Randall and Henry B. Hersey approached Holland and insisted that they be allowed to join Theta Chi; Holland agreed, thus saving the Fraternity from extinction“.
Theta Chi have a history that includes a biography for James Michael Holland, and it includes a reference to him being in Vancouver, so we can be sure it’s the same person. He was born in Northfield, Vermont, in 1859, went to university and then studied law, being called to the Michigan bar in 1884. From 1885 to 1887 he represented a Boston bank in Fargo, North Dakota, then in real estate in both Seattle and Vancouver until 1895. That was the year he married and moved to New York, where he practiced law, engaged in real estate and public utilities, buying, improving and then selling to the municipality the water supply for Northfield. He was a trustee of Norwich University (where he obtained his degree) for 20 years. He died in Northfield in 1944.
We looked at a view from this location in an earlier post. That was photographed in 1888, this was almost certainly some time in the 1970s, although we’re looking at an undated (and slightly out-of-focus) original, so precise dating is difficult. On the left there’s a board pointing to the Dansk Bistro in the Mews, described as a ‘Danish Lunch Center’. We know we must be past 1970 because The Old Spaghetti Factory was already trading – and today that makes the pasta 47 years old as it opened in 1970 in the Malkin Warehouse (now a rental live-work building)
There’s an antique store trading on the south side (with a red awning), in 22 Water Street, one of the buildings developed by Tommy Roberts. The Mews was the retail complex created from the Nagle Brother garage, built in 1930 on the site of the city’s first firehall.
Apart from the addition of the Bruce Carscadden designed infill at 33 Water Street, (and the design of the litter bin) very little seems to have changed in about 45 years, although most of the buildings on the south (left) side have been rebuilt, added to and have residential uses added on the upper floors.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-5076
We previously posted this building four years ago when it had first been renovated. It was built by Patrick Hickey in around 1889 and for many years was used as the Cosmopolitan Hotel Rooms. The City of Vancouver Archives aren’t exactly sure when this image was taken; it’s thought to be at some point in the 1940s. That makes sense; the delivery van is a 1940s Chevy. Butt & Bowes were based here in 1940; they had first moved in around 1938, and were still here in 1955, staying in business until 1996 (although not in this building for the entire 60 years). Although it looks like Berkel Products were a separate store, that was the brand of equipment that Butt & Bowes sold; Berkel were the inventors of the very first professional meat slicer.
There was no Mr. Bowes that we can find associated with the business in 1936 (when they operated from premises on Water Street), but Percival Butt was the manager, and Douglas Butt was a salesman. The company sold Packers and Butchers’ Supplies, Scales, Meat Choppers and Slicers, French Fry Cutters, Sausage Flour and Spices. Douglas Butt passed away in 2009, aged 93. Today there are no meat slicers or sausage making machines, but rather a line of handmade furniture.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-3295
This 1895 image shows the first location of the city’s first fire hall. The City of Vancouver owned the site because before the 1886 fire the police house was located here, with the jail alongside and set back from the street. Some years after this picture, when the replacement fire hall was built on Cordova Street, the name went with it (so it retained the name Firehall #1, in a different location).
The first engine was manufactured in Brussels, Ontario, with the name plate ‘M A MacLean,’ the name of the city’s first mayor, on the engine when it arrived. Among the people posing in 1895 were the fire chief, Chief Carlisle and William McGirr. The brand new City of Vancouver were only too aware of the threat of fire to their newly established city. There were were discussions in Council at the first meeting in May 1886 about equipping the fire brigade, and telegrams had been exchanged with Mr. Ronald, a manufacturer of fire equipment in Ontario, but the confirmation to purchase was only made at the first Council meeting eight days after the fire, on 22nd June 1886.
The order was for a 5,000 pound Ronald steam pumper with four hose reels and 2,500 feet of 2 and 1/2 – inch hose that cost the city $6, 905. It arrived in Port Moody in July 1886, where the rail line ended at the time, and it was dragged by a team of horses through the forest to Vancouver. That’s the engine on the right with its steam powered pump. The engine was eventually pulled by a team of horses, but those weren’t acquired for eight or nine months, and initially the firemen had to manhandle it to a fire, which was slow, and meant that the first serious blaze at Spratt’s oilery, a barge previously used to process fish for oil, had burned before they could get the pump into position (although they did ensure sparks from the fire didn’t catch anything else alight).
If the Council had the funds to purchase a fire engine, how was it that they couldn’t afford the horses to pull it? The answer is that they didn’t pay for the fire engine. In an early form of vehicle leasing, the Council Minutes of August 6th 1886 recorded “That this Council do accept the Fire Engine, Hose etc from John D. Ronald as Complete and according to agreement. And that this Council do agree to hand over to Messrs. McIntosh and McTaggart Brussels Ont. Our City Debentures for the sum of sixty nine hundred and five dollars payable in ten years and bearing interest at seven per cent, as soon as same are issued and we agree to issue the paid debentures as soon as this can be legally done. And that the City Clerk be instructed to give Mr. Ronald a Certified Copy of this resolution and that the City seal be attached thereto.”
For the Firehall needed to house the shiny new engine, more money had to be raised – but not nearly as much as it took to buy the engine. On July 26th 1886 it was agreed that “a Fire Hall be at once erected 24 x 30, 2 stories high, the 1st story to be 12 ft Clear and the 2nd 10 feet with a tower 55 feet high and 6 feet square on top and that the City Engineer be instructed to prepare plans and specifications so that tenders may be asked for at once. We would also recommend that a Fire Bell be purchased at once the cost not to exceed one hundred dollars”. On August 30th Council agreed to accept the tender of A.D. McKenzie to build the hall for $743.00.
The fire brigade moved to their new hall on Cordova Street around 1907, and for a while it looks as if their old premises were re-purposed for retail uses. In 1908 Jacob Cohen had a clothing business where the firehall had been, in a block that had several other Jewish merchants including Maurice Goldberg’s clothing store next door and Zebulon Frank’s secondhand store a little further up the street. The address disappears by 1914, and we suspect the site was cleared. In 1930 the Nagle Brothers Garage was built here, designed by McCarter & Nairne. It was developed by Ed Baynes of builders Baynes and Horie, and was probably the city’s first parking garage.
In 1972, the Garage became one of the first rehabilitation and adaptive re-use projects in Gastown, converted to retail and office space by architect H Tanner. An inner courtyard was created, surrounded by balconies and trees. Redeveloped again in 2009 as ‘Garage’ – one of four building restored and added to by Acton Ostry Architects for the Salient Group. Garage was the youngest of the buildings and the redevelopment added three extra residential storeys, with no setback (because of the poured-in-place construction of the original building) but with a clear delineation of the original cornice.
We’ve looked at many of the buildings on Water Street on this blog, but somehow overlooked the Terminus. It was completed in 1902 at a cost of $8,000 for W Jones, replacing a building erected quickly after the 1886 fire, possibly designed by Bunning and Kelso (according to the first edition of Exploring Vancouver). They weren’t architects, but they might have been builders; in 1888 Bunning was a carpenter. This attribution of this building thought it dated back to 1887. (There was an even earlier saloon run by Bill Blair before the fire that was originally a restaurant run by George Brew ‘when he wasn’t drunk or in prison’.)
The façade still standing today was designed by Emil Guenther, and for five years (including in our picture) all that was visible was a three storey façade and the side wall propped up with steel bracing after a fire destroyed the building in 2000. Given the ferocity of the fire, it’s remarkable that the front of the building stayed standing. The Heritage Statement still describes it as a propped façade, but that’s very outdated as in 2008 a new development was completed along with the adjacent Grand Hotel to restore the retail use and add condos on the upper floors (and two additional floors set back from the heritage element). The Grand was an earlier building, dating back to 1889, and the owner, Thomas J Roberts, was killed in while attending a card game in 1918, as we noted in an earlier post.
The owner of the new Terminus Hotel when it was built was William Rees Jones; one of six people called William Jones in the city in 1901. He was either born in England into a Welsh family (1901 census) or in Wales (1891 census), and he had arrived in Canada in 1858 when he would have been aged about 15. He was running the Terminus from 1890, buying it from Bill Blair. William Blair was from Maine, and he appears in very early Granville (pre Vancouver) street directories; the first we’ve found him in was in 1882 when he was running the Deighton House, built by ‘Gassy Jack’ many years earlier. Before he arrived in Granville he was in Victoria from 1877. Around 1884 he’d moved up the street to run a saloon at this location, with Blair’s Hall at the back, where dances, meetings (and church services) were held. After he sold the bar, Blair became a general contractor.
In October 1901 the replacement building for the Terminus was announced. The original hotel and saloon weren’t torn down; rather, they were moved to the rear of the site (which hadn’t been redeveloped as a hall after the fire) to clear the space at the front for the new structure.
In what reads suspiciously like an ‘advertorial’ – but which was typical of the day for the thoroughness of the description, the Vancouver Daily Work of 22 March 1902 announced the completion: “On the Site of a Pioneer Water Street Hotel Rises a Complete Up-to-date Structure. Many people thought that the lot on which the Terminus hotel stood could not be made useable for a hotel. It was enclosed between high buildings on either side and the light was shut off. Since the days when Vancouver was a baby the Terminus had been there. It was one of the first hotels that reared itself phoenix – like above the ashes, and Mr. William, Jones hated to change the locality. He therefore decided that once again the house should arise, and he entrusted the work of making the plans to Emil B. Guenther. The result is that there stands today one of the most complete hostelries in Vancouver on the site of what was the old Terminus. The building has a brick front with stone finishings, with a series of bow windows on the front that give a view direct across the Inlet from the front and also a view each way east and west. The general contractor for the building was E. Cook, the well known contractor, whose foreman on the contract was George W. Maynard. The sub – contractors were: (including heaters in bar for hot water. Cope & Frey; heating, hot water, Leek & Co.; for fixtures, Robertson and Hackett: plumbing. W. Brown; painting. H. Miller; furnishing, Chas. Hach; bedding, Pioneer Mattress Factory, R. F. Campbell, manager.
The architect Emil Guenther, went to Seattle and Tacoma to see if anything had been overlooked. The result is that from his own ideas and what he learned abroad on the old site of the Terminus has arisen the most perfect hotel that is to be found of its kind on the const. It was enclosed on either side by high wholesale houses, and the greatest feature was to secure perfect light. This has been done by the judicious use of a skylight that takes in the whole roof. Through this it has been arranged that there is not a dark room in the house. The main entrance is from Water street, but on either side are entrances to the basement, in which are situated a barber shop and a day and night restaurant. The latter will be under the charge of Mr. W. McArthur. The dining room is connected by speaking tubes and bells with the bar, and that is in itself a credit to local workmanship, it is finished in polished oak with tile floor and gutter. The bar is 40 feet long and the back is designed in a series of arches with half – curved pilasters and capitals. The wainscoting is terra cotta cement with enamelled surface finishing, ensuring absolute sanitariness, and the walls and ceiling are finished in pressed steel in tastefully blended shades, making a complete poem in color. The kitchen is supplied with a flue 8 feet by 1 inches, clear to the top, so that it is impossible for any odor to reach the storeys above. The bedrooms are supplied with good, substantial furniture from the well known house of C. Hach, and all the beds have the “D. P.” springs and the “Jumbo” soft mattresses. The house was open to the public today at 11 a.m., and is many ways as regards completeness and novelties not overlooking, for example, the electric water heaters supplied by Cope & Frey will be of interest to the public generally. Mr. Jones’ confidence in the city is shown, by the fact that he has invested in this building $35,000. Old timers will remember the Terminus locality. Near it was our first church, and on the lot on which it stands was a building in which Sunday services were held in the early days. Those who were here in the old times will remember the gospel hall and will he pleased to know that the man who so freely gave his Premises for the carrying on of any good work in the early days has prospered.”
This suggests Mr. Jones might have been a really ‘old timer’ in the city. There are hints of this elsewhere – a reference in the Archives notes of Major Matthews to “Dissolution of Partnership between William Jones and John Thomas (“Navvy Jack” Thomas – another Welshman), and “Partnership Notice” between William Jones and Joseph Mannion, published in Mainland Guardian, 5 April 1873.” Indeed, looking for references to “Billy Jones” reveals more references to his early saloon, next door to the Granville House Hotel (which he had originally partnered with Mannion to acquire from Ebenezer Brown). In 1874 he was in partnership with Mannion. Despite this we haven’t found any early directory references to William (or Billy) Jones in Granville. At least one interviewee thought he was an American. The first reference to the Terminus is in 1889 when Bill Blair was proprietor before William Jones bought it a year later. We have no idea what William Jones – assuming it’s the same William Jones – did between the mid 1870s and buying the saloon in 1890, but he wasn’t in Granville/Vancouver.
The new hotel’s early history is recorded in the newspapers of the day; a drunk who tried to kick out all the panels of the hotel; underage drinkers identified by the police; theft of a visitor’s bicycle wheel. A more serious case was a 1905 attempt to remove Mr. Jones’s licence because he was present when his barman was serving drink ‘after hours’ when the curtains had been pulled to indicate the bar was closed. (It was during one of the periods in the city’s history when the forces of temperance were trying to restrict the serious drinking that took place). W J Bowser, the lawyer defending the case successfully persuaded the Magistrate that it wasn’t an intentional lapse of the law, as one drinker was resident in the hotel (and therefore a member of the household who could legitimately drink at any time) and the other was understood to be resident – although he had in fact moved to a different establishment a short while before. In 1906 the Daily World announced “WATER ST. HOTEL SOLD. S. Swoboda, mayor of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, has purchased the Terminus hotel, Water street, from William Jones. Mr. Swoboda has no intention of starting in the hotel business, hut he talks of selling out his extensive interests in Alberta, and coming to the coast. The Terminus is one of the oldest hotels in the city.”
In February 1908 the hotel was mentioned several times when a patron was stabbed. In 1909 the hotel, with 33 rooms, was offered for sale again. Leased at $250 a month, it was offered for sale at $33,000. The licensee, George Patton, was in court later that year, accused of allowing gambling on the premises. The attempts to sell the property don’t seem to have been successful, or Mr Jones had second thoughts as W Jones, was still the owner in 1912 when he had R H Atkinson design an alteration to the store here. The 1911 street directory shows that he wasn’t running the hotel by then; that was R Fiddler and James Thompson. Thompson had run the hotel on his own from 1905 (although he was mis-identified as Johnson that year), but William Jones was shown still living in the hotel, but from 1906 he was in retirement.
At some point the hotel ceased offering the full hotel facilities: In 1912 it was still a hotel run by Robert Fiddes, but by 1914 it was the Terminus Rooms, run by Henry Savinar and in 1917 by H Avoca. The ethnicity of the owners changed over the years. In 1936 it was listed as the Terminus Hotel (rooms) run by G Iguchi. In 1948 the rooms were run by H Summers, and the 1955 listing was for the TERMINUS Hotel (Wong Jun Ming) rooms.
We have previously reviewed the development of Edward Lipsett’s properties to the left of this picture in an earlier post, and a subsequent follow-up. (We also looked at The Gold House, the hotel that was here earlier). We were fairly sure that the property was developed in phases, with the first being a warehouse and factory for Edward Lipsett, sail maker, costing $10,000 and designed by Dalton and Eveleigh in 1906. This image is undated, but comes from the early 1900s – which would match our understanding of the property phasing. It’s clear that the Lipsett building has two floors at this point, and had a vacant lot to the west, so that matches our understanding that a $20,000 permit in 1912 for a 2-storey brick addition saw the building extended vertically. The subsequent infill to the west came later, initially with just one storey, then completed to almost match the 1906/1912 building.
Beyond is Sven Sherdahl’s Dominion Hotel, developed in 1900 and designed by Emil Guenther. Across Abbott Street is the Winters Hotel from 1907, and on the other side of Water Street is Parr and Fee’s Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co’s warehouse, built in 1909 (so pushing the date of the picture into a narrower band). Across Abbott is McLennan & McFeely’s warehouse that they leased to the Canadian Fairbanks Company, built in 1905. In 1914 (and not 1912 as the Heritage Statement suggest) the Prince Rupert Meat Company built the seven storey warehouse on the extreme right of the picture next to Leeson’s, which they claimed to design and build themselves. That logically puts the date of the image between 1910 and 1913.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-53
This modest two storey structure dates back to 1906; according to the heritage statement it was built for Jacob Kane. Unusually, the construction used pre-cast concrete blocks that look like stone. There’s a 1906 news piece that says that J Kane had obtained a permit for an $11,000 building on Water Street. In the same paper it noted that Dan McPhail had bought the property with Mr. Kane with a view to adding an addition to the existing building at the back, and building a new front – so the bones of the building were probably older. Earlier that year J Kane of Kamloops was staying at the Dominion Hotel, just up the street from here. There was a J Kane who owned mining interests in the province in 1894, but beyond those disjointed pieces of information we haven’t managed to pin down a developer, or identify an architect for the building. J Kane was listed in the 1901 census as a lodger in a location we haven’t managed to identify yet – he was born in Ireland, a businessman and had arrived in Canada in 1899 aged 33. His location may have been waiting to sail on board the Empress of India: most of the household are ship’s crew. He was probably christed Jacobus, and came from a family with Italian origins; there are a surprising number of Jacobus Kanes born in England and Ireland in the 19th Century.
The first tenants in the building seem to have been a fruit and confectionery dealer, F Baiocchi and Elias Healman was selling clothing next door. In 1910 Richard Johnson, a shoemaker was here with Weinrobe & Cohn’s clothing store and the Vancouver Employment Agency upstairs. In 1916 Tomlinson & Cook hired Hugh Murray to design and build a $400 brick addition to the building. That year it was a different shoemaker, Samuel Goodall was at 50 Water Street, the Mainland Rooming house was upstairs and Benjamin Wolfe, a second hand dealer in 56 Water Street. In 1920 Mr. Goodall was still in business and a branch of the Great North Western Telegraph Company were also located here.
In 1926, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, H Brown and Son, wholesale meat merchants had the eastern half, and H M Nugent (who made tents and awnings as well as waterproof clothing), the western half. They were right next door to Edward Lipsett’s tent and awning company, so presumably you could comparison shop without difficulty. The Canadian National Telegraph also had their office here. Henry and his son Myer Brown were Hungarian; The 1911 census suggests they had arrived in 1898 (older children like Myer were born in Hungary, four younger children were born in British Columbia). Henry Nugent was an American who arrived in Canada in 1906. He was married to Lilly, from Ontario (where their son had been born in 1909) and in 1921 lived with her parents James and Mary Nairne.
Remarkably, all three businesses were still in the same location in 1940, although the upper floor (52 Water Street) was vacant. In 1942 the Beulah Rescue Mission occupied that space. The mission served meals twice a day to the city’s indigent (while saving souls at the same time). It continued to operate here for at least 30 years.
In 2006 the building was effectively redeveloped, although the façade was retained with a new ‘old’ store front. Virtually every existing building element was replaced, including the structural, architecture, mechanical, and electrical systems. Busby and Associates, designing the project for Neils Bendsten’s Inform furniture store used heavy mass concrete, brick, and wood materials to restore as many original architectural features as possible. A green roof, complete with a skylight, was provided as well. A vertical geo-exchange system has been installed below the existing structure which, combined with a radiant heating and cooling system and exhaust air heat recovery, significantly reduces the building’s energy consumption.