Archive for the ‘Gastown’ Category
This church was the third church built here, and the building shown in the picture was, we think, built in 1903. The first First Presbyterian Church was built here early in 1886, and burned to the ground in the Great Fire only a few months later. A replacement was quickly built at the back of the site with access from the lane; at the time the street was called Oppenheimer.
That second building was replaced in 1903 with this building, designed (we think) by Arnott Woodroofe who won a competition to design a 1903 Vancouver Presbyterian church (with C O Wickenden). The Presbyterians had already built a huge new church only a few blocks away at Hastings and Gore (where today’s First United Church is located) in 1892.
By 1903 this street had become East Cordova, and although the street directory says this was the Knox Independent Presbyterian Church, with Rev Merton Smith as pastor, the Congregational Yearbook for 1903 says it was actually a Congregational Church. By 1907, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, the street directory had caught up and this address was listed as the Knox Congregational Church, with the Reverend Smith still running the show.
In 1912 Rev. Smith resigned, and took over as president of Terminal City Press Ltd, publishers of the Western Call newspaper, based in Mount Pleasant. The newspaper tells us that he was born in Glasgow and had been in the USA for 20 years before moving to Vancouver from Chicago in 1902. His church responsibilities hadn’t inoculated him against the real estate fever sweeping the region; he was listed as a director of the Lilloouet and Cariboo Land Co as well as a director in the Albion Trust Co Ltd (who announced a $1 million office to be built in Victoria).
Rev A K MacLennan from Boston took over, staying until 1915. That year the church closed; it became the Cordova Hall. Two hundred local Japanese volunteers started training in the hall, hoping to see service in support of Canada’s war effort. That never came to pass – instead many made their way to Alberta where they were accepted into the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles Regiment and went on to fight in Europe. This part of Cordova was predominantly Japanese, but after the war the International Longshore Men’s Association (Auxiliary) took over the premises which then became listed as the L W I W Hall, and later in the 1920s the Longshoremen’s Union Hall.
It’s not clear how long the building survived. From the 1930s the Peterson & Cowan Elevator Co Ltd manufactured elevators here, but we’re not sure if it was in the old hall or a new structure as we haven’t found an image of this part of the street. The site was cleared for many years, and has just been developed as ‘In Gastown’, a striking condo and retail building designed by Christopher Bozyk Architects.
We’ve looked at both the buildings flanking this modest 2-storey structure in earlier posts. 322 Water Street, to the left was designed by Townsend and Townsend in 1912, while 342 Water on the right dates from 1899 and was designed by William Blackmore for John Burns. The retail arcade building in the centre also dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, which presumably explains its name as the Homer Street Arcade.
As we noted in an earlier post, the Thompson Bros were really the Thomson Bros; listed as James A and M P Thomson who ran their stationers business from 325 West Hastings. An 1896 Auditor General’s Report noted that the company could be up to five years late in paying for publications they had sold on the government’s behalf; the report shows they also traded in Calgary.
Somehow the 1911 Census seems to have missed James (or we can’t find him), but Melville P(atrick) Thomson was living at 1215 Cardero, aged 51 with his wife Louise and their son, Melville F(itzGerald) Thomson who the street directory tell us was working for the Dominion Trust. Two more sons, George (a bookkeeper) and Donald were at home, as well as daughters Nora and Marcella, as well as a niece, A Finkueneisel, and their domestic. Melville senior was born in Ontario, while Louise was French. Louise seems to have been a second marriage for Melville; in 1888 he married Marcella Fitzgerald in Esquimalt. Melville died in 1944 aged 84, when he was living in Oliver. His death certificate says his wife was Marie Louise Kern, and that they had moved to the town in 1924. He had lived in BC since 1887, and we’re pretty certain he was born in Erin, in Wellington, Ontario, and that his brother James was three years older. The directory says that in 1910 James A Thomson was living at 1238 Cardero, so across the street from his brother.
The photograph shows the businesses located on Cordova Street included G.R. Gregg and Co. Ltd., The Borden, and Richardson Jensen Ltd. Ships’ Chandlers. The businesses in the Arcade were addressed from Cordova Street; The Borden was actually the The Borden Milk Co (so not a bar, despite the name). The heritage description for The Arcade says “The covered passage, with shops on both sides, served the bustling community with commercial and retail services.” In reality there was very little, if any retail – the building was full of commercial offices and some pretty specialized services. Here’s the complete list of businesses in 1914: Robt D Dickie – com agt, Alex Smith – accordion pleater, Searson & Russell – whol men’s furngs, Mendelson Bros – whol silks, A Olmstead Budd – produce broker, Walter D Frith – mdse broker, M B Steele – mdse broker, Hayward McBain & Co Ltd – com agents, corn, Dan Stewart – tailor (workroom), Hugh Lambie – com agt, Chas Schenk – tailor, Produce Distributers Ltd, Successful Poultryman, Excelsior Messengers, BC Assn of Stationary Engineers and Sandison Bros – mfrs agts.
During the 1970s the building was spruced up, with odd details that included facemasks of the entrepreneurs responsible for the revival of Gastown in the 1970’s. In recent years there have been a number of restaurants in this location, renamed Le Magasin, most recently the short-lived Blacktail. No doubt another concept will pop up soon.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-1
Here’s the same street that we looked at in the previous post just fourteen years later (in 1902). There’s been extraordinary change in that relatively short period. On the extreme right hand edge McDowell, Atkins and Watson have had John Parr design a building that’s still there today (as the Cambie Hostel and bar). Next door is a building from 1888, occupied here by James Rae’s boot and shoe store, that had been built in time to show up in the previously posted 1888 image.
There’s a two storey building next to the telegraph pole that also pre-dates 1888; next door is a 2-bay building that was built in 1889, the Grant Block at 148 Cordova. Beyond that is the building designed in 1887 by T C Sorby for the Hudson’s Bay Company – although by the time this picture was taken they had already moved up to a new Granville Street location.
Towards the end of the block (about where the Woodwards pedestrian bridge crosses the street these days) McLellan and McFeely, who would later build some impressive warehouse buildings, built premises for themselves on Cordova in 1891. The Daily World reported “This is one of the most enterprising firms in the city, as well as being the leading in its line. They are wholesale and retail dealers in and carry a complete assorted stock of hardware, paints and oils mantles, grates and tiling, gas fixtures and lamp goods, plumbers and tinners’ supplies, stoves and house furnishings, and are manufacturers of galvanised iron cornices, hot air furnaces, ate. They also do plumbing and gas fitting. The building they occupy, at 122 Cordova street, is owned and was built by the firm and is two stories in height, each floor ’25 x 132 feet.”
We’ve looked at the buildings on the left in an earlier post: the Wetham block built in 1888, designed by N S Hoffar and the Savoy Hotel, built as the Struthers Block, which was completed in 1889 and also designed by N S Hoffar.
Today it’s a virtually windowless telecoms hub, while on the right the Woodwards development with its 43 storey tower has transformed the neighbourhood.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2 – 143
We looked at this block (the 100 block) of Cordova looking east before, but that was looking at the north side of the street. This shows the south side, and this Vancouver Public Library picture is said to be from 1888, just two years after a fire destroyed the city and everything on Cordova Street. Cordova was rapidly being redeveloped as one of the most important commercial streets in the city (at the time), although this part of the street was still emerging, falling roughly half way between the C P Railway’s ‘new city centre’ at Granville Street and the original city centre which started as the Old Granville Townsite to the east around Maple Tree Square.
On the right are some of the fast-built wooden buildings that were created to accommodate the trade of the recovering and rapidly expanding city. Some of them lasted only a handful of years, including the offices of Douglas and Hargraves, the real estate agents on the far right-hand edge of the picture. That building, with the three to the east were redeveloped by 1899 by McDowell, Atkins & Watson designed by J A Parr – either with his partner Thomas Fee or just possibly Samuel McClure, and a few years later occupied by Stark’s Glasgow House (later the Carleton Hotel and today the Cambie Hostel).
To the east there’s a decorative 2-storey building, recently completed in this picture. So far we have failed to identify either the architect or the developer of that building.
Down the street, after a gap, is another new 2-storey brick building. That one we have been able to identify – it’s the first of two almost identical structures, also built in 1889. Robert Grant, who developed one (and possibly both) structures was a Scotsman who in partnership with Henry Arkell sold groceries, dry goods, hardware boots and shoes from just before the fire of 1886. Like many pioneers he had moved on to work in real estate by 1891, and was elected an Alderman five times between 1899 and 1905. He died in Los Angeles in 1930. His nephew, Major J R Grant was engineer for the Burrard Bridge.
Beyond the next gap are the twin peaked gables of the new Hudson’s Bay store designed by T C Sorby. Our earlier post shows it in greater detail.
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