Archive for the ‘Gastown’ Category

73 Water Street

This brick faced warehouse was, according to its Heritage Statement, built in 1912 for the Vancouver – Prince Rupert Meat Packing Company. While the developer is correctly identified, the building permits weren’t submitted until 1914. There were three permits in total; two in January for $6,400 (presumably for preliminary work) and another in April for $50,000. The company designed all three stages of construction of the 33 feet wide, and 7 storeys high building, built by E J Ryan. It’s on the same block as a ‘rival’, and slightly earlier coldstore and meat-packing building, owned by the Canadian Swift Meat Packing Co.

By 1919 Swift owned the Vancouver – Prince Rupert Meat Co (as well as many other companies), and there is some suggestion that the business was always a subsidiary of Swift (a Chicago-based business). Swift had their name on the building in 1923, but by 1930 they had consolidated to their building to the east, and David Spencer’s departmental store were using this building as their warehouse. T Eaton and Co bought the Spencer business in 1948, and continued to use the warehouse. (When they operated as a rival to Spencer’s, they had a warehouse a block to the west of here).

As Gastown turned into a tourist area, the ground floor became a gift shop (seen in this 1985 image) and today a shoe store, with office space in the converted warehouse above.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2097

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Posted 26 July 2021 by ChangingCity in Gastown, 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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Central Hotel – East Cordova Street

The building here is called The Central Residence and has been owned by the City of Vancouver for nearly 20 years, but it was built as two separate structures. Each cost $40,000, and 48 East Cordova (the left hand side of the building) was built first, in 1911, followed by the right in 1912. We assume the design of the first, by Hugh Braunton (for W C Marshall) was copied by Archibald Campbell Hope, whose client for the second was the Vancouver Realty Co. They were a business that had been around for a while, but this was their swansong. By the time the 1912 street directory was published the business was no longer listed, and their offices at 433 Seymour were vacant.

We can however provide an explanation for choosing a different architect; the Realty Co were represented by (and probably controlled by) Hope, Gravely & Co, a long-established firm of engineers, accountants and financial agents, with engineer Charles Hope partnering with pioneer land agent Walter Graveley. Charles was from Bradford, in England, and had studied architecture, like his father. His younger brother – the architect of the later building –  was A C Hope, who had been in San Francisco in 1906, and moved north in 1908.

William C Marshall lived on Pacific Avenue with his 41 year old American wife Edna, their two children, and her mother, Susan Darcy. He was from Ontario, aged 48, and in 1911 was shown as living on ‘income’. His wife and mother-in-law had come to Canada in 1884, and William and Edna had married in 1904 in New Westminster. William Crozier Marshall was a widower, which explains how he had a 12 year old daughter at home, Elsie, and an 11 year old son, William, when he married Edna, who was 24 and born in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.

His first wife was Jennie (or Jenny) Loveless, and they had another daughter, Minnie, who was married in 1909 when she was 19.  Jennie had been 19 when she married William in 1888 in Vancouver, and had been born in Burton-on-Trent, in England, but she died in 1893. William had three very young children, so it must have been a relief to marry a widow from Ontario, Frances Chase, (known as Bertha), in 1895 and a further tragedy when she also died, in 1901. She was recorded in the census that year, with the children and two lodgers. The local press reported the nature of her death. “Well Known Lady Dies Suddenly This Morning in St. Paul’s Hospital. A very sad death took place this morning, the victim being a well known lady, Mrs. Bertha Marshall, wife of W. C. Marshall, of this city. Only last Friday the deceased lady was taken to the hospital, and a day later an operation was performed by Dr. McPhillips, which at the time appeared to be successful. but blood-poisoning set in mid early this morning the lady gradually sank and passed away. Mrs. Marshall had a very large number of friends in the city and was universally well liked. She was 32 years of age and had been married a little over three years. She lived since early childhood in Chilliwack, where her people are well known.

Before he became a real estate investor, William had run a livery stable, with the earliest record we can find for him being a payment by the City Council to W C Marshall, drayman in 1888. His inaccurately named ‘Sleepy Dan’ was a notable member of the stable. He was a frequent winner at the Richmond racetrack, and at Hastings Park. In 1905 he was fined $5 for racing on Cordova Street against Tommy Roberts – who also had to pay the same fine. Residents reminisced in the Vancouver Sun about hiring a horse and buggy from ‘Billy Marshall’ to impress a girl on a Sunday afternoon to take them riding around Stanley Park.

William was elected as an alderman in 1916. He was 73 when he died in 1937; the Province reported his death: “William C. Marshall, 73, pioneer of Vancouver In the livery business, died Wednesday night at his home, 1217 Pacific street He had been ill more than a year. Fifty-two years ago Mr. Marshall arrived from Ontario and, with Steve Tingley, drove the first horse stage from Esquimalt into Victoria. Next summer he came to Vancouver to live and for many years was in business on Water street. Marshall’s livery was a landmark In the old days. Twenty-five year ago he retired. He served as an alderman for several years”. Edna was 85 when she died in 1965.

When they opened the two establishments were used slightly differently; 42 was operated as the Central Hotel. Next door at 48 there was a business on the main floor (in 1920 the Kloepfer Hardware Co Ltd) and the Oliver Rooms upstairs. That was true through to the 1950s, although the Central Hotel had become rental rooms by then, run by J K Fun and Sue See in 1955. The Oliver Rooms were run by Harry and Anne Sherban.

This was one of the first buildings in the area to be converted from market to non-market housing. The work was done in 1973-74 by the United Housing Foundation with Jonathan Yardley as architect. During the renovation, which involved the consolidation into a single property, it was discovered that the builders had made the work easier by already leaving blocked up doorways between the two buildings. Our 1978 image shows it as The New Central. In 1980 the City of Vancouver, as owners since 1986, added a fire alarm system throughout the building. In private ownership it had 131 tiny rooms; today, as the Central Residence following a 2003 renovation (following two fires in rooms) the building was reconfigured with CMHC and BC Housing funds to create 64 larger units, 54 with their own bathrooms. Residents are 55+ or under 55 with a disability, although the building is not wheelchair accessible.

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Maple Tree Square 2

We looked at Maple Tree Square as it appeared just before the 1886 fire in an earlier post. We’ve examined pretty much all the buildings in this shot over the years. Just on the left hand edge is the Alhambra Hotel, and on the right is the Packing House; offices today, but once the Swift Meat Packing facility (and before that the site of the Alexandra Hotel). Further up the Malkin Warehouse is a six storey brick warehouse with huge old growth timbers forming the frame, and today hidden by street trees in the summer.

One notable difference is that in 1970 the newly installed statue of Gassy Jack used to look along Water Street. Now he’s moved across the street, in front of the Alhambra, looking eastwards. There was a commemoration of Maple Tree Square as the founding location of the settlement here – originally called Granville, and then Vancouver after 1886. It was a drinking fountain, installed in 1925 in what was still an industrial street. The attempts to revitalize the run down neighbourhood in the late 1960s, once the decision had been taken not to bulldoze the entire street for a freeway, included the commission of the sculpture by real estate developer Larry Killam. Fritz Jacobson made a sketch, and Okanagan-born artist Vern Simpson sculpted it. It was presented to the City, although mayor Tom Campbell apparently wanted it towed to the City dump. The 1925 plaque from the fountain is now incorporated into the plinth the statue sits on.

Jack Deighton was a sea captain, gold prospector, riverboat pilot and bar owner, originally from Hull, in England, who squatted in a clearing just beyond the Hastings Mill boundary and built the first non-native structure in the area that would become a town, and then a city (although he died many years before that came about). Fond of talking, ‘Gassy’ Jack was the basis for Granville being known locally as Gastown. The first government survey of Granville was careful to ensure his his original saloon ended up in the middle of the street, forcing Jack to acquire a legal plot nearby to rebuild his Globe Saloon, where the Alhambra would be built after the 1886 fire. More recently ‘Gassy’ Jack has been covered in paint; a protest about celebrating someone who married his second Indian wife when she was about 12 years old. It’s possible he may move again, perhaps away from Maple Tree Square.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-770

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Posted 16 November 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

Cambie Street north at West Cordova

This view north towards Burrard Inlet and the north shore is said to have been photographed around 1900, but actually it must be a little earlier than that. Two of the buildings are still standing, and most of the others we can see were built not too long after the picture was taken. On the left edge is the Horne Block, developed by James W Horne in 1895, and designed by N S Hoffar. It has an unusual arrangement of two floors of retail, exploiting the slope of Cambie Street. The upper floors were initially offices, but for many years have been SRO residential, with 18 rooms known as Danny’s Inn.

Next door is the Panama Block, developed in 1913. It’s triangular, without a lane, and was designed by fairly obscure architects (Wallington & Wheatley) who only appeared in the city in 1912, just as the economy tanked. The owners were McConnell, Abbott & Drayton and it cost $10,000 to build. We looked at who the developers were in the linked post.

Across the street to the north is one of the earlier buildings still standing today, developed as the Springer-Van Bramer Block, by American ships captain and mill owner James Van Bramer and mill manager Ben Springer. Built in 1888, it’s another N S Hoffar design, and once had the insignia of the Freemasons, whose hall was on the top floor. Down the hill, the Regina Hotel was the only building in Granville Township that survived the 1886 fire. It was replaced in 1907 by the Hotel Edward, developed by Swedish mining engineer Charles Edward Beckman at a cost of $21,000, although we don’t know the architect. He leased it for ten years to two former police officers, former jailer John Deptford, and Constable Gosby. They were fired by Chief Chisholm, after a bottle of liquor was found in a cell with its inmate. The chief in turn resigned his post, claiming he couldn’t run the police force due to interference from other officials in the city. John Deptford ran the hotel for several years, and today (unusually) it’s office space upstairs, rather than residential.

On the right, hidden by the trees, today there’s the McDowell, Atkins and Watson building from 1899, designed by J E Parr just before he formed his partnership as Parr and Fee. As there’s an earlier building in the picture, it must date back to closer to 1898. The developers were druggists, noted for their home-grown syrups like Linseed and Hoarhound, their Beef, Iron and Wine preparation and Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides. A few years later Stark’s Glasgow House moved their dry goods store here.

Across Cordova is the Whetham Block, developed by Dr. Whetham (who also built the Arlington Block in 1887 that faces the Springer-Van Bramer building). This building came a year after the Arlington, so was built in 1888, and was designed by N S Hoffar. Although a medical doctor, James Whetham spent his time as a real estate developer; by 1889 he had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. In 1969 the almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the one of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown demolished to be replaced with a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. Once the plan was dropped, this rather more modest structure was home to CNCP Telecommunications – perhaps the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. Today it has been refigured as office space, as there’s no longer a  need for buildings full of equipment.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2095

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Posted 29 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Water Street – 100 block south side (2)

We’ve seen the buildings further to the west in an earlier post. We also looked at the history of the two very similar buildings on the left of the picture; 110 and 118 Water Street. On the left, Sharp and Thompson designed a rooming hotel for Dr. Alfred Thompson costing $65,000 to build, which opened in 1913. Next door the same architects were responsible for the 1911 block for Albert DesBrisay, built at a cost of $62,000. Dr. Thompson was the MP for the Yukon, although he moved to Vancouver (and practiced medicine) in the 1920s. Albert was from New Brunswick, and part of a sizeable family who were all in business in Vancouver. He was a commissioners agent, and had been in Winnipeg for some time. His investment rooming house initially called The Colonial Rooms (as seen in this 1914 picture).

The third building in this part of the block was another investment for a local developer, but one that came with substantially lower costs as there were no architect’s fees. W T Whiteway designed the $45,000 warehouse for himself in 1910. By 1916 he had already sold the building; Kirkland & Rose hired R W Watson to carry out $3,500 of repairs and alterations. In 1925 A E Henderson designed another $1,400 of repairs to the warehouse.

John Rose and Henry Sinclair Kirkland were manufacturer’s agents, specializing in confectionery supplies. Before they moved here they were futher west at 312 Water Street. They moved in here around 1918, with the Canadian Chewing Gum Co and Cowan Co who were chocolate manufacturers in Toronto and represented by Kirkland and Rose.

The building beyond the gap was another $60,000 investment, built in 1912 for McLean Bros, (three brothers from the Scottish Islands). It was designed by Thomas Hooper and like the Kirkland & Rose warehouse was a victim to Woodward’s expanding empire, in this case to add a parking garage.

Today the Colonial Hotel, and the adjacent Gastown Hotel are both managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society. The Colonial is still privately owned, while BC Housing bought the Gastown Hotel and has carried out a number of internal improvements to what had become a very run-down building. The rest of the block to the west was demolished to build Woodward’s Water Street parkade, which was re-built by the City of Vancouver a few years ago, and has been altered again this year with the addition of a childcare facility on the roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA LGN 987

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Stark’s Glasgow House – Carrall Street

We’ve seen three other buildings that were home to Stark’s Glasgow House; a business that expanded over 20 years into smarter and larger premises. Here’s the initial Vancouver store, a modest Carrall Street address. The Archives image says this is the second Cordova Street store in 1892, but we think that’s inaccurate. Comparing with Robert Clark’s gentlemen’s clothing store, it shows an identical unit in the same Carrall Street building photographed in 1897, and that date is good for Stark’s at this address too – the Cordova Street address would be the ‘Enlarged and Remodeled’ premises a year later.

James Stark sold ‘dry goods’ The display shows bolts of cloth and fringed throws. The window says they also sell gloves & hosiery, and the door promises ‘standard patterns’. An 1892 advertisement for his new store said “Ladies looking for nice cool washing dresses should see the assortment of prints, cashmerettes, sateens, yama cloths, ginghams, zephyrs, etc., at Stark’s Glasgow House, 226 Carrall street, facing Cordova.”

The store was about to move just over a block to West Cordova, to the Callister Block, so there was a sale offering ‘big bargains’ on the stock. A few years later the store moved again to a former drugstore, slightly further west on Cordova at Cambie. That store was well on its way to a full departmental store (finally achieved a few years later on West Hastings), with a large millinery department that could be reached by elevator.

Robert and his wife and five children aged from 7 to 18 arrived in Vancouver in 1892 when he was 45. It’s not entirely clear why he chose the name ‘Glasgow House’ as James was born in Dundee. He married Julia Leck, who was also from Scotland, in 1871 in Toronto. In 1901 they was living at 1027 Robson Street with all five children. The business offered both dry goods and millinery and two sons worked with their father, joined by the youngest son William (always known as Billy) in 1903. James Stark died in 1918.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA SGN 1075

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Posted 11 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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Braden & Co – 300 West Cordova Street

This provisions and meat retailer occupied a store in the Arlington Block, developed in 1888 by Dr. James Whetham. No architect has been identified with the building, but another building nearby developed by Dr. Whetham around the same time was designed by N S Hoffar, so it’s likely that this was too. The Arlington Hotel was upstairs.

Whetham, like many early Vancouver developers, came from Ontario. His father moved to Canada, established himself as a general merchant and then died, leaving a widow and three young children. James initially became a teacher, then headed west, farming in Manitoba in 1878. Somehow he managed to study medicine (his biography says ‘in winter’) in Toronto and then Portland, Oregon, while living in Spokane Falls. He only practiced medicine very briefly before moving on to develop real estate, initially in Spokane Falls and then from 1887 (aged 33) in Vancouver.

By 1889 James Whetham had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. He was boarder in the Hotel Vancouver. He died in 1891, aged only 37, of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever.

T J Braden lived on Richards Street, near here, in 1898 when the photograph was taken. He first shows up in 1896, working as a butcher and living on Harris Street. It’s possible he was Thomas J Braden, from Simcoe, Ontario. His brother Robert was working with him a year later, and by 1900 they had additional branches on Harris Street and Granville Street, but by 1901 they were no longer in the city, and these were the premises of the Burrard Inlet Meat Co, managed by Herbert Keithley. Mr. Keithley and his brother-in-law, Robert Leberry, ran six meat stores, some that they had acquired from the Bradens, and lived in New Westminster. Early in 1902 they failed to open the stores, and two days later the San Francisco Call reported their pursuit in the US (left).

The sheriff was on the right track, but not fast enough. A few days later the Province reported that the two men were already mid-ocean, having boarded a sailing ship in San Francisco headed for Australia. It added “The unfortunate part of the affair Is that the wives of the departing men were left in ignorance of their husbands’ destination, and they were left absolutely without funds as well. Both women live In New Westminster and are sisters, and through no fault whatever of their own are left all but penniless. It is said Keithly did write his wife once after his departure, saying that he enclosed certain shares in a local company, the value of which would amount to about twenty-five dollars, but he forgot to send the shares.”

The store was no longer associated with the meat trade after this: A J Bloomfield sold cigars here in 1902. A couple of years later the street address disappeared, and the retail space appears to have become associated with the hotel upstairs. In 1905 it was run by Cottingham and Beatty, and a year later John Beatty on his own, later corrected to Beaty.

Within a few years the premises had been renamed the Arlington Rooms; Alice Gill ran them in 1915. The retail uses reappeared here; in 1920 Mrs Tosa Takaoha had a barber’s shop and S Nunoda sold confectionary.

Today the building still has retail stores; the butcher’s shop would be unrecognizable to former operators in its contemporary uses as an Italian fashion store for men and women, with the stripped-down design favoured by some clothing retailers.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu 5

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Posted 4 May 2020 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Taylor Building – Water Street

This office and warehouse building was built in 1911 for W and E C Taylor, who hired Grant and Henderson to design the $36,000 investment. Walter Taylor was the founder (in 1890) and managing director of the Empress Manufacturing Co., Ltd., which dealt in imported coffees and manufactured local jams and jellies, becoming one of the early successful local food supply companies. Edward C Taylor was his son, who was company secretary at Empress. (On the left is the former Edward Hotel, built in 1907 built for Charles Edward Beckman, a Swede, and on the right 322 Water, designed by Townsend and Townsend for William McPherson in 1912.

Before this new building, the Oriental Hotel was here: one of the first buildings completed after the fire of 1886, and so not built of fireproof materials. In 1911 the Taylor’s Empress business was sold to new owners, with William Hunter running the company.

By 1914 Edward had moved on to a new business, Horne Taylor & Co, insurance agents, where he was in partnership with Amedee P Horne. (He was from England, son of William Horne, of Paddington. He was generally known as A P Horne; was in the city very soon after it was created, and initially worked for the CPR in the land surveying department.) Walter Taylor was retired, living on Pine Crescent, and Edward was also living in Shaughnessy on Hosmer Avenue. Walter died in 1915, and his burial record shows that rather than being 44 as he claimed when the 1891 census was collected, he was actually already aged 50, so his retirement at aged 70, and his death five years later wasn’t at all surprising.

The Taylor Building became occupied as warehouse and office space. The earliest tenant was J A Tepoorten, a drug wholesaler established in 1910. They moved into the new building a year later. In 1923 the business was acquired by a syndicate of local retail pharmacists known as United Retail Druggists.

They had moved out by 1930, and it was known as the Commercial Building, with manufacturers agents and wholesalers of shoes and drugs among the tenants, and 25 years later the tenants included an electrical equipment supplier, wholesalers of shoes, clothing, wire and cables and several other manufacturer’s agents. It was still similarly occupied in 1979, when this picture was taken.

In 2003 the upper floors of the building became 22 strata residential units developed by the Salient Group, with Acton Ostry designing the conversion.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-179

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Posted 14 November 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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West Cordova from Abbott (2)

We saw a view westwards from Abbott along Cordova from 1889 in an earlier post. That was the south side of Cordova – here’s the north side seen in a more recent image – it’s an undated postcard that we guess is from the late 1900s.

The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”. William Bell Wilson was from Nova Scotia, and he lived in St John New Brunswick before moving to British Columbia in 1862. He worked in Victoria as an accountant, and Kamloops as a merchant. He married, had two children, and then became a widower when his wife died in 1879 when the children were aged 1 and 3. He was obviously successful financially, owning at least four lots in the city in 1886. In 1887 he was listed as a real estate agent in this building, and that year the city’s handbook listed him as a ‘Principal Property Owner’ with $25,000 of assets, one of the more significant landowners. By 1891 the block was owned by Rand Brothers, and Mr. Wilson’s finances had suffered, and he became Collector of Customs in Rossland, and then Trail.

He died, of dropsy, (these days it would probably be identified as edema due to congestive heart failure), aged 55, in Spokane. The Trail Creek News published his obituary “Mr. Wilson went to Spokane in July, for treatment. From the first no hopes had been entertained of his recovery. Last week his son was telegraphed for, and was with his father when he died.

Mr. Wilson was appointed collector of customs at this outport last November, at the time the outport was created. Prior to that time he had been with the Rossland office. Of his previous history the Rosslander says: “Mr. Wilson was a pioneer of the province, and is well known to most of the earlier residents.  During the C.P.R. construction he was a partner with J.A. Mara, ex-M.P. at Kamloops, where they built three steamers for conveying supplies from Tacoma to the eastern end of the Onderdonk section at the head of navigation on Shuswap Lake. These did a very large carrying business. Mr. Wilson went to Vancouver when that city was young and owned valuable property there, but he became interested through further investments in Anacortes, and with the depression in that city lost considerable money. Mr. Wilson had few intimate friends, but a wide circle of acquaintances who admired his many good qualities and learn with sincere regret of his death.”

A man in Mr. Wilson’s position has little opportunity to make friends, but the writer, with many others in Trail, knew him well and had the friendliest feelings and the greatest of respect for the dead officer.”

Today the base of a 31-storey condo building, part of the Woodwards redevelopment. occupies the site.

Today the Runkle Block sits on the north west corner, but in 1901 it was the two-storey wooden Cosmopolitan Restaurant. In 1910, according to a building permit, J C Runkle hired Sharp and Thompson to design the building standing today. It cost $28,000 and was built by Robert McLean. The developer was a total mystery – although we have identified what appears to be a likely subject. The initials for ‘J C Runkle’ come from the building permit, but there’s a cartouche on the building with the initials ‘J R’.

Runkle is a relatively unusual name, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the developer. In fact, in 1911 there was only one person in Canada listed in the census with the surname ‘Runkle’. Fortunately for us, he lived in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he was called Gordon Runkle, so J C Runkle didn’t match. He had lived in Vancouver from 1906, and died in Nanaimo in 1943.  He was married in the city in 1914, and he had the same architects design a house on Marine Drive in 1922. His father, John D Runkle was a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, the President of MIT (the second in the institution’s history), and also a chairman of the Brookline School Committee and an early advocate of mathematics and science. Gordon had an older brother (sixteen years older) named John C Runkle. Our guess is that Gordon, at the height of Vancouver’s property boom, managed the development on behalf of his brother – an absentee American east coast investor. In 1900 John worked for the National Coal Tar Co, in 1910 he was Vice President of a manufacturing company, and in 1930 he was an executive of a lumber supply company, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1908 he bought an old house dating back to 1765, had it moved, and hired architect Lois Lilley Howe to reconstruct and remodel the house.

Only one of the three buildings looks the same today as it did in the early 1900s. That’s part of the Cook Block – the western-most 4 storey element is said to have been completed in 1892. That part of the building has bay windows on two floors. Next door was a three storey building that has had an additional floor added to make it a matching four storeys today. They were developed by Edward Cook (who also constructed the Wilson Block on the left, laid the foundations of Christ Church, and was the builder of the first courthouse among many other projects). We don’t know if Edward hired an architect – and if so, who he chose.

In the 1891 census Edward was shown aged 35, born in Ontario, with a wife from Quebec, and four children under 8; Edna, May, Winifred and baby Wallace (listed as Douglas a decade later). In 1901 his wife is recorded as Miri, (actually she was Maria) and the four children now have three siblings, Beatrice, Francis and Elsie. His wife’s sister Elibeth (sic) Douglas, and son-in-law, Thomas Forman were shown living with the family (Maria and Elizabeth had a brother in the city; Frank, of Kelly, Douglas & Co). Edward arrived from Manitoba in 1886, and built a house for his family, that was burned down before they could arrive. They were travelling from Quebec, overland through Chicago , Portland and Tacoma, and then by steamer to Victoria and then Vancouver. They arrived days after the fire and their first home in Vancouver was a tent on Carrall Street, near this location. Edward was elected an alderman from 1901 to 1905, and was a very successful resident of the city. Maria died in the spring of 1940, and Edward four days later.

Beyond the Cook Block was the Eagle Hotel, which was added to in 1906, helping us date the picture. The Eagle was lost when Woodwards built their parking garage. The upper floors of the Cook Block were, for a while, residential, known as the Marble Rooms, but they closed in 1974. Today the three structures of the Cook Block and the Runkle Block (all three are only half the depth of the lot, so sixty feet deep) have been combined into a single building, with a restaurant on the corner and commercial uses on the upper floors.

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Posted 24 June 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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