Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

The Van Horne Block

This was one of the first of the city’s office buildings, seen here under construction in 1888. It was on the south-west corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, and was originally designed to be twice as wide, with four retail bays, but just two were built. It was commissioned by an American living in Montreal, William Cornelius Van Horne, the fomer general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway who became vice-president of the company in 1884, and president in 1888.

Having successfully negotiated a route, and to be given a substantial land allocation to put the railway’s terminus in the newly named Vancouver, the Directors of the CPR set about undermining the economy of the old Granville Townsite to the east by creating a new city centre, with Granville Street as its spine, and the new railway station on the waterfront to the north. They built their hotel a block to the south of here, (as this 1889 etching from West Shore, a Portland magazine, published in 1889, shows), and filled in some of the remainder of the street with their own investment properties, different office and retail buildings like this one, all designed in 1888. They mostly ignored the local architects, and favoured Bruce Price to design four of them. He was an experienced American designer based in New York. These would have been relatively minor commissions for an office designing Chateau Frontenac in Montreal and buildings for Yale University. (He also designed a version of the CPR’s Opera House, even further into the recently cleared forest to the south, but a different architect got the design commission for the building that was constructed in 1889).

‘Sir’ William Van Horne was given an honary knighthood in 1894, although as an American citizen he wasn’t technically supposed to use the title. Despite having the biggest salary earned by any North American railway executive, he resigned the presidency of the CPR in 1899, aged 56, and was involved in businesses across Canada, and around the world. He helped create a viable Cuban railway system, spending time in hot climates to help treat  bouts of bronchitis. He was extraordinarily gifted in areas beyond commerce. He was an accomplished artist, an excellent violinist, and an avid and knowledgeable collector of art, Asian porcelain and pottery and fossils. He was said to be able to outlast his friends at both drinking, smoking Cuban cigars and playing cards into the night. He died in 1915, three years after his office building was transformed.

That was stripped out and extended internally to create a movie theatre, the Kinemacolor Theatre, (which two years later became the Colonial), in a $70,000 reconstruction. The 1912 building permit was to the Ricketts Amusement Co and the architect was E W Houghton, a Seattle-based architect originally born in Hampshire in England (who had redesigned the CPR’s former Opera House in 1907). The facade was extensively altered with a different window pattern.

The final movie shown in January 1972 was ‘The Sun Also Rises’, from 1957, with Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner and Errol Flynn. (Flynn died in Vancouver in 1959 having been in the city to lease his yacht, accompanied by a 17-year-old actress). The theatre was demolished in April 1972 – the estimated one million bricks were carefully removed and sold at eight and a half cents per brick, to buyers who came from as far as Seattle.

After several years as a vacant site the third Pacific Centre Mall office tower was completed in 1981, designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners with a lighter colour than the earlier ‘dark towers’ to the south. From 2018 over a period of 18 months the building underwent a total reclad to replace the poorly-performing curtain wall, while the tenants continued to occupy the building. New double-glazed units designed by Perkins + Will were installed from a staging platform that worked from the top to the base of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 92



Posted 26 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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916 West Broadway

The Leyland Apartments – nine of them at the time – appeared for the first time in the 1930 street directory. R C Singleton built the $28,000 property for his ownership, designed by William Tuff Whiteway. Richard Cline Singleton was born in 1891, in Winfield, Cowley, Kansas. Cline Singleton briefly appears in 1920, working for Joseph H Singleton, a grocer, who had been in the city for a few years. We think that’s his father, born in 1863 in Indiana. Cline Singleton was listed in the 1900 census living with his parents Joseph and Carrie, who died a year later.

We think that by 1921 Cline Singleton was working in California; he referenced knowledge of a school in Ventura in a letter in the Vancouver press, and was listed in 1921 as the Head Farmer at the California School for Girls (a reform school in Ventura), the year the LA Times ran a story ‘Girls Plotted to Burn Whole School, Escape‘.

Cline married Mary Maverette Stockwell, probably while he was in California; Mary was born in 1885 in Indiana, but in 1920 was still single and living with her father, Lucius, in San Diego. Her mother, Phoebe, had died in 1888 leaving Lucius with four children. She had attended Indiana University, studying English, and in 1910 was teaching English and Botany at the High School in Cloverdale, Indiana. (When her father died in 1941 he was back in Indiana).

By 1923 Cline Singleton was a grocer on East 28th Avenue, and Joseph Singleton was at the same address. A year later Joseph ran the grocers store, and Cline was a partner in Fairview Brokerage on West Broadway. By 1927 both men were listed as carpenters, living on Nelson Avenue in the West End. They both obtained building permits over a number of years. Cline advertised that he would build a bungalow, either on the client’s site, or one he owned. Several examples of his work are still standing today; typical 1920s bungalows with a roughed in basement, (not necessarily high enough to stand in), with a bedroom in the roof with a dormer window. They generally cost $4,000 to build. In 1929 Cline built two apartment blocks, including this one.

Joseph Harrison Singleton died in Vancouver in 1934. His obituary said he was a well-known contractor, who had come to the city 19 years earlier. The newpaper report said he was 71 when he collapsed and died, leaving one son, Cline. That year R Cline Singleton and his wife Maverette were living at The Singleton Building on West 10th Avenue. They were still there in 1937, but by 1941 they were back in San Diego, and were still there in 1950 when Cline was working as a real estate broker.

In 1954 Richard C Singleton and Mary M Singleton of El Cajon, San Diego, successfully bid $3,840 for 640 acres of “rolling hill land, located at an elevation of 3,800 feet and crossed by numerous small gullies. The soil is of first quality, supporting greasewood and other heavy desert growth and chaparral. The land contains no springs; however, water from wells is available in the vicinity. The land is fair for grazing, but is not suitable for agriculture” He died on 5 June 1968, in Carlsbad, San Diego, California, United States, at the age of 77, and Mary in 1982 at the age of 96, also in San Diego.

The apartments were advertised in the Leyland from August 1929 as three-room at reasonable rent. In 1962 the rent for a one-bedroom suite was $80. In 1969 a 2-room suite was $87 a month, electric and heat included. In 1976, two years after our image was shot, a one-room suite was $220. The building was one of only a few residential buildings in a sea of commercial development, and was acquired for the construction of a new station on the Arbutus Extension of SkyTrain. Currently it’s been replaced by a deep hole, future home to the closest station to Vancouver General Hospital, and awaiting the arrival of the two boring machines, Elsie and Phyllis, currently heading to the site from the east. In a few years a new development can be built, but zoning in this stretch of Broadway requires commercial rather than residential buildings, and as the hospital ER Department and the helipad is immediately to the south, the building’s height will be limited.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-00259


Posted 19 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Gone

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1110 West Georgia Street

1100 West Georgia Street is the corner lot on the south side of West Georgia, at Thurlow. In this 1981 image there was a seven storey office building that we noted recently on a 1955 aerial shot of this part of the Downtown peninsula.

The building was completed in 1950, built by Allen and Viner. The architect for the conversion and addition was Ross Lort, identified in a Journal of Commerce story in 1949.

This wasn’t a wholly new structure – the base was a four storey car showroom and dealership developed in 1926 by Chevrolet Cars at a cost of $80,000. They hired Dominion Construction to carry out the work (and design the building), and there was a second $50,000 permit too. Begg Brother’s who had built an earlier 1912 building across the street were running the facility. When it opened in June 1927 The Evening Sun reported “The building and all of its service, sales, storage and handling conveniences were designed by the management, architects’ assistance being required only for the technical structural specifications. The work, of construction was done by the Dominion Construction Co.” On the ground floor there was a showroom, with a parts department alongside on Georgia, and a service department at the back. There was a ‘spacious ladies’ rest room’ on the mezzanine floor, with the company offices. On the second floor the service department continued, accessed by a ramp than ran up the entire building. (There was also a passenger elevator). New cars were stored and prepared on the third floor, and the fourth was a paint department, which could add a GM Duco non-scratch finish to any other vehicle. Begg Brothers were still here at the start of the 1940s, although now they were a Dodge and DeSoto dealership, but by 1945 they had moved their main showroom to a smaller single storey building just to the west, (although the truck division were still on Thurlow Street) and this was briefly used by Neon Products engineering division.

The first reference to government use of the old car showroom was early in 1946, when Veteran’s Affairs were supposed to move their office here from the Second Hotel Vancouver – but the Neon Products lease was still in place until the end of January. In 1947 Allen and Viner were hired by the owners to remodel the building and add two additional floors. The government committed to buying and paying for the addition in mid 1948, budgeting $1,060,000 in total. Meanwhile the Taxation Department were located here, but they moved out at the end of 1948.

Initially budgeted at $850,000, the work to add the floors and clad the entire structure eventually cost the government, who became the developer of the building, $575,000 more. With the purchase of the building, the bill was double the initial estimate. The Vancouver Sun sent their reporter, Jack Webster, to Ottawa, to question the Minister, and he reported “The extra $375,000, the officials, told me, was necessary to add a third storey to the building (bringing it to a total height of seven storeys). “We had to drive columns down to the foundations in order to strengthen the walls sufficiently to take the additional storey,” it was explained. “But the total price (of $1,800,000) is reasonable, It is the largest block of good office accommodation in Vancouver today.” Questions were raised in parliament because the contract was let on a non-competition basis to Allen and Viner, who a local Conservative member argued were given the contract as ‘friends of the government’. The Minister denied knowing the gentlemen, claiming they werer selected because one of them had worked for Dominion Construction when the garage had been built.

It continued to be known as The Begg Building, home to the Taxation Department once more, but didn’t survive very long. In 1980 it was part of a trade with Marathon Realty, with a valuation of $3m, part of a complex land deal that saw Federal and Provincial agencies swapping sites around the city to obtain a Marathon-owned site to build a new stadium (BC Place). Marathon’s general manager, Gordon Campbell, was already planning new office buildings on the sites they acquired, and the office was demolished around 1983. It stayed as a parking lot for twenty years, and while there was an office building proposed in 1994, that wasn’t built and the land was incorporated into a larger site, with the single storey car dealership buildings to the west. In 2008 the Shangri-La hotel and condo tower, the tallest in the city (and the whole of Metro Vancouver, although not for much longer) was completed after three years of construction.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W12.02 and CVA 99-3748


Posted 16 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Denman and Robson Street – north

Yet another Downtown corner that was once a gas station, Robson and Denman had a Chevron station into the end of the 1980s. In 1995 Times Square was developed here – a strata building that has never been sold, and that operates as an ‘apartment style hotel’ (allowing daily booking), and licenced as an apartment house. Designed by Katz Architecture it has 42 suites. The Archives say the image was taken between 1980 and 1997 – but clearly it was before the early 1990s.

This corner was undeveloped as late as 1920, and while there were two houses to the west, the first development seems to have been in 1954 when Dulmage’s Service Station was listed for the first time, as 785 Denman, which was a Chevron station when it first opened. In 1963 Ronald Gibson (aged 21, no fixed address) was jailed for nine months after stealing $300 from William Dulmage’s service station. The police didn’t catch him; he surrendered to Calgary police after attending a bible class there, and overwhelmed with guilt gave himself up.

In the early 1970s it became Standard Station #28, but by 1975 was back to Denman Chevron, and in the early 1980s Parkview Chevron. In spring 1989, Bill and Ken were offering ‘a good selection of Service Station goods and equipment for immediate sale’, suggesting this picture must date to the mid-1980s.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-543


Posted 5 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Homer Street – 1100 block (3)

We looked at the other side of this block of Homer Street in two earlier posts. They’re part of the historic warehouse district that has been retained and converted to retail, commercial and some residential buildings. On the west side of the street earlier development wasn’t part of the CPR’s warehouse district and was included in the Downtown South residential neighbourhood. As a result, the commercial buildings on this side of the street have almost all been redeveloped. While the CPR warehouses were almost all built in a very short period, from 1909 to 1912, this side took longer, and the buildings were more recent.

That includes these two warehouse buildings, (as well as the gas station on the corner). 1107 Homer was developed in 1928 by Hobbs Manufacturing Co. Ltd, and designed and built for $34,000 by Dominion Construction Co. Ltd. Next door the larger lot with the two storey building had its building constructed in 1926. Dominion also built this one at a cost of $25,000 for Leek & Co, who had hired McCarter and Nairne to design it.

Hobbs Manufacturing had their roots in London, Ontario. They were glass dealers, but their advertisements note that they produced leaded windows for ecclesiastical purposes, along with stained glass, memorial and portrait windows, and mirrors for both religious and residential locations. They also manufactured store fronts: “fabricated in solid rolled bronze or copper or electro plated in many pleasing colors”. Another line were glass prisms for sidewalks where the basement projected beyond the building line.

Leek and Co in 1111 Homer were already established in the area – in fact less than a block away. They were a plumbing, heating installation and engineering business, previously located in 1090 Homer across the street on the next block north. The warehouse continued as their premises until 1970, when the Leasing Department of Montreal Trust advertised its availability. Whittick Mechanical Contractors started using some of the space in the building in 1972, and it was split into multiple smaller spaces until it was redeveloped.

In the early 1950s Hobbs Glass, in 1107, sold out to Canadian Pittsburgh Industries, who continued the operations of the business until 1958, when they moved to new premises on Terminal Avenue. A year later Trev Deeley’s motorcycle business was located here. Radco Sales continued distributing Suzuki motorbikes from here in the early 1970s, and by the end of the decade this had also become multiple office spaces. Joe Wai, architect, had his office here in the late 1980s.

The site was redeveloped with condos in the mid 2000s, designed by IBI / HB. The development was not without drama; the developer, Chandler Developments, went bankrupt in 2008, leaving a receiver to finish construction. The sales pitch for the project was too good to be true ” This is Chandler Development Group at its best. The respected family firm, with more than three generations of extensive real estate experience in Vancouver and beyond” In reality Mark Chandler had been ordered to stop selling condos here because he had failed to disclose his financial liabilities, and the BC superintendent of real estate, W. Alan Clark, found the information before him raised “a serious concern and a likelihood that Chandler, acting on behalf of the developers, has sold one or more development units in the developers’ developments to more than one purchaser.” This seemed more than likely as he had done exactly the same thing on a project he developed on Richards Street. He’d been deported back to Canada after being found guilty of fraud, theft and forgery related to a development project Arizona in 2003.

This didn’t really seem to put Mr. Chandler off. He started a new company, and developed a condo project in Murrayville, in Langley. Once again, he was accused of taking substatntial deposits from two parties on 34 of the units. Despite legal proceedings to sort that out, and an unpaid tax bill to the municipality, Mr. Chandler was more concerned with other matters. He had been indicted for fraud in 2016 in Los Angeles, accepting funds from investors for an LA condo project that was more fiction than reality. In addition to soliciting cash, between 2009 and 2011 Chandler convinced victims to give him loans or obtain loans from others and give him the proceeds, and use their personally owned properties as collateral for loans he obtained, according to federal prosecutors. After 3 years fighting extradition, he was transferred to the US in 2019. He may not have helped his case by supposedly surrendering his passport, and then taking a Mexico vacation using a second passport while fighting to stay in Canada.

When the case came to court in 2021, he was obviously hoping that the two years he had been held in the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Los Angeles, (where he caught COVID), and the fact that he pled guilty (to a single wire fraud charge) would help. The prosecution was seeking 51 months in prison, while his lawyers suggested two years was more appropriate. Judge Percy Anderson disagreed, and handing down a six-year sentence calling Chandler “a financial predator,”. Chandler, who used the $1.7m he obtained to buy himself a Mercedes-Benz, chartering a private yacht, luxury purchases and high-end dining, and vacations in Hawaii and Las Vegas, was also ordered to pay $1.7m back, and will have a 3-year supervised release once his sentence is served.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.21


1040 Hornby Street

This 1965 image of two Hornby Street buildings shows Barons’ Auto House in 1040 Hornby, a three-storey building that looks like it may have had a partial 1940s makeover. Underneath was an earlier structure, designed by Thomas Hooper in 1910 for Alex Mitchell. When it was built, the $30,000 building was home to the Stanley Park Stables.

Around 1900 Alex Mitchell took over the Georgia Street stables of Queen Brothers. He ran the stables with a partner, W Hill Peppard who also ran the Pacific Transfer Co. In 1901 he stopped working for Dunn’s and moved to Howe Street, and in 1902 took over the Stanley Park livery on his own. In 1905 he built a new stables on Seymour Street but was only there for five years before moving to this location. At one point Alex had 86 horses, 40 rigs, seven hacks and two tally-hos. Much of the company’s profits came from showing visitor’s around the city – including Stanley Park. By 1909, one of the Tally-hos was an automobile. (They were the largest carriage, carrying up to 20 passengers and drawn by a team of four horses).

The growing popularity of automobiles, and the effects of the war led to the stables closing in 1915. Alex kept his home four blocks north of here, and by 1917 was manager of the Ice Delivery Company, a job he retained for 20 years. His commute wasn’t too onerous – the company, initially managed by Charles Faucett, took over this building. They then moved to Homer Street, and by the 1930s to Richards and Davie. In 1920 the RCMP were using the building as a stables, but by 1923 they had moved, and Black Brothers Autos moved in

Black Brothers made automobile upholstery. Before moving here, they were on Homer Street, so the image of the interior of their works, dated c 1914 in the Archives is either inaccurate about the date, or the location. They were still here in 1930, but a decade later W T Tupper’s Auto House bodywork restoration business was here.

Auto House were still here in 1950, but sharing the premises with Meredith Motors and the Arrow Boat Works at the back of the site. They were replaced by Mendham & Robertson auto repairs by 1955.

1070 Hornby, the smaller building next door, was developed as an office building later known as Emerald House in 1952. In 1955 Trans Canada Airlines had an office here, as well as Marine Surveys of Western Canada and National Paper Goods. Previously there were residential addresses here, with 5 separate doors. Thomas Hooper had designed a $6,000 stable building for W H Gallagher, also in 1910, but we don’t think it was built. Instead, rowhouses were built here, although we haven’t found a permit to accompany their construction.

In 2000 The Canadian was built here, with 185 condo units in a Busby & Associates designed building for Wall. 44 more units are used as a time-share hotel.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-26 and CVA 1403-4


Posted 24 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Stanley Park Livery – 601 Seymour Street

Alex Mitchell took over the Stanley Park Livery stables on Georgia Street from Queen Brothers in 1900, initially with a partner, W Hill Peppard, and then from 1903 on his own. In 1905 he moved to these new premises on the corner of Dunsmuir and Seymour, on a site that Hill Peppard had owned. (We saw the home of Mr. Peppard, also on Seymour, in an earlier post). We know Hill Peppard owned this property, because in 1900 he was required to attend police court for “Failing to place gulley trap at rear of Premises Georgia & Seymour St given to Sept. 7th to comply not complied with + dismissed by request of R.M.” 

Hill Peppard was born in 1870 in the US according to the 1901 census, and was shown with his wife, Mary, who was 3 years younger, from Ontario, and two daughters, aged two and one. Their marriage had been in December 1900, and showed Hill born in Arlington, Virginia, marrying Mary Russell from Barrie. Hill had been in the area for a while; he was in a teamster in New Westminster in 1891, when he was also shown born in the US. The odd thing is that in the 1911 census, (when he was lodging in the Hotel Vancouver), and his birth registration, Hill was shown born in Nova Scotia. (His parents were born there, but it’s unclear where he was actually born).

He was in partnership as a drayman with Herman Robinson until 1899. From 1903 he was delivering firewood from the Coal Harbour Mill as Peppard & Macdonald. Mary died in 1905, and in 1911 he was in real estate, on Granville Street. A decade later he had moved to Chilliwack, where he was listed as a farmer. His brother, Clarence, a building official from Minneapolis, visited in 1925. He sent a telegram telling Hill’s other brother, who lived in Langley, that he was visiting, but it was delivered to the wrong location, so nobody met him at the station. Clarence checked in at the Belmont Hotel on Granville and was never seen again. He supposedly set off on the train to Chilliwack, and there was sighting of someone who might have been him in Marpole, but it was nearly a year later that his body was found in the North Arm of the Fraser River. Hill remarried to Mary Ann Rohrabaugh in 1927, in Whatcom County. He died in 1943, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. His executors, on tying up his affairs, advertised a mysterious message in the press, saying Hill was also known as C W Moore. We have no idea what that refers to – a second family?

These premises were designed and built in 1904 by C Mills, with a $5,000 permit issued to ‘Mrs Roberts’. Exactly who she was, we still don’t don’t know, althouigh we know she was called Mary. Mrs. Mary Roberts was given permission to build a brick retaining wall at Mitchell’s livery, in 1904, and a few weeks later complained that because the dirt had not been filled in against her property, the basement had flooded.

John Roberts, a contractor, lived almost opposite here at 616 Seymour. It seems unlikely his wife would hire another contractor to build her stables. John Wesley Roberts, a teamster, lived very close, at 511 Richards, but it seems less likely to be his wife as he was widowed when he died in 1909, and William Roberts was a hostler living at 560 Cambie, but he worked for Mainland Transfer. In 1905, and 1906 A Mitchell carried out alterations and repairs, so presumably Alex bought the premises in 1905..

We looked at Alex Mitchell’s history in connection to his home on Princess (now East Pender). Born in 1867 in Huron, Ontario, he arrived in 1894, and married a year later. He started as a warehouseman for Thomas Dunn, but by 1900 had partnered with Hill Peppard to take over the stables on Georgia. They brought the Stanley Park Livery name with them – as far as we can tell the stables were never actually in Stanley Park, but you could hire horses and a carriage, and take a ride round the park (pausing to reverse into the Hollow Tree and take a photograph if you had the skill). This image is dated c 1910, but we think it may have been taken around 1906, when another was taken of Alex outside the stables.

By 1911 Alex had built another new building at 1040 Hornby, although this building was still listed as Stanley Park Stables. He was offering Boarding Stables, Nacks, Victorias, Surreys, Carriages and Tally-Ho, so he probably briefly filled both buildings. Gasoline powered cars were still relatively few and far between, and the city was growing fast, so business was good. In 1912 all the business was conducted from Hornby, and for just one year Bligh Stables operated here, run by Herbert Bligh. This building must have been demolished only seven years after it was constructed, because in 1913 The St Regis Hotel opened here, owned by Leon Melekov and designed by W T Whiteway. Unlike many of the local rival hotels from the era, it continues (without becoming a rooming house) to this day. Indeed, it’s one of the smarter and more popular boutique hotels in the city.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-12


Posted 21 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Queen Brothers Stables – Georgia Street

The Queen Brothers were from New Brunswick. The 1871 census shows Elsworth was aged 5, and the census clerk recorded some of the family as ‘Quinn’ and others as ‘Queem’ (all in the same household). (Their parents were from Ireland, and may not have been able write, so Quinn may well have been accurate, but the census clerk struggled with spelling as well). His brother, listed as Charls Quinn, was twenty years older, and there were seven other siblings in between. Three brothers eventually ended up in Vancouver, soon after the fire destroyed the city. The oldest, William, worked for the railway company.

The business known as Queen Brothers – Charles and Elsworth – ran the Stanley Park Stables from 1887. At first they were on Cambie Street (almost at Water Street), and around 1892 they moved west to a new location closer to the developing Granville Street strip, with a new stables at 606 Georgia Street. It took up half a double lot, with the Waverley Hotel on the other half of the lot, which they hired N S Hoffar to design in 1890.

Initially they had tenants running the hotel, but in 1895 Elsworth took over, while Charles L Queen was elected as an alderman in 1894 and 1895, and was running the stables on his own in 1898. In 1899 R B Dixon had taken over the stables, but that was short-lived, and Peppard and Mitchell took over in 1900. They were here until 1902, and then Alex Mitchell ran the stables on his own until 1904. A year later he’d moved his operation to new stables a block away.

There are two copies of this image in the archives, one dated 1889, and one 1898. We don’t think either is correct, as the stables wasn’t built on Georgia until 1892. The last year that both brothers were involved in the hotel and the stables was 1897. The image note says: ‘Photograph shows Frank W. Hart’s funeral hearse’. Frank was a serial entrepreneur; born in Illinois in 1856, he headed north and west, as an Indian scout and bronco buster, and then working in Walla Walla in his early 20s for a furniture and undertaking business. He walked from Semiahmoo to New Westminster and then came to Granville in 1885, setting up a furniture making business. In the fire the following year his losses were estimated at $13,000, but he rebuilt, and added the role of undertaker in the city, with a horse-drawn hearse. He also owned Hart’s Opera House – a relocated roller skating rink. In 1894 he sold up and moved to Rossland. Frank confirmed that the hearse was his in a letter to the City archivist. Built by Nash & Co, he bought it after seeing it in an exhibition in Toronto, where it had won first prize. He kept it at Queen Brothers’ stables, so that suggests the image is from the early 1890s.

Elsworth, (always referred to in print as ‘E P Queen’) moved to Atlin during 1898, where initially he ran the Leland Hotel, although he sold up in 1903. In 1899 E P and W Queen held a timber licence in Atlin. In 1903 he visited Vancouver to acquire some horses that he took back on the steamer ‘Princess May’. That year Charles took a holiday in Harrison Hot Springs, and in 1905 was in San Francisco ‘in connection with his Atlin mining interests’. By 1904 he had 20 acres in cultivation on a ranch just outside the town of Atlin, growing all types of hardy vegetables, oats, and hay, having no difficulty in selling everything locally. He visited Vancouver again in 1906, and seems to have effectively swapped places with his brother in 1910. Ellsworth Queen was listed living in Vancouver, with his older brother, William, (the only one of the brothers who was married, with a wife and daughter living at home), while Charles Queen was living in Atlin, listed as a mine-owner.

By 1913 both brothers were back in Vancouver, Charles at the Waverley and Ellsworth in his house on West 14th Avenue. By 1915 Ellsworth was spending more time in Alberta on a ranch he had bought there. He was listed living near Edmonton in the 1916 census, and was still ranching successfully in 1923, raising beef. He was listed again in 1926, and was selling pigs, and 2 teams of work horses in 1931 in West Edmonton ‘north of city limits’, but we haven’t found a reference to when he died.

In 1918 former alderman ‘Charley Queen’ was reported to have drowned when the Princess Sophia sailing from Skagway in Alaska to Vancouver, crashed into Vanderbilt Reef at a speed of about 11 knots. He had been ‘visiting his valuable Yukon mining properties’, and almost failed to secure a berth on the voyage. It’s likely the crew miscalculated the distance from the shore as there was heavy snow, fog and zero visibility. The ship stuck on the rocks for two days, with rescue boats unable to reach her because of the treacherous seas. After 40 hours the storm tore the hull adrift, snapping it into two, with all 353 passengers and crew lost. Eventually 150 bodies were recovered.

The stables weren’t listed for several years in the 1900s, but by 1910 the Royal Transfer Co were using the location. They were there for a few more years, managed by E C Davison. By 1915 they had gone, and in 1920 a large new theatre had replaced both the Waverley Hotel, and the stables. In 1975 the Vancouver Centre replaced the theatre, with the Scotia Tower on this part of the site.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P84


Posted 17 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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414 Princess Street

When this image was taken, (supposedly in 1897), the street was called Princess. Today it’s called East Pender, (and there’s a totally different Princess nearby – Princess Avenue, renamed from Carl Avenue). The house was home to the Mitchell family from 1897 when it was newly built.

Alexander Mitchell arrived in the city around 1894 (he was born in Stanley, Huron, Ontario) and married in April 1895. Before she married, Louisa Maria (‘Lou’) Richardson, (who was born in Point Edward, Lambton, Ontario), had been living in New Westminster with her family. They had arrived in 1889, and her father, who was born in Westminster in England, worked for the railways.

Alex was a warehouseman for Thomas Dunn, and in the 1901 Census he was still a warehouseman aged 35. His wife, Louisa, was nine years younger, and they had two daughters, Vera aged 2 and Marion, 1, a lodger, Thomas Leith, who was a teacher, and a 15-year-old domestic, Ellen Lush, from the North West Territories. As Vera was born in 1899, we suspect this picture was taken around 1900, with Louisa holding Vera in the doorway.

In 1900 Alex became associated with the Stanley Park Livery Stables in partnership with an American called Hill Peppard. The business was established by Queen Brothers on Georgia Street and was briefly run by Dixon and McRae. Later in 1901 the Mitchell family moved Downtown, initially to Howe Street, and a few years later to the 900 block of Hornby, which would remain the family home for many years.

By 1903 Alex was running the business on his own; in 1905 he had permits to build and then alter stables on Seymour Street. Alex was second in a family of nine children, and Lou was the sixth of ten, so it’s not surprising that by 1911 Vera and Marion had a sister, Clare, and two brothers, Wilfred and Elmer. The family domestic was now called Lillian Valley, from Finland. Here’s Alex in his buckboard in 1906.

In 1902 Matthew Barr, a plumber had moved into this house, and was here a year later when it was renumbered as 432. In 1904 W H Rogers moved in, a carpenter, who became a contractor, and was still here in 1908 when it became East Pender. We’ve written Mr. Rogers’ story in relation to a building he constructed near here, on Keefer Street. Born in Bristol, in England, he was in Vancouver before moving to Seattle, then here again from around 1904, before he moved to the West End, and later back to Seattle again.

When he moved out, the 1912 residents weren’t recorded – just listed as ‘Chinese’. That listing was unchanged through the 1920s. In 1931 the listing switched to ‘Orientals’, but by 1936 a name was published; Doe Heong. Louisa Mitchell became secretary of the Pioneer’s Association. She died in 1937, and Alex in 1948.

The area was marked for demolition and redevelopment in the 1950s, and the City voluntarily or compulsorily acquired all the property on the block. The plans for this block were for it to be sold to a private developer for market housing, and even though it was sold for a third of the cost to assemble it, the deal fell through, and after lawsuits the City eventually got the land back. Mau Dan Gardens was completed in 1982, developed by the Strathcona Area Housing Society, (a spin-off from the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association – SPOTA – the community group that successfully opposed the comprehensive redevelopment of the area). It was designed by Joe Y Wai and Spaceworks Architects. Some of the units were intended for sale, but only a few sold and remain freehold properties. The remainder are a housing co-op, and the entire development has seen a multi-year renovation with new energy efficient windows and roofs, exterior walls, and new landscaping throughout the project.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 319-19 and Bu P494.


Posted 14 November 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Windsor Apartments – 1924 Barclay Street

This relatively modest apartment building was approved for development in 1926. Costing $15,000, it was designed by W F Gardiner for A C Howard, and had six suites. The image in the Vancouver Public Library is undated, but the concrete looks very shiny, so we’re guessing it was taken around 1927.  The builder was listed as ‘day labour’, but Mr. Howard was a contractor, so he presumably supervised the construction. He built several houses for himself, which he also designed, so he probably had a pretty good idea of what he wanted built here.

We think Albert C Howard was born in Birmingham and was living in Yardley (these days a suburb of Birmingham) in 1901, with his wife Hilda who he had married in Solihull in 1900, and their daughter Nellie who was born in October 1900. Albert was a builder, and the family were living with his father, Charles, who was a coal merchant. Winnifred was born in 1905, in Birmingham, and Elsie in 1910, also in England. Albert John Howard was born in BC in 1916, and we believe there was a final daughter, Hilda.

Albert Howard first appears in Vancouver in 1911 as a carpenter, and a year later in the same employment but for J A Lund & Co. In 1916 Albert was on active service, and his military service was noted in the press. In 1923 he was vice president of the Grand Army of United Veterans, and from 1920 had been proprietor of Hotel Gifford on Robson Street. By 1927 he seems to have returned to being a building contractor. In 1929 he submitted the lowest tender for the addition to the University Heights School. In 1928 the family announced the marriage of Nellie to Archie Scotland, in 1933 the engagement of Winnifred to Robert Baldrey, and in 1936 of their third daughter, Elsie, to Frederick Woodward, of Edmonton. In 1943, Albert (who was in the RCAF) married Chesley Black.

Surprisingly, nothing had been built here before the apartments – this was the tennis court in the garden of a big turreted house on the corner of Gilford (to the left on this image), developed by (Henry) Harry McDowell in 1902. He arrived in the city immediately after the 1886 fire and established the first drug store. Partnering with another former resident of Milton, Ontario, he took McDowell and Atkins to one of the largest drug store businesses in the province. He was President of the Board of Trade, and an alderman, and retired at the start of the First World War at the age of 52. He got blood poisoning, which required a leg to be amputated, and he died in 1917. His former home was initially rented by his widow, Dell, and in the 1920s became a rooming house.

This version of the Windsor Apartments was here for only 38 years. The house next door was redeveloped as The Everest Apartments in 1960, (the year after both Albert Charles Howard and Hilda Howard died), and this site was developed in 1965 with a 42-suite building (still called Windsor Apartments) designed by Wilding & Jones.


Posted 10 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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