Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

Robson and Hornby Street – south east

This image, from May 1965 shows, according to the Archives record, “the Clement Block, Danceland, Crystall Lunch, C.K.N.W. and Black Top Cabs office”. There’s also a bakery, and Triangle Books on the main floor of the two storey and mansard building dating from 1922. It was developed by Herbert S Clements, and designed by A A Cox in two stages; Cameron Construction built the initial $12,000 structure, and then a year later E Cook & Sons carried out another $6,000 of ‘Miscellaneous; Repairs/Alterations; Banquet hall’. Those were by no means the total costs.

A complex legal case from 1927 told the story of the new building. In 1920 W H Sproule, President of the National Mortgage Company, and H S Clements, a director, bought a building on this corner. W G Harvey had owned the building in 1909, and sold it that year to Maxwell, Le Feuvre, Passage and Tomlin for $85,000. There were various mortgages and payments that are far too complex to list here, and Maxwell and Le Feuvre sold their interests, but eventually Passage and Tomlin agreed to sell the site to Mr. Sproule. He had difficulty paying for the building, and Mr. Clements helped him out, and they ended up owning the building with a small mortgage. Mr. Sproule at around the same time moved to Winnipeg leaving Mr. Clements in charge of the decrepit building, which was ordered demolished by the City in 1922. The replacement cost at least $88,000 in total to build, and the land was assessed at $50,000, and in June 1924 he sold the building seen here for $125,000. Mr. Sproule sued to try to get more than his half of the sale proceeds, and a judge awarded him an extra $3,085. Mr Sproule wanted more, and Mr. Clements didn’t think he was entitled even to that amount, so they ended up in the Court of Appeal. The judges sided with Mr. Clements: one of the judges noting “Real estate at the time in question in the City of Vancouver was of very uncertain value and holders thereof were looked upon as speculators. The defendant by the exercise of great skill and judgment was able to, in the end, make a profit by the sale of the land after the erection thereon of a suitable building, and he must be allowed all outgoings in respect thereof; the plaintiff cannot obtain the profits and leave all the losses with the defendant.”

Herbert S Clements had been a Conservative MP, initially in Chatham, Ontario, where he was born, representing West Kent from 1904 until 1908 when he moved to British Columbia. He set up a real estate company with George S Heywood which continued to operate through to the early 1920s. His partner was also from Chatham, where he was still living in 1901. When they were in partnership, they both occupied apartments in the same building, 859 Thurlow. At the same time, from 1911 until 1921 Herbert represented the British Columbia ridings of Comox-Atlin and then Comox-Alberni. His obituary, in 1939, said he retired both from his real estate business and politics more than 15 years before. That would coincide with a court case where Mr. Clements sued John J Coughlin for $5,000 to be paid for helping Mr. Coughlin sell his interest in a government funded drydock in Burrard Inlet. Mr. Clements was involved because of his ‘influence’ in Ottawa, but unlike two other lobbyists, he was never paid.

Herbert Clements was an old-school conservative. While representing Chatham it was noted that he “Strongly advocates more protection for agricultural interests of Canada and believes in equal tariff with U.S. on all national products affecting Canada.” When he stood as a conservative for Comox Atlin in 1911, the local Prince Rupert newspaper, the Daily News described him as a ‘carpet bagger’, and backed the liberal candidate (a local). The Omineca Miner newspaper seemed happier with him, and carpetbagger or not, Mr. Clements was elected. Today his attitude to former eastern Europeans are still remembered, especially Ukrainians, interned during the first war. In March 1919 he said “I say unhesitatingly that every enemy alien who was interned during the war is today just as much an enemy as he was during the war, and I demand of this Government that each and every alien in this dominion should be deported at the earliest opportunity. Cattle ships are good enough for them.”

The new building on the corner was leased out, with the entire second floor going to a dance academy called the Alexandra Ballroom, with the entry on Hornby Street. It had draped windows, a stage, a small lounge and a kitchen. The wooden, sprung dance floor had bags of horsehair laid under the floor, and later, overhead fanning boards were added. All this made for a very classy venue, a rival to The Commodore.

In 1929 a radio station was established on the third floor by Sprott Shaw College. In 1954 radio station CKNW moved into the space, but owner Bill Rea, sold CKNW and took over The Alex, downstairs. He changed the name to Danceland and created a new upbeat venue. Adorned with oversized neon signs, Danceland began to attract some of the big names of the day. Red Robinson recalls the venue playing host to Ike & Tina Turner, The Coasters, Bobby Darin, Roy Orbison and many other R&B and early rock and roll bands. A new owner took over Danceland and continued to promote the venue as a Rock and Roll dance hall. It could accommodate up to 600 people, and coaches sometimes could be seen parked outside having brought dancers up from the USA. It was noted that bouncers did routine patrols looking for booze under the chairs.

The city bought the building for a civic centre that never materialized, and the Province took over and initially cleared the site for a parking lot in 1965. The new Courthouse, designed by Arthur Erickson was built here many years later, although this corner is really part of the site’s extensive landscaping, designed by Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-351

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Posted December 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Robson Street west from Hamilton

This undated image was taken, we’re reasonably certain, in the early 1980s. This part of Downtown was in transition: the area had started out in the late 1890s as a residential neighbourhood, complete with churches and corner stores, conveniently located for the original city centre to the north and the new CPR city to the west, emerging around Granville Street. By the 1970s the move to commercial use had been significant, but odd houses still remained, like the one on the left of the picture. It was first shown in a street directory in 1892 when Amelia Vesey moved here, probably with her family. She was recently widowed, born in Nova Scotia and previously married to Joseph Vesey. In 1911 she had moved to live with her son, Charles, an accountant living in the West End.

Just to the right of the billboard is the BC Hydro headquarters, over half a kilometer away and standing tall in a neighbourhood of modest buildings.

The building that helps us date the image is the big, gold, office building in the distance. Designed by Eng and Wright it was completed in 1983. Beyond it, one and a half kilometers away, the Sheraton Landmark hotel occupied a prominent spot on Robson Street. The ‘after’ shot was taken earlier this year (before the street trees were in leaf to hide most of the buildings), but the Landmark was already shorter, on its way to be demolished for a pair of strata and non-market housing towers that will replace the hotel. Between the camera and the Landmark nearly 1,000 residential units have been added – always over a commercial podium of several floors of retail and office. Closest to us is Eight-One-Nine, designed by Rafii Architects for Bosa, and completed in 1998, and next door The Galileo by Hamilton Doyle Associates, completed a year later. There are two more condo towers beyond that, completed in the 2000s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2945

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Posted December 5, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Helmcken and Richards Street – south-east corner

In 1981 this was yet another Downtown gas station. The first development here were a row of four houses facing Helmcken. They were duplexes, as there were eight street addresses. They first appear in 1907, and they were probably rental homes as only two of the named occupants are the same in 1909, and they had all changed again by 1911. The houses were still standing in 1951, but the following year The Eveready Tire and Motor garage was here. It was run by Roy Ellis, Doug Rolls and Fred Macey. Doug Rolls was born in Hedley, but came to Vancouver at 16 where he started work at a Granville Street service station. During World War II he worked at Boeing, where he rose to the position of Superintendent building aircraft that included the B17 ‘Flying Fortress’, and after the war he built houses in Vancouver, before setting up the garage.

The garage use, which included a Shell gas bar, only lasted a few decades. In 1995 one of the earlier Downtown South residential towers was completed here. Designed by Raymond Y Ching and Associates for Diamond Robinson, the Robinson Tower has 124 apartments in 17 floors, with some retail on the main floor.,

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.23

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Posted November 25, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (2)

Here’s another example of early houses on Robson Street transformed into a retail space. As with our previous post, this is the 1100 block, and here we’re midblock. The two storey replacement that has had CinCin Italian restaurant upstairs since 1990, was supposedly completed in 1974, and the ‘before’ photograph is dated from May 1974. Presumably there was construction soon after the picture was taken, but there were further major changes in 1985, which is when we suspect the restaurant space may have been remodeled.

By the mid 1900s the house that stood here was 1150 Robson (today it’s numbered as 1156). It was built around 1900, but the numbering in the early 1900s was completely confused (as they were not in numerical sequence) We’re pretty certain J T Wilband, a mechanic lived here from its completion, and was still here in 1906 when he was described as a contractor – so it’s possible he built the house himself, or had help in doing so. John Thaddeus Wilband was from New Brunswick, aged 38 in 1901 and married to Florence, four years younger. They had six children at home; their four sons each had unusual names; Burns, Hesson, Bellamy and Seward. (The girls probably had an easier time at school as they were Laura and Jennie). Three other siblings had died before they reached one year old. The youngest three children, starting from 12-year-old Hesson had been born in BC, the older three in New Brunswick. There were several other New Brunswick-born Wilbands in the city, including Simon, a carpenter (who we think was John’s brother) Charles and Ernest (both brothers – Ernest ran a successful sheet metal works on Richards Street) and Valentine (their father). When the 1911 census came round, the Wilband family had moved elsewhere in the city. John was living on Landsdowne Avenue, and Burns had his own home, and was a plumber. John Wilband died in 1937.

In 1910 the street directory showed Albert Lloyd, a teacher, living here, and in 1911 it was Frederick McPhail, a conductor on the BC Electric Railway. The 1911 census shows how quickly tenants moved, as neither of these were listed; instead it was Signor L S Auria, from Naples, and his daughter, Margerita who were living here, although they stayed in the city for such a short period that they were never recorded in a street directory. By 1955 the house was used as a rooming house, run by Mrs. F Hingston, with the Esquire Shop selling tobacco and Progressive Sales smoker’s supplies.

It’s an unusually long block, and it’s interesting to see that underneath the ‘Will Build to Suit’ notice was an access back to the lane. In 1974 there was an aquarium and pet shop, Noah’s Ark. The single storey retail building to the east (on the left) appears to have been constructed in 1921 at a cost of only $1,500 by Taylor Construction for D Murray. In 1974 it was home to Peacock’s Children’s Wear, and Oriental Marble House – ‘imports’.

One significant change in the past 40 years is the switch in emphasis of the stores, from generally local-serving to shops serving a much wider catchment. The small single storey building to the west, the Dory Shop, was selling quality used clothing in 1974, and Sketchers footwear today. It was built in 1957, and the Esquire shop had moved here, selling Gauloises cigarettes, was part of the same building, although today it has a more prominent façade, and is another shoestore. There was another house at the back of that lot too, in 1974. The house numbered initially as 1154 Robson no longer exists, as the building has also had major changes in the past 45 years. It seems to have been built around 1907, with Margaret Hyslop living here in 1908 and Coralina Chapman in 1909, clarified to Cornelia in 1910. She had moved by 1912, but fortunately was included in the 1911 census which tells us she was from Ontario, aged 55, and a widow. It’s hard to tell how big the house was, but it was full. Her sister, and niece, Ida and Ruth Purdy lived with her, as well as seven lodgers. It was still standing in 1955; Andrew Nesmith, a janitor in the Metropolitan Building lived here, as well as Ken Willoughby, (married to Lillian) who was managed of Photo Arts who occupied the retail unit on the street, where they specialized in portraits.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-343

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Posted November 21, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (1)

Here’s the south side of the 1100 block of Robson in a 1939 Vancouver Public Library image. Today the stores offer clothing to a broad group of shoppers from around the region, and beyond, but in the 1930s they were more likely to be local, looking for a haircut, and food from Safeway. (Both of those can still be found a few blocks down the street). Today, Aritzia, a locally based clothing chain have several stores here, including their Downtown flagship store. The company operates 84 stores, each individually designed, throughout Canada and the US.

In 1939 there were far more small businesses, with a grocery store on the corner of Thurlow, just out of the picture, then the Glaz-O-Nut Doughnut store at 1102-and-a-half Robson, Woodall’s Hand Knitting Shop and on the left of the picture, F B Patterson’s barber salon. The Cookie Crock bakery was to the west, then P B Dean’s delicatessen, the Egg Basket selling butter, cheese and eggs, and then Safeway’s grocery store. The New Coleen Confectionery store was at 1116, with Edmund Daem, a CPR porter and his wife, and daughter Josie, a stenographer lived upstairs. The rival Silver Star confectioners were next door, and then Moore’s cleaning and dyeing business.

The Safeway store and several other buildings revealed their origins as a residential rather than retail street. Safeway’s 1110 Robson had been a house in 1901, 1106 Robson. It was occupied by Henry Vaughan, a clerk, with Frank Filion, a grocer living in a house to the east and Thomas Bradbury, a contractor to the west. Frank designed a new house himself, in 1902, and had P Dermes build the stone foundation. (He had previously been a hotel-keeper in Gastown, before moving to the West End). The future Safeway store was owned by Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Co in 1919. It was apparently still a residential building in 1936, when Mrs. E M Jenkins, a dressmaker lived there, but a year later it was the Safeway store.

Beyond it, the two storey building two doors to the west was designed for Gillingham & Korner for D M Hourigan in 1920, and cost $4,000 to build. In 1921 Daniel Hourigan was 51 and from Ontario, and seems to have owned at least two of the buildings here. He was married to Alice, a 53 year old American, and seemed to be living on the income from his investments. In 1911 they were living in Toronto, where a daughter was still living with them. Daniel died in 1944, and in 1949 The Medicine Hat News reported that Alice, and her daughter, Mrs. Moyer (who lived in Medicine Hat) had driven 2,000 miles for her to visit her native Illinois for the first time in 38 years, at the age of 82. Their daughter, Mary, had been born in Illinois.

The three storey building to the west is still standing today. It was built in 1912 for Esther P Buchanan, who hired W P White to design it. Allan Brothers built the $35,000 ‘Apartment/rooms; three-storey brick store and apartment’. Esther knew the site well, as she lived here, in a house, before it was developed. She was wife of Richard G Buchanan, and in 1911 she was aged 32 and from Quebec. (He was 12 years older, and from Ireland, arriving in Canada as a boy in 1880. He sold china and glassware on Granville Street, and before that on Westminster Avenue). There were three boys, aged 10, 6 and 4. The family moved to Haro Street when the new building was developed, and Richard’s china shop moved to the main floor. In early December 1913 there was a 25% sale in the china store; an unusual time of year for such an event. The advertisements explained that ” In order to close the estate of the late R. G. Buchanan we must have $15,000 in 30 days”. Presumably things worked out for the business: in the next few years Mrs R G Buchanan was running the business, and she lived in one of the apartments above the store. In 1917 Stephen Ira DeBou (a 33 year old unmarried contractor, from New Brunswick) married Esther Permelia Buchanan, a 39 year old widow, daughter of Thomas B Hyndman of Ottawa. In 1921 they were living on Nelson Street; there were three of Stephen’s stepsons still at home; Esther’s fourth son, Richard was born around 1912. Her father, Thomas, was also living with them. We’ve see Mr. Hyndman’s work in the city in an earlier post. He developed some houses on Robson Street, and had worked for R G Buchanan before becoming vice-president of Woodwards Stores, and then running a real estate business. Esther died, aged 61, in 1940, and Stephen in 1964.

There was a Piggly Wiggly store next door in the building in 1928, and upstairs the rooms became the Hotel Biltmore. The grocery store closed very quickly, reopening as the Leong Market. In 1955 Safeway and the Biltmore Hotel were still in operation, but the food store was now Tom’s Market.

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1233 West Georgia Street

This 1918 picture shows a car dealership built in 1913 for H A Bowers and designed by William Dodd, built at a cost of $10,119. It wasn’t the first building here with that use; in 1909 T W Fletcher hired M D Campbell to design a $9,000 garage here, and two years later Mr. Bowers was the owner, obtaining a permit for $6,500 of work to add to a building here and reconstruct part of it. We’re not sure if he followed through on that idea, or whether it’s more likely that the Dodd building was built as a replacement. It closely matches an adjacent garage for McLaughlin, that was built in the same year, next door. It looks like the project was scaled back from an earlier version: The Pacific Coast Architect, an American publication had announced in 1912 that “Architects Doctor, Stewart & Davey prepared plans for a two-story reinforced concrete garage, for H A Bowers”, but those architects never obtained an permit.

Thomas W Fletcher, the developer, was shown in the 1911 street directory as retired, and had moved to a home in the newly built and up-market Shaughnessey sub-division, but he was only aged 43. The census said he was in real estate, but we don’t know if the garage he apparently built in 1909 ever had an occupant before Mr Bowers acquired it. In 1921 Mr. Fetcher had Mackenzie & Bow design a new home in Shaughnessey, and was shown as working again, as an adjuster. A year later McCarter & Nairne designed another house for him, on Minto Crescent.

Herbert Bowers was an American, aged 31, and only recently arrived in Vancouver. In 1911 he lived two blocks west of here with his wife Hazel and their three children, Robert, Alice and Herbert junior. They has recently lost another daughter: the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, California reporting that year that “Mr. and Mrs H. A. Bowers, who removed from here to Vancouver, have suffered a sad bereavement in the death of their little daughter Doris, who is well remembered here by many friends both young and old. The child’s death was due to pneumonia, which occurred March 6.”

Herbert ran the Central Auto and Supply Co, and the family had apparently left Vancouver and returned to California by 1913. In 1922 Herbert junior died in perculiar circumstances in Vancouver. The Daily World reported “A coroner’s Jury, with Dr. Sutherland of Port Coqultlam as coroner, sitting this morning at Murchie’s undertaking parlors, brought in the following verdict on the death of Herbert Bowers, whose body was found on the Pipe Line road In the bottom of a ravine under an automobile on Sunday: “We find that the death of Herbert Bowers was accidental, he not being familiar with the road, which is dangerous at this spot.” Mrs. H. A. Bowers, mother of the dead man, and Mr. W. D. Woods, manager of the Barron Hotel, Vancouver, Identified the body. Mrs. Bowers stated that her son was 18 years of age. The family reside at Santa Clara valley, California, and were here on a vacation. She said that she had no idea how her son came to take the car. They had been staying at the Barron Hotel and he was away visiting friends In South Vancouver on Saturday night. She had four other children, who are at present at their camp on Howe Sound. Bowers had several letters on his person addressed to “My dear wife” and the contents were of a peculiar nature. The mother said that the initials that appeared in the letters were not those of her son. W. B. Dishman of Bellingham, who was driving the car at the races the day before, gave evidence to the effect that the auto was In good condition. He said that he had never seen Bowers in his life. In Richmond police court yesterday Dishman, charged with driving to the common danger after an accident in which Mrs. David Buchan was injured, forfeited $100 ball when he failed to appear. Oscar Olsen, also of Bellingham, has reported to the police that he also had never known Bowers nor knew how he came to have the car.” Herbert and Hazel Bowers was still living in Santa Clara in California in 1940, with their son Thomas, who was born in 1920 in California. The family’s new life wasn’t that of a garage owner: Bowers Park in Santa Clara is named for Herbert, a pear grower in Santa Clara who was also an organizer and director of the Santa Clara Pear Association. He also served on the Jefferson Union School Board in the 1920s and early 1930s.

The replacement garage operator was the Franklin Motor Company, who moved in by 1913 and manufactured a luxury vehicle in Syracuse, New York. The Franklin was very reliable, being air-cooled (and so unlikely to be frozen up in the middle of the night). It also had extensive use of aluminum in the body, and some models offered better gas mileage than some vehicles today. They moved out after two years, and had no showroom in the city until 1918 when a Franklin dealership opened on Granville Street.

In 1915 Dominion Motors briefly occupied the building. There’s an unidentified early 1910s image of this building in the archives that shows a Packard, Hudson and Baker Electric dealership. Those were all brands sold by Dominion, but the economy was in a bad way, and they went out of business in less than two years. In 1918 the Sigmore Motor Co Ltd, selling Studebaker cars were operating here. Studebaker of Canada moved into the building in 1917, and out again in 1923 briefly to West Pender, then back to West Georgia in 1923 to a new garage less than a block from here.

By 1925 Southard Motors (with the MacDonnell-Scott Garage and Vancouver Auto Towing Service sharing the address) were selling Essex cars here – a part of Hudson Motors of Detroit. In the 1930s they had relocated to Granville Street, where in 1938 they were selling Chryslers. For a brief period in the early 1930s this wasn’t a garage; the B C College of Arts were using the building.

From 1936 to around 1942 Walmsley Motors moved in, (seen on the right in selling Cord, Auburn and Willys. Soon after, like the adjacent garage, the building became used as the Canadian Government Ordnance Machine Shop. By 1950 Canada Dry were using the building as a warehouse, and by 1955 Maynard Auctioneers were here. Pictures from the 1980s suggest the buildings were still standing, although with a new façade.

Where 1233 West Georgia stood today there’s a condo tower called Venus, designed by Howard Bingham Hill and completed in 1999.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5332 and CVA 99-4851

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Posted November 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1219 West Georgia Street

We’ve seen several car dealerships that were developed along West Georgia Street in the early part of the 20th century, including Consolidated Motor Company who were located on the other side of the street from here. On the north side the showroom of the McLaughlin Carriage Company, seen in an image that’s undated, but which we’re guessing might be 1918. McLaughlin started manufacturing automobiles in Oshawa in 1907. They had previously been a carriage company, so it wasn’t a dramatic shift. When they were unable to get their own engines designed, they used Buick drive trains, built in Flint, Michigan. McLaughlin became part of General Motors, and car production under the McLaughlin name continued until 1942.

Before this garage was built there were several houses, dating back only a few years, but demolished for this 1912 building, designed by W M Dodd for H W White who spent $30,000 on the new investment. Harry W White was the manager for McLaughlin Motor Cars, so we assume they paid for the development. As well as McLaughlin, the building was home to the Pierce-Arrow Motor Co, a US car manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, from 1901 to 1938.

In 1911 Harry was 63, and from England; his wife, Lydia was from Ontario, and they lived on West Pender Street with three daughters and a son still at home, aged from 14 to 37. Their journey west can be traced in their province of birth; the eldest, Rosa was born in Ontario, but Ethel, Mabel and Percy, the youngest were all born in Manitoba.

McLaughlin moved from here in 1926, to new premises on Burrard Street, where the vehicles were sold by Clark Parsons Buick. Gray Campbell Ltd took over this showroom as a Chrysler dealership. By the mid 1930s A E Stephens Ltd were based here, run by Alfred Stephens, selling used cars. During the war the building became used as the Canadian Government Ordnance Machine Shop. By 1950 Clarke Simpkins auto dealership was here. Clarke Simpkins was Ford of Canada’s vice-president, and he sold their cars here, and repaired them on Seymour Street. He had moved a block to the west by 1955, when BC Garage Supply Ltd ‘auto jobbers’ were using the building.

Today the site is the garden of Venus, a 36 storey residential tower designed by Bingham Hill Architects and completed in 1999.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-5178

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Posted November 4, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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