Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

1365 Seymour Street

Today’s view leaves a great deal to be desired – and it won’t be changing any time soon. This block of Seymour Street faces the off-ramp from the Granville Bridge, and is narrowed to half the width the road was before the ‘new’ Granville Bridge was built, so the ‘before’ image would have been located across the street just beyond the ramp. (There’s a mysterious room under the ramp at this point, with a solid steel door).

Vancouver Parts Co Ltd. developed the building in 1928, hiring Henry Sandham Griffith to design it, and spending $18,000 having G R Coulson build it. It was built with reinforced concrete, and was inaccurately described as a car showroom in the Engineering and Contract Journal. Before they developed here, the Parts Co were at 1260 Granville Street, sharing with Hayes Anderson Motors. The company first appeared in 1922, when D Hayes was the company secretary. Douglas Hayes was the manager of Hayes-Anderson, so the parts business was initially an adjunct business, but one he knew well, as that was his business before establishing the truck company. By 1928 William E Anderson was shown as company president, while Doug Hayes was listed in association with their truck business (although William Anderson was also president of that business). A year later, when they moved in here it was Doug Hayes who was listed as running the business.

In 1934 the business management switched to Alex Eadie, a year after this picture was taken. He had been working at the parts company when Hayes and Anderson were still involved. In 1921 William Anderson lived on Vancouver Island, but he moved back to Vancouver in a new $20,000 home on Angus Drive that year. He retired around 1930, and was no longer living in Vancouver in 1931. Douglas Hayes was originally from Dublin, Ireland, born there in 1887. He married Ella Beam in New Westminster in 1923, and they had two sons, Donald and George, and a daughter, Eleanor. It was Douglas’s second marriage; his first was in Manhattan in 1914 to Lillian Rosin, from Ontario, who died in 1923 aged 32. When he married Ella he a son, Douglas and a daughter, Lillian from his first marriage. Douglas Hayes was 95 when he died in Duncan on Vancouver Island in 1983.

Vancouver Parts were only at this address until 1951, when Sanford Addison was the managing director. The business moved to West 4th Avenue, and the 24-year-old building was demolished for the construction of the new Granville Bridge Seymour Street off-ramp. There are plans to remove the loops beyond the ramp, and create a new road grid and six new buildings, but the on and off ramps that link to Howe and Seymour steets will remain.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4567


Posted 19 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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2050 Comox Street

We know who commissioned and also who designed this 1902 wooden house, seen here around 1910. Major Matthews labelled the image in the Archives as ‘George Buscombe residence ‘, and the permit says J P Matheson designed the house for G Buscombe, who spent $2,900 to build it. By 1903 George had moved in, leaving his previous home on Homer Street.

George was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1875, son of Edwin and Isabella, who had arrived from Cornwall in 1870. They had 12 children, and George came in the middle of the pack, younger than his brother Fred who had come to BC before George, and was already established with a large family in 1901. George arrived in 1891, and like his brother, worked for James A. Skinner, a glass and pottery dealer from Ontario.

In 1899 he married Ada Maud Whitworth, originally from Wales (who had arrived in Canada aged 13 in 1887), and by 1901 they already had an infant son, also called George. His father was obviously doing well, working as a traveler; he built this house when he was 27, two years after the Skinner family had retired from business and Fred had acquired it, renaming it as Buscombe & Co. Two more children were born here, a son, Ernest, in 1903 and a daughter, Barbara, in 1905.

While Fred moved to a much fancier $10,500 West End home in 1905, (the year he was elected mayor), George continued to live here for 50 years. When Fred sold control of the company to a Montreal business at the end of 1911, George continued to work for Fred Buscombe & Co Ltd. as vice-president and general manager. Another brother, Charles also worked for the company. By 1914 Fred had established Buscombe Securities, with his son Robert as the insurance manager.

By 1916 George had become vice-president, while still working Fred Buscombe & Co, but by 1919 that was his only employment. In 1918 Charles Buscombe was the only brother working for Fred Buscombe & Co, now renamed as Cassidy’s, after the buyers of the business. A year later he had also moved on, establishing Buscombe Importing Co, a rival glass, silverware and china business. George also established his own business, George Buscombe Limited, Agents for the Western Assurance Company of Toronto. Fred’s involvement with Buscombe Securities wasn’t mentioned, but he was president of George’s company for a couple of years, before moving to live in Burnaby.

Charles’s Importing Company and George Buscombe’s Insurance business shared premises through the mid 1920s on Cambie Street, overlooking Victory Square. Buscombe Securities owned premises on West Hastings run as Cal-Van Market, owned by a Calgary company but managed by H Arthur Buscombe, another of Fred and George’s brothers. In 1926 Charles was working for another company, V J Creeden, and George was running Geo Buscombe & Co, real estate and George E, his son ran a newly formed business, Buscombe & Co, wholesale crockery, both at 119 West Pender.

In 1928 Fred left Burnaby and moved to West Vancouver. George E Buscombe was living here in 1928, and in 1931 one George was living on Beach Avenue, and another was living here, but in 1932 George jnr. had moved to West 33rd, and Ernest Buscombe, George’s other son was shown living here. The street directory had considerable difficulty keeping up with the two George E Buscombe families, usually identifying one or the other, but not always both. It helps that from 1935 the names of spouses were added to the entries; that year George E (Maud), was identified as a clerk at Buscombe & Co, and living here, while George E Buscombe (Ethel) his son and manager of Buscombe & Co was living on W33rd.

By 1939 George jnr. was still manager, and had moved to SW Marine, and George was president of the company. That year he was elected as an Alderman, and was aged 70 when his final term ended in 1945, when he was still company president. His son, George was managing director of the china firm, and one of the two was also running the insurance brokerage. Ernest Buscombe was the accountant to the business. Ada Maud Buscombe died in 1948, and in 1952 George was finally shown as retired, and still living here. In June 1952 the house was demolished. George moved to live with his son on SW Marine Drive, and was still listed as president of the businesses, still based on Water Street.

George was an owner of two racing power boats, “Sea Snipe” and “Thetis.” In 1905, Frederick (who had a 53 ft. power boat built in 1908) and George had donated the Buscombe Trophy to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. George was also a member of the Camera Club, a Freemason, and a member of the Knights Templar Mystic Shrine. George joined city planners in lobbying to obtain Japanese Canadian properties around Powell Street for ‘slum clearance’. The Federal government were unwilling to go along with the idea, although they did renege on their original promise to the Japanese community of keeping the property in trust and leasing it out.

The site was redeveloped in 1952 with a 4-storey wood-frame apartment building called ‘Sharon Manor’, soon after renamed as ‘Cumberland Court’, owned by Mayfair Properties. In 1982 architects Romses Kwan proposed a 13 storey building to replace Cumberland Court, but a year later it was redesigned at 6 storeys.  In 1985 the 22 unit rental building, called Liza Court, was completed, owned at the time by T C Fong. A two-bedroom apartment cost $1,550 a month in 1989, and these days the attractive location means the building is still a popular, and far from cheap rental building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P735


Posted 12 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Denman and Davie Streets – ne corner

This corner is one of relatively few spots where the contemporary building is less significant than its predecessor. The pattern in the brickwork of this 1912 building suggested it had been designed by the father and son partnership of Townsend & Townsend. Sure enough, the permit from December 1911 shows them designing the $75,000 stores and apartments for Simpson Brothers, who also built it. To the north, a much smaller 2-storey building had been developed by S A Heaslip for $4,500 in 1908.

There were a lot of Simpsons in Vancouver, but fortunately the brothers were identified; William and Zach, (often written as Zack), both living in 1911 at 1811 Beach Avenue. They were boat builders, with premises a block from their home. Their father, Zachariah, was from Chorlton, Lancashire, where he worked as a tailor and draper. By 1875 he had come to Buffalo, New York, with his wife Ann. His brother John was also there, and in 1890 they headed west, to Canada, and Simpson Brothers, merchant tailors opened on Granville Street, with the brothers living on Beach Avenue. They were living in the same household in 1901, but that seems to be the last reference to John in Vancouver.

In 1891 the family inherited a sizeable fortune from an uncle, and started a boat building business. They rented boats to local residents and tourists from Simpson’s Boat House on Beach Avenue. Zachariah Simpson died in 1910, and his wife, Annie having died in 1907, aged 56, he left his $28,000 estate to his children, Maud, Zack, and William.

William Niagara Simpson was 35 when his father died, and was a boat builder. Later he became a master mariner, owning the ‘Roamer’ and a tugboat, the ‘Ocean Plunger’. His brother Zack managed the boat house business, and aged 35 he married Lydia Kleaman, who was 22 and from Ontario. Until 1944 he owned the boathouse and concessions at Lost Lagoon, which he sold to the Park Board, and continued to operate them on their behalf.

William Simpson died in 1936, and his brother, Zack in 1949. His widow sold the Simpson Block in the year following his death. Their sister, Maud, never married, and died in 1940. The Simpson Block saw a constant turnover of both residential and commercial tenants, as is normal in the West End. The new apartments were advertised as having steam-heated hot water, a phone in every flat, and a lift. (clearly the American words apartment and elevator weren’t in universal use in 1913).

Kirkham’s Grocerterias Ltd had one of their 20 stores here in 1928, but the chain closed down and the location was taken over by Safeway Stores in 1929, who remained here for many years. Originally the Denman Grocery Co had opened in the new building. Later, in the 1950s, their store was home to Crown Cleaners and Dyers, while Cunningham Drugs occupied the corner, replacing the Vancouver Drug Co who had been in the same spot in the 1920s.

In 1972, the Sands Hotel (located to the east, up Davie Street) planned a 23-storey addition on the corner, but it was never built. In 1975, soon after this image was taken, a fire damaged the Simpson Block, spreading from an adjacent building on Davie. All 13 suites were evacuated, and in 1976 the building was demolished.  It was replaced in 1979 with English Bay Village, a strata building with 10 units, designed by Richard Henriquez. A third floor, 2-level 1,753 sq. ft. 2-bed 3-bath unit with a rooftop deck (with full kitchen!) was offered for sale at $2.6m in 2021.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-370


Posted 5 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Elgin Apartments – 961 Howe Street

The Law Courts were built here in the 1970s, but two entire blocks had to be cleared for their construction. 961 Howe was a $20,000 apartment building designed by A J Bird in 1909. The developer, Hector McPherson was a 48 year old retired businessman. In 1911 his address was in his new investment at No. 6, a suite he lived in until 1920. There were 12 apartments, although in some years there were two apparently un-related tenants. Initially the street directory compilers got very confused, allocating some tenants to a fictitious 643 Howe, and others correctly to 671, which was known as the Elgin Apartments.

Despite Hector’s obvious Scottish Pedigree, the Elgin wasn’t a direct reference to Scotland. Hector’s grandparents were born in Scotland, but he was one of nine children born in Elgin, Ontario. In his case, it was in 1861, as noted on his stone in Mountain View Cemetery, when he died in 1949. Although he was initially elusive, not being in Vancouver in earlier census records, we found the death notice for his wife, Elizabeth, in 1918. ‘Before going to the mainland to live, Mrs. McPherson … had resided in Victoria for many years‘. Mr. McPherson was on a business trip to Brandon when his wife’s sudden and untimely death occurred. She was frequently mentioned in the press in the 1910s, usually in connection with the activities of the Canadian Scottish Chapter of Daughters of the Empire.

That turned out to be inaccurate, but a more detailed death notice clarified (and complicated) the family’s story.

Mrs. Hector Mcpherson, one of Vancouver’s best known social and patriotic, workers, was suddenly stricken with hemorrhage of the brain and passed away about 5:30 o’clock Saturday evening. She had Just returned to her study from the lower part of the building and was apparently in usual good health. The exertion is believed to have been the cause. Mrs. Mcpherson having just entered her study when she suddenly fell to the floor and expired in a few minutes. Mr. Mcpherson was superintending harvesting operations on his farm, north of Brandon, Manitoba, and is expected to reach the city on Tuesday morning. Deceased is also survived by her daughter, Flora, whose husband Major Howey Brydon, was killed in action at Vimy Ridge. The family has resided in Vancouver for the past eight years, coming west from Brandon and taking up their residence in Victoria, where they remained a short time before moving to Vancouver.”

We were able to find Major Robert George Howie Brydon, who married Flora McKelvie in 1916, and was killed in action in 1917. Flora Mae McKelvie was born in Brandon in 1893, her father was John McKelvie, and her mother, before she married, Elizabeth Anne Steele. John was from Quebec, and died in Brandon in 1901. We haven’t found Hector and Elizabeth’s wedding, but we assume it was in Brandon; Hector was living in Brandon in 1901.

We could find Hector McPherson in 1911, living with his wife, Elizabeth, and Flora McKelvie, his step-daughter in Vancouver.  Both Hector and Elizabeth came from Ontario, and he was listed as a farmer. Shortly before her death, Mrs. Hector McPherson and Mrs. Howie Brydon spent a week at Harrison Hot Springs.

Hector stayed in his Howe Street apartment until 1920. After that he appears to have moved south. In 1922 he travelled to San Francisco on the steamship ‘Columbia’. His previous address was with his sister, Mrs Neil Love, at 11th Avenue in Vancouver, and he had been living in Portland earlier in 1922. He was aged 60, 5′ 11″ tall, with a fair complexion, brown/grey hair and grey eyes, and was a retired farmer.

We were able to find Hector’s death record, which showed he died in Los Angeles in 1949 where he had been visiting for 5 months, living on Signal Hill. The informant of his death was his step-daughter, Flora Brydon, who lived in Long Beach. He was described as Construction Engineer, (ret) Canadian Pacific R.R. The cause of death was listed as ‘suicide – cut wrists with knife’.

We don’t know when Hector sold the Elgin, or whether it was part of his estate, but it was almost always fully occupied. Our Vancouver Public Library image dates from 1928, when there were still houses standing on either side. It was still standing in 1972, but by the mid 1970s the site was cleared for the new Arthur Erickson designed Law Courts, completed in 1980.


Posted 2 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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716 West Hastings Street

The cafe in this 1931 Vancouver Public Library picture was (briefly) the Chocolate Shop Cafe #2. Leonard’s Cafe had been here for many years – we saw it, (but didn’t look at its history), in an earlier post. The 1920 insurance map shows a restaurant, and the 1924 street directory said it had been in business for over 30 years. Originally the cafe here, and one at 163 W Hastings were run by George (or Clayton) Leonard. He opened the Cafe that bore his name in 1902, but had previously run the Oyster Bay Restaurant on Carrall Street, from 1894. The 1871 census showed him aged 9 as C George Leonard, and the 1891 census showed him in St Stephen, New Brunswick, listed as Clayton Leonard, married to Nellie. In 1903 G Clayton Leonard hired Parr and Fee to build a $3,500 house at Bute and Barclay. In 1905 Clayton G Leonard visited Honolulu – so he switched between using his first and middle names fairly frequently, and sometimes the order was switched as well.

The cafe here was apparently developed by Mr. Leonard in 1906, and reported by the Daily World. “Its opening marks a new era locally in the business in which Mr. Leonard is engaged, and a visit to the place is well worth one’s while simply for the purposes of inspection.”  “He engaged the design services of Mr. James Bloomfield who decorated the restaurant as well as designed the furniture.  Entering the nearly one hundred foot dining room from the street, diners stepped across a tiled entry in which a mosaic of the famous Leonard badge of the head of a setter bearing a bird was inlaid.  The design was repeated on some of the light fixtures.  The dining room was decorated in a west coast theme featuring scenes of First Nations peoples in four large murals entitled The First SockeyeThe Clam GatherersThe Homecoming, and The Lone Paddler.  Four large folding screens were decorated with scenes of birds and morning themes featuring paintings of English Bay, the Prospect Point lighthouse and other local scenes and landmarks.”

One feature was unique to the establishment: ” A grand staircase at the back of the dining room lead up to a rooftop garden which would be open seasonally for dining and, at the time of its construction, afforded views of Burrard Inlet”. There’s more about Mr. Leonard and his restaurants (and their china) on the Neumann Collection blog. The 1911 census shows he was born in New Brunswick, and his wife Nellie was American. They were divorced later that year, and he married Jeanette Rice in March 1912 in San Francisco.  He sold his business in 1915, although the name lived on after his death (In 1916, at his new home in Los Angeles). He’d accurately said he was 50 when he married, but his death certificate also said he was 50 (which was inaccurate – he was 54).

In 1924 there were repairs and alterations to the building that cost Edwardes and Names $2,600, which seems likely to be when the new facade appeared. We suspect they weren’t the owners of the building, but rather the agents who looked after its leasing and repair. Dixon and Madill owned the Leonard Café operation after Mr. Leonard sold it, and in the mid 1920s it was sold to the Michas family who ran it for nearly twenty years, until 1944. They moved their restaurant operation to 831 Granville Street in 1929, and this briefly became the offices of an oil and mining stockbroker. Leonard’s business on Granville was sold to the Menzies family of Chilliwack in 1944. The business moved again in the late 1940s to 720 West Pender and the café burned down in 1961, taking the Arctic Club, located on the second floor, with it.

The image above, and on the right, were taken in 1931, when it reopened as The Chocolate Shop Cafe, run by Nicholas and Dennis Sagris. (Chocolate Shop #1 was at 160 W Hastings). The Chocolate Shop was a short-lived operation; in 1934 this was the Melrose Cafe, managed by Tom Latsoudes. He’d been running his cafe 2 doors to the west at 724, and stayed here for many years. In 1936 he acquired the second floor, and could cater weddings and club parties in the new Golden Room. The staff increased from 45 to 60. Wally Thomsett reminisced in the Vancouver Sun how “our family of five would go for dinner to the Melrose Cafe, just west of Granville on the south side of Hastings. Dad would order five full-course meals for 25 cents each. Even in those days, it was hard to believe, but true!” The Museum of Vancouver have one of the menus, and it shows prices had risen by the 1950s (although you could still go wild and have Eastern Oysters for 35c).

Today this is part of the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in two phases in 1957 and 1960 it was designed by Douglas Simpson just after the breakup of his practice with Hal Semmens.


Posted 21 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Burrard and West Pender Street, south-east corner

We caught a glimpse of this apartment building in an earlier post, but here’s a better image of the corner block. Shown on the insurance map and in the City Directory as The Glenwood Rooms, it was completed in 1907, and is seen here a year later. J J Honeyman (of Honeyman and Curtis) obtained the building permit for the $20,000 building in August 1906. It was built by Bedford Davidson for Mrs E Charleson. This was Eliza Charleson, who lived at 2003 Haro Street with her husband Donald in 1911. They had moved out of their home, which had been on this site, by 1906, moving to their new house, identified initially as on Chilco, but subsequently as Haro (as it was on the corner).

Eliza Mahon MacWhinney married Donald Brims Charleson in Sarnia, in Ontario, in 1872. Donald’s parents were from Scotland, and had settled in Quebec, where he was born. Donald was aged 30 when he married, and Eliza was 19, the daughter of W H Macwhinney. The Charlesons had a son, Donald, who died in the year he was born, in Sarnia in 1874. Donald was in the lumber business, and owned two schooners, the Bavaria and Siberia, for transporting logs, and he logged oak around Sarnia. Percy was born there in 1875, Edith in 1877, Gertrude in 1879, and Clare in 1883. Before they moved west, Donald was involved in logging the area. An 1881 report said “Mr. D. B. Charleson, of Sarnia, who is one of the heaviest lumber dealers in Western Canada, has had delivered at Brigden station, on the Canada Southern, for shipment east, 70,000 feet of square timber and a large number of staves. It will require 250 cars to convey all this material to its destination.” After they arrived in Vancouver they had a final son, Donald, born in 1891.

The Charleson family arrived a year before the fire, in 1885, and Donald worked for many years with the Canadian Pacific Railway; initially for them, and later as an independent contractor. From 1886 he cleared much of the Vancouver townsite; the Archives have the letter from 1886 appointing him to clear the land, at a salary of $65 a month, and once a contractor, through clearing the land he was also a lumber supplier. (It was a different contractor that inadvertently started the fire that destroyed the town of Granville, and no doubt Donald and Eliza’s first home here with it). Mr. Charleson soon became an active member of the new city – he was a School Trustee in 1886 when the first school outside the mill was built, and he was a founding member of the Vancouver Club, and one of the founders of Christ Church.

Walter Moberley recalled “On May 24, 1887, we had horse racing on Granville street, which had just been cleared, and the stumps taken out from Georgia to Pacific street. And that reminds me that there was one other house south of Hastings on Granville, a very rude sort of building in which Mr. Charleson boarded the promiscuous gang of men who were clearing the townsite. Downstairs was an eating room, and upstairs at night the men lay like sardines round the walls.” In 1889 he got a contract to clear the south side of False Creek, and he also had the contract loading and unloading the C.P.R. trans-Pacific liners. Donald also developed an investment property on Granville Street, also designed by Honeyman and Curtis.

Eliza’s investment property was clearly identified with her; ‘Charleson Block, 1908’ was prominently displayed on the cornice. The rooms were apparently going to be called the Stanley Apartments – the name in gilt over the doorway, but they were called the Glenwood Rooms from their first day of operation.

This was not a nominal investment by Eliza on behalf of he husband; she had actively traded property in her own name in the early 1900s. (She’s seen here in a portrait from the early 1900s). She sold this property in 1920: The Province reported “BURRARD-PENDER PROPERTY IS SOLD FOR FIFTY THOUSAND Negotiations were completed this morning for the sale of a piece of property at the corner of Pender and Burrard streets to a local firm of auctioneers. The sale is the first reported in that district In some time. The property has a frontage of 78 feet on Pender street and a depth of 120 feet along Burrard street. It is occupied at present by a three storey brick building which the purchasers will remodel for their business. The deal, which involved $50,000. was put through by Sharples & Sharples. The vendor was Mrs. E. Charleson of this city.

Their son Percy still lived at home. He was a stock and investment broker, operating the first stock exchange in the city. He apparently lived a very comfortable life, sailing in his 30 foot sloop called Halcyon. In 1922, aged 47, he was already living off his investments, which included buildings on Granville Street (including the one developed by his father).

In 1922 he was dramatically killed in a train accident in Unity, Saskatchewan, while on a hunting trip. A car in which he was travelling was hit by a train, and he and a companion were killed. He had signed in to the local hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Charleson, but his father confirmed that Percy wasn’t married. It was a month later, after he had been buried in Mountain View Cemetery, that his companion was identified; Mrs. Ruth Cleveland, of Vancouver (formerly from Tennessee). The Regina newspaper claimed Mrs. Cleveland had been living with Percy for some time before the accident, although the Vancouver press chose to drop that paragraph. His estate was worth $492,000, and his will left it to his mother, and in the event of her death, his father. Eliza died in 1926, and Donald in 1928. Charleson Park, on the south shore of False Creek is named after the man who logged the slope.

The manager of the Glenwood Rooms was William Hansford who was 66, born in Clarksburg (West Virginia) when he married widow Alice Doster born in Wabash, Indiana, and aged 57 in 1907 There’s no sign of them in the city before the year they got married. By 1911 the proprietor had become A R Hansford and  Alice Hansford was identified in the 1911 census living with her lodgers and niece, Marie Jones. In the census there were 40 lodgers living in the building, with a huge range of employment including an American capitalist and his wife, F W Liddle and R M Ward who were both musicians, Mr and Mrs T F Curror, from South Africa, who had no employment, Harry Davidson who was a brickmaker and M C McQuarrie who was a barrister.

This building (the second on the site, after the Charleson’s house was redeveloped), lasted about 40 years. For a while Johnson Motors operated on the corner, then in 1955 a new four storey office building designed by McCarter and Nairne and named for its tenant, the National Trust (a Montreal based bank) was completed. That building lasted just under 30 years; today it’s the plaza in front of an office building occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P137 and CVA Port P327


Posted 28 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Broadway and Cambie – north-east corner

There aren’t too many places where an earlier building has been replaced by a vacant site. This corner lot has had a billboard for decades, only removed in 2020. The Royal Bank here was designed by Kenneth G Rae, in 1911, and built at a cost of $30,000 by ‘Jon. Roger’ (almost certainly contractor, and sometime developer, Jonathan Rogers). It’s seen here a year after it was built.

The bank remained here until 1953, when it transferred to a new branch across Cambie to the west, replacing a previous gas station. As far as we can tell, this corner has remained undeveloped for over 70 years. As the contemporary image shows, there’s construction in this location now, for the new east-west extension of SkyTrain underground along Broadway. There’s already a north-south station across the street, serving the Canada Line, so this will be an even more important location. A new plan has been developed to encourage higher density developments close to transit, so this must be a prime spot for site consolidation and development.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 1014


Posted 21 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Broadway, Gone

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Richards and Helmcken Street – south-west corner

In the 40 years between these two images another building was constructed, and has already been replaced. In 1981 this was a Chevron gas station, across the lane from Brookland Court, developed by William and Joseph Lightheart and originally called the Lightheart Apartments.

This site was originally developed with four houses facing Helmcken, with the Star Laundry next door to the south on Richards. They had been developed in 1905 by Mrs. Desrosiers, and they were obviously investment properties as M A Desrosiers carried out repairs to them in 1921. Magloire Desrosiers had arrived in 1888, and became the city’s best-known cornice maker, having started out as a tinsmith. Marie, Magloire’s wife, who had (nominally at least) developed the houses here, died in 1934, and his death was in 1936. The houses were still standing in 1955, so the gas station was developed after that (and the gas bar design has a 50s style). It was one of two gas stations on the same corner – we saw the Shell station on the south-east corner in an earlier post. We also looked at the houses still standing on the north-east corner.

In 1985, Jubilee House was developed here, a low-rise building with 89 units of non-market housing. By 2015 it was described as “falling apart”, with no sprinklers and poor accessibility to those with disabilities. The building was owned by the City of Vancouver, who subsequently swapped the site with developer Brenhill for one they owned across the street. They built the larger New Jubilee House first across the street, to allow all the tenants of the old building to stay in the same area (and 73 more below-market rental units to be added in the new, larger building). Brenhill were then able to develop 8X on the Park, a 36 storey condo and rental tower with a total of 388 units. This fourth development to be built on the site, it’s likely to last a lot longer than all the previous buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E07.02


Posted 17 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Haro Street Children’s Hospital

In 1919 when this image was taken, the Children’s Hospital was in the West End. It was owned by the City of Vancouver, who were responsible for some aspects of healthcare, and they had developed the ‘3-storey reinforced concrete creche’ in 1913. The architect was obscure: A Williams and Company, and George Williamson built the $43,800 project. Alfred Williams wasn’t actually an architect, but rather a consulting engineer. The new building involved the demolition of several houses built in the early 1890s.

The creche was a day nursery, run by the Associated Charities of Vancouver, and initially established in a house on Thurlow Street. The Medical Officer for Health, Dr. Underhill, supported the project as a way of improving child health in the city – which he said had the highest rate of child mortality in Canada. When this opened in 1914 it was only the second purpose-built childcare facility in Canada. (One in Toronto opened a few months earlier). By 1916 there was a sharp drop in attendance due to a shortage of employment for domestic workers (with the war economy in operation), so the Vancouver General Hospital took over the building in 1917. The creche moved to the Relief Department building, on Cambie Street, and this became the Infant’s Department of the hospital. It remained in that use until 1951.

The building was empty in 1952, and in 1953 the McRae Hotel was operating here. It offered daily and weekly rates, and free parking. Other than advertisements for rooms, it only seems to have featured once in its years of operation when in 1967 “A man accused of beating up three women had the charges against him Wednesday when the complainants failed to appear at his trial. Prosecutor John Hall told Magistrate Bernard Isman he was forced to withdraw charges against, John Hamel, 37, who gave his address as the McRae Hotel, because the three complainants had moved out of town and could not be located.” It was still operating in early 1969, “Rooms from $12 weekly, 5 min. walking distance to downtown”.

We haven’t found any pictures of Haro Street to confirm that the hotel was created from the hospital building, but a 1960 aerial image confirms it was still standing, so we assume that to be the case. In 1970 ‘Central Plaza’ a 21-storey rental tower replaced the hotel, and the apartment building next door. That was the Lindsay lodge Apartments, developed in 1912 by Mrs G S McConnell, and designed by ‘Mr McMartin’ at a cost of $16,000. Gilbert McConnell and his wife lived at 1168 Haro in 1912, and had moved to Barclay Street a year later. Nettie McConnell clearly followed her husband’s development experience, which included developing the McConnell Block in 1890. Her choice of architect was as obscure as the hospital’s designer; there was nobody in Vancouver called McMartin who might have designed the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-225


Posted 10 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Rotary Clinic – West Pender Street

Tuberculosis was still a significant disease in Canada in the early 20th Century, although treatment no longer necessarily involved a long stay in an isolated sanatorium. With no national health service, treatment options were often reliant on charity. The Rotary Club of Vancouver was organized in 1913, in affiliation with the International Association. It was a businessmen’s service organization, with men from various professions joining to raise funds for community projects. Early efforts of the Vancouver Rotary Club were directed at tuberculosis relief, and in 1917, it was decided to establish a free health clinic.

The building was approved in 1918, designed by J A Benzie and built by Baynes and Horie at a cost of $48,000. It was the built on a site the permit referenced as the ‘old hospital site’. There were two earlier buildings that had served as the city hospital until a new building was constructed in Fairview, (today it’s VGH). They were still standing, but repurposed, when this building was constructed, but the first brick building, constructed in 1888, had already been demolished by 1911 and this building was constructed where it had stood, a block to the east of the Central School.

B.C.’s per capita death rate from TB was the highest in Canada, so the new clinic, which opened in 1919, was badly needed. The staff included a medical director, two nurses, and a technician. In addition, there were two “district” or visiting nurses who travelled by car to do case-finding and follow-up care for patients in their homes. In the 1930s, when Vancouver city health department could not fund the necessary visiting nursing services for TB patients, the Rotary Club took on the funding until the city could once again finance it.

Examinations were free for those who needed care but were unable to pay for medical assessment. About 25 per cent of those examined proved to have TB. To give some idea of the numbers, 6,291 patients came for consultation in 1926. In 1933 the facility closed down; the City established a TB Division of the City Health Department that year, and the province had funded a sanatorium. In 1936 a new building in VGH opened to provide treatments for TB and other chest illnesses.

This became the City’s Public Health Building, later known as The Metropolitan Health Unit #1, which was included in the City Directory for the last time in 1949, the same year that Walter E Frost took this picture. Later that year the site was cleared, and a year later the City’s Parking Corporation were given custody of the land. In 1970 they added the parkade that’s still on the site today. The structure has a value of $207,000, (and seems to be in a constant state of repair in the past few years), but the land is valued at $112 million.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-59


Posted 7 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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