Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

Lost Gas Stations in Downtown Vancouver

We’ve seen a lot of Downtown and west End locations where there used to be gas stations – we think there were at least 99 of them in the past where they’ve now disappeared. Today there’s just one left – for now. On the corner of Davie and Burrard, the last remaining Esso station has been bought by a property developer. A block away there was a Shell station, developed in 1951, and seen in this image from the same year in the Vancouver Public Library photo collection. The garage structure is still there, with additional elements added as restaurants. The gas station had closed by the early 1980s, and became a Mr. Submarine store for a while.

Further south, at Seymour and Pacific, Imperial Oil had a gas station, seen here when it first opened in 1925. Townley and Matheson designed the structure, which was built by Purdy & Rodger at a cost of $6,900. The gas bar was replaced with part of the Seymour off-ramp of the Granville Bridge, completed in 1954. If the number of service stations seems low today, that wasn’t the case in the 1920s. This was 601 Pacific, and Imperial Oil had another Townley and Matheson designed gas bar at 740 Pacific, and Union Oil had another on the same block. By 1930 this gas station no longer existed.

In the background is the Bayview Hotel, later renamed The Continental, and in its later years operated by the City of Vancouver as an SRO hotel until it was demolished in 2015. In its early years the hotel was an expensive investment for Kilroy and Morgan, who spent $100,000 to build the hotel designed by Parr and Fee in 1911.

Finally (for the time being), there was a larger gas station on Robson Street, operated here in 1974 by Texaco. In 1985 it was redeveloped with a 2-storey retail building that includes a London Drugs store, and smaller retail units on Bute Street. Initially there were houses built here, but the motoring use of the site was over decades – in the 1930s Webber-MacDonald Garage was here, repairing and selling pre-owned automobiles, which became the Robson Garage a few years later. The corner however had a different building; the Bute Street Private hospital was here for decades. It became a rooming house, but was still here when Hemrich Brothers (who ran a garage on Howe, and then Dunsmuir Street for many years) were running the Robson Street garage in the later 1950s. The big new Texaco canopy, facilities  and forecourt replaced the buildings on the street until the 1980s redevelopment put buildings back along Robson.

Image sources: VPL, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-530 and CVA 778-333

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Posted 8 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Gone, West End

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Strathcona School – East Pender Street

Strathcona School has seen several stages of development, and redevelopment for over a century. Initially called the East End School, the first building, designed by Thomas Hooper, was completed in 1891 – seen here on the left hand side of this Library and Archives Canada picture from the 1910s. A new larger wing was added in 1897, facing Keefer Street, to the south of the original building. That was designed by William Blackmore, and it was completed in 1898. It’s still standing today, and has recently been seismically upgraded in a $25m project, but it’s hidden today by the gymnasium (auditorium), completed in 1930. That too received seismic upgrading in the form of poured concrete buttresses on the corners of the building, and additional concrete shear walls internally.

The upgraded 1897 building on Keefer is load-bearing unreinforced brick and stone. It was upgraded using seismic (base) isolation technology. Completed in December 2016, this was the first base isolated building in Canada. It now sits on lead core rubber bearings with teflon-stainless steel sliders, designed to absorb the energy of an earthquake without the building shaking to pieces.

In the early 1900s classes were moved from the first building, which gradually fell out of use. It was eventually demolished in 1920, but the bricks were saved and recycled into the construction of a new building. The Primary building is beside the gymnasium, just off the picture to the left. Completed in 1921, it was designed by F A A Barrs. The Senior Building can be seen today on the right. It too has been seismically strengthened, and was built in two phases, starting in 1914 (designed by Charles Morgan) and completed in 1927. H W Postle designed the second phase, and the gymnasium.

Image source: Images Canada

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Robson Street – 1000 block, north side

There was a row of stores built on Robson Street in 1911, although in this 1950 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray it looks like they were probably remodelled at some point. This location was initially developed with houses, and in 1911 the owner, Harold Wilson, moved a house to the back of the lot and hired Parr and Fee to design retail stores costing $10,000 on the street, built by Baynes and Horie. We know what his middle initial was from one of the two permits submitted by H C Wilson, but we haven’t definitively confirmed his identity. It seems most likely that he was Harry C Wilson, a shoe merchant with a store on Granville Street in the 1910s.

Harry was initially a baker, in partnership as Wilson and Sugden, in Strathcona. He lived in the 700 block of Keefer Street, above the bakery, in a building still standing today. By 1912 he was listed as both a grocer at 733 Keefer, and ‘of the Wilson Shoe Co’, and he had moved to E14th Avenue. In 1909 he got married, and the wedding notice noted that he was originally from New Brunswick, and his wife from Nova Scotia. As a member of the International Order of Foresters, he took a continent-wide tour, starting in Los Angeles and then to various unidentified ‘eastern cities’, ending up at the convention in Toronto. Mr. Wilson intended to combine business with pleasure: “While I do not concede that other cities have anything on Vancouver In the line of shoe stores, an interchange of Ideas Is always profitable, and I will visit as many large shoe stores and factories as possible.”

In 1924 the Royal Trust Co owned the building, and applied to convert it to a garage, to be built by Baynes & Horie for $1,800. However, the street directory shows a series of service and retail stores, suggesting the garage never moved in, although that might be the date of the alterations to the appearance in the picture. The most consistent business here was a milliner’s store.

To the left of the stores, (before The Manhattan apartments at the end of the block), were two houses, and a small single storey store built in 1925. Over the years the numbers were changed – for some peculiar reason, when the block was first developed in the 1890s the last house on the block was 1041. The houses were 1031 and 1035 Robson, (renumbered from 1033). They were already occupied in 1894 by H T Lockyer and J R Seymour, and 1031 was the older, with Jenny Drysdale living here in 1892 and it’s possible the house had been completed a year earlier, but no numbers were assigned to the properties that year. They were replaced at some point by single storey retail units that in turn were redeveloped this year as a double-height shoe store.

In 1950 it’s just possible to make out ‘Cafe’ on the front of the end of the retail block. That’s the geographically inaccurate ‘White’s Corner Cafe’. The houses in 1950 appear to no longer have any residents. C M Hyde, a barrister, had his offices here, along with Alford and Hughes, bicycles, Robson Realty and Aqua Accounting Services. In the house next door Curtis Radio and Electrical shared the building with W Kenyon, a jeweler.

Today there are limits on the height of new buildings (and residential isn’t allowed to be added on this part of Robson) so that the street retains greater natural light. Most buildings on this block have been redeveloped as double-height retail stores, either with two floors (like Indigo Books) or a mezzanine floor. Francl Architecture have been responsible for the design of most of these new buildings.

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Posted 7 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Graphic Arts Building – West Pender Street

This International Style building was developed in 1947. Otto Landauer at the Leonard Frank photo studio took this picture some time soon after an addition and parking garage had been added to the west in 1959, designed, as the original corner block, by John Harvey. The Vancouver Sun’s publishing division were based here, but the offices also had distinctly non-graphic related businesses like the offices of Allis-Chalmers mining equipment, R W Ginn, who was a barrister, and Canadian Laco Lamps – (wholesale). Based in Montreal, they offered Canadian manufactured ‘lamps scientifically and perfectly made to give the greatest service’

The building was demolished in 2004, and four years later ‘The Ritz’, a 34 storey residential tower was completed, designed for Pinnacle International by Hancock Bruckner Eng + Wright. Construction was delayed a little as during construction the spray-crete shoring of the hole for the parking levels collapsed, taking half the street with it. The podium includes a drug store and office space part of a local shopping centre added to the developing Coal Harbour residential area.

Image source: Jewish Museum and Archives LF.00288. (Thanks to Fred Swartz for correcting the photo attribution)

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Posted 4 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Gilford Street north from Comox

The title of this 1965 picture in the Vancouver Archives is ‘[View from Comox] Street [in the West End showing] trees’. Fortunately there hasn’t been so much change that it’s impossible to work out where, from Comox Street, the image was taken. It’s looking north on Gilford, and the Park Gilford, the 13 storey rental tower on the left, was completed in 1962.

Beyond that was a house, that is no longer standing. It was replaced in 1982 by Gilford Mews, a 15 unit strata building which we think was designed by West Coast Modern architects Robert Hassell and Barry Griblin. The decision to keep some of the landscaping means that the trees have grown much bigger over 50 years, and hide the building in summer. The townhouses went on sale in 1982, priced between $170,000 and $189,000 each. The trees today almost hide the 1959 rental building to the north; Four Winds is 10 storeys, with 37 units.

The house had first been developed in 1908, although by the 1960s it was an apartment building. We know who developed the building. Christopher W Ford obtained a permit to build a house costing $8,500, and four years later added a garage. The design of the house is similar to a number of others designed by Parr and Fee – especially the corner turret and cupola, which were a feature of Thomas Fee’s first house on Broughton Street.

C W Ford was born in Morrisburg, (now part of Dundas), Ontario in 1856. He married in 1878 and by the late 1880s he was running a general store in Morewood, Ontario. Around 1894 he sold up, and moved to Vancouver, starting as a druggist’s clerk, and living on East Hastings. He opened a grocery store in 1900, and by 1904 had moved on to manage the grocery department in Woodward’s Department Store. In 1906 he was a director of Woodwards, but was also involved in real estate with another Ontario grocer, John Jackson. He established his own real estate firm, and in 1910 he developed The Princess Rooms on Granville Street, a $55,000 project designed by Parr and Fee. Christopher and Mary Ford had three sons, Harry, Clarke and Grant. Harry became a Vancouver physician and married Georgie McMartin, from New York, and they had a daughter, Mary, in 1909. He died in Jervis Inlet in 1910 of exposure, having been separated from the hunting party he was with. Georgia and her daughter moved in with her father-in law. Clarke trained as a lawyer, but worked for a firm of safe manufacturers, and was married twice, and Grant was a dentist, marrying three times.

Christopher’s wife, Mary, died in 1912, and two years later Mr. Ford remarried to Ethel Holland, a widow, and music teacher, originally from England. They moved out of the West End to a house he had built in North Vancouver. Christopher Ford died in 1945, and Ethel in 1955.

The house was occupied for short periods by different residents until 1920, when Harold Idsardi moved in, and stayed until 1948. He was a civil engineer and land surveyor, who arrived in Vancouver in 1910 and had married Loulie Aylett K. Fitzhugh, (born in Fairfax Virginia) in Los Angeles in 1912. He managed to have a mountain, and a valley on Vancouver Island named after him. They had three sons, none of whom stayed in Vancouver. In 1949 the house was split into 8 apartments and named the Elphege Apartments, and by 1978 the building was called the John Penrice Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-48

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Posted 28 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Granville Street 600 block – west side

This side of Granville Street was demolished to make room for the extension of Pacific Centre Mall northwards. At the far end of the block in this 1953 image was the Colonial Theatre, a cinema converted in 1912 from an 1888 office building. We looked at its history in one of our early posts over 8 years ago. It was originally designed by New York architect Bruce Price for Sir William Van Horne. President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since then, the 1974 office tower that replaced the cinema has been reclad to a lighter colour, with double glazed widows.

Closer to us, just showing on the left of the picture was 679 Granville, a 1910 3-storey building designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Henry Bell-Irving. In 1953 Purdy’s chocolate store was here, with the Devon Cafe. Next door, at 665 Granville, D’Allaird’s lady’s clothing store had obscured the facade of their building. It appears to have been built in 1904, with the St Louis rooms above retail, initially occupied by R J Buchanan’s crockery store, and Cicero Davidson’s jewelers. We think the site was owned and developed by Jonathan Rogers, who applied to build a $24,000 building on the three lots here in 1904 – described (somewhat inaccurately) as a ‘frame dwelling’. The whole building included both the D’Aillards lot and the building with mis-matched windows to the north. (It’s hard to see in the image, but one has a curved cornice, and the other a shallow pyramid). Mr. Rogers was a builder and identified himself as the architect too. D’Aillards Blouses Ltd carried out work to 651 Granville (just to the north) in 1925, so had been in this area for many years.

The next building appears to have two identical facades, but was developed as a single structure, also in 1904. It was designed by Parr and Fee for Mrs. Northgroves, and cost $15,000. We’re not really sure who Mrs. Northgraves was. She doesn’t appear in any street directory, or census, although she was listed as attending a function with many other women in 1913. There was a Miss Northgrave, who lived on ‘income’, with her sister (and he sister’s husband, William Walsh, who was listed as a ‘capitalist’ under occupation in the 1911 census). In 1905 and in 1908 Mrs. Walsh and Miss Northgrave left the city to spend the winter in Southern California. Mr. Walsh developed a number of properties in the city, including some designed by Parr and Fee.

The building with the four Roman arches beyond also dates from the early 1900s, and we’ve failed to identify the architect or developer. In the early 1920s it was owned by B. Holt Fur Company, who spent over $5,000 on repairs and alterations. In the 1910s P W Charleson carried out repairs to 641 and 657 Granville on several occasions, and ‘Charlson & Abbott’ to 665 Granville. (Percy Charleson also owned 800 Granville, two blocks to the south). Fraser Hardware also paid for alterations to 641 Granville in the mid 1910s, and were tenants here. Brown Bros appear to have owned the properties in the mid 1920s.

Down the street, the narrower four storey building was approved to be developed as an apartment building in 1912. Charles Williams of Acroyd & Gall claimed to be developer, architect and builder of the $29,000 project. This was one of very few building lots that had originally been developed before 1901 (when the only other building that had been developed was the 1888 office on the corner). Richards, Ackroyd and Gall were an Insurance, Finance and Real Estate agency and there was a civil engineer called Charles Williams who might have managed the development. It’s not clear if the project was for the company, or whether they were representing a client when they submitted the plans.

Next door, there’s a modest 2-storey building. It was developed in 1910 by W F Huntting, who hired Thomas Hooper to design the $13,000 investment. William Foster Huntting was the wealthy president of the Huntting-Merritt Lumber Company, and he had a Shaughnessy mansion built in 1912. He was born in Iowa in 1879, and was successful in business at a young age, founding his lumber company in 1902, the year he arrived in BC. He died in 1930.

There’s another small building to the north, designed by W T Dalton for Edward Bros, who spent $7,000, hiring E Cook to build it in 1902. Beyond that, (just before the cinema), is a building on two lots. It has a shallow bay window on the second floor, and was apparently called The Bower Block in 1907, when it was developed by G Bower, who hired Hooper and Watkins to design the $15,000 investment. George Bower built other Granville projects including a much larger investment on the next block to the north two years later, using the same architects.

Image source: Leonard Frank, Jewish Museum LF.00308

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Seymour Street – 700 block, east side

These four buildings were swallowed by the BC Tel (now Telus) data centre, which these days is mostly office space. The BC Telephone Company were already here in this 1947 image. They had developed the tall 8-storey building almost on the right of the picture. Although the company claimed, on the building permit, to be architect and builder of the project, we know that J Y McCarter designed the 1913 structure, because his drawings for it are in the Vancouver Archives.

Next door is Firehall #2. It was built in 1903, cost $29,000 and was designed by W T Whiteway. The small building to the north, (738 Seymour), with the unusual pediment, was designed in 1925 by W F Gardiner for Rose, Cowan & Latta Ltd. They were printers and stationers, and also sometimes publishers of information booklets, commemorating events in the city. In 1925 R R Rose was company president, (but may not have lived in Vancouver), John B Cowan was company secretary, living on W37th, and Edward F Latta lived in North Vancouver. The company were still here in 1947, with the Seymour Cigar Store in the retail unit, with Miss I New and G Hicks offering vocal training at the same address, presumably in an office upstairs. The building replaced a house built here in 1901. It cost $1,000, and the developer was Mr. Morton, possibly one of two carpenters called Morton who lived in the city at that time.

The two storey building to the north (with the protruding ‘button’ sign) was Smith’s Button Works, The Button Works first appeared in 1929, and before that in 1928 it looks as if there was a house here. Smith’s actually did much more than supply buttons, as this directory entry shows.

724 Seymour on the edge of the picture was home to the Quadra Club in 1947. The building seems to have been built around 1932. It housed the Vancouver Little Theatre Association that year, and Paul Pini was running a restaurant in 1934. By 1936 that had become the Old Dutch Mill Cafe, with the Bal Tavern Cabaret, run by Mrs. E Yaci. The cabaret to see 1936 in advertised “BAL TAVERN CABARET NEW YEAR’S JAMBOREE dance to the Delightful Music of CLAUDE HILL AND HIS RHYTHM BOYS Gay Entertainment by MARIE MACK JACK GORDON AND A HOST OF OTHERS” The club had gone by 1937, replaced in 1938 by the Musicians Mutual Protective Union, and the Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union in 1940. There were other tenants – Sills and Grace, who sold hardware, and Technocracy Inc. They were an organisation that proposed replacing politicians and businesspeople with scientists and engineers to manage the economy. They were closed down in 1940 as they were perceived as being anti-war, but allowed to reform in 1943 when it became apparent that they favoured total conscription. They were replaced, briefly, by the National Spiritualist Association of Canada, but around 1942 the Quadra Club moved in, and stayed until the early 1970s.

Curiously, the Archives title for the picture also identifies the ‘Stock Exchange Bldg’, but that is clearly not here. Shell Oil apparently commissioned the photograph from Don Notman’s studios, but the reason isn’t obvious. In the late 1950s BC Tel replaced the Firehall and their 1913 building with a new much larger and more conemporary building, extended north in 1975 with a huge new automated telephone exchange designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners. (They probably designed the first phase in the 1950s as well). In the past two years the building has been overclad with a glazed screen. Space no longer needed for equipment has been repurposed as offices, and the Telus headquarters is now here, and in the new Telus Garden office added a few years ago at the end of the block. A complex energy saving system has been introduced, recirculating the excess heat from the company’s computer servers.

To the south next to the BC Tel building, the 1940s Farrell Building (just being built in 1947) had an extra skin added in 2000 to improve energy efficiency, and more recently has been sold by Telus as a separate building, now the headquarters of Avigilon security systems, part of Motorola since 2018.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-7266

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622 Granville Street

We’re seeing a 1925 store in an 1888 building on Granville Street. The Crewe Block (later recorded as the Crews Block) was one of a number of building developed along Granville Street by CPR Executives. Rather than trying to find local architects, most of the designs were drawn up in New York, in the offices of Bruce Price, who also worked on CPR commissions like the Opera House. The intent was to drag the city’s business district away from where it was founded, in Gastown, and closer to the CPRs new landholdings that ran southwards from their station on the waterfront at the foot of their new street, recently carved out of the forest.

Originally the building had sash windows, but some time later the second floor windows were slightly widened, and altered to centre-pivoted units. This is often a sign of the work of Parr and Fee, who favoured glazed white brick and pivoting windows in the many buildings they designed elsewhere on Granville. In 1925 Saba Brothers hired Townley & Matheson to design a $25,000 makeover of their premises. (The second floor windows had been installed before that renovation, as they can be seen in this earlier post which has an image from 1921, when Con Jones had one of his ‘Don’t Argue’ tobacco stores here).

Alex and Michael Saba who ran the store here were Christian Lebanese immigrants who were living on Vancouver Island before they moved to Vancouver. Michael arrived from Beirut first, and Alex joined him nearly a decade later in 1900 when he was only 17. He learned English by selling door-to-door, with a suitcase full of underwear, handkerchiefs and notions. By 1911 Alex was aged 28, had a 20 year old wife, Adma, a baby son, Edgar, and a home on Barclay Street that the family shared with Adma’s mother, Katherine Hashim. In 1921 Michael and his wife Freda were living on Pendrell Street, and the record shows Michael had arrived in 1891, and Freda (who was also Syrian, and 9 years younger than her husband) in 1893. Alex (recorded bizarrely as Axel) and Adma now had three sons, with Clarence and Arnold joining Edgar, and Catherine Hashim was still living with them on Balsam Street in a home that Alex had built in 1914 at a cost of $6,500. Alex was now managing director of the business, and various other Saba family members worked there.

The Saba Brothers sold ladies clothing and fabrics, especially silk, although they started out by selling a broader range of ‘Oriental Goods’. The History of Metropolitan Vancouver noted the importance of the business. “Saba Brothers opened on West Hastings  in November 1903. Two years later, the store moved to the 500 block Granville. By 1940, Saba’s was the largest retail house in Western Canada specializing in silks. Although hit by shortages in WWII, the business survived. In 1942, there was a riot when 500 women stampeded the store to buy 300 pairs of nylon stockings (no one was hurt)“. By the 1930s the store here was twice as big, as they expanded north into 628; in 1925 that was Hunter Henderson’s Paint store. In 1947, the company built a new five-storey $250,000 store here, designed by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick & Pratt. In 1954 they opened a Victoria outlet. Alex’s three sons, Edgar, Clarence and Arnold, later managed the business.

Today the loaction is part of the Hudson, a 400 plus unit condo tower developed in 2006 with retail and office space in the podium. Stores have generally been successful here, but the effects of the COVID pandemic has seen the closure of Swimco, the Calgary-based swimwear chain, and the unit was for lease in 2020.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-527

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Posted 14 December 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Club – West Hastings Street 2

Here’s the Vancouver Club’s 1893 premises for sale in 1930. To the west is the club’s newer building, designed by Sharp and Thompson and opened in 1914. Many published histories will tell you that the new building replaced the old, but as this picture shows, that’s not exactly accurate. The club developed their new building, opening on January 1st 1914, on the site where there was an earlier single storey annex to the first club building. That had been designed by C O Wickenden, and like the new club, was state-of-the-art when it was first constructed.

Initially the Club had occupied space in the Lefevre Block, which was opened in 1890. Many of the first members were associated with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the club was seen as having the city’s ‘elite’ membership. CPR executive (and property developer) Harry Abbott and its chief surveyor, J M Browning helped found the club.

Once the club moved into their own building in 1894, David Oppenheimer, the mayor, and Isaac, his brother, and another important landowner were also members. The Daily World said “The idea originated in the minds of conservative men of a class who want a thing good and who are willing to have the patience to abide their time in order to secure the fulfilment of their desires.” The building was said to have been designed with ‘refined elegance’ and featured a lower floor with billiard room with two tables, and a bowling alley, as well as cold storage and a cellar. Upstairs were a wine room, a reading room and a refrigerated room. Above that were two card rooms and two dining rooms, with oak paneling, as well as the kitchen and pastry room. At the top of the building were bedrooms for ‘the help’. and also for members or guests.

Having moved again to even larger premises, the club retained its pretentions through the decades. Rafe Mair wrote about joining the club; “In 1966, the Vancouver Club was an English-style men’s club: dark and cheerless, where voices were kept at a murmur and displays of mirth beyond the hint of a smile were frowned upon. Women were allowed as guests and then only at dinner – escorted by a member, of course – and were not permitted to enter the premises through the main doors.” “The reading room was on the main floor, and boasted deep armchairs and a selection of all the right magazines and papers, such as the London Times, Punch, the Illustrated London News and, oh heresy, The New Yorker. That was where, after a liquid lunch, the cream of Vancouver’s business community slept it off before wobbling back to the office. They would return to the club at 5 p.m. sharp and repair promptly to the third-floor bar to top off the day with a few drinks for the road.” Women were finally allowed to become members in 1994, and more joined when the women-only Georgian Club merged its membership. The club has evolved significantly since then, in terms of both membership profile and activities.

The old building was initially occupied by the Great War Veteran’s Association, and later a new club, the Quadra Club was started there around 1923. That allowed members to obtain a drink – although prohibition had ended in BC in 1921, the availability of liquor and the rules for saloons were onerous; clubs had greater freedom. The Quadra Club moved a block to the west along West Hastings in 1930.

The building was demolished not long after it was sold (as this Vancouver Public Library image shows) and the site has, remarkably, never really been developed since then. In the 1940s and 50s it had Thompson and Graham’s gas bar, service station and privately owned parking lot. (There was also another gas station on the north side of the street in 1940). It was still a parking lot in the 1980s, and indeed, it is today, although you wouldn’t know from this image. The entrance to Lot 19 is on the next street to the north, West Cordova, and there are 409 city-owned underground parkade space underneath the civic plaza with a pedestrian right-of-way, and public art. This consists of the (unintentionally ironically named) ‘Working Landscapes, by Daniel Laskarin, installed in 1998 “Four circular platforms are set in the park throughway beside the Vancouver Club. Each platform has a park bench and a living indigenous tree in a round steel planter on it. The platforms are made of wood and rotate at subtle speeds based on the work week: 1 hour, 8 hours and 40 hours. The fourth platform represents the 20-minute coffee break.” The mechanisms have been repaired and replaced several times, but more often than not, it seems, they’re not working.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-67

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Posted 19 November 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings Street – unit block, north side

Surprisingly, we’ve only examined the history of one of the buildings on this part of the block. That’s the Strathcona Hotel, now renovated and turned into condos as the Paris Block. Long-time home of shoemakers Pierre Paris & Sons, it was designed by Hooper & Watkins and developed around 1908 by John Deeks, who had made money mining for gold in Atlin. He converted it to a hotel around 1910, with R T Perry designing the necessary  alterations.

To the west, the single storey retail units. They were almost certainly developed by real estate broker W A Clark, who had his office in the Deeks office building when it first opened. William Clark was from Ontario, and like many other Vancouver real estate brokers also developed property on parcels that they had acquired. In Mr. Clark’s case, he also built retail buildings on Granville Street, and a 5-storey apartment building there that cost $60,000, and another (still standing today) that cost $50,000. In 1904 he had W P Matheson design a $4,000 house on Broughton Street. It must have been quite full, as in 1911 he lived there with his wife Mary and five daughters, aged 10 to 19, and their Japanese servant. Over the years He paid for a series of alterations and repairs to these buildings as tenants came and went. The two building were erected in 1905, one by Mr. Clark, and the one to the west by McWhinney & Lewerke, although in subsequent years into the 1920s he seems to have owned both buildings. We don’t know who designed the buildings, but in 1905 the ‘Hardware Merchant Magazine’ announced “McWhinney & Lewerke, Vancouver intend erecting a three-storey brick block on Hastings street, adjoining the Rubinowitz departmental stores recently purchased by them.” As far as we know the project never proceeded.

In 1936 when our image was taken Model boots and shoes occupied half of one unit, and Westinghouse sold Electrical goods, lights and radios in the other half. Next door was the Thrifty Dress Shop and the Union Shoe Co who offered ‘Better Values in Novelty Shoes’. Model Express must be one of the longest-lived businesses in the city; they were still located in the same unit until a year ago, and are still in business two doors away today. Today they ‘are proud to be Vancouver’s #1 stripper store’ and specialize in ‘exotic’ footwear (heels can be over 8″) and matching lingerie.

The building dated back to 1903 when W T Whiteway designed the $10,000 build for B C Permanent Co. In the first few years it was occupied by the Rubinowitz Department store. Major Matthews, the City Archivist wrote about Mr Rubinowitz, and collected his portrait, taken in 1939. “Mr. Louis Rubinowitz came to Vancouver in 1892, took some interest in Jewish affairs, but never took an interest in civic or public matters; it is difficult to find what he did take an interest in – in a public way. He had a small general store at Steveston, and also one in Vancouver, both queer places, an assortment of goods scattered aimlessly about after the manner of a secondhand store. He was a very elderly man when he decided to contest the office of Mayor. He wore his hair in a most noticeable manner. A long flowing grey beard, almost to his waist, and the long, almost white hair of his head hung over his shoulders as far as his shoulder blades. Sometimes, on Jewish ceremonial days, he wore a long black morning coat and a “stovepipe” tall silk hat, and had a rather venerable appearance, somewhat akin to a Jewish patriarch. He presented an odd and eccentric appearance as he walked down the street.” Liebermann Louis Rubinowitz ran in both the 1926 and 1918 election, receiving around 200 votes (1% of the total) – in the elections.

In the early 1920s Olympia Confectionery occupied the corner; a few years later it was a drug store, The Cut Rate Drug Co. The 1936 image shows The Grand Union Public Market, which remained operating through to at least the 1950s when it had 16 different stalls, among them a butcher, a baker and an umbrella maker; a fruit stand, a branch of Cunningham Drugs, a magazine exchange, two egg stores and the Healthy Cocktail Bar, selling juices. Stong’s grocery were here too. In the early 1990s it was a Fields department store (no doubt hoping to borrow some of Woodward’s customers from across Abbott Street). Before it was demolished over 10 years ago it was a greengrocers, the SunMart Market. It’s still a parking lot today, but plans have been approved for a 10 storey rental building over new retail units.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4889 and CVA Port P372

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