Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

602 Keefer Street

Gregory Tom was the headmaster of Lord Strathcona School, across the street from here, when he had this house built in 1902. He was aged 39, and had come to Vancouver from Victoria, where he taught school. His early years were spent in Usborne, in Huron County, Ontario, which is where we think he was born (and listed in the 1871 census as Greggory). He had at least three siblings, one of them becoming a Senator in Toledo, Ohio. In 1888 Gregory emigrated to New York, but by 1891 he was in Victoria, aged 27 and still single.

Before he moved into his new home, which cost $1,000, he had married Caroline Fitton, also from Ontario and a few years younger than her husband, and they hade a son, Reginald, in 1896. William Cline, a carpenter and builder designed and built the house, as he did several others down the same street. It looks as if he was born in Quebec, while his wife, Mary, came from Ontario, but their children, including carpenters Albert and William H were born in the USA. This house was addressed as 602 on either street, Keefer, or Princess. We’ve noted many times that the 1911 census is unreliable, and it proved to be so for the Tom family, where Gregory is recorded as Anthony, although the details of the home address, (by then 1602 E 12th Ave where the family moved to that year), his occupation, Caroline and Reginald are all correct.

By 1921 Gregory had moved on to be the principal of Alexandra School, and was living on Point Grey Road. Reginald was still living at home, training as a lawyer with Williams Walsh McKim & Housser. Adding a further decade finds Gregory still working as principal of a school, and Reginald still at home, but now a barrister. Gregory retired in the early 1930s and died in 1938 in Vancouver, and Caroline in 1949 when she was living in New Westminster. Their son, Reginald Fitton Tom died at aged 43 in Vancouver in March 1940, still living at home.

The house narrowly avoided the ‘slum clearance’ that would have replaced the entire Strathcona neighbourhood with more contemporary housing, but by 1977 when this image was taken it wasn’t at its best (although much better than many in the area). In recent years the house has been restored to something closer to its original state.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-28

Posted May 18, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

1105 Granville Street

In 1919 A E Henderson designed a $15,000 garage for agents Griffith & Lee, built by J B Arthur. This picture was taken two years later, and shows the Oldsmobile dealership of Bowell McDonald. They soon added Oakland cars to the mix; an Oldsmobile six sold from this showroom in 1924 would have cost you $1,345. (According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, that would be $18,700 today).

Not too much later, in 1925, Bowell McDonald expanded, moving to another concentration of vehicle showrooms on West Georgia. Later they moved again to Burrard Street, became Bowell McLean, and then to West Broadway, where their name can still be seen behind the Toys r Us sign. After they headed to West Georgia, Chevrolet Sales moved into this building, but by the 1930s the vehicle connection was lost and this became the West Port Food Market. Over the years a variety of retail stores have come and gone – and the building has been smartened up in recent years, initially for clothing store Le Chateau, and now for another clothing store, 8th & Main.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Trans N13

Posted May 11, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

2 West Pender Street

This sliver of a building has just been given a 21st century ‘makeover’ with the addition of a light show to an otherwise modest insurance office. The justification for the show is that, according to the Guiness Book of Records, this is the shallowest commercial building in the world; (not the narrowest). It was built in 1913, designed by Bryan and Gillam for the Sam Kee Company and cost just $8,000 to erect. (Behind it is a tenement building developed by another Chinatown merchant, Wing Sang).

It’s a good example of the hassles faced by the Chinese merchant community in the early days of the 20th Century – and their resilience. Sam Kee was an invented name for a company run by Chang Toy. He had built a 2-storey brick building here around 1901, one of several significant hotels and commercial buildings he developed. When the City of Vancouver moved to expropriate the site to widen Pender Street, Sam Kee instructed their lawyer to negotiate for $70,000 compensation in order that they achieved the $62,000 they estimated that the site was worth.

Our 1920s Vancouver Public Library image (above) shows that not content with getting the money, Chang Toy then got his architects to devise a steel framed structure that would maximize the development potential of his site, which was on average only six feet deep, and slightly less at one end. He added a barber’s shop (in 1920 it was run by Foo Key), and public baths in the basement, lit with glazed blocks set into the sidewalk. The main store was occupied by Sam Shing Lin Kee & Co, a shoestore.

In 1936, when the image above was shot, this may not have been an all Chinese tenanted building. While Chin Kee had a shoe repair business here and Y Kee was offering to repair or clean and press laundry, hotdogs and hamburgers only cost a nickel in the centre booth. Hires is a brand of root beer – still manufactured today and the second oldest soft drink brand in North America, dating back to 1875.  The corner unit, not visible in the picture, was the home of the Wong’s ‘Modernize Tailors’ store.

By 1961 when Walter Frost photographed the building (left) there was a tailor, Mr. E Rogers, and Wong’s jewelers and camera store (where they also cut keys) in the other half of the building.

Image sources; Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives Bu N158.3 and CVA 447-346

Posted May 8, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

Tagged with , ,

Hartney Chambers – West Pender Street

The building on the corner of Homer and West Pender is numbered as 347 West Pender, because this is only a short block. It’s a small building because it shares the lot with an older structure, the original offices for the Daily World newspaper in 1892, and later for the News Herald. Down the street is the Pender Ballroom and the Riggs-Selman Building.

Hartney Chambers was completed in 1909, and designed by W F Gardiner, who then had his offices here. He tendered the building in the last week of February 1908, and tenants were advertising their businesses in the building a year later. Tenants leased either a single or double room in the building, and so were small , often one-man businesses. The Daily World in July 1908 described the building, which today could benefit from some attention, but at the time had ‘a handsome entrance’ to the offices on the upper floors, with a tiled entrance and space for a shoe shine stand. The facades, which have been painted for many years, was originally of pressed brick with New Zealand stone trimmings. The building was fitted with electric lights and steam heating,

We had no idea about who the ‘Hartney’ is that the building was named for, or why the name appeared on it. There were no contemporary records we can find that link the building to an investor called Hartney, although there were two possible candidates in the city, Charles and Patrick, and neither one seems more likely than the other. Both ended up running hotels in the city. The Hartney Real Estate Co had offices in 1907 on West Hastings, but frustratingly their advertisements don’t identify the owner, and the company seems to have lasted only a few months.

The developer was listed on the building permit as Peter G Drost, and the Daily World referred to it as the Drost and Turnbull Building. Adkison & Dill built it at a cost of $22,000. Drost continued to own the building, as he carried out some repairs in 1919. He was born in Ontario around 1863, and in 1891 was living in Whitewater in Selkirk, Manitoba where he was a grocer. That’s where the ‘Hartney’ name almost certainly comes from; Mr. Drost acquired a homestead in Manitoba, and then in the 1890s ran a flour and feed store in the newly expanding railway town of Hartney. In 1895 a fire destroyed much of the centre of the town, reaching Drost’s store.

In 1901 he was still in Manitoba, but in Brandon. He first shows up in Vancouver in 1903, with this rather odd entry, as a manufacturer. The advertisement from the Delta News from November 1902 explains a little more.

In the 1911 census he was living on the 2600 block of Columbia street of Vancouver. In the census he was described as retired (at age 48), but in the directory he was listed as a broker, with his office in this building on West Pender. His wife, Anne, aged 52 was with him, also from Ontario, along with Estelle, 26 and Harold, 23, born in Ontario, and four more sons aged 18 to 12, all born in Manitoba. In 1911 Mr. Drost used the same team of architect and builder to build a rooming house on Powell Street.

Mr. Drost was a Methodist, and involved in running the Central City Mission. In 1912 he was manager of the Mission, reporting that “2,034 men had been given free beds apart from the men who had been given free shake – downs”. In 1930 he had a huge row with the directors, who ran the operation in a way that he didn’t believe followed Christian values as it was run as a private company, and sometimes turned the destitute away. Clearly his disagreements were eventually resolved as the Archives have this image of him in 1949, burning the mortgage for the Mission.

Our image was shot some time in the 1970s, and today the building is still standing as a backpackers hostel. In 1918 it was home to the Vagabond Club, but by 1920 there were some rooms in residential use and by 1930 it had switched to entirely residential use as the Hartney Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-16 and CVA 371-1576

Posted May 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

317 West Pender Street

In this 1974 image the Victory Block (as it’s now named) had space to rent, and a fire escape on the façade. To the west was the Pender Ballroom, and to the east the Roberts Block. When it was built in 1908 (the same year as the Roberts Block) it was called the Riggs Selman Building, named for its investor developers, Samuel Spencer Selman and Dr. Herbert Wilkinson Riggs. If he read it, Mr. Selman was no doubt unimpressed by the news report that “Dr. H. W. Riggs and Mr. S. Salmon have taken out a permit for a four-storey brick block to be erected on Pender street, between Homer and Hamilton street, at cost of $40,000. The building will have a frontage of 50 feet.”

Oddly, for such a strikingly designed building, there’s no reference to an architect. There is another building completed that year which has some architectural details somewhat similar to this block, albeit rather less exuberant; the Shaldon Hotel on East Hastings was designed by H B Watson.

Dr Riggs was a physician and surgeon, born in Wicklow in Ontario in 1872. He trained in Winnipeg and Edinburgh, and arrived in BC in 1899. In 1901 he was still single, but he soon married and had two daughters, lived on West Georgia and was a member of the Terminal City  and University Clubs. As with many of the city’s successful professionals Dr Riggs also took a keen interest in property development. As well as this building, he had interests in the Dominion Trust Company (in 1907) and the Federal Trust Company, and was a director in both companies. He was a Freemason, and also governor of the Pacific-Northwest District of the Kiwanis from 1918 to 1920. He was president of the Vancouver Medical Association and in 1930 was appointed by the Provincial Secretary to the Board of Vancouver General Hospital.

Samuel Selman was a realtor in 1908 (representing the Manitoba Land Co), and born in Ontario in 1862. He married Clara Barr in Ontario in 1883, and by 1901 they had moved to Victoria, and had several children, Ella, (or Elba as she was shown in Victoria), May, Hubert, Gordon, Mary, (Marie on her wedding certificate), and Roy. Clara’s mother, Mary Barr also lived with them. Tragically, Ella accidentally died of drowning in English Bay in 1908; at the time she was crippled, on crutches, and slipped in the water. Samuel switched employment a number of times. In 1901 he was shown in the census as a lumberman, although he doesn’t appear in the street directory in Victoria until 1903 when he was listed as a grocer. In 1911 he was President of the Canadian Pipe Co, a position he first held in 1909. He died in 1947,

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-265

New World Hotel – Powell Street

The New World Hotel (also known as the Tamura Building) was built in 1912, although not completed until a year later, and featured one of Townsend & Townsend’s most exuberant set of added details. By the early 1970s, some of these had been lost, as our ‘before’ image shows. After extensive renovations and restoration funded by BC Housing, those details have recently reappeared. They include the huge and elaborate gabled roof top pediments, that the architects also originally added to a residential block in Mount Pleasant, as well as seven feet high vases.

The Townsends were father and son, (although published biographies suggest they were brothers), probably from Manchester and only in the city from 1909 to 1913. Their client here was Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese businessman who emigrated, first to Victoria in 1888 aged 25 where he worked for a sulphur producing company who made him their purchasing agent, operating from Hokkaido. He was from a samurai family from Kumamoto, and apprenticed to a textile shop in Osaka at the age of 13. When the sulphur business went bankrupt in 1891 he moved back to Canada, this time to Vancouver. He initially worked in a sawmill, but soon established an import business, shipping (among other things) rice, soybeans, silk and oranges. He added an export element to his business, shipping salmon and lumber back to Japan. He was able to grow his business when he received a $150,000 insurance payment from a shipment of salmon that was lost at sea.

In 1903 Tamura was asked by the Canadian government to help sell Canadian goods to Japan. He advised on the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka exhibition where the star of the show was a bakery producing bread baked from Canadian wheat – a food item little known in the country at the time. Tamura Shokai, his trading company, was the exporter of the wheat to Japan. He was Canada’s first trade commissioner to Japan, and was listed in the 1911 edition of Who’s Who in Western Canada, the only Japanese represented in the publication.

He added banking to his businesses, founding Nikka Chochiku K K, in 1907, looking after the earnings of the Japanese community and arranging transfers of money back to Japan. His business was initially based on Granville Street, rather than in the Japanese community on the east side. That changed after he built the Tamura Building, which housed his businesses downstairs and the World Hotel above.

Tamura had returned to Japan by 1918 – the year he filed a US Patent for the design of an automobile suspension system. He became president of the Kobe Board of Trade, as well as a member of both the Japanese House of Representatives, and the House of Peers. As Baron Tamura he was an important figure in Tokyo in the 1920s. His business continued in Japan and in Vancouver (and Seattle) with family members representing the company. He died in 1936.

Today Tamura House has regained its New World Hotel entrance and is a rehabilitated Single Room Occupancy hotel. Managed by Lookout Emergency Aid Society, it provides 105 units for people who are struggling with issues such as addiction or mental health that put them at risk of homelessness. Thirty five units are for residents in the Tamura House Tenancy Program which offers staff support, such as advocacy and medication dispensing, seven days a week.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives W E Graham CVA 1135-15

Posted April 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

West Hastings Street west from Carrall

 

When this picture was taken in 1932 it was noted as being a picture of the last locomotive to cross West Hastings Street. It was on the route that angled through the Downtown from Alexander to the freight yards by False Creek. From July 1932 a newly bored tunnel allowed trains to move between Burrard Inlet and False Creek. The tunnel – or much of it – still exists because SkyTrain now runs through it to head to Waterfront from Stadium station. The tunnel was dug a little deeper to allow the SkyTrain tracks to be stacked on top of each other – the tunnel wasn’t wide enough to allow two trains to run side by side.

We’re not trainspotters, so we could be quite wrong, but this looks as if it was Canadian Pacific’s locomotive 232; an old 0-6-0 steam engine that would have probably been used to haul carriages and freight cars over short distances within the city between CP’s various freight yards. In an earlier post we featured one of the bigger locomotives used to haul the passenger trains across country, sitting on the same line, on Alexander Street.

The building on the left of the picture was the Headquarters of the BC Electric Railway Co who ran the tram and interurban system, which by the 1930s was apparently also doing double duty for Westminster Motor Coach. The odd thing is that this appears to be the only reference to an organization of that name. We haven’t found any records for an operation with that name, and it doesn’t appear in any street directories either. W Marwell Somervell designed the building, completed in 1911, and still in use today as a lighting showroom with offices above. (The building permit for the $350,000 project identified him as M Somervell).

One other thing we noted is the sign on the building for “BC Rapid Transit Coaches” We had no idea the term was in use so early – although with a slightly different meaning. In 1930 there was a scheduled coach to Seattle (which went through Sumas) and another to Chilliwack. Fares from Chilliwack to Seattle were $3.50, return $6.00, but to Bellingham only cost $1 ($1.50 return).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Can N32

Posted April 10, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,