Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

Unit block – West Pender Street (2)

The Arco (on the left of the picture) started life as The Patricia Lodge. It’s a six storey building developed by John Walker, who hired Braunton and Leibert to design it in 1912. J F Langer (who lived on Woodland Drive) built the $53,500 investment, with a reinforced concrete frame. We looked at the buildings on this block in an earlier post, but at that point hadn’t worked out who John Walker was. We think we have pinned him down now, having sifted out a series of John Walkers who were labourers, farmers and other unlikely candidates for an investment like this.

John was born in Clarksburg, Ontario in 1873. He appears in Vancouver in 1903 as a clothing merchant, with a store on West Cordova and living in rooms on East Cordova. He added a second store for a while on West Hastings in 1904, and he lived on Melville, then in rooms at the Board of Trade (probably above the saloon of the same name). In 1906 he returned to Clarksburg to marry Carrie Hartman who was 7 years younger. The western provinces were obviously a little unfamiliar to the registrar, who identified John as a merchant in Van Couver. The couple moved to a house on Nelson Street in the West End and John had just one store again at 74 W Cordova.

In 1907 he branched out into a new line; real estate brokerage. Like many other merchants, he opened an office, initially as Walker and Dresser, and in 1909 with Daniel Campbell. That year his clothing store was taken over by David Hunter. Business must have been good during the 1910 – 1912 boom years; John invested in this building and Daniel Campbell built his own rooming house in the same year on East Cordova. However, like many other real estate businesses, things went badly for Campbell-Walker as the Great war added to the recession that had already hit the economy. The 1915 Government Gazette lists a number of lots where they had failed to pay the appropriate taxes, and where they were in arrears. John appears to have moved out of Downtown. His family was growing; a son, John, was born in 1914 and a daughter, Kathleen, in 1916 (whose records seem to end at some time after the 1921 census).

In 1920 John appears to have been in a partnership with Adam Wallbridge. John Walker represented the owners of the Princess Mines, a copper deposit on Texada Island. In 1921 the family had returned to the West End, to the Felix Apartments, and John was listed as a partner in Walker and Robinson (with George Robinson) on West Pender. This was a return to familiar territory; a high-class tailoring business in ‘The Store with the Yellow Front’. John had survived the war years well enough to move to a $7,000 house he commissioned on Angus Drive, designed by W M Dodd in 1921. The family lived there until 1939, when they moved to Surrey. At the age of 66 John and Carrie moved to Newton, in Surrey, where Walker’s General Store was established. Carrie was 89 when she died in 1970, and John was just short of his 102nd birthday when he passed away in 1975.

The Patricia Lodge opened in 1913, with Mrs L E Pomeroy running the operation. Several long-term residents moved in, paying $3 a week. Travelers could stay for $0.75 a night. Unusually for a Vancouver hotel, there was no bar.

In 1921 there was considerable damage to the building following a fire. The manager, M S Cot, dropped a key down the elevator shaft, and went down to the basement to retreive it. Lighting a match to see his way, there was a large explosion. Water leaking into the basement was mixed with gasoline coming from the Central Garage to the west.

In 1936 the new (and current) name was adopted; the Arco was initially run by A B Janousek, and during the war by Bill Chan and Wong Oak-Laing. The Arco became a typical run-down rooming house over the years, with the Two Jays cafe on the main floor (featured in two different episodes of the X-Files). In 2007 BC Housing acquired the building, and it was closed for a while for renovations and repairs, reopening as welfare rate non-market housing managed by Atira.

The large Wosk’s furniture warehouse in our 1978 image was initially a clothing factory operated by the Original Blouse Co. Built in 1950, there’s an approved scheme to turn it into office space with two added floors of residential rental units, but the devlopers have put the building on sale rather than construct the project.


Posted 3 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 1100 block, south side

There are three early buildings here, and we can pin down the development permit of both the apartment buildings. 1168 East Hastings is the apartment building on the right of the group next to the parking lot. It was built in 1911, cost $10,000, and was owned and designed by McPherson & Ross. Unfortunately, there seem to be no other references to ‘McPherson & Ross’ to help pin down who they might be. There were several McPhersons involves in real estate, and even more Rosses, but none listed in partnership.

The rooms, when they opened in 1912, were The Caledonia Rooms, and there were classified ads throughout 1912 mentioning hot and cold water in each of the furnished room, as well as steam heat, from $2.50. (That’s probably a weekly rate). In 1913 Mrs M. Logie was running the rooms. Success for the rooms was elusive; in 1915 Mrs. Gibson instructed an auction of “the residue of the contents of this well – known establishment, comprising I5 neat dressers, in good condition, iron bedsteads complete, wool blankets, sheets, bedspreads, feather plllows, comforters, pillow slips, centre tables, carpets, chairs, gas ranges. Mission oak sideboard, oak extension table, 20 yards heavy cork linoleum, miscellaneous effects, to be sold entirely without reserve.” Magdalene S Gibson was shown as proprietor of the rooms that year. She was Scottish, married to William Gibson, a machinist, and in 1911 they lived on Pender and had three sons at home as well as four lodgers.

On the end of the block today’s address is 1190 East Hastings. The first building on the block had been a 2-storey building built on the corner as early as 1903, numbered as 1888 E Hastings. It wasn’t occupied until 1905, when Douglas Gold, a grocer opened his store. The 1903 permit for the $1,000  store and dwelling was to John J Harrison. By 1908 Charles Levers was running the grocery, while at 1172 E Hastings there was the home of an engineer. In 1911 at 1182, the store on the corner was listed to John Stothart and Mrs M J Harrison lived upstairs, 1188 (to the west) was Richard Gosse living over a branch of Pat Burns East End Meat Market chain. The street directory identifies her as Mary Harrison, widow of John. John died in 1909, aged 54. The census lists her as M J Harrison, aged 54, from Ontario. There were ten roomers listed; five with two residents, and her son who was 17 and recorded as Glover J Gurrias.

As Mrs Harrison had carried out $1,500 of alterations to the frame of her building in 1911, (and fortunately we know from the recorded legal lot that it was the corner building) we assume that’s when she created the rooming house we see today. Why her son would have a different name, we’re unsure, (it looks like it was an error), but we can find Glover Harrison with his parents, John J and Mary Harrison, in the 1901 census, when he was aged 7. He had two sisters, Jennie, who was 13 and Apple, who was 12, both born in Manitoba. John was 45 and from Ireland, and was a teamster. Glover’s christening shows he was John Glover Harrison, born in July 1893, and his parents were John Joseph Harrison and Mary Jane Davidson.

The numbering was totally confusing for many years, with the 1912 Insurance map showing the corner building as 1882 and 1892 E Hastings, the two storey building to the west as 1888, and another house set back next to that as 1172. (The newly completed Caledonia Rooms hadn’t been given a number at that point). We are assuming that Mrs. Harrison’s building stayed where it was built, and she lived in the same building, but the irregular numbering created some confusion. She carried out more work on the building in 1922 and in 1925, and the building was described as office/ store and numbered as 1182. The street directory didn’t reflect the fact that the numbering was messed up, so ran the entries sequentially. Mrs. Harrison lived over the shop on the corner in 1915, when it was occupied by Thomas Brewis’s grocery store. Next door at 1888 the meat market and Richard Gosse were still here. In 1911 he was living here with his wife and two daughters. Mrs M A Brown ran a grocery underneath the Caledonia Rooms.

Mary Jane Harrison died, aged 82, in 1935. She was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, and her death notice said she was born in Stratford, Ontario in 1853. When he died in Mission, Glover Harrison was aged 81, and divorced. He had been born in Victoria, and was recorded as Glover Noble John Harrison. His sister Jennie was Jennie Little when she died in 1966, and Apple Beckett, who had been born in Winnipeg, and married in 1910, died in 1968.

Mary Harrison was still living on the corner in 1930, and the building was now called the Harrison Block, with 10 rented rooms (5 of them vacant that year). Vernon Bakery and Vernon Fish and Chips occupied 1192, the retail units below. Next door at 1188 E Hastings Burns & Co still ran a meat shop, with C C Taylor living upstairs. In 1940, following Mary’s death, Mrs. J B Little – her daughter, Jennie, was running the rooms, which had been changed back to six apartments, one of which she occupied. The corner had become Shoprite Stores, a grocers, and at 1188 Mr. Taylor was still living over a meat market – now Sterling Food markets. The Caledonia Rooms were now (confusingly, in terms of geographical accuracy) known as the Vernon Rooms, with a sub Post Office and N D Campbell’s grocery store on the main floor. In 1950 both the Vernon Apartment and the Harrison Apartments were listed. Sperling Food and Rex Grocery were operating in the stores.

Our 1978 image shows the Vernon Apartments were still in business, and with no retail use. The meat shop had a printing business operating, and on the corner was the Rex Groceteria – self-serve grocery. Today there are still marginal retail uses in the corner store and its neighbour operates as artists studios. Upstairs there are now 32 rooms, known for a while as Nortel Lodging House. The Vernon Apartments are still operating, and was recently sold as a ‘character rooming house’ with 30 units. The details failed to mention its reputation for illegal activities including drug dealing and residents with a record of firearms offences.


Posted 29 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 200 block, south side

Here are three buildings with the clearly labelled F Morgan Building on the right, at 244 E Hastings. For once, the Heritage Statement for this building helps pin its development down. “Built in 1910 to a design by architect W.C. Stevens, the F. Morgan Building had a commercial outlet on the main floor with lodging above. From one side of the building, Frank W. Morgan, a successful businessman, operated the Empress Pool Hall, which continued under a succession of different names until the 1930s.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the statement is only partially accurate. F Morgan did obtain a building permit for a $25,000 building here in July 1910, and W C Stevens was the architect. Mr. Morgan carried out some minor alterations a year later. However, the street directories don’t show anyone called Frank W Morgan. There was a Frank Morgan living with his aunt, but he was only 20, and there was another who was musician in a theatre. Even more confusing, the street directory doesn’t seem to acknowledge the existence of an Empress Pool Hall, at any time, in Vancouver.

The strongest possibility is Frank Morgan who was 46 and in 1911 lived with his wife Caroline, who was, like him, from Ontario, and aged 28. Despite his age, he appears in the 1911 census to already be retired. He was Franklin John Morgan, and he continued to be involved in real estate through the 1930s. He died in 1952, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. His death notice said “Mr. Morgan was born in Port Colbourne and came to Vancouver 65 years ago. In the early days of Vancouver he operated a bathhouse and boat rental at English Bay and later was in the real estate business. He was also, for a time, in the Oriental rug business. He was a talented artist specializing in oils and water colors and wood carving as hobbies. Mr. Morgan leaves his wife. Caroline; one brother, C. D. Morgan.” Caroline was his second wife; in 1901 he was shown married to Annie, who was English, but they divorced in 1903. Records suggest he married Caroline in San Francisco in 1904.

In 1891 he and his brother Claude (who was a barber – in 1910 he owned the Savoy Barber Shop), were listed living in Vancouver with their parents, Daniel and Sarah. His father was a street contractor, described in the street directory as Captain D Morgan.

In 1913 another of Frank’s hobbies was revealed; his collection of oriental rugs was auctioned off, valued at $20,000. Caroline Morgan died in 1965, and is also interred in Mountain View.

There was also a successful merchant and developer in the city called Frederick W Morgan. In 1911, with his partner, William Kilroy, he developed a large hotel on Granville Street. Unfortunately all the contemporary records on the Morgan Building refer to ‘F Morgan’ so we don’t know for certain which is correct.

Next to the hotel is the Rickshaw Theatre – these days (until the temporary closure due to Covid 19) a live music venue. In our 1978 image it was still the Shaw Theatre, opened in 1971 to show Chinese movies. It was designed by Phillip Harrison for the Shaw brothers (Sir Run Run Shaw and Tan Sri Runme Shaw) who owned a movie empire, based on Hong Kong. Their Vancouver movie house was state of the art, with dolby sound and cinema-scope screens. As demand for kung-fu movies ebbed, the theatre was closed in the mid 1980s. It reopened as a live music venue in 2009, featuring both touring bands and local music.

The Savoy Hotel is the tallest in the row. On the main floor is the Savoy Pub, with cheap beer and live music, where bands that hope to one day play a venue as big as the Rickshaw get their start. It was approved in 1910 as a $26,000 rooming house, designed (supposedly) and developed by D H McDougall. There were a lot of McDougalls (and MacDougalls, and McDougals) in Vancouver, and in 1911 both Donald H MacDougall and Daniel H MacDougall were retired, so either could be the developer. Although the Province newspaper and the clerk at City Hall both recorded McDougall, the census shows D H MacDougall, from Ontario, whose profession was real estate, and his wife Margaret living on Parker Street, and the street directory says he was Daniel H MacDougall. Their son Percy, who was 26 was living with them. He died in 1913, aged 27, and his mother’s maiden name was listed as Margaret Rankin. He had been born in 1885 in Maryborough, Wellington, Ontario. Margaret was born in 1860, in Ellice, Perth, Ontario and Daniel in 1855 in North Easthope, Perth, Ontario. Daniel married Maggie Rankin in 1884 in Mornington, Perth, Ontario and at the time he was a farmer.

We can find the family in 1901; Dan McDougall was living in Vancouver with Margaret and Percy in the census, and the directory shows Daniel Howard McDougall was proprietor of the St. Clair Lodging House, 41 East Hastings. This building first appears in 1912 as ‘new building’ with the Hotel Victor upstairs, run by Mrs. Josephine Huckell. The name was switched very quickly and by 1918 the Victor Hotel was run by John Wright. By 1925 it had become the Victor Rooms, and by 1930 the Savoy Hotel run by E Bourgoin.

In 2017 the Savoy saw a murder case, when a man and a woman were arrested for the shooting of a 62 year old resident. The man was convicted, and the woman acquitted, but police seized $117,000 in cash and a substantial quantity of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine from the room. This was not the first time the hotel was in the news. In 1939 the hotel was scene of a murder when resident Woo Dack, a Chinese merchant, was bludgeoned in his room with a piece of wood by a 17-year-old, one of three accused robbers, (two men and a woman) who stole $9.

In 2007 BC Housing acquired the hotel as part of a portfolio of buildings in an attempt to retain SRO rooms in the Downtown Eastside. In 2009 it reopened after $3.5m of renovations and repairs.


Ocean Towers – Morton Avenue

As we noted in the previous post, his 1959 apartment building helped change the appearance of Vancouver. Designed by Rix Reineke with Chow, Nelson and Associates it was originally designed at 21 storeys, but slightly scaled back to 19. There were only 69 units, varying from just over 1,000 square feet to over 1,500. Originally priced at between $25,500 and $32,000, as costs rose, so did the prices, which eventually were selling at $31,000 to $38,000. The building was devloped and built by the Becker Construction Co, and was originally penciled in at $1 million, but eventually cost about double that. The Vancouver Sun reported that site assembly cost about $200,000. 

The design – seen here in the 1960s – represented a dramatic break from the early 1950s zoning of the West End, which allowed 8 storey buildings (many of which were built to meet that limit). Buildings could theoretically go higher if they were thinner, and this tower is very skinny from north to south, but almost a full block east to west. While the ‘Miami modernist’ look was admired by some, the scale of the building and its effect on the buildings behind made it few friends. It was opposed by the Town Planning Commission, the city’s Technical Planning Board, the Vancouver Housing Authority and the Community Arts Council. Council approved it anyway, but the perceived negative impact of this building and a few others built in the same era ensured they would be the last.

Design guidelines required narrower buildings with space between them when later residential areas were planned, and new towers added to the West End. That’s still true today, as the experience of this tower continues to determine tower design not just in the city of Vancouver, but throughout Metro Vancouver. The architect later moved to La Jolla in California.

It wasn’t – and isn’t a condo building. The strata act wasn’t introduced until 1966. It started life as a ‘self owned’ building with each owner having shares in the company that owned the building. Some time in the next decade or so it became an ownership co-op. which it still is today. At the time we were drafting this post there were five units available with the least expensive priced at $1.5 million, and the additional fees were $1,000 a month.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives, Leslie F Sheraton CVA 2009-001.120


Posted 8 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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110 East Cordova Street

After a recent makeover, this 119 year old building now has office space over retail. It started life as a warehouse for the Public Transfer Company, designed by G W Grant and built by E Cook at a cost of $12,000. Despite the Heritage Statement claim, Pacific Transfer weren’t the developers; they were Atkins and Johnson, who were also in the cartage and storage business when it was developed. Robert O. Atkins was from Nova Scotia, and was born in 1868. He had two brothers, Thomas and John who were druggists, who had come to Vancouver in 1889 and 1891. They went on to be partners in the largest drug business in Vancouver, McDowell, Atkins & Watson. A contemporary biography said “Thomas Atkins also had interests in the lumber business and with sawmilling and salmon-packing industries, as well as extensive real-estate operations”.

Robert Atkins joined them in Vancouver around 1890, and by 1892 was running a truck and drayman business with Andrew Johnson. who also appears in the street directory for the first time that year, although he was in the city for the 1891 census. He had arrived from Norway (according to the 1901 census, although the 1891 census said Sweden) in 1884, and he became a Canadian citizen in 1895.

Atkins and Johnson’s first office was on Water Street, but we assume they developed this building with the intention of moving their business here. However, in 1902, the year it was built, it was announced that they had sold their entire operation to a new company, Mainland Transfer, a business with close connections to the Canadian Pacific Railway company. It was reported (somewhat inaccurately when it came to the businesses formation) “Atkins and Johnson have carried on business in Vancouver since the fire in 1886, and have had a large share of the heavy teaming work of the city. Their new stables Just east of Carrall street, and south of Dupont, are amongst the finest in British Columbia. They also have a waterfrontage on False Creek. All this property goes In the sale.”

This building was vacant in 1903, and finally occupied a year later when the Public Transfer Company moved in. The firm was a rival to Mainland Transfer and was run by George Davidson, Hugh McDonald and Howard Campbell.

In the meantime Atkins and Johnson found new interests. They invested in, and ran, a number of the city’s hotels. In 1904 they were shown as proprietors of the Hotel Metropole, on Abbott Street. In 1905 it was announced “Messrs. Atkins and Johnson, who have been running the Hotel Melropole for the last two years, have sold the hotel to Mr. G. L. Howe, of Seattle, who will take possession on Saturday next.” In 1906 they were running the Maple Leaf Livery Stables on Seymour Street.  In December 1905, Atkins, Johnson and Stewart had taken over the Commercial Hotel on Cambie Street, but Thomas Stewart retired from the partnership in 1908 leaving Atkins and Johnson to run the hotel.

In 1909 “A real estate deal was put through this morning by Mandervillle & Milne whereby the Wellington block, located on the north side of Hastings streets between Carrall street and Columbia avenue, changed hands at the figure of $100,000. The property has a frontage of 50 feet on Hastings street and is improved to the extent of a two-story store and rooming-house block. The sale was made for Messrs. Atkins and Johnson, the purchaser being Mr. A. E. Tulk.” In 1910 they owned the Burrard Hotel, and in both 1912 and 1913 ‘Andy Johnson’ obtained a permit to alter it – possibly adding an additional floor. They sold up in 1914, and Robert moved to Chilliwack. Andrew Johnson and his wife Margaret had moved to Burnaby to a new Arts and Crafts style house they had commissioned in 1911.

Robert Oliphant Atkins had married Eliza McAlister from New Mills, New Brunswick in 1892, quite soon after he arrived in British Columbia, but she tragically died in 1894, and their only child died a year earlier. Robert married again in 1904, to Jessie Clemitson, and they had four children. His sister, Sarah married Thomas Clemitson, Jessie’s brother. Robert died in 1929 at the age of 61.

Andrew M. Johnson was also a major landowner in Burnaby, at one time owning each of the four corners of Royal Oak and Kingsway and many of the adjacent properties. In 1910 he bought Burnaby’s Royal Oak Hotel and soon acquired the property on the opposite corner to build a family home named ‘Glenedward,’ after his son. He owned and operated the Royal Oak Hotel until his death in 1934. He was married to Margaret Sloane, (listed in 1901 as Maggie) who was Irish, and they had two sons, Edward, who died in 1901, the year of his birth, and Andrew Sloane Johnson, born in 1906.

We’re used to tracing constant changes to the businesses associated with buildings – but this is an exception. Pacific Transfer Co continued to use these premises into the early 1930s. They were replaced by Burke and Wood, another goods transfer business. By the end of the war this had become the Police Garage, replaced in the early 1950s by Sam Rothstein’s sack dealership. By the time our picture was taken, Spilsbury and Tindall had taken over the building. The Archives think the image is from the mid 1980s, but we place it earlier. Spilsbury and Tindall manufactured radio equipment, but the name was not used after 1972, although Jim Spilsbury continued in business until 1984. Our guess is this is the early 1970s around the time the business ceased operating.

The building was completely renovated in 2009, designed by Gair Williamson, and renamed The Stables. The restoration presented some challenges. “A rare design feature of heavy timber trusses and steel cables at the third level, which supported the second floor below. The function of this original suspended system was to allow for easy passage of horses and carriages on the main floor, without the hindrance of columns. To preserve the open space, the project team decided to retain this unusual element.”

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2447


Posted 25 March 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings and Columbia Street – se corner

This is the corner of Columbia and East Hastings around 1985, and we’ve looked at the history of some of the buildings in the picture in the past. Right on the corner is a wooden building – one of very few left in the area – that was built in 1893 by H A Jones. Next door, to the east, is a building developed by W Clark in 1911 costing $17,000 and designed by a relatively unknown architect called Kenneth Fraser. We have no way of telling which W Clark was – there were two William Clarks and a Walter Clark in real estate, and another William Clark who was a reasonably wealthy business owner. The development probably involved the 3-storey building on Columbia Street, which only appeared in the street directory in 1912 as the Chateau Rooms. Mr. Clark’s lot was unusually L-shaped, with 50 feet on Columbia as well as 25 feet on Hastings – the corner 25 x 70 foot lot was in different ownership. The Chateau Rooms on Columbia were originally run by Madame Rose E Chenette. Douglas Jung, the first member of a visible minority elected to the Parliament of Canada had his offices there.

As we noted in an earlier post, the building was altered several times (and at some expense) several times in the first couple of years. At the end of 1912 there were alterations to a shooting gallery. This was the Wellington Arcade, run by H G Wickwire. It was possible to open the gallery because a year earlier this was the Wellington Theatre, run by ‘Lathan’ and Saborne, as well as the Wellington Pool Room in the same premises. There were alterations to the pool room in 1912 as well. Initially the World Wide News Co were tenants here, but they disappeared within a year and Mr. Clark spent another $2,000 carrying out alterations at the end of 1911, presumably to create the theatre and pool room. William Latham ran a business called Commercial Transfer as well as the theatre, and his partner was James Saborne, who also owned the Granville Chop House. (He’s probably the same James Saborne who also ran the Wilson Cafe on Yates Street in Victoria until 1913 when the sheriff seized the building contents for non-payment of debt).

William Latham’s household in 1901 also included James Saborn as a lodger. William was 50, and from England, and James was 21 from Ontario. William had a wife and three children at home, including Beatrice, who was 16. In 1911 James Saborne was 33, from Quebec, living with his wife, Beatrice who was 25, born in England, and their two sons, Eugene and James Oswald. He had two brothers sharing their home. Unusually, James was identified as a member of the Brethren denomination. James and Beatrice had married in April 1904.

In 1921 William Latham and his Welsh wife Eliza were living with their daughter, Jesse, her husband, Arthur Curtiss, and their 11-year old grandson. James and Beatrice Saborne were living at 1128 Granville Street, with their sons, and James was working as a ship’s steward.

To the east is a 1982 building, originally built as a retail centre, but more recently converted to artists workshops and a gallery. Next door is Brandiz Hotel, an SRO hotel that started life as the Howard Hotel and then became the Empire Hotel. It built in 1913 for Seabold and Roberts and designed by H A Hodgson.

Beyond the Chateau Rooms on Columbia, across Market Alley, is the Great Northern Hotel. This is almost certainly a 1911 building developed by Sam Kee and designed by R T Perry. The Great Northern station was initially just across the street to the south. A third storey was added when the building reopened in 1981 as a Chinese non-market housing building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1905


Royal Bank – East Hastings and Main Streets


The first phase of the Royal Bank at Main and Hastings was developed in 1910, and we’re seeing it here almost exactly 100 years ago, in 1920. We’re pretty certain this is the oldest continuously used bank in Vancouver – the CIBC a bit further south was developed in 1915. There are older buildings built as banks, but today they’re used for other purposes. This was originally designed by the bank’s Montreal-based architect, Howard Colton Stone, in 1907. Exploring Vancouver describe the style as ‘Edwardian baroque’, featuring Ionic columns. It’s a modest building for an important corner of the city, but it fits a pattern; the corner to the north was redeveloped from three storeys to a single storey Bank of Montreal in 1929, and to the west the Carnegie library wasn’t significantly taller.

The construction used a reinforced concrete frame – one of the earliest in the city. It was extended east along Hastings Street to the lane in 1947, to designs by the Royal Bank’s Montreal-based former chief architect, S.G. Davenport, (Although he didn’t do anything other than replicate the existing design on the outside). Another smaller addition was built to the south along Main Street (on the site of the former Merchants Bank) in 1975.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1392


Posted 18 March 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Hawks Avenue – 700 block

This 7-unit row of cottages was built on 2 lots at the end of Harris Street (today’s East Georgia Street) where it meets Hawks Avenue. The developer was house decorator George Elliott, who lived a few blocks to the east, on Harris. They were constructed in 1908, and a year later George built another house on Harris, in the 500 block, where he moved in 1910. He seems to have dabbled in property construction and modest development as a sideline to his painting and paper-hanging business. There are several permits to George Elliott for house alterations and construction through the East End in the early 1900s, including a $2,000 permit for a 1908 Harris Street dwelling (which we think is likely to be this row).

The earliest we find the Elliott family in Vancouver is in 1896, when George was listed living on Gore Avenue, and a year later at 236 Harris Street. In 1901 George and Mary Elliott were shown by the census to have been born in England and arrived in Canada in 1883, and were both aged 42. They had five children at home: Albert, born in 1886 in England, who apparently didn’t come to Canada until 1892, Victor, born in BC in 1888, Violet in 1890, Leonard, 1891, also in BC and Gladys, who was 8, born in Seattle in 1893, and who came to Canada in 1896.

In 1911 George and Mary Elliott were shown by the census still living on Harris Street, with three sons; Charles, George and Robert, daughter Violet, and Mary’s father, Robert Payne. George and Mary were 52, and both born in England. They were both shown arriving in Canada in 1887 with two of their sons. Their younger children had been born in BC, and Mr. Payne had arrived in 1898.

By 1911 George was no longer shown as working; his employment was listed as ‘income’ (we assume from his rental properties). Two sons were paper hangers and so presumably had taken over the family business. One was listed as a press man. The street directory shows five siblings; Albert, Charles, Gladys and Leonard (the pressman with the News-Advertiser) and Victor.

The family were still in the East End before the First World War, (in 1913 George A, paperhanger and Charles A were both at 517 Harris) but by 1914 they had moved to 1905 W13th Avenue. George and Gladys, a bookkeeper were listed there, as well as Leonard, a printer, and Victor, a painter with the Vancouver Paint and Paper Co. There was an Albert Elliott living in South Vancouver, who may have been the other son. In September 1914 Leonard got married. His bride, Catherine Heffring was 22, two years younger, and the marriage licence tells us that he was legally named Robert Leonard Elliott, and he was born in Victoria in 1890. In 1916 George, Gladys and Leonard were all still living on W13th, but Victor was recorded as being on active service. There’s no record of him in Vancouver after this point. Only Gladys was living in Vancouver in 1917, and none of the family were still in the city by the end of the war.

We can track them on to Seattle in 1920, when George and Mary were shown as aged 59 and their daughter Gladys (27) was still living with them. They were renting their home; George was still a painter and decorator and Gladys worked as a telephone operator. They were shown as having immigrated to the US in 1887, (and Gladys had been born there). We’re not sure when Victor died, but we know it was in the US and we think it might have been in 1920 or 1921. When he died he had two brothers, Charles and George, and his sisters were married; Gladys was Mrs. Gladys N Waters and Violet was Mrs. Violet L Wilson. Gladys, who was married to Fred Waters, died on September 11 1921.

Our 1978 image shows the row with a couple of recently planted street trees. The houses were renovated in 1985. The row was bought for $180,000 by seven partners in 1983, initiated by architect Clare McDuff-Oliver. Each partner spent around $60,000 for construction, and worked on the demolition of the existing walls.  Each unit was custom designed, and Denise Olsen was contractor and project manager. The original building had no basement suites, so the houses were raised and a located on new concrete foundations. The upper floor was reconfigured, with the bathroom moved from its original location. Today each of the units is worth more than the entire row cost to buy and renovate.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-48.32


Posted 15 March 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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1033 Davie Street

These days this is The Davie Building, with the popular Fountainhead Pub on the main floor. The offices on the upper floors have a variety of smaller suites, with local professional like lawyers and insurance brokers, and the offices of the West End Business Improvement Association. However, most of the tenants are medical practitioners, either providing local services like chiropractic, or more specialist clinics, thanks to the proximity of St Paul’s Hospital. The brick tower behind the building is part of St Paul’s, due to move from this location in a few years to a new hospital site next to the Canadian Northern Station, where Union Station used to stand.

When it first opened in 1959 this was known as the Metropolitan Medical Centre, and it featured in an advertisement in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal, which helpfully identifies the architect. That was Gerald Hamilton and Associates, a practice responsible for several of the city’s best modernist buildings. The ad says it was an attractive functionally planned medical centre, but the most obvious design element was the lattice screen that completely obscured the south-west facing facade of the building. Our 2005 image shows the curved plastic awning roof on the Fountainhead pub in those days. In 2013 a comprehensive building renovation replaced the screen, and the glazing behind.

The illustration shows that when it was built, the lower floor was also office space, with a classic 1950s / early 1960s frieze in front of the entrance. The introduction of the pub saw the addition of a curved canopy, now replaced with a brick screen and large window openings and a patio that has a glazed awning added in winter.

Next door there has been a cleared site (with a temporary community garden) that replaced a gas station and retail building. There are now plans for a 47-storey mixed-use tower, designed by Merrick Architecture.


Posted 8 March 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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280 East 6th Avenue

This brick building, constructed over a stone base, dates back to 1903. The wall shows the painted name of Fell’s Candy Factory, and B F Fell carried out alterations when he supposedly moved his business here in 1919. He obtained a permit for the work that year, and his name is on the building, but the business was never listed in the street directory. 280 East 6th is missing as an address in 1920, and the building was listed as vacant in 1921 and 1922, although Benjamin Fell, a confectioner, was living on Collingwood Avenue.

The building was developed by Vancouver Breweries, Ltd in 1903, and the permit shows G Marshand as the designer and J Bryhuskin building the $8,000 building. We’re reasonably certain that was Otto Marstrand, who was a partner in the brewery with Charles Doering. Quite who the builder was we’re not sure. Bryhuskin isn’t a name, as far as we can tell. A guess would suggest perhaps F W Brightenstein, who was a contractor, or Charles Brusatore, who worked for Vancouver Breweries. One report says Mr. Gellarchaud was supervising architect – but again, nobody of that name (or anything close) shows up in the city. The building had an ice-making plant (for lager production) and a bottle-washing plant.

Otto Marstrand arrived from Denmark and become a partner in Doering’s Brewer in 1892, (while Charles was German, and had been in BC since 1879, initially in Victoria). Otto’s experience was as managing director of a large Danish brewery, and his partnership in Vancouver Breweries was to brew Alexandria Lager – or perhaps Alexandra – using Okanagan barley. (both these ads appeared in 1901). It was described as “a pure, wholesome beverage, and contains no harmful ingredients. It is highIy recommended as a tonic for weak and debilitated people.” When this building was constructed Otto had just bought a house on the 800 block of West Hastings overlooking Burrard Inlet. He sold the house to The Terminal City Club in 1909, who in turn sold it to the Metropolitan Building Co.

We know very little more about him; while there were several Otto Marstrands in Copenhagen he seems to have evaded any census while he lived in Canada. Because we can find his son, Jens, we think we found the family in Copenghagen in 1890. Otto was 41, his wife Dorthea (Lund) was 30, and they had six children aged between 6 and 12, with Jens aged 9.

In 1906 Otto was made Danish consul, and the news report noted that he was from ‘one of the oldest families in Denmark’, and that his cousin was mayor of Copenhagen. That year we know his business interests included the building where the Atlantic Saloon was located. We know her had at least two children; Karen, who trained as a nurse in 1901, and a son, Jens, who moved to Tacoma, where he was a farmer where he died in 1933, aged 52. Otto returned to Denmark in 1906, following an auction sale of the particulars of his house, including “valuable furniture, pony and trap, buggy, dog cart, horse, pool table, etc, etc.’ He died there ‘of heart trouble’ in 1911. His son Jens married in Los Angeles in 1907, and died in Pierce County, Washington in 1933.

The building was briefly home to the Purity Dairy, run by Frank Musgrave, but it was empty again in 1930. In 1934 Canadian Aviation used the building, and in 1935 the Canada Grease Works, with Theo Clarke managing, moved in, staying for at least a decade. Stucco Supply also occupied the premises through the 1940s, which was split into two. By 1955 Utility Containers occupied one unit, and James T Leigh’s Leigh Holdings the other. He was a manufacturer’s agent, although we don’t know what items he sold – but we do know his wife was Flossy. Their daughter, Verdun Perl lived in London in the 1950s, and had previously been a violinist in the VSO. She was born during the First World War while her father was fighting in Europe, and had grown up in Cowley in southern Alberta. Maso Import China took over around 1966, and from the 1970s the building was mostly unused. Our image dates from the 1980s, not too long before Kasian Kennedy designed the residential conversion of the building into 14 strata artist live-work studios, with a third storey added, completed in 1993.


Posted 4 March 2021 by ChangingCity in Mount Pleasant, Still Standing

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