Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

782 Harris Street

Today this is a recently comprehensively rebuilt family home on East Georgia Street, but when it was built in 1909 the streetcars ran past 782 Harris. The builder and owner was H Hutchings, and the permit for $2,000 for a ‘Frame store & dwelling house’. In 1910 Henry Hutchings, a carpenter, was living here, and he developed quite a number of houses around the city in 1912. In 1911 he was shown in the census as living at 782 Harris with his wife, who was 43 (two years younger than Henry), both coming from Newfoundland.

His wife was christened Leah Badcock, the daughter of sealer and cod fisherman Josiah Badcock and his wife Olivia. Henry and Leah had three children at home in 1901, (when they were living a block away at 831 Harris, in a house Henry probably built in 1900, when they arrived in Vancouver). There were two daughters, Mildred and Jessie, and a son, James (shown as Douglas in subsequent census records). Mildred was born in Newfoundland in 1895, but Jessie was born in Boston, Mass. in 1896. James was born in 1899 in Vancouver.

They had another son, Mundon Josiah Hutchings, in 1903, and then Russell Hutchings in 1905, but the family had disappeared from Vancouver by 1913, and it looks like they moved to King County (Seattle) in 1912. They’re all in Seattle in 1920, with what must have been quite a surprise to the family, another son, Willard, born in 1915, when Leah was 45, and her daughter Mildred (who was still living at home) was 25.

For many years this building remained vacant, through the renaming of the street to East Georgia in 1915, until in 1917 John S McDonald, a stonecutter, moved in. He was here for a couple of years, and then the property was again vacant. In 1924 Abraham Charkow moved in with New Century Produce. Abe had run an egg store in 468 Union a few years earlier, and at 775 E Georgia in 1920. K Jacob Charkow moved in, and stayed into the 1930s. The New Century Grocery was at 784 E Georgia, and K J Charkow lived at 782. Abe Charkow ran the wholesale fruit and vegetable business, which was on West Pender. Jacob Charkow started out with a horse and buggy and then was in the egg business, and was twice president of Schara Tzedeck synagogue. His son, Samuel had been born in Poland in 1903, which is where his father, Kopel Jacob had been born in 1858, the same year as his mother, Greta.

Jacob was still here, in business, aged 75 in 1935, but the building was once more vacant in 1937. The Western Jewish Chronicle announced Kopel’s retirement. He died in 1941, at which time the new residents of this building only rated a directory entry of ‘orientals’.

By 1945 it appears that the store use was abandoned and there were two homes in the building, with S J Chow listed living at 784 and Sam Wright, an orderly at Shaughnessy hospital living at 782 with his wife, Helena. They were still listed here in 1950, now both at 782, with Rose Chow, a clerk at Yee’s Confectionary on E Hastings living at the rear of 782 E Georgia. In 1952 Harry Low, a clerk, and his wife Francis replaced the Wright family.

At some point the building became a rooming house – possibly in the early 1950s as by 1955 both 782 and 784 were shown as ‘occupied’. With only 3 units, it wasn’t large enough to be protected as an SRO, and the structure was in a notably tired state in our 1978 image, and wasn’t much better in 2017 when it was offered for sale. Mr. Hutchings would no doubt be astonished to see the back-to-the-studs renovation, and even more surprised that his $2,000 development was worth 1,000 times his initial investment, 113 years later.

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Posted 23 June 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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326 West Cordova Street

We know that this building had been significantly altered before this image was taken in the 1960s. That’s because it was first built in 1903, it had a different facade. It was developed by T Simpson who hired Thomas Hunter to build the $9,000 investment designed by Parr and Fee. It was the second design for the double lot site – a $12,000 version had been submitted a year earlier.

The image on the right is a part of a 1932 picture showing West Cordova, and our building is the two storey structure in the centre of the picture, next to the tall building (which is the Mercantile Building on the corner of Homer).

Although there were two Thomas Simpsons in Vancouver in 1903, neither developed the building here; one was a clerk in the Tiny Dog store, and the other a grocer. The T Simpson who developed this was Theodore Simpson, (confirmed by a paragraph in the 1903 Contract Record, which reckoned the costs had stretched to $15,000). Mr. Simpson’s choice of Thomas Hunter as the builder wasn’t in the least surprising. In 1892 Jennie Simpson, Theodore’s daughter, married Thomas Hunter.

At the end of 1902 the Province reported that “Work was started this morning on the demolition of the buildings formerly occupied us the Rustic and Golden Tip restaurants, to make room for the erection of a handsome new brick and stone block. The new building, which will be of two stories, will measure 50 by 120 feet, and is being built for Mr. Theodore Simpson of this city. The estimated cost of Its construction is not made public, but is understood to be in the neighborhood of $15,000. The architects of the new block are Messrs. Parr & Fee and the plans show a handsome structure of brick with a cut stone front. It Is understood that the lessees of the new block will be the wholesale clothing firm of Mackay, Smith & Co., who at present occupy premises further along Cordova street.”

Theodore Simpson arrived in Vancouver in 1891, but was apparently missed by the census. He soon had a problem that required the attention of the City Council “the contractors who deposited stumps etc on the property of Theo Simpson on the corner of Melville and Thurlow Street, be notified to have same removed or buried.” In 1892 he was living on Seymour Street, but by 1894 he was already shown as ‘retired’ and living at Melville and Thurlow. Thomas Hunter was the head of household there in the 1901 census, with Theodore and his wife, Isabella, living with Thomas’s family. Theodore was 62, and from England, shown arriving in Canada in 1845, and Isabella was six years younger.

Their daughter, Thomas’s wife, (Jane, Jannie or Jennie), had been born in Ontario, and that’s also where Isabella came from. Theodore was 25 when he married Isabella Day, aged 19, in Newmarket, Ontario in March 1864. In the 1871 census he was listed there as ‘baker’ – the same as in Vancouver in 1901, (although he was never associated with any work in Vancouver, and was described as ‘gentleman’ in the 1898 voter’s list, suggesting he was already retired with investments). In 1881 the family (Theodore, Isabella, and Jane, born in 1865) were living in Summerside, in Prince Edward Island.

In the spring of 1902 the family had a shock when Isabella passed away. Theodore submitted plans for this location soon after. He died in 1925, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery with Isabella, and Jane Day, who was born on the same date as Isabella, (so presumably her twin sister) who had died in 1912.

This building was significantly  altered, and given its contemporary appearance, in 1955. That year Lounge Fashion Clothes (manufacturers) occupied the building, with Braemar Clothiers, Fletcher Lock & Safe in the middle unit and CanaDay’s Apparel (men’s wear) in the third. Fletcher’s had been in the building since at least the 1920s, and in 1925 a wholesale trunk and bag company were here too, the Langmuir Manufacturing Co.

Today Sphere Communications are here, buying and selling pre-owned cellphones, alongside Gastown Printers and Indigo Sutra, a home furnishing store specializing in items made with sustainable and natural fibres from around the world.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-246 (copyright) and extract from Str N14

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Posted 20 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Mayfair Apartments – Bute Street

The negative of this 1927 Vancouver Public Library image isn’t in great condition, but it shows the Mayfair Apartments are almost unchanged in nearly 100 years. The picture shows the building when it was almost 20 years old – it was designed by Parr and Fee in 1908 for John A Honeyman, and cost $18,500 to build.

Mr. Honeyman was living at 1522 Comox Street that year, and retired, according to the street directory. He wasn’t in the city in 1901, but fortunately he was in 1911, shown employed in real estate, and living on Bute Street (but not in his apartment building). The 1911 census said he was aged 70, born in Quebec, and living with his daughter, Mabel, (recorded as Mable).

John Alexander Honeyman was one of ten children. His parents, John Honeyman, from Glasgow and Eliza Levit (who was English) moved to Kingston in 1841 from Quebec. Mr. Honeyman was 16 when he moved to Quebec, and 26 when he moved to Ontario and started the Ontario Foundry and later the Canada Locomotive Works. His son, John A was born just before the move from Quebec. His father founded a new foundry in Portland in 1849, but didn’t move there until 1862, after two years in Colorado. He continued to spend time mining in Idaho with one of his sons, building quartz mills for the ore as well as prospecting. He finally settled down in Portland in 1867 (aged 52), and established the City Foundry and Machine Shops with his sons John A and Benjamin in 1873. John A had been working at his father’s foundry in Kingston from 1856 to 1860, but then moved to New York where he became foreman of a foundry, before moving to San Francisco in 1868, working for the Union Iron Works. He moved to Portland, working as a foreman, and then moved to work with his father and brother, Benjamin.

Benjamin was still at home with his parents in the 1870 census, aged 23, but his brother, John, had already married in 1864 and aged 29 was living with Jane (28) who was from Birmingham, England and son David, who was 4, and had been born in New York. In the 1880 census there were three sons, and Mabel, who was aged 1. She was born in Oregon, as were her two older brothers Charles (6) and William (9), and David was now 14. The census didn’t say what John did, but Polk’s Business Directory in 1889 confirmed that he was co-owner of the City Foundry with Benjamin F Honeyman. He was still there in 1897 operating his own foundry, but J H Honeyman  had retired, and died in Portland in 1898. John A had already decided to move his foundry to Nelson, in BC, which prospered, and saw him building a new machine shop on the corner of Hill and Water Street in 1904. The 1901 census found three children; Charles (24) Mabel (20) and Ben (18) all still at home.

John A first arrived in Vancouver in 1907. That year the Oregonian Newspaper announced the sale of the old Honeyman Foundry for $25,000 US. In 1908 John’s wife, Jane E Honeyman died in Seattle. Her death certificate identified her as aged 65, and the cause of death as apoplexy. The informant was D A Honeyman – her son David, who she was presumably visiting at the time of her death. Her body was returned to Vancouver, and she was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. In 1912 John built two houses on Odlum Drive in Grandview, hiring builder Peter Tardif to design them, but supposedly constructing them himself. He moved into 1354 Odlum Drive, where in 1914 he was described as ‘foundryman’, although we haven’t identified a business he was still running at that time. The other house he built was occupied by Frank Taylor, who was doorman at the Pantages Theatre, so presumably that was for rental income.

In the 1921 census John A Honeyman was a lodger in a house on Hornby Street owned by Nathanuel Darling, who lived there with his wife Mary. John was 80, and they were in their 60s, and originally born in New York, but in Vancouver since the 1880s after he worked on the construction of the railway. The street directory said Miss M Honeyman also lived there – we assume his daughter Mabel. By 1923 John and Mabel had returned to 1354 Odlum Drive, and were there still there in 1928.

John A Honeyman died in 1930, as did his son, David, who was aged 65 and in Chicago, although he was buried in San Francisco. Mabel Maud Honeyman apparently never married, and was in Riverview Hospital when she died in 1964.

The Mayfair had 12 apartments, and as with any West End rental building the tenants constantly changed. The first time names were recorded was in 1911, when two of the tenants were female. From 1916 to 1920 Miss Anne Batchelor and Miss Margaret Wake, both professional artists, lived together in suite 7. Anne was the daughter of a Cornish vicar, and granddaughter of Queen Victoria’s household manager. She studied at the Heatherley School of Art, and arrived in Vancouver in 1909, aged 42, and a year later looked after Emily Carr’s studio while she travelled to Europe. in Vancouver she was a Christian Science practitioner. Margaret had studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, and established herself as a successful artist. before she came to Vancouver, aged 44, in 1911.

By 1913 the two artists were displaying their work in the same exhibitions, and shared an apartment in the same year. In 1920 Miss Batchelor purchased an residence on Barclay Street, and it was reported that Miss Wake would stay with her for the summer months. Miss Batchelor had a summer cottage on Savary Island, and Miss Margaret and Miss Katherine Wake were often visitors. The two worked together on a portrait commission that is now in the Museum of Vancouver. Margaret became ill, and died in 1930, but Anne was 96 when she died in 1963 in her home on Granville Street. There are far more details of the ladies on westendvancouver. In 1955 half of the tenants were female, all but one listed as ‘Mrs.’, so presumably widowed or separated. Today the suites are still popular in what is now one of the oldest apartment buildings in the West End.

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Posted 16 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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389 East Hastings Street

There’s not a lot of change to this building in over 40 years, since our 1978 image was taken. The house here was built by builder Robert Maxwell for Dr. Thomas Jeffs, whose home was initially addressed as 341 East Hastings, although his medical practice (in partnership with Dr. W B McKechnie) was on Cambie Street. Dr. Jeffs spent $1,800 on building his home in 1901.

William Jeffs and Margaret Weir brought two of their family to Canada from Ireland: James, born in 1839 and Isaac. Once arrived here, John was born in 1844 in Ontario, George in 1846 (who died in Vancouver), Sarah and Thomas, who was aged 4 in the 1861 census. William was a farmer, and his four eldest sons were shown in 1861 as labourers. The early census suggests Thomas was born around 1857 or 1858, and his death in 1923 aged 65 shows that he was born in Queensboro, Ontario, in 1858, (although other records suggest 1857). By 1871 Isaac had become a clerk, and only George (who was known by his middle name, Armour), was farming with his father. Thomas attended Toronto University to obtain his MD, and initially practiced medicine in Ontario.

Thomas Jeffs married Sarah Waller in 1882, in Hastings Ontario, and three years later, Charles Edward Jeffs was born. Sarah died in November 1887. In 1891 Thomas was in Peterborough, in Ontario with a wife called Minnie, aged 28 (so born around 1863) shown two years older than her husband, (recorded as William), a physician and surgeon. There were no children shown, but Francis, William’s younger brother was in the household, aged 18 and working as a druggist.

Thomas W Jeffs, a physician, and Mary Couen were recorded being married in York, Toronto, Ontario on June 29 1895, with W McKechnie and Annie Couen as witnesses. Thomas was shown born in 1858 and Mary in 1864. Mary’s parents were shown as Charles Couen, and Martha Reid. Mary’s father, Charles Cowan married Martha Reid in 1855, in Simcoe in Ontario. They had a daughter, Annie, in 1868 who married William Boyd McKechnie. (Annie died in Spallumeheen in 1948). They also had a son, Charles in 1865 and a daughter, Martha in 1861 (who also died in Vancouver, in 1934).

Thomas and Minnie (Mary) Jeffs moved to Cumberland in BC in the year they married, then to Revelstoke, and the family were first recorded in Vancouver in the 1899-1900 directory, with the Cambie surgery, and living on Denman. A year later they had moved to 522 Gore, a few blocks from here, and Dr. McKechnie, who had practiced in Revelstoke from 1896 to 1900 had joined the practice. We assume that the doctor’s wives were sisters.

For the 1901 census there were some seriously inaccurate ages recorded; it said Mary was 11 years younger than Thomas (showing him born in 1860, and her in 1871). Thomas’s son, Charles, was now living with them, born in 1888 in Ontario. The couple added William to the family in 1896 and Mary in 1900. In the 1911 census Thomas’s wife was called Minnie, and she was two years older than him, now suggesting 1864, (so knocking six years off his age) with her born in 1866 (so two years less than reality). William was 14 and Mary 10. (When Charles died in Seattle in 1941, in Seattle, his mother was recorded as Minnie Jeffs).

This block of East Hastings was oddly numbered in the early 1900s so this was 341 in 1901 (the year Dr. Jeffs built the house, and was listed that year in the street directory), but by 1911 had been renumbered to 389. By 1903 a second Dr. McKechnie had arrived in Vancouver, Dr. R E McKechnie, who was in partnership with Dr. Tunstall, and as far as we can tell, unrelated.

Dr. Jeffs was a director of the Orange Hall, elected as an alderman in 1906, Police Commissioner in 1907 and was appointed coroner in 1909, a position he held for many years. In 1907 he built a big house on Salisbury Drive that cost $6,000, and the family lived there until 1920. (That house was moved on its site, and restored a few years ago). He built a new home on Charles Street in 1922, but died in 1923.

The Ing Suey Sun Tong Association purchased this house on East Hastings and Dunlevy through donations from members in 1920. It looks as if the store was added in 1921; a permit was approved for $2,000 of alterations that year, designed by H H Simmonds. Wa Young and Co made minor repairs in the 1920s; they ran the grocers in the store. The family association still own the building, although their members are increasingly aged and infirm. In the 1950s new arrivals to Canada could share a dormitory on the upper floor for $3 a month – up to 20 people lived here. Today you’re more likely to find a game of mahjong in progress.

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Posted 13 June 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Davie and Bute Streets – ne corner

Dr. Ernest Hall lived, and practiced medicine in Victoria, but spent quite a bit of time in Vancouver. An eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, he had a regular surgery as early as 1893, “Office over McDowell’s drug store, Cordova street. Cross eyes painlessly cured; artificial eyes supplied”

The 1901 census said that he was W Ernest Hall, aged 40, from Ontario. His wife, Mary was a year younger, and they had a 2 month old son, and a Chinese cook, Ah Sing. His birth record says he was Ernest Amos Hall, born in 1861 in Hornby, Esquesing Township, Halton, Ontario, son of Robert Shirrow Hall and Jane Greenwood. He was the youngest of four, his brother Thomas was three years older, (and also a doctor in Vancouver), and he had an older sister Orpha and brother, John. His wife, Mary Louisa Fox was from Trafalgar, Halton, Ontario, where they married in 1885.

Dr. Thomas Hall and his wife, Dr. Ruth Hall moved to Vancouver in 1905. They were married in 1902, the year she graduated as a doctor too. He had been married first to Elizabeth Knight, and had four children, a daughter (Amy) Violet in 1887 in Woodstock, Ontario, daughter Unina in 1892 when they were in Worcester, Massachusetts, Victoria in 1893 and a son, Vernon, in 1899 in Kansas. In 1906 Thomas and Ruth opened the Hillside Hospital at Burrard and Barclay in collaboration with Dr Ernest Hall and Dr. Robert Telford. In 1908 Thomas entered private practice and until his death in 1931 his wife aided him in his work. ‘Dr. T P Hall’s Magic Lotion’ was sold in the city for a while.

In 1909 Dr E Hall developed a building on Fort Street in Victoria, designed by Thomas Hooper. He also hired the same architect to design a $32,000 hospital for this corner, but it was never built. Instead, in 1912, he had a permit for a ‘frame store house’ here, also designed by Thomas Hooper, costing $5,000 to build. In June he applied to carry out alterations to a dwelling house, costing $4,000, at 1181 Davie, although he apparently never moved there. That year he was shown in the Vancouver directory at 1301 Davie, the home of Dr. Thomas Hall, his brother. That year he gave a lecture to the Mission Circle “Under the patronage of the same organization a lecture of exceeding interest and importance was given by Dr. E. Hall on “White Slave Traffic.” A large and appreciative audience gathered and were much edified, by the remarks of the lecturer.”

In 1913 Dr. Ernest Hall had an office on Granville Street and a home address at 1185 Burnaby St. His brother moved his practice from his home address to the same office in 1914. By 1915 Ernest had moved back to Victoria, although he continued to practice in Vancouver from the Granville St office. He also still gave public lectures, as we saw in conjunction with the opening of the new Methodist Church on Dunlevy Ave. in 1916.

In the 1921 census Dr. Ernest Amos Hall was living on Fort Street in Victoria with his wife Mary, sons Victor who was 20 and a medical student, Frederick,14, attending a private school, and Grace, 18, who was at business school.

Our Vancouver Public Library image shows the Davie and Bute building in 1926 when it was the home of the Capitola Pharmacy, the business having moved a year earlier from the other end of the block. Next door at 1195 was the Model Grocery. Upstairs were four apartments, addressed to Bute Street.

Dr. Thomas Proctor Hall, died in 1931 in Vancouver, his brother John a year later in Denver, Colorado, and also in 1932 Dr. Ernest Hall, in Victoria. By 1945 the corner had become the Reliable Drug store, next to the Alpine Fancy Bakery, and there were still four apartments upstairs. The building was altered in 1976, and had office space on the upper floor with a walk-in medical clinic, that would no doubt make Dr. Hall happy about the continuity of use. The drug store is now a payday loan store, with a Thai restaurant and a phone store alongside.

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Posted 9 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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157 – 165 East Cordova Street

This single storey retail building has been around since 1912 when Purdy & Lonergan designed and built it for $12,000 – which seems a surprisingly high amount of money for the period. This is half the building; the other half is to the right of the picture and slightly higher (because of the grade change on this part of Cordova), and addressed to Main Street. The developer was recorded as E McGuinness. Nobody of that name appears in the street directory, but a Mr. and Mrs. Edward McGuinness had been living on Davie Street in 1906. The Daily World even reported their movements, so they were clearly known around the city: “Mr. and Mrs. E. McGuinness and family of Davie street have returned home from Seattle”.

They were still at 1121 Davie in 1907, but in October there was an auction sale of the contents of the house, and in 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Richard S Ford were receiving visitors at that address (on Tuesdays), according to ‘The Elite Directory of Vancouver’. (Richard was publisher of the ‘Saturday Sunset’ newspaper). The McGuinness family weren’t obviously in the city before 1906, or after 1907, and in both of those years Edward is shown as ‘retired’. We can’t even be sure that he’s the developer of these buildings, but there are no other obvious candidates.

In 1909 E McGuinness obtained a permit for a brick store on the corner of Pender and Howe, according to the Contract Record, designed by C F Perry. Mr McGinnis (sic) also developed eight houses on Davie Street in 1903, including the house where he briefly lived from1906. In 1909 Mr. and Mrs. E McGuinness sailed for New South Wales from Victoria.

There are a couple of possible people who might be the developer. E J McGinnis was listed in the Vancouver directory as the Canadian Pacific Railway’s agent in Seattle in the early 1890s, but isn’t obviously resident at any time in Canada. There is also Edward W McGinnis, who died in Vernecliffe, Bainbridge Island, just south of the border. He was a Real Estate Broker who was born in 1861 in Massachusetts, and he was in Seattle when he died. Whoever the developer was, he probably wasn’t a Canadian resident for any longer than the 2 years in the mid 1900s.

The four stores here were initially occupied by Polyjos, a restaurant run by Colombas and Dascales. Next door was C Y Song Hing, a shoemaker, then the BC Cycle Co and at 165 Albert Burns sold hardware. At the end of the war only Albert was still in business. two of the units were vacant, and the People’s Mission occupied 159.

By the mid 1920s the expanding Japanese community had moved west from their Powell Street hub; Moriyama & Co occupied 157-161 and S Matsumiya was in 163. A decade later Moriyama were still at 157, selling second hand furniture, 163 was the Sunshine Mission and the Pacific Trading Co sold brushes at 165. In 1942 Mrs Moriyama, who was still trading that year, was forced to move to an internment camp, and only one of the four units was occupied a year later, by the Sunshine Apostolic Mission. That year Rev. Barker from Toronto, billed as a former well-known organist and professional musician, lectured at the mission “When the lights go out on the road to hell.” The lights went out in the mission too, as subsequently the street directory couldn’t be bothered to list the occupants of any of the units other than the generic ‘Orientals’.

We’re fairly certain that the units were used as residences, although in 1948 the Scandinavian Baptist Mission occupied one unit. In 1951 Anthony Cappello was living at 159 when he was acquitted on drug possession charges. In 1955 there were five units, as there are today. At 157 Lin Lee lived here, 159 was occupied by J Payne, a tailor, 161 by Ko Yak Sing, 163 by Tai Lai and 165 by Young Chow, who was a typesetter. DERA, the early non-profit housing association had their offices here in the mid 1970s, but don’t appear to have been here when our 1985 image was taken.

Today there’s a sign maker, a Harm Reduction Consultancy, an art gallery and a Vintage Clothing store.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2449

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Posted 6 June 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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310 West Cordova Street

These two small buildings are part of a block of very old (for Vancouver), and low-density buildings in what was once one of the most important city streets. On the extreme left of the frame Dr. Whetham’s Arlington Block can be seen, built in 1887. We looked at the building on the right, (home of the Frank & Oak clothing store today), in an earlier post. 314-316 W Cordova was developed in 1905 by R McLeod. We only have newspaper references, not a permit, so we can’t identify the architect, or which of several ‘R McLeods’ this might be. There was contractor called Rod McLeod, although we might expect him to build his own investment. Another possibility was Robert McLeod, an engineer in Victoria who had been married in Vancouver in 1900, and had an interest in a mining company near Nelson.

Next door to the east, (the left hand of the pair), is 310 West Cordova, which was initially numbered as 308. This is the Turner Block, originally designed by C O Wickenden for George Turner in 1889, so it’s one of the oldest buildings in the city. The Heritage Foundation’s website takes their information from the Heritage Statement for the building, that says it was built as a restaurant in 1914, but there’s no permit to support that, although it was altered quite early in its life. The building was vacant in 1915, but there’s an undated image that shows the Arlington Hotel and this building, when it had arched second floor windows. There was a single storey building to the west, so the picture was taken before 1905. It’s possible the upper floors were altered, or the building rebuilt when the Washington Cafe moved in. It opened in 1916, and that might be the source of the Heritage statement date, although we would expect a building permit for any major work, and there doesn’t appear to be one.

There was a George Turner in New Westminster who is well-documented; he was the provincial surveyor. This was a different George Turner; he lived at this address briefly in 1889, but by 1891 had rooms in the Leland House Hotel, where he was was listed in the street directory as ‘speculator’.

He was apparently missed in the 1891 census, but was listed in 1901 as a lodger at the Merchant’s Exchange Hotel, on Seymour Street. That record said he was aged 50, born in 1850 in the United States, and he was a miner who had arrived in Canada in 1886. His age records varied; when he died in 1914, in Savona, his birth date was 1846, and The Province published two obituaries, one citing each year, so it was unclear which was true. He died wealthy, but unmarried, and left his estate to two sisters, Katherine Meeker of Asbury Park and Mary Welles of Los Angeles. Katherine’s family tree shows a brother called George, one of seven children born in New York state, in 1848, so it appears he had a habit of adding or subtracting two years either way when saying how old he was.

It’s not clear what George did before arriving in Canada, but he was already a wealthy man (so perhaps he was a successful miner). He arrived in the city just as it became Vancouver, and acquired property very early, with at least three different lots allowing him to be on the 1887 voter’s list. (In those days, men who owned property could vote, irrespective of nationality). By 1889 he had $30,000 worth of property, and two years later it was worth $10,000 more. Biographies identify some of George’s fortune from mining in the Rossland, Slocan and Sandon areas, but we were wary of confirming that as there was at least one other George Turner (a Spokane judge and politician) who was associated with mining shares in BC, and who is not the Vancouver speculator, and there were three other George Turners with miners certificates. However, it appears reasonably clear that he was involved in both the Great Western Mine in Sandon, and the Two Friends Mine in Slocan in the 1890s where he was superintendent, and had a reputation as ‘an honest broker’. In 1897 he had rooms in Black’s Hotel in Sandon.

When he was in Vancouver he was a member of both the Vancouver Club and the Terminal City Club, and enjoyed playing chess – in 1892 he was president of the Chess and Draughts Club. His business interests outside mining included the early Street Railway company, their rivals, the Gurney Cab Co, and later a milling and grain business and the McLaren-Laurentia Milk Co. He acquired land in the San Joaquin Valley in California, where he established a ranch and was on a fishing trip to Savona in 1914 when he died.

A variety of businesses occupied the premises over the years. From 1916 it was home to the Washington Cafe, and the upper floor had been linked to the Arlington Block and was part of The Arlington Rooms. At the back was a separate 3-storey building that had been used as the Soldier’s Training School. Thomson and Stoess owned 310 W Cordova in 1926, but the repairs were to a workshop, factory and warehouse, so that was probably the building at the back. In 1930 Kydd Brothers occupied the space, and the Washington Cafe was still in operation in front.

Initially no owner was identified for the cafe, as it was ‘Chinese’ (and that was all you apparently needed to know). It had opened in 1911 in the Arlington Block, when it was run by Mer Wing. Two waitresses were wanted in 1911, when the wages offered were $9 a week. In 1922 John Ming Ching was listed (in the Chinese Section of the Directory) as manager. In 1931 Gin Gin was manager, and in 1935, the last time it appeared, Wong Do.

In 1936 the building was empty, and by 1939 a safe manufacturer, J & J Taylor, had moved in, with Sinclair Bros making confectionery in the building on the lane. That situation remained the same in 1955, the last year we can check directories online. A few years ago The Deluxe Junk Co had a clothing consignment store, then by 2016 Woodsons had their law office over a Versace Home store, and today Neumann & Associates, a law firm have their offices over the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives (copyright) CVA 810-21 and UCR California Museum of Photography 1996.0009.X4834

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Posted 2 June 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Arlington Hotel – West Cordova Street

We’re slightly surprised that in ten years of posting, a complete image of this building has eluded us. The arched Italianate windows suggest it’s a very early building in the city. It is in fact one of the oldest still standing, although not “originally built as professional offices and as accommodation in 1887 and owned by Dr. James Whetham” as the Heritage Statement says. N S Hoffar designed the building, but it was completed in late 1888. After the fire of 1886 an earlier building occupied the corner for a couple of years, seen in an earlier post. Hoffar designed another building for Dr. Whetham across the street, also in 1888, completed a few months after this one. The building here was described in a 31 December 1888 newspaper article as ‘just complete’ although it wasn’t occupied until 1889.

It was shown as 204-208 Cordova on the 1889 insurance map, 3 storey, with lodgings on the top floor, offices on the second, and  stores for Dry Goods and ‘B&S’ on the main floor (Joseph Pyke’s boot and shoe store). The 1890 directory shows John and Johann Buntzen had rooms here, so did Miss C A and Miss Sarah Netterford, and John Rooney, the chief mail clerk. Henry Burritt had his dental office, as did Lewis Griffith McPhillips, a barrister and Tuck and Black, also barristers.

Dr. Whetham, like many early Vancouver developers, came from Ontario. His father had been a flax and hemp manufacturer in England, who moved to Canada, established himself as a general merchant and then died, leaving a widow and three young children. His son, James Whetham is said in an early biography to have taught, then headed west, farming in Manitoba in 1878. Somehow he managed to study medicine (his biography says ‘in winter’) in Toronto and then Portland, Oregon, while apparently living in Spokane Falls. He only practiced medicine very briefly before moving on to develop real estate, initially in Spokane Falls and then in 1887 in Vancouver.

By 1889 James Whetham had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was elected to the City Council. He lived in the Hotel Vancouver, and founded Whetham College on Granville Street with backing from other Vancouver businessmen; his brother became the headmaster. (Charles Whetham had moved to Vancouver before 1889, and opened a real estate office in the Whetham Block). In 1890 Dr. James Whetham still had an office at 130 Cordova, identifying himself as a physician. He died in 1891, aged only 37, of what was diagnosed as typhoid fever. The recession of 1893 saw the closure of Whetham College, the first post-secondary teaching institute in British Columbia. Charles Whetham moved back to the University of Toronto, but returned in the mid 1890s to a farm he had bought in Whonnock.

In 1890 all the tenants listed were commercial, with printers, lawyers and the Patterson Detective Agency. In 1893 they included Truman and Caple’s photography studios, the dentist, a barrister and Frank Leslie, an artist. In 1894 BC Land and Investment Co had their office here, and H D Burritt was still running his dental office, and in 1896 a few residential tenants were listed again.

In 1898 Braden & Co had a meat store here, as we saw in an earlier post with an image from that year.  The heritage statement says “The evolution of this lodging house continued as the Simcoe Rooming House, and subsequently as the Arlington Rooms from 1913“. This is wrong. The Simcoe was further down the block, and the Arlington Hotel name appeared in the 1898 street directory.

By 1901 this was shown as the ‘Lee’ building, renumbered as 300-304 Cordova. The Burrard Inlet Meat Co had the store at 300 W Cordova, the Arlington Hotel was upstairs at 304, and the Arlington Billiard Parlour was at 308, which was the next building to the west. The store was no longer associated with the meat trade after this: A J Bloomfield sold cigars here in 1902. A couple of years later the street address disappeared, and the retail space appears to have become associated with the hotel upstairs. In 1905 it was run by Cottingham and Beatty, and a year later John Beatty on his own, later corrected to Beaty.

Within a few years the premises had been renamed from the Arlington Hotel to the Arlington Rooms; Alice Gill ran them in 1915. The retail uses reappeared here; in 1920 Mrs Tosa Takaoha had a barber’s shop and S Nunoda sold confectionary. The courtyard was built on in 1909, to house a printing wing of Thomson Brothers Booksellers.

In 1950 The Arlington Rooms were still upstairs, over Low Yow’s Confectionary store, but by 1955 the rooms had closed and the Triangle Coffee Shop and a fabric shop were on the main floor. Today there’s a tailors and dressmaker’s in one unit, and a locally-made clothing store in the other. Upstairs the offices have a range of businesses just as they did in the 1890s, including a counselling service, a construction company, the offices of the Central City Foundation, the Latincouver Cultural Society office, a Registered Psychologist’s practice and a language school. There’s also a business that would have made no sense to the earliest tenants: the office of an “online archive/designer and luxury clothing store, known for its finely curated selection of niche Japanese brands, well-known European labels, and vintage Americana”

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-277 (copyright) and CVA 810-15 (copyright)

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Posted 16 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Mercantile Building – West Pender and Homer

John Helyer, in partnership with his son Maurice, designed several of the city’s biggest buildings in the first decade of the 1900s. The Dominion Building from 1908 was easily the most prominent, but there was also the Metropolitan Building, the Stock Exchange Building, and this one – the Mercantile Building. There was a difference from those steel framed buildings, because this has a concrete frame. It was only a year after the first tall (six storey) concrete frame had been built in the city, (the Hotel Europe addition), and while for that building an American company were brought in to supervise that construction, here the General Engineering & Construction Co carried out the work on the $60,000 investment. It was run by engineer and sometime architect Kennerley Bryan, and was possibly related to a Seattle business with the same name.

Some sources claim this building was originally designed as the Board of Trade Building, “constructed for the Trustee Company under president James A Thompson, who was the owner and president of the Thompson Stationary Company.” We haven’t been able to find any contemporary references that show the Board of Trade were ever associated with the building. It was developed by the Trustee Company, Ltd., as this 1909 Directory entry shows, which was headed by James Thomson. He was one of Thomson Brothers, pioneer stationers who also had extensive real estate interests. James A and Melville P Thomson (not Thompson),  first established a stationery business in Vancouver in October 1886. They were already in business as Thomson Brothers in Calgary, and Melville arrived on the first train into Port Moody, although he hadn’t travelled all that far.

Born in Ontario, (James in Belleville in 1858 and Melville in Erin in 1860), they followed the CP line westwards, opening their first bookstore in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, in 1881. As the line reached Moose Jaw, so did the Thomsons, with Calgary next in 1884. The 1887 City Directory entry for their Vancouver store shows they didn’t limit themselves to books; Seth Tilley already had a bookstore in what was a tiny, but fast-growing town, so they also sold wallpaper, fancy goods, toys, and fishing tackle. (They were the Indigo of the 1880s). Adding printing to their business, they moved around on Cordova Street, to ever-larger premises, and then to West Hastings. They added a store in Nelson too, but by 1903 they had closed all but their Vancouver business, with both brothers living in the city from at least 1899.

The 1901 census inaccurately recorded one brother as Thompson. Melville lived with his Irish wife Marcella, and their two daughters and three sons, all aged under 12. They had an English ‘help’, Bessie Sorby, living with them in their house on Robson Street.

James Thomson had married Lillian Anderson in 1899 when she was 25 and he was 39. He had previously been married to Harriet Wood when he lived in Portage La Prairie, and they had three children before her death in 1891. In the 1901 census the family were living on Georgia, with James and Lillian, his three children, his sister, Florence, and his mother, Eliza. From 1903 to 1909 Lillian added four more children to the family.

In 1908 the brothers sold the stationery business (but retained their real estate portfolio). They became directors of The Trustee Company, a real estate development firm founded in 1908, and soon acquired a controlling interest. In 1913 the company was renamed Mercantile Mortgage Company Ltd., and the company and a spin-off business called Estates Investment Ltd. built up a significant real estate portfolio in the city and in other parts of British Columbia.

James Thomson died in 1926, and that year the street directory showed 55 businesses located in the building, with most employed as manufacturer’s agents, but others ranging from a clothing manufacturer, a camera repairer, freight forwarders and importers, wholesalers, the Aurora Silk Co and the office of Coast Publishing. His brother, Melville died in 1944, when the building had even more manufacturer’s agents, although there was a woolen jobber, a printer, a raw fur dealer, and Agnes Hughes made blouses on the 7th floor.

The Thomson family maintained control of Mercantile Mortgage and Estates Investment (whose offices were also here) until the early 1990s. Today the small businesses occupying the space include interior designers, architects, digital renderers, real estate management, a phone fraud detection and management business and a company manufacturing ‘handcrafted eyewear’

Image source City of Vancouver Archives copyright CVA 810-26

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Posted 9 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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St Luke’s Court – East Cordova Street

This 1920s Arts and Crafts style building replaced a building that housed the City’s first hospital, St Luke’s. The original seven bed building was intended as a maternity hospital, but with no other general hospital in the city in 1888, it became the general hospital by default. Not too much later the city opened a brick building on Cambie Street which later became Vancouver General Hospital, and the Sisters of Charity of Providence opened a three-storey building on Burrard Street, founding St. Paul’s Hospital. St Luke’s continued to be used as a hospital for a short while, and then became a nursing residence.

The site was redeveloped in 1923 as a women’s hostel or guest home, called St Luke’s Home, designed by Sharp and Thompson. It was funded with a bequest from J.B. Greaves, founder of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, and was initially a residence for retired nurses, community workers and nuns. Our 1978 image shows it when it was the St Luke’s Home.

Now named St Luke’s Court, in 1986 the building was refurbished and enlarged so that there are now 9 rental apartments. It is in private ownership and was most recently sold in 2015.

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Posted 28 April 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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