Archive for the ‘Victory Square’ Category

A Bit of Hastings Street


We really can’t argue with the title of this tinted postcard from the 1910s. Remarkably, it shows that the pattern of buildings hasn’t changed in either of the two blocks visible in the picture for over a century. In fact almost all the buildings are unchanged. The dominant building is obviously the Dominion Building, completed in 1910. Initially developed by the Imperial Trust in 1908, an over optimistic belief that the needed $600,000 construction cost would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t happened. The Dominion was said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. Almost immediately the building’s owners suffered further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company forced into selling to the entirely unrelated Dominion Bank, ensuring that the name didn’t have to change.

On the extreme left hand side of the picture is a building occupied by Vancouver Hardware and Thomson’s Stationers early in its life, hidden behind the tree in the contemporary shot. It was designed by Parr and Fee in 1898, and today has some terrible cement render replacing the original facade. The two-storey building to the east is The Mahon Block, designed by W T Dalton and built in 1902. In 1913 it was altered by W F Gardiner, which was possibly when an additional bay was added to the east, as far as we can tell for Thomson Brothers.

To the east, the tall, thin building is still standing today – although in our summer shot the street tree hides it from this angle. It’s the Skinner building, and it was built in 1898, so the second oldest on the block. It’s four storeys tall with an almost fully glazed facade designed by W T Dalton for Robert B Skinner and Frederick Buscombe for Jas. A Skinner’s wholesale china and glassware business.

Beyond that to the east was a rather handsome 1899 building, built for Thomas Hunter and designed by Blackmore and Sons. Today it’s one of the few ‘gap teeth’ in the city – the building was destroyed by fire in 2004. Next door to that is the oldest building on the block, the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block built by Jonathan Rogers in two almost identical phases with William Blackmore and then Parr and Fee as architects.

Looking down the street to the south side of the 100 block, the tall building is the Stock Exchange Building, a tall skinny office that was never actually occupied by the Exchange. Today it’s an SRO that has just had an excellent façade restoration. Like the Dominion Building it was designed by J S Helyer. Next door is a more modestly scaled building at 150 West Hastings dating from 1903, then two more Jonathan Rogers investments, one developed by his wife, Elizabeth. Hidden behind the tree on the right is the Province Building which started life (in 1908) as the Carter Cotton Building. The biggest differences between the two pictures are the addition of street trees, and the reduced volume of pedestrians on the sidewalks.


Posted December 5, 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

Vancouver Hardware – 339 West Hastings Street

Vancouver Hardware 1900

This early commercial block has seen better days. The detail of the cornice has gone; half the glazing has been covered up and the entire front has been covered in pebble-coated stucco. In 1949 it was effectively rebuilt, and most of the detail of the Parr and Fee design from 1898 was lost. Our ‘before’ image comes from a 1900 publication, ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’, a promotional brochure put together by some of the city’s architects of the day, including Parr and Fee (who had so much work at the time that it’s surprising they felt the need to advertise for more).

This was featured as the Vancouver Hardware Co, and they were shown as being based at 395 W Hastings in 1898 – which could have been this location before the street was re-numbered. Under A O Campell’s management, they had moved from Cordova where they were located in 1897. In 1898 Thomson Stationery were next door at 393, having moved from Cordova in 1897 as well. In 1899 both Thomson Stationery and Vancouver Hardware were listed at 325 West Hastings – but we think the directory just missed the street number for this address and there were two different buildings – both designed by Parr and Fee in 1898. That certainly seems to be the case in subsequent directories, and the 1901 insurance map, which listed this as 339 West Hastings.

The very first building that has been identified being designed by Parr and Fee in the city was in 1898, on West Hastings Street for the New England Furniture Co. That company appears to never have taken up residence in the city, so it’s quite possible that this was the building they commissioned. (There’s no record specifically identifying Vancouver Hardware commissioning the architects – we only have the attribution because of the brochure image).

We know which tradesmen contributed to the building – the Vancouver Cornice and Roofing Company on Seymour Street, W N O’Neil supplied the plate glass and steel beams, Barr and Anderson carried out the plumbing, George Hinton the electrical wiring and fittings and Vancouver Electrical Works the electrical work. W J Beam supplied the sashes (not the centre-hung widows found on many Parr and Fee buildings) and E Cook was the building contractor.

A O Campbell, the manager of Vancouver Hardware, was a pioneer, having been in the city when it was created. He was clerk at the Hastings Mill store in 1880, a partner with E W Ogle in a dry goods, clothing and gents furnishings store in New Westminster in 1889, and as a hardware merchant as Campbell & Andersin in New Westminster in 1893. By the late 1890s he was managing Vancouver Hardware, and the 1901 street directory has him living at 325 Princess Street (E Pender Street today). The census says he was aged 38, living with his 27 year old wife Violet and their daughter Dorothy in her parent’s house.

John and Mary Bannerman owned the home, and their younger son, also called John lived with them, as well as Kamie Yasuka, their Japanese domestic. Mr Bannerman was Scottish, his wife Margaret was born in Ontario, and Mr. Campbell was born in Quebec. The 1901 census says he was Alfred O Campbell; the 1911 census (which was so often wrong) says he was Oliver A. and aged 40. Another daughter, with a name something like Alieca had been born in 1903 (the clerk’s handwriting is poor – and he was running out of ink!), and the Bannerman family were still in the same house. The domestic was now just called Lee, and the family had moved to Point Grey Road. In 1938 Mr. Campbell had retired and was living in a senior’s home.


Posted August 20, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, Victory Square

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Hamilton Street – north from West Pender

Hamilton north

When this picture was taken in 1899 the new courthouse was on the right, the lawyers had their offices in the Inns of Court Building at the corner of Hastings (on the left) and across the street was The Arcade, John Parr’s design for a two storey investment by Harvey Hadden (there were 18 stores on two levels, presumably taking advantage of the slope here). We saw the office building and The Arcade from a different angle in an 1896 image. The Flack Block hasn’t been built on the corner of Cambie yet, but the Commercial Hotel was completed in 1895, and is still there (although the cenotaph blocks the view from this position).

The one mystery is the 3 storey turreted building north of the Commercial Hotel. Today it’s still standing as an SRO hotel known as the Melville Rooms, numbered as 322 Cambie; BC Assessment suggest it was built in 1900 (although clearly it’s older than that). In 1901 it was shown as offices, and was numbered as 334 Cambie. In 1899 property brokers and developers B B Johnston & Co had their offices here, with Mr Johnston and Mr Howe, as well as Atlas Insurance. We know that Johnston and Howe hired G W Grant to design a new office on Hastings in 1899 and another on Granville in 1900, but it looks as if this building pre-dates Grant’s arrival in Vancouver in 1897, and Johnston & Howe were based in another building on Cordova Street at that time.

Garden, Hermon and Burwell had their offices here in 1897, (and a year or two earlier), a firm of civil engineers and land surveyors founded in 1866. J F Garden was Vancouver’s mayor from 1898 to 1900. It’s most likely this is an N S Hoffar designed building: J F Garden commissioned a building from him on Cambie Street in 1894. We can tell from other images that the turret was still on the building in 1937, but had been lost be 1946.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2036


Posted November 24, 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing, Victory Square

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303 West Pender Street

303 W Pender

We’ve featured this building in a slightly later incarnation, when it was home to the Morning Star newspaper in 1929. What we hadn’t fully appreciated until we found this Vancouver Public Library image is that the newspaper shared the building with an industrial user – the Universal Knitting Co Ltd, whose signage in this 1922 image totally ignores the presence of the 303 W Pender 1927newspaper (although they were in the building at the time, and many years earlier). The 1927 image of the building on the right shows that the Knitting Company and the Star shared signage a few years later, although by 1929 the mill was no longer in the city. In 1922 universalThe Universal Knitting Co was managed by A C Cohen.

Abraham Cohen was American by birth, and operated a second knitting mill in the building in 1927 which was called the Jantzen Knitting Company. The company history of Jantzen explains how that came about “It was during the year 1924 that the Universal Knitting Mills of Vancouver, B. C. approached us with a proposition to manufacture our swimming suits in Canada, and on December 16, Jantzenwe passed a resolution to enter into contract with them. The contract provided for the manufacture and sale of suits in Canada on a royalty basis“. (The 1927 Directory entries for both companies are shown here). In 1928 the Canadian company moved to a new 40,000 square foot factory at “10th Avenue and the great Pacific Highway in Vancouver… The building enables the Vancouver plant to carry on most of the operations on one floor, which has been found to be more economical than operating a factory on several floors, as was previously the case at the Vancouver factory.” The new factory was only identified under the Jantzen name, but the 1929 Directory shows that the company were still producing garments under the Universal label as well. There were dozens of employees working in the new factory, many women identified as either machine operators or finishers, but all the knitters seem to have been men. The manager, Walter Teetzel was probably from Ontario and a relative of Archibald Teetzel who was associated with a Homer Street business.jantzen 1928

The Jantzen factory at 196 Kingsway continued to produce swimwear at the factory for almost 70 years, finally closing in 1997.

Mr. Cohen was married in 1911 to Miss Weaver, whose parents lived on Beach Avenue. A year earlier he was newly in the city as manager of a knitting company called Mackay Smith Blair & Co whose premises were at 206 Cambie on the corner of Water Street. In 1915 he was manager of Pride of the West Knitting Mills at 848 Cambie Street. By 1918 he’d established Universal Knitting at 624 Smithe Street, moving to this building by 1920.

We previously identified the architects of the building as likely to be Dalton and Eveleigh in 1907, with Thomas Hooper designing $1,000 of additions for the News-Advertiser in 1910. Most recently it was occupied by Pappas Furs, but for now it awaits a new office tenant.


535 Homer Street

535 Homer 1975

The permit for this building was approved in 1914, and it says the address of the building was 531-537 Homer Street. The 1914 Street Directory says the address was 515 Homer Street, but two years later it was listed as 535. The building was identified from 1914 on as the Eagle Temple, and the permit was issued to Eagles Hall Building Co for a $55,000 building designed by Emil Guenther. It replaced a pair of houses that pre-dated the turn of he 20th century. The Fraternal Order of Eagles was one of many in the city; the roots of the organization go back to a meeting of six theatre owners who met in Seattle to discuss a strike, and agreed to form “The Order of Good Things”, later changed to reflect the bald eagle emblem. Today the organization’s aims are “to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.” The Vancouver Aerie #6 was founded in 1898-9.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles were still identified with the building in 1933, but a year later it was known as Victory Hall, a name it retained through the Second World War. (The Canadian Channel Island Society collected items of clothing here to help support evacuated Guernsey children living in England for example). The main floor tenant changed often: in 1933 it was Remington Typewriters; in 1945 an estate agency.

From 1946 to at least 1955 it was known as the Parsons Brown building, the offices of an insurance company with a series of other office tenants including manufacturers agents, an insurance map maker and an advertising agency. By 1975 when this picture was taken it was known as the Vancouver Resource Building. The building was still standing in 1981, but had been demolished by 2001. It was replaced in 2004 by Belkin House, a completely new facility for the Salvation Army with over 100 rooms but capacity to have over 200 people sleep in the building. The scale of the new building is more appropriate to the adjacent West Pender Building designed by H S Griffith in 1912.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-39


West Pender Street – 100 Block (1)

100 block W Pender n sideHere’s an image of the north side of West Pender looking west from Abbott in 1981. The biggest change is the addition of Pendera, a non-market housing project designed by Davidson & Yuen and built in 1989. We saw it when we looked at the history of the building that has been replaced since. That’s the building used by The News Advertiser and then The Vancouver Sun at 137 West Pender. Closer to us is the Duncan Building which the Statement of Significance for its heritage value says was ‘first-class, modern and fireproof when it first opened, with retail stores on the ground floor.’ They attribute the design to H L Stevens, a Vancouver architect. As with many heritage statements, this was somewhat incorrect. H L Stevens were based in New York, although they had offices in Chicago and San Francisco, and briefly in Vancouver. There were two separate permits for the building, covering the eastern end in March 1911 for a ‘6-storey & basement warehouse & office building’ and then three months later the western half. Each valued the construction costs at $70,000.

Howard J Duncan, who developed the building, was a lawyer (he represented the Japanese business community when Mackenzie King investigated the 1907 riot), and he entered a frantic market with unfortunate consequences. With a collapse in demand due to a recession in 1913 the building ended up in foreclosure and was bought by The London & British North America Company Ltd., a real estate and financial firm, in 1916.

It was renamed as The Shelly Building when it was bought in 1925 by Cora Shelly. Her husband, William Curtis Shelly was an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who the Heritage Statement credits with founding many businesses, including Home Oil, Pioneer Timber, Canada Grain Export, Nanaimo Sawmills, Canadian Bakeries, and Shelly Bakeries. He was a Vancouver City alderman and Park Board chairman, playing an important role in the development of the City’s beaches. He also served as Minister of Finance in the Tolmie provincial government in the late 1920s and 1930s.

On the corner is the Lotus Hotel – unusual for bearing the same name that it was originally given back in 1912. It was designed by A J Bird in 1912 and built by R McLean and Son for Thomas Matthews at a cost of $95,000. He was an Irishman who moved to Ontario initially and then to BC in 1884. He settled first in Victoria, arriving in Vancouver a month before the city burned to the ground. He worked as a tailor/clerk in a clothing store, but invested successfully in real estate. The Lotus was a joint venture with Loo Gee Wing who often worked with a white partner to avoid hostility to his business interests outside Chinatown (which were extensive). Today the Lotus is an SRO Hotel, recently refurbished, and the Shelly Building is one of several hundred-year old office buildings still in demand in the city’s Downtown.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.15


Bank of Nova Scotia – West Hastings Street

Bank of Nova Scotia W Hastings

This is the Bank of Nova Scotia building, built in 1904 and seen here not long after it was completed in a Vancouver Public Library picture. It was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Edward Lewis, a Welshman – or maybe he was from Quebec – whose history we detailed in a recent post. W T Dalton lived next door to the Lewis family. The builder was G Horrobin, who also built the Granville Street building designed by Mr Dalton for Mr Lewis in 1902.

There was also another Lewis development designed by Dalton & Eveleigh on the next block of West Hastings, developed in 1903. This building had the neo-classical details that it seems Mr Lewis liked – the Granville Street building had a similar classical pediment. It appears that the upper part of the building wasn’t as solidly built as the stone columns that held it up – which might be a consequence of the $9,000 budget. At some point it was rebuilt with the curved arch we see today.

Looking at the street directories, it appears that when it was first built this wasn’t just the Bank premises; a banking hall and the basement with their vaults. The street directory for 1904 shows Vancouver Hotel had their sample room here as well, and G A Roedde operated his book bindery here. This is incorrect – they were both in the building to the east, 414 W Hastings. (Mr Roedde moved around – we’ve featured two other buildings where he operated his business).  By 1910 the street number had changed (from 418 to 422) and the Bank were still here, as they were in 1918. In 1920 the building isn’t included in the directory, and the bank had moved a couple of blocks to the west. In 1922 it had become 424 West Hastings – and it was still vacant. Finally by 1924 it was occupied by A G Spalding & Bros – the US athletic and sporting goods company whose Vancouver manager was W Bentham. The company stayed there until 1930, but by 1934 it was Goodman’s International Import jewelers and in 1940 it was home to Robinson’s Men’s Clothes store. A decade later it was still a clothing store – Bill Smith’s men’s wear. Today it’s still looking good, and occupied by the Bonchaz Cafe – a company who evolved from the Vancouver Farmers Markets.


125 West Pender Street

125 W Pender

In 1922 when this image was shot, the building was the Vancouver home of Ames, Holden, McReady, a Montreal based Ames 1911shoe manufacturer. They were an early example of a company created by a financier rather than a family business: two existing family businesses were merged and completely reorganized in 1911. McReady’s was started in the 1860s by three leather merchant brothers. By 1895, James McCready & Company was considered one of Montreal’s major factories, producing 12,000 to 15,000 pairs of boots and shoes for men, women and children per week, which was considerable at the time.

At least one of the pre-merged companies was located in the city by 1910, but were on West Hastings. The newly combined Ames-Holden-McReady initially located on Cordova, and Damer Lumsden Co were in this building, a rival shoe wholesaler. Before that it was vacant for a while, and from its construction until 1911 it was occupied by the company who developed it, Henderson Brothers.

When it was built in 1902 it was built for Mr Henderson and designed by G W Grant; built at a cost of $25,000. As there were three Henderson brothers, we can’t be sure which of the three was referenced in the permit; Thomas, Joseph or William. henderson 1897All three came originally from Quebec, and they ran a wholesale drug company. In 1901 Thomas lived with his wife Margaret, son and two daughters, and his brother Joseph. While the census said he lived in Vancouver, the street directory said he was in Victoria.

The earliest reference to Henderson’s in Vancouver we can find is an advertisement from 1897, when it shows they were partnered with an earlier company with Mr Langley, a Victoria based druggist. A J Langley, originally from Staffordshire, founded his drug supply company in Victoria in 1858. Thomas and Joseph Henderson originally partnered with him around 1886. Victoria Illustrated in 1891 said the company’s business “extends North far beyond the mark of civilisation”.

The brothers obviously did well. By 1908 the los Angeles Herald was reporting “J. N. Henderson of the firm of Henderson Bros., wholesale dealers from Vancouver, B. C, registered yesterday at the Lankershim. Mr. Henderson and his brother and partner, T. M. Henderson, with their nieces. Miss Muriel and Miss Evelyn Henderson, are passing the winter season in California. The brother and nieces are now at Redlands, but are expected in Los Angeles today”. In fact Joseph had been visiting California regularly for health reasons.

By 1912 Henderson Bros still exist, but Thomas, living at 1844 Barclay Street, was a director of National Drug & Chemical Co who were listed as occupying the West Pender warehouse. Henderson Bros are described as “Associated with the National Drug & Chemical Co” and only William and Thomas are listed as being associated with the company.

Like 137 West Pender, this building was demolished (in fact much earlier; before 1945), and eventually replaced in 1989 by Pendera, a 113 unit non-market housing building developed by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 99-3506


Posted February 3, 2014 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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Odd Fellows Hall – West Pender Street

Wrigley's Directories 1931

In 1931, when this picture was taken, this was the home of Wrigley’s Directories, a company we rely on for their careful recording and cross referencing of every resident and address in the city. But as the sign between the first and second floors shows, this started life as the ‘Odd-fellows Hall’ (as their literature of the day called them), designed by Hooper and Watkins in 1904. The fraternal order in Vancouver (or more accurately Granville) dates back to 1871, and Western Star Lodge #10 was initiated in May 1889, and their new building was completed in 1906. It’s a simple but massive Richardson Romanesque building, and it’s still with us today in remarkably unspoilt condition (apart from the lost cornice).

Not long after completion the main floor was leased as the Lyric Theatre, while the Odd Fellows retained the upper floor, accessed from Hamilton Street. Richly furnished and decorated, the Lyric Theatre is said to have “operated in accordance with the most modern developments in theatre construction of the time”, with proprietor and manager George B. Howard and his stock company presenting high class comedies and dramas for the city’s entertainment. That didn’t last long. By 1912 the Lyric name was associated with a movie house on Cordova Street and Howard went on to run the Avenue Theatre on Main Street. The Lyric name was revived much later on a theatre on Granville Street that replaced the Opera House. The main floor in 1912 was associated with the National Finance Co, who advertised their involvement in ‘Timber Limits, Real Estate, Stocks, Bonds & Debentures’.

Tenants changed again by 1920 when Waghorn Gwynne & Co, Finance and Insurance Agents were on the main floor. In 1925 the Board of Trade had taken over occupancy of the Main Floor, and they were still here in 1930, although in 1931 (according to the Wrigley’s directory) it was vacant and by 1932 Wrigley Directories Ltd had moved in. Throughout this time the Odd Fellows Hall was on the upper floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4107


The Dick Block – 379 West Hastings

379 E Hastings 1926

Here’s part of William Dick’s clothing empire; his West Hastings flagship store in 1926, very soon after it opened. Townley and Matheson designed it with more of a restrained Chicago style than some of their more Art Deco designs. The building is covered in cream terra cotta and at one time featured a significant canopy, now lost.

Wm Dick 1908There were in fact two people called William Dick – father and son, and it was William Dick Jr who ran the clothing business. He was still living on Vancouver Island in 1908 (when he received his gold handled umbrella – a useful gift for a new Vancouver resident). In 1911 he was aged 31 and living in the same house as his parents with his sister and two younger brothers. (Ten years earlier when the family lived in Nanaimo there were seven children listed – William Dick Sr was a coal miner, but William Jr, shown as aged 18, and his younger brother James were both sales clerks). His father and mother were both Scots and his father arrived in Canada in 1885, but all four children had been born in BC. While William Jr was listed as a merchant, his brothers were salesmen, and his parents and sister had ‘none’ listed as their occupation.

William Dick Jr wore at least three hats – he ran a successful clothing company, he owned British Columbia Estates, a local real estate development company, and he was a Conservative Member of the BC Legislature for Vancouver City, elected in 1928.

Today the building still stands, and as the area slowly recovers from the decline that followed the closure of the major departmental stores, perhaps will regain its place in the area’s revitalised retail role.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2239


Posted January 3, 2013 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

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