Archive for the ‘West End’ Category

1110 West Georgia Street

1100 West Georgia Street is the corner lot on the south side of West Georgia, at Thurlow. In this 1981 image there was a seven storey office building that we noted recently on a 1955 aerial shot of this part of the Downtown peninsula.

The building was completed in 1950, built by Allen and Viner. The architect for the conversion and addition was Ross Lort, identified in a Journal of Commerce story in 1949.

This wasn’t a wholly new structure – the base was a four storey car showroom and dealership developed in 1926 by Chevrolet Cars at a cost of $80,000. They hired Dominion Construction to carry out the work (and design the building), and there was a second $50,000 permit too. Begg Brother’s who had built an earlier 1912 building across the street were running the facility. When it opened in June 1927 The Evening Sun reported “The building and all of its service, sales, storage and handling conveniences were designed by the management, architects’ assistance being required only for the technical structural specifications. The work, of construction was done by the Dominion Construction Co.” On the ground floor there was a showroom, with a parts department alongside on Georgia, and a service department at the back. There was a ‘spacious ladies’ rest room’ on the mezzanine floor, with the company offices. On the second floor the service department continued, accessed by a ramp than ran up the entire building. (There was also a passenger elevator). New cars were stored and prepared on the third floor, and the fourth was a paint department, which could add a GM Duco non-scratch finish to any other vehicle. Begg Brothers were still here at the start of the 1940s, although now they were a Dodge and DeSoto dealership, but by 1945 they had moved their main showroom to a smaller single storey building just to the west, (although the truck division were still on Thurlow Street) and this was briefly used by Neon Products engineering division.

The first reference to government use of the old car showroom was early in 1946, when Veteran’s Affairs were supposed to move their office here from the Second Hotel Vancouver – but the Neon Products lease was still in place until the end of January. In 1947 Allen and Viner were hired by the owners to remodel the building and add two additional floors. The government committed to buying and paying for the addition in mid 1948, budgeting $1,060,000 in total. Meanwhile the Taxation Department were located here, but they moved out at the end of 1948.

Initially budgeted at $850,000, the work to add the floors and clad the entire structure eventually cost the government, who became the developer of the building, $575,000 more. With the purchase of the building, the bill was double the initial estimate. The Vancouver Sun sent their reporter, Jack Webster, to Ottawa, to question the Minister, and he reported “The extra $375,000, the officials, told me, was necessary to add a third storey to the building (bringing it to a total height of seven storeys). “We had to drive columns down to the foundations in order to strengthen the walls sufficiently to take the additional storey,” it was explained. “But the total price (of $1,800,000) is reasonable, It is the largest block of good office accommodation in Vancouver today.” Questions were raised in parliament because the contract was let on a non-competition basis to Allen and Viner, who a local Conservative member argued were given the contract as ‘friends of the government’. The Minister denied knowing the gentlemen, claiming they werer selected because one of them had worked for Dominion Construction when the garage had been built.

It continued to be known as The Begg Building, home to the Taxation Department once more, but didn’t survive very long. In 1980 it was part of a trade with Marathon Realty, with a valuation of $3m, part of a complex land deal that saw Federal and Provincial agencies swapping sites around the city to obtain a Marathon-owned site to build a new stadium (BC Place). Marathon’s general manager, Gordon Campbell, was already planning new office buildings on the sites they acquired, and the office was demolished around 1983. It stayed as a parking lot for twenty years, and while there was an office building proposed in 1994, that wasn’t built and the land was incorporated into a larger site, with the single storey car dealership buildings to the west. In 2008 the Shangri-La hotel and condo tower, the tallest in the city (and the whole of Metro Vancouver, although not for much longer) was completed after three years of construction.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W12.02 and CVA 99-3748



Posted 16 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Denman and Robson Street – north

Yet another Downtown corner that was once a gas station, Robson and Denman had a Chevron station into the end of the 1980s. In 1995 Times Square was developed here – a strata building that has never been sold, and that operates as an ‘apartment style hotel’ (allowing daily booking), and licenced as an apartment house. Designed by Katz Architecture it has 42 suites. The Archives say the image was taken between 1980 and 1997 – but clearly it was before the early 1990s.

This corner was undeveloped as late as 1920, and while there were two houses to the west, the first development seems to have been in 1954 when Dulmage’s Service Station was listed for the first time, as 785 Denman, which was a Chevron station when it first opened. In 1963 Ronald Gibson (aged 21, no fixed address) was jailed for nine months after stealing $300 from William Dulmage’s service station. The police didn’t catch him; he surrendered to Calgary police after attending a bible class there, and overwhelmed with guilt gave himself up.

In the early 1970s it became Standard Station #28, but by 1975 was back to Denman Chevron, and in the early 1980s Parkview Chevron. In spring 1989, Bill and Ken were offering ‘a good selection of Service Station goods and equipment for immediate sale’, suggesting this picture must date to the mid-1980s.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-543


Posted 5 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Downtown & False Creek from above

This is another older image matched up to Trish Jewison’s twitter pictures from the Global BC traffic helicopter (on May 16, 2021). It’s from the 1940s, and is one we’ve only recently been able to access as part of the collection that Uno Langmann donated to UBC. We’ve featured pictures of Burrard Street, and how suburban it felt, but this image really brings that into focus. The Burrard Bridge was newly completed, and there were industrial operations on both sides of False Creek on either side of the bridge. To the east of the bridge was a collection of run-down shacks where a residential population squatted on the foreshore.

The Vancouver Block can be seen on the left, on Granville Street, and it’s still visible today, one of the taller buildings on the retail strip. The gasometer on the right of the picture was on the end of False Creek, and the resulting pollution from the coal gas production is one reason for the parks among the residential towers developed by Concord Pacific. (The most polluted land is capped and sealed under a park, rather than risking disturbing it). That’s the earlier Georgia Viaduct crossing the industrial activity and railyards now occupied by the two stadia.

On the left St Paul’s Hospital is just visible, and across the street was Dawson School, where today the dark towers of the Wall Centre have been built. Because the shots were taken from different elevations, although they line up almost perfectly, it’s possible to see further up Burrard Inlet in the contemporary shot. In the foreground it’s easy to see the two newest and noteably taller towers. Vancouver House from this angle looks like any other rectangular condo, as the dramatic scooped cutout is hidden from view. The 54 storey Burrard Place is just left of centre, the first of three towers planned for the same block of Hornby. Between them, the contrasting black glazing and white marble balconies of the Pacific by Grosvenor stands out, another recent addition to the skyline. In the 1940s this part of Downtown was still single family homes, although some had been converted to commercial uses, and others to rooming houses.

Image source: Langmann Collection UBC


Posted 26 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End

Kensington Place Apartments – Nicola Street


This majestic Italianate styled building has stood in the West End for over 100 years. Completed right at the end of 1913 (when the picture was taken), it was designed by ‘P M Julian’ in 1912 for Robertson & Hackett. It has a Nicola Street entrance but used its Beach Avenue address for the permit. Philip Jullien, the architect, was from Washington DC where he learned the Beaux Arts style while working in several offices there. (He ended the 19th century trying to make his fortune in the Yukon goldfields, which might be how he became acquainted with Vancouver). He arrived here in 1910, and this was his biggest commission here, although he designed much bigger buildings on his return to Washington in 1916.

Ironically Robertson and Hackett made their fortune owning a sawmill at the south foot of Granville Street in False Creek, but they chose to build their $75,000 five/six storey investment apartments in brick & concrete. They had over 40 building permits over the years, but apart from this they were all for relatively minor changes and additions to their sawmills, or a few houses they seem to have owned elsewhere in Downtown.

David Robertson was a Scotsman, who established a construction business in England in the 1870s. He travelled to Toronto, then headed west, meeting James Hackett for the first time on the train when he joined it in Winnipeg. They formed a construction partnership responsible for building many of the city’s prestigeous early buildings. In 1891 they opened a sawmill, which they moved to False Creek in 1895, then added a sash and door factory, which burned down in 1906, (so they bought out a rival to continue operations).

James William Hackett was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, and arrived in Vancouver in 1888 after a decade in the construction business in Winnipeg. James was elected an alderman in 1897, and was an active member of the Board of Trade. After his death in 1918 his widow lived in Kensington Place apartments. His son, George Robertson Hackett became Manager and secretary-treasurer of the business, and David Robertson was president. In 1921 David, who never married, was living with his nephew, Alex, who was manager of the sash factory, Elizabeth, Alex’s wife, their 10-year-old daughter, and Elizabeth’s younger sister, who was a telephone operator with BC Phones. David was still at the same address when he died in 1933, aged 83.

The building started life as apartments – 22 huge ones. There are only four suites per floor, most with two bedrooms and two or three bathrooms. The first mention of the building is at the end of 1913, when F Bruce Begg, ‘of the Begg Motor Company‘ got married in Buffalo, New York, and on his return to Canada would be living here (on the top floor). While the seriously wealthy were building houses in Shaughnessy, those in society who preferred to rent were moving here. George Kidd, financier and comptroller of the BC Electric Railway had a top floor suite. Dr George Worthington, a prominent physician who later owned the Vancouver Drug Company was in suite 20. Norman Ridley-Shield who had been business manager of the Kelowna Opera House had a penthouse suite. A C Brydon-Jack, a well-known and well-connected lawyer lived here in 1916. From New Brunswick, he was the senior prosecutor in most crown criminal trials in the city. He organized the Dominion Trust Company. In 1915 only his wife Vera, was mentioned as resident (and presumably their children, aged 14 and 13). She was daughter of a New Brunswick shipbuilder. Arthur was living in the Main Hotel. Unusually, their divorce made the newspapers, in 1917, the year that Arthur remarried in Seattle. In 1919, Vera Brydon-Jack also remarried, also in Seattle.

Mr. and Mrs. Campbell Sweeny and their family moved from their flat in the Bank of Montreal Building. Mr. Sweeny arrived in 1887 as manager of the first Bank of Montreal branch in the city. Mrs Sweeny died soon after in November 1914, just before her son, Benjamin, was able to leave Europe to visit. He was in the Royal Engineers and had been wounded in battle. Shortly afterwards the remaining family moved to apartments in the Hotel Vancouver.

In 1916 the owners (still Robertson and Hackett), agreed to allow an auction of the valuable and recently acquired contents of Suite 32 ‘as the owner is going to the front’. Everything had been recently purcahsed from the Standard Furniture Co, ‘regardless of cost’ including Persian rugs that had cost $185 each. That same year Mrs. John D McNeill was visited by her mother, Mrs. J T Hightower of San Francisco. Her husband was managing director of a coal company that distributed ‘jingle pot coal’.

In the 1940s and 50s, the building was home to the celebrated Canadian novelist, Ethel Wilson and her husband. In the late 1960s the owners were planning to redevelop the building, but tenants led by Terry Devlin successfully bought the building, and in 1975 it was an early conversion to a strata building, and is also an ‘A’ on the Heritage Register. The new owners gradually updated the building, led by architect, heritage advocate and resident, Charlotte Murray. The exterior was restored; the cornice re-built, and the windows (almost certainly from a Roberrtson & Hackett factory) restored. Suites now sell for up to $3m each.

Image source: Library & Archives Canada 3259566


Posted 28 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Windsor Apartments – 1924 Barclay Street

This relatively modest apartment building was approved for development in 1926. Costing $15,000, it was designed by W F Gardiner for A C Howard, and had six suites. The image in the Vancouver Public Library is undated, but the concrete looks very shiny, so we’re guessing it was taken around 1927.  The builder was listed as ‘day labour’, but Mr. Howard was a contractor, so he presumably supervised the construction. He built several houses for himself, which he also designed, so he probably had a pretty good idea of what he wanted built here.

We think Albert C Howard was born in Birmingham and was living in Yardley (these days a suburb of Birmingham) in 1901, with his wife Hilda who he had married in Solihull in 1900, and their daughter Nellie who was born in October 1900. Albert was a builder, and the family were living with his father, Charles, who was a coal merchant. Winnifred was born in 1905, in Birmingham, and Elsie in 1910, also in England. Albert John Howard was born in BC in 1916, and we believe there was a final daughter, Hilda.

Albert Howard first appears in Vancouver in 1911 as a carpenter, and a year later in the same employment but for J A Lund & Co. In 1916 Albert was on active service, and his military service was noted in the press. In 1923 he was vice president of the Grand Army of United Veterans, and from 1920 had been proprietor of Hotel Gifford on Robson Street. By 1927 he seems to have returned to being a building contractor. In 1929 he submitted the lowest tender for the addition to the University Heights School. In 1928 the family announced the marriage of Nellie to Archie Scotland, in 1933 the engagement of Winnifred to Robert Baldrey, and in 1936 of their third daughter, Elsie, to Frederick Woodward, of Edmonton. In 1943, Albert (who was in the RCAF) married Chesley Black.

Surprisingly, nothing had been built here before the apartments – this was the tennis court in the garden of a big turreted house on the corner of Gilford (to the left on this image), developed by (Henry) Harry McDowell in 1902. He arrived in the city immediately after the 1886 fire and established the first drug store. Partnering with another former resident of Milton, Ontario, he took McDowell and Atkins to one of the largest drug store businesses in the province. He was President of the Board of Trade, and an alderman, and retired at the start of the First World War at the age of 52. He got blood poisoning, which required a leg to be amputated, and he died in 1917. His former home was initially rented by his widow, Dell, and in the 1920s became a rooming house.

This version of the Windsor Apartments was here for only 38 years. The house next door was redeveloped as The Everest Apartments in 1960, (the year after both Albert Charles Howard and Hilda Howard died), and this site was developed in 1965 with a 42-suite building (still called Windsor Apartments) designed by Wilding & Jones.


Posted 10 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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The Chatelaine – 905 Chilco Street

This 1930 building, designed by W M Dodd was built towards the end of a wave of West End development, when family houses were replaced with multi-unit rental walk-up apartments. J W Fordham Johnson had built a house here in 1904, which by 1928 had been split into five suites. The contents were sold off in June 1930, and the new apartments were complete by April 1931. This Vancouver Public Library image was probably taken later that year.

While some buildings of the era were fairly simple, this block has a patterned brick facade, an ornate stepped brick parapet and a gothic arched entry. The Journal of Commerce confirms the architect, and said that a ‘local investor’ was developing the $62,500 project. The building permit confirms the identity of the builder, J Galloway, and also identifies him as the developer. John Galloway also developed and built the Kenmore Apartments on Gilford Street, as well another apartment building on West 14th Avenue.

John, and his son John jnr. lived on East 7th Avenue, and James L Galloway on West 27th. Fortunately for us, he had been living on East 7th a decade earlier, so we can find him in the 1921 census. John and Margaret were both shown arriving in Canada in 1888. In 1921 they were both aged 57, and John was listed as a builder, and they were both born in Scotland. John Galloway had married Margaret Logan in Lanarkshire in 1885, and they had eight children, five of them girls. Margaret, the eldest daughter was born in Scotland in 1885, Sabina, Mary and Jean were born in Quebec from 1889 to 1894. The family headed west for a while, with Jean born in Vernon. A Daily World news story shows the family had previously been in Vancouver – and why they might prefer big city life.

John Galloway, late of this city, but now a contractor at Vernon, had a rough experience last month. He left Granite Creek on Tuesday, May 14th, intending to make the west side of Okanagan lake that night. In endeavoring to make a short cut over the mountains he lost his way. On the following day while attempting to cross a canyon his horse fell with him. The animal got so badly used up that he was not able to walk, and In trying to get him to a more open part, he kicked out and broke one of Mr. Calloway’s arms, close to the shoulder. After wandering about he at last made Granite Creek on the Saturday, having to swim very deep rivers. He was without food all this time, and suffered untold pain from his broken arm. Dr. Sutton, of Nicola, happened to be at Granite Creek that day and set the limb, after which the plucky contractor secured a new horse and rode on to Vernon by way of Nicola and Grand Prairie.”

John, the oldest son (who joined his father in the contracting business) was born in Montreal in 1896, and Florence was born in Scotland in 1900. James was born in Vancouver in 1902, and the final son, William, in Scotland in 1905.

In 1932 the building was in receivership, at the request of Halifax Investors Ltd. In 1937 the ownership question got really complicated. The Sun reported “Judge Declares Property Deal “Conspiracy”. Declaring that the transaction was part of a conspiracy to defraud the creditors of Joseph Francis Langer, Justice Murphy, on Friday, dismissed the suit of Langer’s wife, Jennie Louise Langer, 3138 West Fifteenth Avenue, for an interest in the Chatellaine Apartments, 905 Chilco Street. Another action, in which Langer joined his wife, for a declaration that they are owners of the Chatelaine subject to a $39,000 mortgage, also was dismissed for the same reason. 

James Torrance Armstrong, broker, Armstrong & Laing: Halifax Investors Ltd., and Mrs. Armstrong, as defendants, were deprived of their costs because they, too, were parties to the “illegal transaction,” the Judge declared. In a Judgment, Mr. Justice Murphy referred to a $78,000 Judgment obtained against Langer in 1932 by McTavish Bros. He recalled also that Mrs. Langer won a decision from the Court of Appeal restoring to her the furnishings of her home after they had been seized by McTavish Bros, for costs in that case; that Langer placed mortgages totalling $31,000 on their Granville Street home; that he sold the Orpheum and six other Vancouver theatres, admittedly, at great sacrifice, for $110,000 cash; all before he left British Columbia on Dec. 26, 1931, not to return until this year to assist his wife in this litigation.

Langer testified at the trial that he sacrificed a fortune in South Africa to return to Vancouver. The Judge stated that not only did Langer invest $5,000 In a second mortgage on the Chatelaine in the name of Halifax Investors Ltd. in a plan to cover up his assets, but he and Armstrong carried out a scheme to defraud Mrs. Langer of money to which they both knew she was entitled. J. Edward Bird and Ronald Howard conducted the Langers’ case; J. A. Macinnes and Percy White appeared for the defendants other than Kapoor Singh and his wife, who were represented by W. B. Farris and Ernest Bull. The latter obtained a dismissal with costs at the close of the plaintiff’s case on the ground that they were innocent purchasers for $2500 of stock in Halifax Investors.

For decades this was the home of Percy Williams, an insurance agent. Percy was better known as the double gold medal winner at the 1928 Summer Olympics. On his return there was a homecoming parade, ending at Stanley Park where awaiting him was a new car, $500 in gold and a $1600 trust fund. In 1930 he set a world record in the 100 meters, followed shortly with the gold medal victory in the 100 yards at the first-ever British Empire Games. At the Olympics in 1932 he had an injury, and wasn’t as fast. He never liked the spotlight and later claimed he hated running. He never again attended a track meet, even as a spectator, from the day he retired until the day he died In 1982, following a decline in his health, including two strokes. He took his life in his apartment with a shotgun he received as a prize for winning the gold medals.

The Chatelaine, 40 years after his death, still offers classy apartments in what is now a heritage building.


Posted 3 November 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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700 Broughton Street

Today the corner of Broughton and West Georgia has the podium base of a residential tower, one of a pair called The Lions. Artray photographed its predecessor, an apartment building called The Majestic Apartments. C Drew had a house built here in 1904, with R McLeod building the $2,000 dwelling, that can be seen on the corner of Alberni behind the apartments. The apartments were built for, and by J J Dissette, who hired architect H B Watson to design his $35,000 investment in 1908. They were described as “Store and apartment building with stone veneer, four stories”. By 1950 (around the time this image in the Vancouver Public Library collection was taken), the stone veneer was only visible on the bottom storey; the top three floors had a stucco finish.

John J Dissette was from Simcoe, in Ontario, and worked as a a carpenter, then builder, then contractor in Minneapolis from the early 1880s until around 1901, when he moved to Vancouver. In moving here he knocked about eight years off his true age when he filled in the 1911 census details. By 1913 J J Dissette’s success has translated to a house in Shaughnessy Heights on Matthews Avenue. That year his recreations were listed as fishing, boating and horse racing.

This was a high-class set of apartments. Georgia Street only led to Stanley Park, so was a relatively quiet street, with some fine houses behind, and there was a view of the Inlet and the mountains. The Social pages of the local papers listed many of the residents in their comings and goings; a 1908 entry in the Province illustrates the kinds of tenants: “The rain yesterday afternoon did not prevent a large number of people from calling on Mrs. J. D. Mather, who received for the first time since coming here from Winnipeg, where she was one of the season’s popular brides. Her pretty rooms In the new Majestic apartments were brightened with clusters of lovely yellow chrysanthemums, while yellow roses decorated the tea table. Mrs. Mather received in an exquisite gown of maize satin brocade with yoke and sleeves of tucked net, while the bodice was draped with rarely beautiful rose point lace. She was assisted in receiving the callers by Miss Mather, who was looking charming in a lovely white lace empire gown. In the tearoom, Mrs. Charles J. Peter who was wearing a cream dress with lace bodice and a white felt hat trimmed with white feathers and touches of black, and Mrs. J. C. Kennedy, who was in a becoming gown of black net over green taffeta and a large black hat faced with white chiffon and trimmed with black plumes and pink roses, poured at the prettily appointed table. They were assisted in serving by Miss Kennedy and Miss Marjorie Mather, both of whom wore dainty frocks of white organdy. Mrs. Mather will be at home on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.”

Many of the suites were advertised as 5-room apartments, and a few had as many as eight, and Mr. Dissette handled the initial leases himself. In 1917 he appears to have left the city for the US, although his wife, Mary, was still in Vancouver, and still running her own real estate business. He seems to have adopted Joseph rather than John as his name, and was in Detroit for a while, and then Tampa, Florida, where he was involved in real estate and formed a loan company in 1930. In 1937 records show that Joseph Dissette was living in Mobile, Alabama, where he died on January 29, 1938.

In 1920 two apartments were ransacked by ‘the suite prowler’ who had been visiting different buildings over a period of two months. At the end of the year another suite was broken into, with clothing and $3.50 being taken. In 1921 a five room suite was offered at $65 a month, unfurnished. A fire was successfully extinguished in 1929, but there was extensive damage to interior woodwork. In 1936 another prowler was disturbed, trying to break into a suite at 3.30am.

In 1946 it was announced that the 14 suite building had been sold by H R Henriksen to Nick Demchuk for $26,700. It was flipped to G F Tull in less than two months for $29,000. In 1957 there was another fire that significantly damaged one suite, and threatened the entire building, but the Fire Department prevailed.

In 1972 a one bedroom suite was offered at $85. The building was demolished in 1974. The Sun covered the story, interviewing John Geldard, the longest serving tenant, whose mother had moved into the building in 1939. “I said I’d stay to the very ‘last day and I did.” said Geldard. “1 was very sorry to see the Majestic go. In the early days it was an attractive building, one of the best in Vancouver. But it had been living on borrowed time for years, you might say. “There was no need to demolish it. but it would have had to have some work on it.

The Guinness people, who owned it before the present owners, were mad. They wanted to put up a space needle, and city hall wouldn’t let them. They (Guinness interests) owned the parking lot alongside and sold it all. The
apartments had various owners in the past 10 years.” Ms. Josephine Boolinoff, who lived at the Majestic for
five years, said she hated to move out. “I loved it. We thought we might have another four to five years, but got our notices. It was full to the very end. As soon as someone moved out, someone else moved in.”

Mrs. John Whalen, who lived in the Majestic for 33 years with her husband, a former city detective, said a Cappy Hendrickson, a fur trader, paid $19,500 for the building in 1923. She recalled when he had to go back to shovelling coal because oil was rationed in the Second World War.”

The site sat vacant for twenty years. Wall Financial acquired it and developed The Lions, a pair of 31 storey condo towers, completed in 1999, and designed by IBI Group.


Posted 24 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Maxine Motel – Bidwell Street

We looked at the early years of this West End building in the previous post. Initially developed in 1929, the facade we see today was built in 1936 and 1938, designed by Thomas McArravy and Ross Lort. A further southern addition was added some time after 1939, but before 1954. It was very shallow, as behind it was 1233 Bidwell Street, an early house on the block that had been bought by the building’s owners in 1929.

They were Maxine MacGilvray and her husband, Ivor Bebb. The married in 1928 and became partners in her already expansive beauty products and salon business. The depression in the early 1930s meant a trip to the beauty salon was a luxury many women chose to cut out, and the business suffered. There was also a Beauty School here, training many of the young women then recruited to work in the beauty salons.

In 1940 the US census shows the couple were living in Washington, in Seattle, where Ivor was shown as manufacturing cosmetics for his beauty shop, while Maxine was shown running the shop. Their ages and places of birth were recorded accurately – Maxine was from Wisconsin, and Ivor was 10 years her junior, aged 36, from Wales, (although their advertising had Maxine from Beverley Hills, and Ivor ‘of Paris and London’).

They were still travelling back to Vancouver for their business here. In 1939 “Gaily colored streamers and large green shamrocks decorated the reception-room of the Maxine School of Beauty Culture on Friday evening, when the juniors of the school entertained at a dancing party for, the graduating seniors. Guests were received by Maxine and Mr. Ivor Bebb, president and vice-president of the school, and during the evening prizes were presented to several students.” The house at 1223 Bidwell still showed I. Bebb as resident.

In 1940 Ivor Ewan Bebb became an American citizen, and the application shows he was born near Welshpool. His wife, Max Elwy Bebb was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Ivor said he had moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1930. In 1941 a new business, the Max-Ivor company, was incorporated in the US and continued to operate until 2001.

In 1942 the Maxine Beauty School was shown operating here, but a year later this was the Maxine Apartments – eight in total. The house at 1223 was still listed too. In 1943 The Max-Ivor Motel, on Highway 99 at 6188 4th Ave in Seattle was opened.

In March 1943 the tenants in the Maxine Apartments got their rent reduced on appeal from $45 to $37.50, and George Hodgson, a shipyard worker, was given immediate notice to quit. He successfully sued G L Gillette and Maxine Ltd, joint owners of the property, after Mr. Gillette, who acted as janitor, removed the door to his suite and refused to put it back on. A month later things had escalated: “the tenants were asking for a second reduction in their rent, alleging that the management is neither providing heat nor collecting garbage. The landlady, her manager, and at least four tenants all had something to say” The case had been before the judge six times, and two or three times in police court – and once in the Supreme Court. In 1944 Maxine tried to get the building back from her lessee, Joseph Cuillerier, (who was already in prison awaiting extradition to England on embezzlement charges), arguing he was operating the building as an apartment hotel, rather than a rental building. She initially failed, but then succeeded on appeal. In 1945 1223 was still shown, but now with 4 suites rather than as a house, with Ivor as resident in Suite 1. In 1946 the building had 12 apartments, and the house was no longer listed, so that seems likely to be when the southern alterations and small addition were made.

In 1947 Ivor E Bebb successfully rezoned 5 lots in Seattle to permit a mobile home park, although he continued to keep his apartment in Vancouver, presumably commuting over the border to manage their interests in both Seattle and Vancouver. By 1948 this became the Maxine Apartment Hotel. You could rent a one, two, or three-room apartment with tiled kitchens and private bathrooms daily, weekly or monthly.

Maxine Bebb died in 1952 at the age of 58. We often struggle to find people in the census, but remarkably Ivor and Maxine were surveyed twice in the 1950 US census. In the first record Ivor said he was 50 (adding four years to his age) and born in Wales while Maxine knocked 11 years off her age, to 45, and chose California for her birth state. In the other record Maxine admitted to being 53 (which was only three years off) and born in Wisconsin, while Ivor was shown as 46 (which was true), and was shown born in ‘Wales, England’ (which would have upset anyone from Wales). Their days in the beauty business had apparently ended; Ivor was running an auto court, while Maxine was manager of an apartment hotel. Ivor took a trip to Britain in 1953, following his wife’s death.

In 1960 the Hotel here featured unexpectedly when Joseph Corbett, Jr., aged 32, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for kidnapping and murdering the 44-year-old chairman of the Coors Brewing empire, was captured here. At the end of October, a Vancouver resident thought she saw the man in the West End, and a policeman recalled seeing Corbett’s car outside the Maxine. His landlady identified ‘Mr. Wainwright’ from his photograph, and a combined FBI and Vancouver police team arrested him without incident.

Corbett, who was from Seattle had been convicted of shooting a man in the back of the head in 1951, which he claimed was self-defense. Initially in a maximum-security prison, his good behavior, saw him transferred to minimum security, from which he then escaped in 1955. Adolph Coors had left for work in February 1960, but never got there. His bones and clothes, with two bullet holes in his back, were found in a remote mountain dump in September.

Corbett’s booking shot from 1960 showed a neatly dressed man with tinted glasses. He was found guilty in 1961 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released in 1980, he only gave one interview, in 1996, where he maintained his innocence. With a recent cancer diagnosis, he killed himself with a single shot to the head in his Denver apartment in 2009, aged 80. He left no note, and there was nobody to claim the body.

From 1964 to 1970 Ivor was president of the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club in Seattle. He apparently remarried; when Olaf Stevens died in 1955 his obituary referenced a daughter, Mrs Ivor E Bebb of Seattle, and a granddaughter, who was born, we believe, in 1954. Ivor was aged 85 when he died, in Seattle, in 1989, a year after the Max-Ivor hotel had closed. Grace Rena Bebb, the last person associated with the Max-Ivor company died in Renton in Washington in 2001.

In Vancouver, in 1965 the motel was owned by Maxine-Beach Lodge Limited. In 1968 Mrs. Margaret Finigan, a tenant (28) lit a cigarette while gas was apparently leaking from the stove and suffered third degree burns (and didn’t improve her apartment’s decor). The apartments were still here in 1972, but not for much longer.

In the mid 1970s an architect, Vic Pimiskern, acquired the building, and ran his practice here as well as opening a restaurant here called Maxines, specializing in ribs. In 1978 Denny Boyd, a columnist in the Sun told a moonshine story (but didn’t suggest there were any of the elusive tunnels we mentioned in the previous post). “Maxine’s young charm students were often shocked to find the carcasses of dead sheep hanging in the basement. Maxine used to extract tallow from them to use in the preparation of her own line of cosmetics. It is said that she also had a productive still operating in that basement lab, cooking up prohibition moonshine for her many friends“.

In the late 1980s this was Fogg n Suds on The Bay, becoming Mescalero, a Mexican and south-west themed restaurant in the 1990s, then Balthazar’s, and finally Maxine’s Hideaway, when the owner spun some attractive but totally fictitious stories about tunnels, rum-running and bordellos.

In 2013 the Alexandra, a condo and market rental building designed by Henriquez Partners was developed by Concord Pacific and Millennium, incorporating the facade of the original Maxine Beauty School, now serving as a coffee shop.

Image source: SFU postcard collection msc130-5071-01


Posted 13 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Maxine Beauty School – Bidwell Street

This West End landmark is the source of numerous stories, many of them total fabrications. The part of the facade still standing today was designed in 1936 by Thomas B. McArravy for his entrepreneurial client, Maxine MacGilvray. He was mostly based in Nanaimo, although he did briefly move here, so only a couple of his buildings were in Vancouver.

Maxine’s name first appears in Vancouver in connection with beauty products sold by Spencer’s department store in 1913 in Victoria (left, when Maxine would have been aged 19), and in Vancouver in 1914. Said to be trained in California, she gave talks on skin care at the stores and would later open an in-store beauty parlor. It’s not clear if she had a permanent residence in Vancouver in those early days, although there was M A McGillivray, a hairdresser living at 742 Dunsmuir in 1917 (for only that year), although Maxine was also lecturing at ‘The Bay’ in Edmonton (right).

In the 1921 census, there were two McGillivrays living at 999 Georgia, one a manufacturer of cosmetics. Living with her was a sister, Patricia, who was manager of a hair salon, and five years younger. What’s odd is that ‘Maxine’ was recorded as Annie McGillivray, not Max, or Maxine. It was probably an error as in 1921 Max E MacGilvary and Patricia McGillvary were both shown in the street directory at the same address; the Maxine Hair Dressing Shop, 726, 510 Hastings (The Standard Bank Building). Patricia was a skin specialist and living on Seymour Street. In 1922 Patricia wasn’t around, and Max E MacGilvray ran Maxine Hairdressing Shop, and was living at 999 East Georgia. That’s the same address where she was shown living in the 1921 census. The shop had moved down to the second floor of the bank building, where it remained for a few years, although Maxine herself wasn’t always shown to be living in the city.

She was often travelling in her expanding empire; in 1923 she was on the radio in Calgary, lecturing on the need for vitamins for city-dwellers, and was described there as a physical and health specialist She had an extended series of lectures in Parker’s Departmental store in the same city, covering a wide range of beauty and health topics. In 1924 Maxine’s hair business (Mrs M MacGilvray) had moved to 601 Dunsmuir and the Max Chemical Co (Miss M E MacGilvray) was at 999 E Georgia, where Maxine also lived. Robert Garner was the chemist in 1926, and a year later he had an apprentice, Ivor Bebb, who lived at the back of the property. In 1926 Maxine opened a beauty school in Calgary, and the press had to retract the suggestion that she had severed ties with the Hudson’s Bay Company there. In fact, she was still manager of the HBC beauty shop (as well as her other business interests)

Maxine married Ivor Bebb in Skagit, in Washington, in April 1928. She was recorded in the register as Max Elwy Mac Gilvray, and she was born in Wisconsin in 1894. He parents married in Chippewa Falls, and Maxine was the youngest of seven children. Her father was born in Ontario, and her mother, Adeline was from Wisconsin. Her husband was from Wales, and was ten years younger. It appears that they were discreet about their marriage: in 1929 there’s a description of the colourful lighting display on their home, described as ‘The home of Miss M E McGillvray and Ivor E Bebb, partners in the Maxine Beaty Shoppe‘ and in 1933 the Vancouver Sun reported ” Miss Maxine MacGilvray, Ph.C, and Mr. Ivor Bebb, M.S.C., have left the city on an extended business trip to New York and Chicago, where they will visit the Century of Progress Exposition.

In 1928 there were two houses on the block face, 1203 on the corner, and 1223 next to the lane. (In 1929 both were vacant, but the couple had moved to 1233 for Christmas). In 1930 part of the garden of 1203 had been acquired and a new building had appeared mid-block, and the house at 1223 was shown occupied by Mrs. M MacGillvray. The new School of Beauty had opened in August 1929, with Maxine Beauty Shoppes at 1211, and the Maxine College of Beauty Culture sharing 1215 with Max-Ivor Ltd. In 1931 The Acadia Tea Room occupied 1203, and the directory had corrected Maxine’s title to ‘Miss’.

There was both an advertisement and a write-up in the Vancouver Sun for the August opening of the new building, whose architect isn’t identified. VANCOUVER SUN, AUGUST 3, 1929 – NEW ‘MAXINE’ OPENED IN CITY Ultra Modern Beauty Parlor Built on Bidwell St. With a chain of beauty shops in Canada and the Pacific coast of the United States, the Max Chemical company, with Mrs. Max McGillvray and Ivor Bebb sole owners, has further extended is activities by the erection of a fine new beauty shop at 1215 Bidwell street. Attached to the handsome new building is a college where young ladies are taught the art of the beauty parlor expert. “Maxine,” the name under which all the shops are conducted, has become a household word over great territory, and a visit to the ultra-modern plant on Bidwell gives assurance that this name has been well earned. Mrs. McGlllivray Is a qualified chemist and for a number of years has devoted her time and skill to the manufacture of cosmetics, powders and such like, and all of which are considered necessities for M’lady’s boudoir and bath. “I feel that there is a great future for Vancouver and British Columbia and that is the reason that I have come from the United States to live-here and make my business here,” said Mrs. McGlllivray. “We have an investment of upwards of $65,000 in the business and we feel that this, in itself, is evidence of our faith in this wonderful city.” A fully equipped factory is also attached to the new shop in which the various products are made.

The advertisement suggested Maxine was staying close to home (at least briefly). “The new Beauty shoppe will be under the direct supervision of Maxine MacGiIvray. Ph.C who is also personally supervising the up-town shop Maxine No. I (601 Dunsmuir St.) Miss MacGilvray is also the general manager of the international chain bearing her name. She is assisted by Mr. Ivor Bebb (assistant manager) and a staff of capable licensed operators, who have had years of experience.”

In 1936 the building was extended to the south, and the facade remodeled – that’s the image at the lead of the post. This was built by H A Wiles and designed by Thomas B. McArravy costing $3,500 according to the permit. Two years later another addition was made, designed by Ross Lort and costing $7,200. That’s probably the more ornate addition to the north, the edge of which is just visible in the contemporary picture. That year Maxine and Ivor had slightly altered their names and origins to persuade young ladies to train with them. The year had prompted a nasty shock “‘Fire completely destroyed the roof of the residence of Ivor Bebb, 1223 Bidwell street

The stories that have more recently attached to the building continue to live on – thanks to the internet. One story says that there was a tunnel from the building to English Bay, for smuggling, and another to the Rogers Sugar mansion, ‘Gabriola’. The owner of a nightclub in the building in the early 2000s was quoted in a magazine article: ‘Disguising the spot as a beauty school and boarding house, McGilvray gained notoriety by serving illegal alcohol and running the joint as an after-hours bordello. From his own personal research, Henderson learned the first tunnel was used by sugar magnate B.T. Rogers to access the bordello at his leisure. “The impetus behind the tunnel was bootlegging,” he explains. “Sailors would use the passageways to run rum from the boathouses at English Bay.”

If Maxine had been alive, she might have successfully pursued a lawsuit. Although her business undoubtedly involved attractive young women, there was never a hint of scandal attached to the business. The production of cosmetics would have involved deliveries and shipping, but it would have been unwise to drink the contents. Prohibition was long over in Canada, so smuggling to English Bay (which was then, as now, a hugely popular recreation area) would have been unnecessary (and the Vancouver rumrunners during prohibition were involved in exports, not imports). As for B T Rogers accessing the bordello, the elevation change between Gabriola, and Maxine’s would have made the proposition an incredibly expensive engineering feat, and risky, as the City Engineer might have come across it while maintaining the pipes under the road. It would have been even more expensive, as it was impossible without a time machine. The first building Maxine constructed was built in 1929, and B T Rogers died in 1918.

We’ll look at further developments with the building and the building that replaced it in a future post.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4477


Posted 10 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1357 Barclay Street

Here’s another West End old timer, still standing on Barclay Street. We think it opened as a private hospital around 1907; BC Assessment say it was built in 1906. Dr. Thomas Underhill, the City’s Medical Officer of Health, lived next door (on the left), on the corner of Broughton Street, from around 1898. In 1899 there was a garden party in the grounds of his home – with an orchestra – to raise funds for All Hallows Girl School in Yale (an Indian Mission). Although there are references that say the hospital was converted from his home, we think that’s inaccurate. This lot may have been part of the grounds of his home – there was nothing built here on the 1903 insurance map, or shown in any street directory entries until 1908, when the West End Private Hospital was listed for the first time. In January the Province advertised “WEST END Private Hospital, 1357 Barclay street, for medical, surgical and maternity cases; also children”.

We’re not certain whether Dr. Underhill had any role in the development of the hospital business, which was run by Lena M Clermont, and sometimes referred to as “Miss Clermont’s Private Hospital”. While he was associated with the building – the water connection permit was in his name – in November 1908 a notice was published in the Province “I wish to contradict the report that I have sold half-interest in the business of the West End hospital, 1357 Barclay street, Vancouver. Lena Clermont, proprietress.” and if that wasn’t clear enough, two days later “Notice. This is to certify that the proprietorship of the West End Hospital has not changed and the business is solely in the hands of the undersigned. Lena Clermont, Proprietress.” This 1909 advertisement in the Saturday Sunset shows their typesetter made errors sometimes.

Miss Clermont was an Australian, who was 40 when she arrived in 1907, and was shown as superintendent of the hospital in 1908. She was working at the hospital in Temora, New South Wales in the early 1900s. She seems to have felt the need to lose a few years, and was shown as aged 41 in the 1911 census, where she was head of a household of 14 nurses and 3 maids. She ran the hospital (where nurses were trained as well) until around 1917 when Miss Helen G Tolmie had taken over running the hospital. That year a letter was published in the Sun from “Lena Clermont, President BC Equal Franchise Society”. She may briefly have moved to Enderby. A 1919 court case sought repayment of a mortgage there, but it was apparent that she had already moved south of the border.

In 1919 Lena Clermont emigrated to Seattle, and then moved to Texas. Ranger General Hospital, owned by Lena Clermont, with beds for 41 patients, opened in 1919. A history of Ranger says ‘The hospital was beset with problems from the beginning, including a lack of running water, inadequate sewage disposal and problems with electricity’. By 1925 Miss Clermont was in Shreveport, Louisiana. ‘The Post’ reported that ‘The old Haynesville Sanitarium was erected out of material moved to Haynesville from Ranger, Texas, by Miss Lena Clermont, As a practical hospital manager Miss Clermont soon demonstrated to Haynesville that even an old wooden building with ramshackly equipment was a worthwhile investment, and when a greater hospital was planned the board of director purchased the old building and used it in order to keep alive until the new one was finished.”

Miss Clermont was living in San Antonio, Texas, running the Mountain View Sanatorium in 1933 which is where she became a US Citizen in 1939. She was lodging in New York, aged 74 in the 1940 US Census, and had a patent registered in December 1939: “My invention relates to new and useful improvements in women’s under-garments, and more particularly to a brassiere. One of the objects of the present invention is to produce a brassiere that will hold in the diaphragm and hold up the breasts and thus prevent them from sagging on the diaphragm.” By 1944 she had apparently moved to Los Angeles, where she was on the voter’s list.

By 1910 the West End Private Hospital had moved a block away, to 1447 Barclay, and this building became the Nurses Club. It was shown as the Vancouver Graduate Nurses Association Registry in 1913, and became the home of Miss A Macdonald Dewar from 1914. Fortunately, she was still living here in 1921, so we can find her in the census. Amelia Dewar was shown as aged 45, and her sister Sara was 40. They were from Nova Scotia, and ran their home as a boarding house, with eight ‘roomers’, all aged 50 or more, including James Low, the treasurer of a loan company, an insurance broker, a secretary, and several living on ‘income’.

Ten years earlier the 1911 census recorded Macdonald Dewar as born in 1865, (so aged 46) and her sister Sarah was 11 years younger (born in 1876). They were living a block away from here, and neither were shown to be employed.

There are many confusing records that record the Dewar family, but going back to the earliest census records they show Allan and Julia Dewar, living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with six children. The 1871 census showed Julia as head of household and a store keeper, with Annie, born around 1850, Gordon (who was actually Allan), 1856, Harry, 1858, Amelia, (sometimes known in her youth as Minnie) in 1862, Blanche in 1864 and Sarah (called Dolly as a child) in 1865. In 1881 Mary DeWolfe was also living in the household, possibly Julia’s younger sister. All four of the daughters ended up in Vancouver.

Various subsequent events show several family members shaving years – or even decades – off their real age. Annie, born in 1851, died in Vancouver in 1932, shown (accurately) to be aged 81. When she died she was Mrs. Annie Taylor, a widow. Sarah Andrews Dewar was shown aged 66 when she died in 1945, having never married. (She was actually aged 80). Blanche Dewar, who was also unmarried, died in Vancouver in 1953 aged 83; actually she was 89.

In 1923 Amelia McDonald Dewar said she was 40 when she was married to James Low, a widower born in 1866 in Ontario, and her former lodger. When she died in 1948 she was shown born on Christmas Day 1862, (so aged 85) so she was just short of 60 when she married, twenty years more than she indicated, and older than her husband. She had shaved years off her Vancouver census responses to gradually lose the years up to the point she was married.

James Low was treasurer-secretary of BC Permanent Loan, and the couple moved to a house on Beach Avenue when they married. He died at the age of 83 in 1949, a year after Amelia. Sarah Dewar continued to run the boarding house here, but by 1930 A Anderson had taken over. The appearance of the building differs from its early days as a hospital, and it’s possible this took place in 1942, after the 16 suite building was extensively damaged in a fire. Tenants were reported at the time to be able to return to their suites, once repairs had been made. Two tenants had to rescued by firemen on ladders, and one fireman was injured by broken glass in a window he crawled through.

It stayed as a boarding house until at least 1949, but BC Assessment records say it was renovated in 1955, and is seen here in a 1953 Vancouver Public Library image by Artray. It is known as the Halbert Apartments, although some units still have shared bathrooms. The building sold for $2m in 2005, but today is valued at over $7m.


Posted 6 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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