Archive for the ‘West End’ Category

Silverdene – 999 Denman Street

This 1927 West End apartment building is remarkably unchanged in nearly a century. It was built by Dominion Construction Co., and designed by R T Perry for Vancouver Holdings Ltd. Costing a reported $80,000 to build, (more than the $65,000 on the permit), it has a concrete frame and a ‘buff-coloured tapestry brick’ facing. The Province newspaper reported ‘The building is one of the finest of its type in the city and Is completely equipped with every modern convenience. It is claimed by the owners to be fireproof and soundproof.’ The walls between units had hollow tile construction, and there was matting between the floors called Cabot’s Deadening Quilt. ‘It Is claimed by the owners of the building that a piano played in one suite cannot be heard in the one adjoining, so well is it soundproofed’. The basement boasted ‘one of the newer types of electric washing machines‘.

Vancouver Holdings were H H Stevens property investment vehicle. We looked at his history as a (very) conservative politician in an earlier post where we looked at The Queen Charlotte, another 1927 apartment building developed by Stevens. This project wasn’t quite smooth sailing. City Council approved the building, but when they considered it in March, the Civic Building Committee wanted the apartment to be set back from the building line. The developers did not agree, pointing out that the location wasn’t one where a setback was required. After a 3 month delay, the building went ahead without the setback. It was completed by December, and photographed in 1928.

W H Stevens was the local manager running the apartments; he wasn’t in the city in 1921, which is the most recent census we can access. He was a grocer, in Yale, in 1911 and was born in 1877, arriving in Canada in 1887. We believe he was Henry Herbert Stevens’ slightly older brother (as H H was 9 when he arrived in 1887), and was William Harvey Stevens. He died in 1962, and was buried in Burnaby.

Today the building is owned by Equitable Real Estate, whose portfolio includes some of Vancouver’s best heritage buildings (as well as some contemporary ones). The laundry facilities are still ‘of the newer type’: there’s a common Laundry room with fob activation for the washers and dryers.

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N267.2

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Posted 20 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1950 Robson Street

Today there’s a six storey strata building, The Chatsworth, with 44 condos designed by Rhone Morton Architects, and completed in 1985. When it was built the cheapest 1-bed units were priced from $107,000, and the project was described as ‘An Austin Hamilton concept’ – a reference to the developer.

In 1978 there was an earlier rental apartment building also called Chatsworth, which we think was designed by H S Griffith, and completed in 1941. It was built by contractor E M Craig Co with 26 suites, on a lot that hadn’t been developed up to that point. The Craig company built a number of modest apartment buildings in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and used H S Griffith as their architect. Usually they were acting as agent for an investor developer, but if that’s the case here we haven’t found who the building was commissioned by.

The land had been used for many years as the extended garden of the adjacent house, owned from 1913 to 1938 by Herbert Drummond. He died in 1938, and his house and the land were offered as separate sales by the Bell-Irving Insurance Agencies. The building is seen here in 1978, on a site already being eyed up at the time for redevelopment, with a potential to increase density and switch from rental to strata units.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-3.13

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Posted 13 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1840 Robson Street

The Richborough Apartments were photographed around 1985, located on Robson Street close to Denman, on the all-residential Stanley Park side of Denman. There was a big house just to the west of here built in 1905 on an adjacent lot, which was divided into eight apartments by the 1930s, but these two lots had never been developed. In 1939, E M Craig and Company Ltd. applied for a permit to build an apartment building on the vacant lots. H S Griffith designed the 28 suite, 14 garage 4-storey building. The developers were identified a little later; R E Humphrey and E Akhurst, of Victoria. They also bought two other West End apartment buildings around the same time.

By 1981 the building, and the house next door, had been bought by Campeau Corporation of Calgary. They planned a redevelopment, and there were soon protests about the loss of affordable housing, and a potential heritage building (as the house was identified as a possible Samuel Maclure designed home).

A Vancouver Sun story in March 1981 told how ‘Caroline’ and Hector Fisher had moved into The New Richborough Apartments when the building was first leased, and forty years later were still there, paying $250 a month for their home. This wasn’t completely accurate. Carolyn Fisher had lived in apartment 203 from 1941, but initially it was with her husband Ewan, who was a master mariner (captain of a tugboat for Young and Gore). She was in Vancouver in the 1921 census, aged 18 and working as a waitress. He sister Lydia, who was 16, and a laundress, lived with her, on Richards Street. They were both born in Alberta, and had a Russian family background. The earlier 1911 census shows Lydia with her family in Medicine Hat, aged 6, and suggests Carolyn was christened Olga.

Ewan was born in 1900 in New Westminster, and died in 1958. His brother, Hector Fisher, who was also a master mariner, was living at 660 Jackson, with his wife Kitty. He married Catherine (‘Kitty’) Shaw in 1941. He was born in New Westminster in 1901, (and Catherine in 1893 in Scotland. She died in 1966 in Essondale, the mental health hospital later known as Riverview).

We assume that the widowed Carolyn married her brother-in-law, Hector, some time after his wife’s death. Hector died in 1982, and the redevelopment went ahead. Ewan and Hector Fisher were buried in the same grave in the Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster. Confusingly on his gravestone he’s identified as Casey Ewan Fisher, born 9 July 1900, while his death certificate says Ewan Alexander Fisher. Carolyn O Fisher was buried in the same cemetery in 1997, which identified her birth year as 1902, in Medicine Hat, in Alberta.

By 1987 the house and the apartments had been replaced by Stanley Park Place, with 45 apartments on 16 floors designed by Hamilton Doyle and Associates.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-3.12

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Posted 10 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Sandringham – Nelson Street

In 1927 this newly completed apartment block, The Sandringham, managed by Mrs J M McMillan was photographed. We’re reasonably sure that the car was a 1927 Marmon – Hyman, distributed by the Russell, Wilson Motor Co on Granville Street. The apartments were developed by Major General J M McMillan at a cost of $55,000, and designed by Gardiner & Mercer.

General McMillan’s military title wasn’t just honorary; in 1918 he was on a tour of the US with two colleagues under the auspices of the Council of National Defense giving short talks of their experiences at the front. The officers were members of the first expeditionary force. In 1927 he was listed as Lt Col J M McMillan, and was president of Cassiar Packing, (a salmon packing plant on the Skeena River), and lived on West 2nd in Point Grey in a new house that Mrs. McMillan had commissioned, costing $10,000. His home until 1926 was 1857 Nelson, next door to this site, and this was a tennis court. Once he moved, his former house became the Sandringham Annex, with apartments that in 1933 were advertised for a ‘refined person’ and offered hot water – day and night.

John McLarty Macmillan was Scottish, born at Lochranza (on the Isle of Arran) in 1871. He arrived in North America in 1894, involved in the salmon canning business, but then headed to Australia in 1900 where he apparently enlisted in a mounted regiment called the New South Wales Imperial Bushmen, raised to fight in South Africa in the Boer War (although the available Australian official war records don’t list him being on active service).

By 1904 he had moved to British Columbia; marrying Isabella Ewen in her home town, (she was born in New Westminster in 1880). Her father was Alexander Ewen, a prominent salmon canner. At the time John was working for Menzies & Co., Vancouver brokers. There’s no sign of the couple for several years, but in 1911 they passed through New York on their way to Vancouver. That year he was listed as a financial agent ‘of Macmillan and Oliphant’, with Thomas Oliphant, but the partnership was short-lived and Oliphant was working on his own a year later. He was also the secretary-treasurer of the Pacific Whaling Company, which was part of the Mackenzie Mann & Co.’s Canadian Northern Railway interests. At the age of 43, once war was declared, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He started as a Captain, but by the end of 1915, in France, he was a lieutenant-colonel. He was discharged at the end of 1917, and returned to Vancouver where he worked as a salmon broker. (He tried to enlist in the second war, but when it was discovered that he was nearly 70, he was discharged). He died in 1950, and Isabella in 1975.

The apartment building was replaced in 1977 by West Park, a 4-storey wood frame condo building with 42 units designed with loft spaces by Terry Hale Architects. Andre Molnar’s Realmar Developments carried out the development, which offered ‘Condominiums of the future at affordable prices – today’. Units started at $33,900. Today any that become available fetch a little more than that.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N257

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Posted 30 December 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Bute Street and Barclay

The two-storey (and basement) ‘residential hotel’ was designed by Franklin Cross in 1925 for ‘Parkinson & Dann’ and cost $46,000. John Dann and Robert Parkinson ran the Langham Hotel, a boarding house on Nelson Street, where they both lived, and we assume they were the developers. The new building wasn’t really a thing of beauty, and was run initially as a hotel, and later as a rooming house called Coniston Lodge. The photograph which dates from 1925 came from an album in the Parks Board archives and was captioned “Bare trunks and arms are all that remain after these trees are reduced to make habitable this new apartment block ‘Coniston Lodge’. The trees on the other side of this block are similarly treated.”

John Dann was born in 1874 in Accrington, England He married Annie Parkinson (who was born in 1888) in 1917, and they had a son, Allan, in 1919. They arrived around 1921, but John died in 1928. Annie continued to live at Coniston Lodge, and died in 1969 In Prince George, having never re-married. Their son Allan was 10 days short of 100 when he died in 2019. Robert Parkinson and his wife Anna also lived at Coniston Lodge for many years. We’re reasonably certain he was Annie’s older brother (he was nine years older, and they had two other brothers between them, Herbert and Fred), and he died in Vancouver in 1956.

Beyond Coniston Lodge is Beaconsfield, a 1909 apartment building developed by A J Woodward, who we think was a Victoria florist and nursery owner.

In 1993 The Stafford, a 25 unit strata building designed by Isaac-Renton Architects replaced Coniston Lodge, in a pastiche historic style presumably intended to fit in with the surrounding older rental buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 357-9

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Posted 2 December 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1200 block Robson Street – south side

This 1974 image caption says it shows “houses at 1216 and 1222 Robson Street (La Cote d’Azur Restaurant and Newsome Rooms) and the 3-storey apartment building at 1234 Robson Street (Nottingham Apartment Hotel).

Today the former houses, and the ‘apartment hotel’ have been replaced with retail and office space. The two houses on the left were spec built by Thomas Hunter in 1904 at a cost of $3,000 each. Thomas and his older brother, Samuel, were from Wilfrid, Ontario, and built houses and commercial buildings at a prodigious pace after their arrival here in 1891, some as investments that they retained, and some for clients. Sam died around 1895, leaving Thomas to continue building well into the 1920s. He died in 1940 aged 73. He married Jannie Simpson in Vancouver in 1892 when he was 25. She was also from Ontario, from New Market, and three years older than Thomas. They had a son, Charles, (Theodore on the 1911 census) who also died in 1940.

The three storey apartment house was developed in 1925, designed by Townley and Matheson for John Peterson. There were a surprising number of John Petersons in the city in the mid 1920s, so the developer was hard to pin down. Fortunately, he moved into his 18 suite apartment building in 1926, and was still living here when he died in 1952. aged 68. He was married to Gina, (in Seattle, in 1915), and had a brother, Olaf, and a sister, both in Iowa. John was born in Norway, in 1883, and he may have been an electrical contractor before he built his investment. After his death C D Hardy and B B Tidey took over running the property. Gina Lindland Peterson was 90 when she died in San Diego in 1975.

The houses, when they were completed joined other houses that had already been built on the block. Where the Nottingham Rooms were later built there were houses occupied by two managers. Hugh Gilmour was agent for the Waterous Engine Works, with an office in Molson’s Chambers, while Hugh Keefer was managing director of the Vancouver Granite Co. They were both here for several years, so probably owned, rather than leased, the houses, which were numbered 1216 and 1218 in 1904, but renumbered to 1234 and 1240 a few years later.

The house on the left of the picture was occupied by Con Jones, owner of the Brunswick Pool Rooms (actually a billiard parlour) at what would become 1216 and next door W Bell, a pressman was at 1222, soon replaced by James Galloway, a bookkeeper, later an accountant. Both families were still here in 1920. Con Jones was an Australian; an ex-bookie who had two billiard halls, one he developed on East Hastings (later home to Only Sea Foods, and recently demolished), and one on Cordova. Later he was successful in  the tobacco trade, where his slogan ‘Don’t Argue’ featured extensively, completed by the often missing text, ‘Con Jones sells fresh tobacco’. The family moved to a mansion in Shaughnessy, and Con was only 59 when he had a seizure while watching a soccer game in 1929 at the sports facility he developed; Con Jones Park, and died five days later, leaving a wife and five children.

By 1929 his house had become the Vanderpant Galleries, but next door 1222 was still a house, where Mrs. Stella Hoy, a widow, lived. John Vanderpant was a photographer from Alkmaar, earning his early living as a portrait photographer, while also developing a more artistic practice on the side. The gallery, opened in 1928, became a centre of art, music, and poetry in Vancouver. Members of the Vancouver Poetry Society often held meetings and readings at the Galleries as well as several galas; students from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, the BC College of Arts, and the music faculty from UBC attended musical evenings to listen to imported symphonic music played on Vanderpant’s Columbia gramophone. Emily Carr and members of the Group of Seven exhibited at the Galleries. He was 55 when he died, in 1939, of lung cancer, leaving a legacy of photographic works in local, national and international gallery collections. His widow, Catharina continued to run the gallery until after the war, but 1222 was still a house, the home of Thomas and Helen McCormick.

The Nottingham continued to offer rooms to 21 tenants, some of them spinsters or widows, and many of the others professionals like accountants, doctors, (including Dr. H Roy Mustard, an ear, nose and throat surgeon,  and his wife Henrietta) and Mrs. Bessie Wall the Proprietor of Walls Womens Wear. In 1955 the gallery had become the Unity Metaphysical Centre (a church, headed by Rev T Conway Jones) and the McCormicks were still living at 1222. The Nottingham was replaced in 1979 with the two storey office, restaurant and retail building designed by Romses Kwan for Daon Development Corporation. The retail replacement for the houses was built in 1996.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-354

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Posted 1 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1030 Robson Street

This 1974 image shows a 3-storey brick apartment building on the 1000 block of Robson. It was developed by Oscar Schuman, (listed as Schumann on the permit), who was owner of the Beaver Cafe, and who lived on Point Grey Road. E J Ryan built the $20,000 development, designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day, in 1912.

Oscar was listed in the 1911 census as a 38-year-old German restaurant owner, with his wife, aged 22, called Olga, from Russia, and a daughter called Margaret who was two. In 1910 he had been fined $100 for selling alcohol in his unlicenced Hastings Street Cafe. In a sting operation, Inspector McMahon ordered whisky with his meal, and paid for it on leaving. Although the owner was not present, he was fined for the offence, as his defence that “He kept the whisky for making sauce, and no one was Instructed to sell It.” wasn’t considered credible. That same year the death of his baby daughter, Anna, was reported.

He first showed up in Vancouver in 1903, when he was running the ‘Saddle Rock Restaurant and Oyster Parlors’ in the Boulder Dining Room on Cordova Street. He sold that in 1907, and this wasn’t his only development – he also built a frame apartment in 1908 on Cornwall Avenue. Despite his German origins, he was still in the city in 1915, running his new rooms here, which were called the Auld Rooms. His family however moved on; there’s a record of Margaret crossing from Washington State to Victoria in 1915, and in 1920 Olga and Margaret were living in a boarding house in Seattle. Oscar himself had left Vancouver by 1916, and we can’t find him after that.

This became the Robson Hotel, run by Charles Pearse in 1918. By 1930 it had become Robson Lodge, a name it retains. Nothing much seems to have happened here. The address appears in the press, but only to advertise rooms. In the 1970s a room was $135 and in the 1980s a 2-room suite was $375 a month. The one excitement was in 1945, when the Sun reported “Police Arrest Silk-Tie Toter. Charles Bryan Codd of 1030 Robson was arrested by police late Sunday in a lane in the 100 block East Pender and charged with theft. Police say they found on him four boxes containing two dozen silk ties, allegedly stolen from the Gum Jang Company, 102 East Pender

In 1974 the Salamander Shoe Store and Happy Feet Shoe Repair were alongside the Robson Florist. At some point the entrance to the apartments was shifted from the centre of the main floor to the east side. For over a decade, this was home to a branch of Cafe Crepe, but that closed during the covid pandemic and the retail space is now for lease.

The single storey stores to the right were developed in 1922 by E Winearls, and built by Bedford Davidson. In 1999 they were replaced with a contemporary glass fronted box, designed by W T Leung.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-323

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Posted 20 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Granville Loops from Above

There are loops at both the north and south end of Granville Bridge. We’re looking at the Downtown end of the bridge, and at a contemporary image taken by Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter and published in July 2020. Vancouver House, the cantilevered Bjarke Ingles designed rental and condo tower had already been topped out next to the bridge.

The before image dates back to 1968, when Downtown South was still a mixture of rooming house hotels on Granville Street and low-rise commercial uses both east and west of Granville. Pacific Street runs underneath the bridge, and to the west Beach Avenue ran up to the bridge, but to the east were rail tracks and a sawmill. These days Beach continues as Beach Crescent, looping up around the top of George Wainborn Park, built over the capped contaminated land from the decades of industrial uses. Six buildings developed by Concord Pacific can be seen developed around the western and northern edges of the park. Another tower is planned across from Vancouver House, with a similarly tall tower of condos over a podium of non-market housing to be owned by the City.

There are plans to remove the loops, which occupy a lot of land, and replace them with new streets following the prevailing grid. That will allow two more development sites to be released for four more towers. The Continental Hotel, which sat in the middle of the eastern loop, has already been demolished, although it was still standing when we posted its history in 2013. Across the street to the north the Cecil Hotel has also gone, replaced with the Rolston condo tower, although the adjacent Yale Hotel has been saved.

Further north the biggest slab building in the image in 1968 was the headquarters of BC Electric. It was 11 years old in 1968, and shone out like a beacon at night as the lights were always left on. (The electricity bill went to the owners). Today it’s still there, hidden behind the Wall Centre tower and called The Electra. It’s now a mix of residential condos and commercial units and was converted in 1995,when it had a new skin (as offices generally don’t have opening windows, but that’s a requirement for residential units). To its left St Paul’s Hospital was more obvious in 1968, and just as likely to fall down in the event of the anticipated earthquake. Its replacement is under construction, and Concord Pacific have agreed to pay $1 billion for the old hospital as a future redevelopment.

In the area above the top of Vancouver House there are plans already approved for several more high-rise towers. The first to be built, The Butterfly, is already under construction behind the First Baptist Church (which is getting a major seismic upgrade as part of the development).

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 215-22 and Trish Jewison, Global BC on twitter.

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Posted 2 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End

Firehall #6 – Nicola Street

Fire hall #6, in the West End, was commissioned in 1907 and opened in 1908. Even though it was developed in the period when the building permits have been lost, we know the architects of the project. Honeyman and Curtis designed the building, possibly the first in North America specifically designed for motorized firetrucks.

It was photographed in 1908 with its Seagrave Hose Wagon and Auto Chemical Engine – both state-of-the-art equipment for the time. After the 1886 fire the City was willing to fund the fire department generously. The Seagrave machines cost around $5,000 each – more than it cost to build most West End houses at the time. (Seagrave still make fire trucks today, but the entire Vancouver fleet are now built by Spartan).

There was a delay getting the building started; the architects reported to the City Council that it was such a busy time for contractors that it had been difficult to get any of them to bid. “The public advertisement had not drawn a single call for the specifications, but by personal effort several contractors had been Induced to figure.” In the end Peter Tardif won the contract to build the fire hall.

The building was expanded in 1929, with a design by A J Bird, and there was another picture taken by Stuart Thomson, with the latest engine proudly on display.

As far as we can tell, that’s an American La France ladder truck in the picture on the right. Not too many were built with the firemen sitting over the front wheels.

Our main image dates from 1975. The hall received a further makeover, and was seismically upgraded in 1988, designed by Henry Hawthorne Architect. The fire staff continue to fight fires and attend other emergency calls throughout the West End, equipped with a Spartan Gladiator Sirius LFD engine, and pump. Recently the city’s ladder trucks have changed from 75 foot units to 105 foot (to better service fires in 6-storey buildings) so the ladder trucks are now located in other West End and Downtown fire halls.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-395, CVA 99-3730 and FD P39.2

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Posted 10 June 2021 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1145 Robson Street

There aren’t many large office buildings on Robson Street, but this one has been around over 70 years. It received a makeover in 1986, when it got a post-modern appearance designed by Downs Archambault, and a new name as John Robson Place. Our 1974 picture shows it as it was completed in 1948, when it became the Unemployment Insurance Commission offices. Over the years other government departments were also located here, including Indian and Northern Affairs. 

The Vancouver Sun announced the project in 1948. “SIX-STOREY BUILDING FOR ROBSON STREET Preliminary work has begun on a six-storey, $375,000 office building for Alvin Estates Limited at 1145-1155 Robson, between Bute and Thurlow. The building is reported to be for occupancy of a government agency. Contractors are Allan and Viner Construction Company. Swinburne A. Kayll is architect and F. Wavell Urry is consulting engineer. Plans show a six-storey reinforced concrete building with 99 feet frontage and 131 feet depth. Entrances are to be finished in marble and glass block. Provision is made for two passenger elevators.” The picture shows that they actually built seven floors.

These days the space is occupied by a number of businesses; software developers, accountants, a mining company, a travel agency and management agencies and now has retail units at street level

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-332 – 1100

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Posted 12 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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