Archive for the ‘West End’ Category

Mayfair Apartments – Bute Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Davie and Bute Streets – ne corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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2050 Comox Street

We know who commissioned and also who designed this 1902 wooden house, seen here around 1910. Major Matthews labelled the image in the Archives as ‘George Buscombe residence ‘, and the permit says J P Matheson designed the house for G Buscombe, who spent $2,900 to build it. By 1903 George had moved in, leaving his previous home on Homer Street.

George was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1875, son of Edwin and Isabella, who had arrived from Cornwall in 1870. They had 12 children, and George came in the middle of the pack, younger than his brother Fred who had come to BC before George, and was already established with a large family in 1901. George arrived in 1891, and like his brother, worked for James A. Skinner, a glass and pottery dealer from Ontario.

In 1899 he married Ada Maud Whitworth, originally from Wales (who had arrived in Canada aged 13 in 1887), and by 1901 they already had an infant son, also called George. His father was obviously doing well, working as a traveler; he built this house when he was 27, two years after the Skinner family had retired from business and Fred had acquired it, renaming it as Buscombe & Co. Two more children were born here, a son, Ernest, in 1903 and a daughter, Barbara, in 1905.

While Fred moved to a much fancier $10,500 West End home in 1905, (the year he was elected mayor), George continued to live here for 50 years. When Fred sold control of the company to a Montreal business at the end of 1911, George continued to work for Fred Buscombe & Co Ltd. as vice-president and general manager. Another brother, Charles also worked for the company. By 1914 Fred had established Buscombe Securities, with his son Robert as the insurance manager.

By 1916 George had become vice-president, while still working Fred Buscombe & Co, but by 1919 that was his only employment. In 1918 Charles Buscombe was the only brother working for Fred Buscombe & Co, now renamed as Cassidy’s, after the buyers of the business. A year later he had also moved on, establishing Buscombe Importing Co, a rival glass, silverware and china business. George also established his own business, George Buscombe Limited, Agents for the Western Assurance Company of Toronto. Fred’s involvement with Buscombe Securities wasn’t mentioned, but he was president of George’s company for a couple of years, before moving to live in Burnaby.

Charles’s Importing Company and George Buscombe’s Insurance business shared premises through the mid 1920s on Cambie Street, overlooking Victory Square. Buscombe Securities owned premises on West Hastings run as Cal-Van Market, owned by a Calgary company but managed by H Arthur Buscombe, another of Fred and George’s brothers. In 1926 Charles was working for another company, V J Creeden, and George was running Geo Buscombe & Co, real estate and George E, his son ran a newly formed business, Buscombe & Co, wholesale crockery, both at 119 West Pender.

In 1928 Fred left Burnaby and moved to West Vancouver. George E Buscombe was living here in 1928, and in 1931 one George was living on Beach Avenue, and another was living here, but in 1932 George jnr. had moved to West 33rd, and Ernest Buscombe, George’s other son was shown living here. The street directory had considerable difficulty keeping up with the two George E Buscombe families, usually identifying one or the other, but not always both. It helps that from 1935 the names of spouses were added to the entries; that year George E (Maud), was identified as a clerk at Buscombe & Co, and living here, while George E Buscombe (Ethel) his son and manager of Buscombe & Co was living on W33rd.

By 1939 George jnr. was still manager, and had moved to SW Marine, and George was president of the company. That year he was elected as an Alderman, and was aged 70 when his final term ended in 1945, when he was still company president. His son, George was managing director of the china firm, and one of the two was also running the insurance brokerage. Ernest Buscombe was the accountant to the business. Ada Maud Buscombe died in 1948, and in 1952 George was finally shown as retired, and still living here. In June 1952 the house was demolished. George moved to live with his son on SW Marine Drive, and was still listed as president of the businesses, still based on Water Street.

George was an owner of two racing power boats, “Sea Snipe” and “Thetis.” In 1905, Frederick (who had a 53 ft. power boat built in 1908) and George had donated the Buscombe Trophy to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. George was also a member of the Camera Club, a Freemason, and a member of the Knights Templar Mystic Shrine. George joined city planners in lobbying to obtain Japanese Canadian properties around Powell Street for ‘slum clearance’. The Federal government were unwilling to go along with the idea, although they did renege on their original promise to the Japanese community of keeping the property in trust and leasing it out.

The site was redeveloped in 1952 with a 4-storey wood-frame apartment building called ‘Sharon Manor’, soon after renamed as ‘Cumberland Court’, owned by Mayfair Properties. In 1982 architects Romses Kwan proposed a 13 storey building to replace Cumberland Court, but a year later it was redesigned at 6 storeys.  In 1985 the 22 unit rental building, called Liza Court, was completed, owned at the time by T C Fong. A two-bedroom apartment cost $1,550 a month in 1989, and these days the attractive location means the building is still a popular, and far from cheap rental building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P735


Posted 12 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Denman and Davie Streets – ne corner

This corner is one of relatively few spots where the contemporary building is less significant than its predecessor. The pattern in the brickwork of this 1912 building suggested it had been designed by the father and son partnership of Townsend & Townsend. Sure enough, the permit from December 1911 shows them designing the $75,000 stores and apartments for Simpson Brothers, who also built it. To the north, a much smaller 2-storey building had been developed by S A Heaslip for $4,500 in 1908.

There were a lot of Simpsons in Vancouver, but fortunately the brothers were identified; William and Zach, (often written as Zack), both living in 1911 at 1811 Beach Avenue. They were boat builders, with premises a block from their home. Their father, Zachariah, was from Chorlton, Lancashire, where he worked as a tailor and draper. By 1875 he had come to Buffalo, New York, with his wife Ann. His brother John was also there, and in 1890 they headed west, to Canada, and Simpson Brothers, merchant tailors opened on Granville Street, with the brothers living on Beach Avenue. They were living in the same household in 1901, but that seems to be the last reference to John in Vancouver.

In 1891 the family inherited a sizeable fortune from an uncle, and started a boat building business. They rented boats to local residents and tourists from Simpson’s Boat House on Beach Avenue. Zachariah Simpson died in 1910, and his wife, Annie having died in 1907, aged 56, he left his $28,000 estate to his children, Maud, Zack, and William.

William Niagara Simpson was 35 when his father died, and was a boat builder. Later he became a master mariner, owning the ‘Roamer’ and a tugboat, the ‘Ocean Plunger’. His brother Zack managed the boat house business, and aged 35 he married Lydia Kleaman, who was 22 and from Ontario. Until 1944 he owned the boathouse and concessions at Lost Lagoon, which he sold to the Park Board, and continued to operate them on their behalf.

William Simpson died in 1936, and his brother, Zack in 1949. His widow sold the Simpson Block in the year following his death. Their sister, Maud, never married, and died in 1940. The Simpson Block saw a constant turnover of both residential and commercial tenants, as is normal in the West End. The new apartments were advertised as having steam-heated hot water, a phone in every flat, and a lift. (clearly the American words apartment and elevator weren’t in universal use in 1913).

Kirkham’s Grocerterias Ltd had one of their 20 stores here in 1928, but the chain closed down and the location was taken over by Safeway Stores in 1929, who remained here for many years. Originally the Denman Grocery Co had opened in the new building. Later, in the 1950s, their store was home to Crown Cleaners and Dyers, while Cunningham Drugs occupied the corner, replacing the Vancouver Drug Co who had been in the same spot in the 1920s.

In 1972, the Sands Hotel (located to the east, up Davie Street) planned a 23-storey addition on the corner, but it was never built. In 1975, soon after this image was taken, a fire damaged the Simpson Block, spreading from an adjacent building on Davie. All 13 suites were evacuated, and in 1976 the building was demolished.  It was replaced in 1979 with English Bay Village, a strata building with 10 units, designed by Richard Henriquez. A third floor, 2-level 1,753 sq. ft. 2-bed 3-bath unit with a rooftop deck (with full kitchen!) was offered for sale at $2.6m in 2021.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-370


Posted 5 May 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Plaza Apartments – Bute Street

This 1930s Vancouver Public Library image shows the relatively newly completed Plaza Apartments. E Evans & Son designed the $65,000 apartment building for Hugh Warner, in 1927.

Hugh A Warner Co had a series of permits through from 1925 to 1928 for 14 apartment buildings, all of them except this one in South Granville. There were at least three more apartment buildings in the late 1920s. All the earlier buildings were designed by Enoch Evans, although one in 1930 was a Ross A Lort design. Most were frame apartments, often in the ‘Spanish Mission style’, and together they would have cost over a million dollars to develop. However, presumably for cash flow purposes, Mr. Warner often sold the buildings soon after completion, and in at least one case ‘off plan’, before he had even built it.

Hugh A Warner was from England, born in 1880 (his death notice) and not 1885 (his marriage certificate). That said his parents were Frederick Warner and Hannah Miller, and we found him, and his sister, in the 1881 UK census living with Frederick, a 40-year old warehousman, and Hannah, his 30 year old mother. In 1891 his mother had become Hannah Mayes, married to Charles Mayes, who was 18 years older. Hugh Arthur Warner was christened in 1880 in St Olave, Bermondsey, in South London, so it would seem he was making himself a few years younger when he married.

The 1901 census showed him as a 20 year old carpenter, in lodgings in Lewisham.  His Vancouver wedding certificate said that when he married Emily Melcombe, in 1914, he was a widower, and we found his first wedding, to Emily Follett in Lewisham in 1902. They had a child, Dorothy, in 1907, and possibly a twin, Emily Elizabeth, who died a year later. Emily Daisy Warner died in Lambeth in 1909, the same year Hugh left England for Canada.

In 1921 he was living with Emily, who was 28, and had arrived in Canada in 1913, his daughter Dorothy who was 14 and 2-year-old Betty.

In 1928 “Mr. Hugh A. Warner, well-known city building contractor. Is convalescing following an operation in the Vancouver General Hospital.” He seems to have fully recovered; there are records of him passing through New York (presumably en route to England) in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Hugh Arthur Warner died in 1959, aged 78 and Emily Ada Warner died in 1977, aged 85.

The apartments appeared in many newspaper items over the years. Some offered suites for lease, (in 1982 a studio was $299 a month), others reported a lost dog, and a lost New Zealand passport, or a kitten available. There were deaths in hospital of former residents, and weddings announcing plans for the newly wedded to move here. One resident, in 1955, was selling his cascade green Pontiac de luxe sedan – ‘with direction signals’ – for $2,500, and another in 1957 a walnut chest of drawers for $15.

In 1939 the apartments were owned by A E Wilson, who seems to have not been the best landlord in the city. “Damages. of $150 were awarded by Mr. Justice Coady Wednesday to Mrs. Bertha Johnson, widow, 63, of 1215 Bute Street, in her suit against A. E. Wilson, 925 Bute Street, because of a remark he made about her a year ago. His Lordship found that Wilson’s statement was defamatory and malicious. Mrs. Johnson, whose case was conducted by H. R. Bray, claimed Wilson, her landlord when she was a tenant in the Plaza Apartments, 925 Bute, accused her of taking fixtures. C. K. Guild acted for Wilson.” In 1944 Rick Horne‘s parents were given notice by Mr. Wilson as they now had a baby daughter. “Also, you must use the side entrance when you come in or go out with your baby carriage.”

In 1956 there was an advertisement in The Vancouver Sun for the building (but no price stated): “PLAZA APARTMENTS 925 Bute Street West End 22 Suites Excellent Corner Location Buff Brick Veneer gross revenue $18,000 plus.” Today the building still offers rental apartments.


Posted 25 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1348 Robson Street

This is another survivor of an earlier era still standing on Robson. In this 1934 Vancouver Public Library image it was the Hotel Gifford. It had been developed by R J Kerr, and the architects, Sharp & Thompson, filed the drawings (today in the University of Calgary collection) as ‘Kerr Rooming House’. The $41,000 investment was built by Carver, Jones & Carver in the fall of 1912.

Mr Kerr was listed as a director of the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company in the period when the company owned a mill in Vancouver as well as at Moodyville (and four in Washington state) in 1906. He was also Company Secretary and Treasurer to B C Packers, the huge fish canning business in 1907. But he didn’t have a home in Vancouver, although oddly, Mrs. R J Kerr was present at a variety of events.

Then we realized that R J Ker of Victoria was listed as secretary of B C Packers, and was also part of Brackman-Ker, a milling company. Their premises on Pender Street were also referenced as Brackman-Kerr, so the additional ‘r’ was a common error. In 1901 Robert Ker, and his brother Arnot were both living with their mother, Annie, who was aged 70. Robert was 36, and a ‘cannery-man’, and Arnot was two years younger and a ‘Mill man’, and both had been born in BC. Their older brother, David was the ‘Ker’ in Brackman-Ker, but all three were directors of the company.

The family name pops up in several other contexts, and tells us Robert’s family origin. His father was also Robert Ker, and arrived in Victoria in 1859. He became attorney-general of the Province, helping establish Victoria as the capital, and one of the early auditors-general of BC, described as a close fried of Governor James Douglas. He died when Robert was just 15. Having retired from government service, he farmed in The Gorge outside Victoria, and during a winter snowstorm he died of exposure.

When Granville burned to the ground in 1886 it was the crew of the ‘Robert Ker’ (anchored off Deadman’s Island, but dragged into the Inlet in the huge wind that fanned the fire’s flames) that launched the ship’s boats and saved many lives of people standing helpless on shore as the town burned down.

Not long after his investmnet was complete, at the end of 1913, The Province reported that R J Ker Esq. was retiring from business and returning to England. The contents of his apartment in Granville Mansions were to be sold off: “Auction of Valuable High-class Modern and Antique English Furniture”. In 1919 the Colonist reported that Mr. Ker’s death was one of many away from Victoria – he was 54 years old when he died in Kensington.

When it opened as the Hotel Gifford, Gifford R Thomson was running it. Originally from the Shetland Islands of Scotland where he was born in 1848, he arrived in Kelowna in 1892 with his wife, Harriet, and eight children (with a ninth born soon after their arrival). He initially had an orchard, but it grew poorly because of the high water table, and to make a living he drove the mail three times a week to Vernon. He pre-empted a different property in 1900 and built up a mixed farm, initially growing hay, but later a variety of vegetables. When he moved to Vancouver to open the hotel his two sons remained behind to run the farm. Gifford lived on Nelson Street, but he rented rooms in the house and moved here. In 1920 Albert Howard was running the Gifford Hotel, and in the 1921 census Harriet was living back in Kelowna with some of her children, and there’s no sign of her husband in the census. Mrs E Duncan had taked over running the hotel by 1929.

Gifford Ratter Thomson died in 1932, aged 84. (His mother was Elizabeth Ratter, hence the unusual middle name; his parents were recorded as Magnus Thomason and Elizabeth Rattor on his birth record). The hotel was still the Gifford in 1955, with the Gifford Dining Room on the main floor. Today it’s the Barclay Hotel, with the adjoining building to the east joined on.


Posted 11 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Haro Street Children’s Hospital

In 1919 when this image was taken, the Children’s Hospital was in the West End. It was owned by the City of Vancouver, who were responsible for some aspects of healthcare, and they had developed the ‘3-storey reinforced concrete creche’ in 1913. The architect was obscure: A Williams and Company, and George Williamson built the $43,800 project. Alfred Williams wasn’t actually an architect, but rather a consulting engineer. The new building involved the demolition of several houses built in the early 1890s.

The creche was a day nursery, run by the Associated Charities of Vancouver, and initially established in a house on Thurlow Street. The Medical Officer for Health, Dr. Underhill, supported the project as a way of improving child health in the city – which he said had the highest rate of child mortality in Canada. When this opened in 1914 it was only the second purpose-built childcare facility in Canada. (One in Toronto opened a few months earlier). By 1916 there was a sharp drop in attendance due to a shortage of employment for domestic workers (with the war economy in operation), so the Vancouver General Hospital took over the building in 1917. The creche moved to the Relief Department building, on Cambie Street, and this became the Infant’s Department of the hospital. It remained in that use until 1951.

The building was empty in 1952, and in 1953 the McRae Hotel was operating here. It offered daily and weekly rates, and free parking. Other than advertisements for rooms, it only seems to have featured once in its years of operation when in 1967 “A man accused of beating up three women had the charges against him Wednesday when the complainants failed to appear at his trial. Prosecutor John Hall told Magistrate Bernard Isman he was forced to withdraw charges against, John Hamel, 37, who gave his address as the McRae Hotel, because the three complainants had moved out of town and could not be located.” It was still operating in early 1969, “Rooms from $12 weekly, 5 min. walking distance to downtown”.

We haven’t found any pictures of Haro Street to confirm that the hotel was created from the hospital building, but a 1960 aerial image confirms it was still standing, so we assume that to be the case. In 1970 ‘Central Plaza’ a 21-storey rental tower replaced the hotel, and the apartment building next door. That was the Lindsay lodge Apartments, developed in 1912 by Mrs G S McConnell, and designed by ‘Mr McMartin’ at a cost of $16,000. Gilbert McConnell and his wife lived at 1168 Haro in 1912, and had moved to Barclay Street a year later. Nettie McConnell clearly followed her husband’s development experience, which included developing the McConnell Block in 1890. Her choice of architect was as obscure as the hospital’s designer; there was nobody in Vancouver called McMartin who might have designed the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-225


Posted 10 March 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Aberdeen School – Burrard Street

Seen here in this early 1900s Vancouver Public Library image, Aberdeen School was set back from the street with a huge yard in front. There had been a wooden school here from 1888; the West End School. (The East End School was in Strathcona). It was a four-room frame building, and soon considered inadequate. The 1889 Annual Report of the Principal, Miss M Hartney said “The attendance, however, would have been considerably larger were it not for sickness that was so prevalent among the children during the spring months. And this sickness, I am convinced, was much aggravated by the school grounds, which are in very unfavorable condition, and require immediate attention in order to preserve the health of pupils and teachers.”

The rapidly growing school population led to the construction of a replacement, Dawson School, which was on the east side of Burrard a little to the south. In 1908 another school was built here, for primary classes. It was named after the Governor-General of Canada. John Campbell Gordon, 1st Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair. Although it was built at a time when the permits have been lost, we know E E Blackmore designed it because his appointment was referenced in the School Board Annual Report in 1907.

The school operated until 1942 when the name was changed to Sir William Dawson School Annex or just plain Dawson Annex, and it operated in conjunction with the school down the road. Around 1949, when Jimi Hendrix was 7, in a 1968 interview he recalled staying in Vancouver, attending grade 1 at Dawson Annex, although his presence does not appear in any VSB records. While it’s often noted that he lived with his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, she lived in Strathcona, and it would have been a long way for a small boy to travel. It was more likely that he stayed with his aunt (her daughter), Patricia, who lived on Drake Street, and was five years older than Jimmy’s father. Her first husband, Joe Lashley, died that year, and she moved back to the States.

After a mini post-war boom in the 1950s the school closed in June of 1962, the students were absorbed into Dawson School at Burrard and Helmcken. The building sat vacant for several years and the school grounds were used as a parking lot for the B.C. Hydro building.

The building was demolished on April 1, 1969 (when Health and Safety rules were apparently less stringent, as this VSB image shows). After years as a vacant site, in 1991 a condo tower called Vancouver Tower was developed here, designed by Eng and Wright, with a two-storey IGA grocery store occupying the whole of the front of the site.


Posted 28 February 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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2005 Comox Street

The Topley Studios were not the only photographers drawn to the new homes at Comox and Chilco, in the West End. George Barrowclough took this image for a postcard some time soon after 1908, when the house on the corner was completed. Next door was the home of Charles Douglas, that we saw in the previous post, developed in 1906. Charles was born in Wisconsin, but his wives; Annie, who died in 1908, and Elizabeth, who he married in 1909, were from Ontario, as was their new neighbour, who developed this house in 1907.

Edwin Caton Mahony was from Hamilton, gratuating from the Ontario Agricultural College in 1882 at the age of 18. He went into the lumber business, moving to BC in 1890 working for the Royal City Planing Mills in New Westminster as a tallyman. A year later he married Clara Hill, from  Smithville, Ontario. They moved to Vancouver, and by 1894 Edwin was foreman of the Hastings Mill. He briefly left the city after the mill burned down in 1898, becoming the first postmaster in the mining district of Atlin, in northwest British Columbia.

By 1901 the family were back in Vancouver with Edwin as manager of the Royal City Saw and Planing Mills living in a house at the Hastings Mill site. As well as Edwin, who was 36 and Clara, 30, there were two daughters: Edna, nine, and Ida, seven. There was also a lodger, Nathanuel Hill, Clara’s father, who was working as a planer.

In 1904 Edwin took out a patent for “portable wall-section for house-building”. “My invention relates to the construction of knockdown houses especially designed for the use of settlers in a comparatively new or undeveloped country, and is intended to meet the requirements of such a class by providing a framed house the erection of which does not require the service of skilled carpenters or tradesmen, but that can be put together by the settler himself in less time than it would take to build one in the usual manner and that when finished is superior in its weather resisting qualities, appearance, and comfort to the best class of house as usually built by farmers or miners.

Many “BC Mills” system buildings were built in the next few years, and can be found throughout western Canada. The company also offered kits for schoolhouses and churches. Mostly the houses were understandably modest, but for his new family house, Edwin had J H Bowman design a fancy craftsman style home that used his patented panels in its construction.

The family lived here until 1924. Edwin signed up with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the war. Ida was married in 1914 but Edna never married, and was a clerk at the Bank of Commerce, living at home. Edwin was a freemason, and in the Knight’s Templar as well as a member of the Vancouver Pioneers’ Association.

In 1925 the family sold the house and moved into the 7th floor of a nearby apartment building on the waterfront, Sylvia Court. Edwin’s title changed that year from ‘lumberman’ to ‘broker’. He died in 1930, and his body was transferred to the family plot in Hamilton. Clara died in 1943, and Edna was living in Victoria when she died in 1977. Ida had died seven years earlier, in Vancouver, having been a widow for eighteen years.

W L Martin bought the house in 1925 and carried out repairs and added a garage built by C S Gustafson. He was the general manager at Evans, Coleman and Evans, one of the city’s largest suppliers of building materials and also coal merchants, towing and pile driving contractors, with a portfolio of commercial properties.

By the late 1930s, as with so many of the large old houses in the West End, this had become a rooming house. Architects Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey lived in the house in the mid 1950s, which by then was owned by an Egyptian developer. Erickson was working at Thompson, Berwick, Pratt, having recently been fired
from McCarter and Nairne, but ‘off the books’ he and Massey designed a replacement apartment building for the site in 1956, living rent-free rather than receiving a fee.

The white concrete 7-storey building was christened ‘The Residency’, and nothing really distinguishes it from any of the other mid-1950s apartments that proliferated in the West End. In a 2009 Vancouver Magazine article Erickson said “There wasn’t much we could do. Make the façade as simple as possible, have as many windows and as much floor space as possible“.  It was initially offered as ‘self owned suites’ – there were no such things as condominiums at that time. However, that never happened, (maybe the developer wasn’t willing to wait and see – he left for Egypt leaving his huge American car with the architects to cover their remaining fees).

It became a rental property, with a rooftop garden, and is still standing today. Massey’s comment in the same article is a fair review “It’s pretty nice compared to the others. At least it’s not leaking.”


Posted 31 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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2033 Comox Street

Beaver Dam is a modest city in Wisconsin, founded in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th Century it was sufficiently important to have a university,  and Charles Stanford Douglas attended High School and then Wayland Academy in his home town. He then moved around working for newspapers in Minnesota and his home state, becoming owner and publisher of the Superior Times in Superior, Wisconsin in 1875, (aged 23), partnering with D H Pryor. Two years later he sold up, and moved to The Day Book, a weekly newspaper in Fort William, Ontario. As the Canadian Pacific looked to the west, so did Charles, moving to Emerson, Manitoba in 1878. For two dollars a year residents could read his Emerson International, the “leading paper of southern Manitoba” (“one of the largest, and the cheapest”).

He married Annie Marie Johnston of Toronto in 1881, and got involved in politics. He was a member of the Emerson town council in 1881, from 1883 to 1889 he represented Emerson as a member of the Manitoba legislature, and he also managed to be became the mayor of Emerson in 1888. His brother-in-law, Benjamin B Johnston was also in Emerson, where he was a real estate broker. He brought his family further west around the same time as his sister and brother-in-law, and joined Charles in Douglas & Co, a real estate and finance brokerage. Their firm was described in 1891 as “amongst the heaviest dealers in real estate in Vancouver. They do a general real estate business, buy and sell property, rent houses and negotiate loans on real estate securities for residents and non residents in England, Eastern Canada and the United States“. B B Johnston found a new partner in Samuel Lyness Howe, and together they developed property including the Johnston-Howe Block on Granville.

Charles Douglas continued in business, and was a member of the Vancouver Club, the Terminal City Club, the Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club, and the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. He was also a freemason and a director of B.C. Refining Company Ltd. and president of Canadian Renard Road Transportation Company Ltd. Although Charles and Annie didn’t have children themselves, her sister, Vesta Fisher, died in 1891, and in 1901 their niece and nephew, Vesta and Charles Fisher were living with them. In 1906 Charles Douglas hired Grant and Henderson to design a new family home on Comox Street, near Stanley Park. Having spent $10,000 on construction, the family moved in a year later, seen here in a photograph taken by the Topley Studios some time before 1910.

Family bliss was short-lived; Annie died in July 1908, aged 55. Charles quickly found a diversion from his grief. He stood for election in 1909 as Mayor – and won. Then, weeks later, after a two-week courtship he married Elizabeth Manley, a widow who had also been born in Toronto. She had two sons, Davison and John. The wedding was in Toronto, and the newly weds took over a week to get home, starting on a train to Chicago, and adding a stop in Winnipeg.

As mayor, Charles didn’t support city workers having an 8-hour day, and was in favour of contracting out work rather than hiring day labour. He entertained Lord Strathcona on his visit to the city, and then Lord Grey (who donated the cup with his name attached), who as Governor General of Canada was in the city to open the new Granville Bridge. When he ran again for mayor in 1910, Charles lost to L D Taylor.

He had remained in business, developing the Fortin Hotel in 1909, and in 1910 joining George Barrett to promote the Imperial Car, Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation. This was to be a major new model industry, with its own town, Rosslyn, located on the North Shore where the Seymour Golf and Country Club, Roche Pointe Park and Cates Park were developed subsequently. That idea didn’t go anywhere, and Charles and Elizabeth set off on a vacation in Honolulu, and later a road trip to Seattle. Charles was in poor health, and retired from business in 1915, the year he tried to become mayor again, only to lose again to L D Taylor. He was swimming in English Bay in 1916, when he got into difficulties, and was rescued by two teenagers, Eloise Angell and Bobby Young. (We referenced Eloise’s mother, Lora, in our previous post).

In 1917 Charles’s health deteriorated, and he had to go into Vancouver General Hospital. Elizabeth’s sons had signed up, and were fighting in the war. One morning in April when her son Davison was arriving home on a short leave, Elizabeth received a telegram to say her other son, John, had been killed at the front. Phoning the hospital to tell her husband, she discovered he too had died that morning. Charles Douglas was 65.

Elizabeth remained in Vancouver, and her remaining son, Davison Manley, married in 1920, and went on to become a building manager and later a stockbroker. Elizabeth Douglas died in 1927.

This house became a rental property in the late 1910s, and having been offered for sale as a hotel location in 1949, became a rooming house, called the Park Hotel. It was demolished in 1959, and replaced in 1960 by a large modernist slab apartment building called The White House, with 91 apartments on 8 floors.

Image source: William James Topley – Library and Archives Canada – PA-009551. More details of Charles Douglas’s life on WestEndVancouver.


Posted 27 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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